Which Bow Should I Use? Different Types of Bows And Their Benefits

Different Types of Bows

When choosing which bow you should use you must first consider how you will be using it and to what end you will be using it. These are two very important items that must be answered, but before you can answer that question you have to know what kinds of bows there are and how they are used.

There are three different types of bows – each type has a unique design and background, and each type is suited for a specific purpose. We’ve broken those details down for you below so you can become more knowledgeable about archery and more adept at using specific types of bows.

#1 Recurve Bow

Recurve bows are a standard for beginners or Olympic archers alike. The reason for that is they typically range in draw weight, bow height, and style. They have been used for centuries, even after the longbow went out of style.

When choosing this kind of bow, typically you are shooting in the Olympics or on a field. This type of bow comes with many upsides, and very few downsides. Here are some of the pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Range from affordable to very expensive
  • Highly versatile
  • Standard draw weight
  • Great for beginner archers

While there are some great benefits to this type of bow there are a few drawbacks as well. Here are a few of the cons of this type of bow:

  • Not adjustable
  • Somewhat limited scope of use
  • Not usually used for hunting


Recurve bows are great for beginners and experts alike. There are great resources out there for finding the right recurve for you. Check out here for some great ideas for an affordable, quality recurve.

RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Takedown Recurve Bows

#2 Longbow

Longbows are the granddad of the bow family. These bows were used in medieval times when the earliest bow technology was just starting to come about. There are some significant differences that you must keep in mind before choosing this type of bow. The first is that, unlike the recurve, the draw on this bow will not be as long. Most likely, you will not be able to get it to your check.

Most likely you will need significant practice before being able to use this bow proficiently. The recurve bow allows for ease of use, but the longbow requires careful practice. The arrow shelf on longbows is either really small or non-existent. Meaning that you might have to rest the arrow on your hand. Again proving difficult for many people

Here are some pros to the longbow:

  • ​Low maintenance
  • Most commonly used when shooting on a course, hunting, target shoot, and some competitive shooting
  • Romantic (Robin Hood used this kind of bow)
  • Popular among hobbyists

Here are some cons to the longbow:

  • Tricky to shoot
  • Takes lots of practice
  • High maintenance


This once popular bow is still popular among certain communities, but if you are looking for ease of use or a more functional bow, you may want to try one of the other bows on this list.

RELATED: What is the Best Longbow for Hunting?

#3 Compound Bow

Compound bows have really taken off since their advent some years ago. The compound bow is definitely one of the bows you should consider when choosing a bow. This bow is highly versatile, easy to use, and extremely powerful. This bow is the top pick on many people’s list because of these reasons.

The distinguishing feature of the compound bow is the draw. About half-way through the draw, the draw weight decreases to more than half of the original weight. This means you can hold the draw for longer, and when you release the arrow has significantly more power than the two bows above.

Here are some pros to the compound bow:

  • Adjustable
  • Powerful
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • More compact
  • Easy to use
  • Longer life

One of the reasons this is the bow of choice for so many people is the lack of cons.

  • Maintenance issues
  • Needs adjusting
  • Cams need replacing
  • Expensive

Bow Styles in Different Types of Archery

What kind of shooting do you want to try?

Type of Archery

Most common bow style

Other bow styles permittedin this type of archery

I’d like to shoot in the Olympics someday target archery modern recurve only none
I want to shoot on a field target archery modern recurve and compound traditional longbow or recurve
I want to shoot a bow like Robin Hood traditional archery traditional longbow or recurve none
I’d like to shoot on a roving coursewith different terrain field archery or 3D Archery compound modern recurve and traditional longbow or recurve
I want to shoot targets in animal shapes field archery or 3D Archery compound modern recurve and traditional longbow or recurve
I want to go hunting with my bow bowhunting compound modern recurve and traditional longbow or recurve

Via esdf.org

There are so many great bows to choose from! But when you are choosing a bow, it is important to consider what you will be using your bow for. If you are going to hunt, we recommend the compound bow because of its stopping power.

But if you are in a competition or are looking to shoot for fun, or even small game, then a recurve bow would meet your needs just as well. And if you are looking to have fun, hunt small game, and get involved in a niche then the longbow is ideal.

Whatever your choice, be safe and have fun.

Most people choose this kind of bow when it comes to hunting, target shooting, shooting on a course, shooting in a field, and competitive shooting. There are so many different kinds of compound bows to choose from.


To give you a better idea of the different types of bows and the shooting styles they participate in, the following chart should help you in narrowing down the right equipment selection.

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