Longbow vs Recurve Bow (Which is better for hunting)


Longbows and Recurve Bows have both been around for ages, and each is fun to shoot and capable of tremendous power.

So which bow type—longbow or recurve—is best for hunting? Recurve bows are better than longbows for hunting. Longbows get their power from the stiffness and length of the bow while recurves take advantage of the springiness of the curved shape. That’s why a recurve bow is typically going to give you more power and speed compared to a similarly sized longbow.  

What is the difference between a Longbow and a Recurve Bow for hunting?

Longbows are very tall bows with an average length of 64″. That makes it sometimes as tall as the person who’s using it. Longbows are very popular. They were invented by the Celts in Wales around 1180 C.E which means the longbow has been around for almost a thousand years now. The longbow was widely adopted by the English Military in the late 1300s.

A longbow can be very basic. All you really need is a long, springy stick that you can bend into a bow-shape and a bow string. Or, you can buy a simple longbow really inexpensively and get started with some small-game hunting.

A recurve bow is a bit more efficient and also easier to identify by its curved tips at either end of the bow, the central parts of the limbs curve towards the archer and the tips of the limbs curve away from the archer.

A recurve bow stores a lot more energy than the longbow and also delivers great energy more efficiently, which helps it to give more power and speed to the arrow when released. Recurve archery is mostly used in sport or target archery like you see at the Olympics.

The main difference between the longbow and recurve bow is its shape, the longbow shape of the bow is “D” shape, while the recurve as a more tightly curve shape. Both bows are effective and reliable and capable for hunting, so your decision on which to use should be based on your preference.

Some users have stated that the longbow is much more difficult to aim and takes a pretty long time to master, although a lot of archers enjoys the challenge of using this bow. In my experience, a longbow with enough power to really hunt is harder to heft and maneuver due to its long length and is just less ideal for hunting, unless you really want the Robin Hood experience.

One other consideration is draw weight. Many places have laws about draw weight and hunting. In most cases, you need a bow with a draw weight of at least 40 lbs to be able to use it for hunting. There are plenty of longbows and recurve bows with a 40-lb or heavier draw weight. But again, recurve bows are just more efficient when it comes to draw weight vs length and wood rigidity, meaning recurve bows with heavy draw weights are more common and easier to use, especially for hunting.

If you’re just starting out I think the longbow would be great to get some practice as a beginner, but as time goes by I would recommend moving up the ladder and get yourself a recurve, or even a compound bow. Especially if you plan to use it for any sort of hunting.

Other advantages of the recurve are in its design. It’s often made from a broader variety of materials, such as fiberglass or wood laminates which help to make the arm of the bow extremely strong.

How do Longbows and Recurves Compare in Size?

Longbows are longer than recurve bows. A longbow is usually between 4 and 6 feet long. You can select your longbow based on your height, but if you picked up a comparable longbow and recurve, the longbow would be significantly longer.

Recurve bows were first designed to be used on horseback or in close quarters, which is why they use the curve to be able to shorten the bow length without losing power. Most recurve bows are between 48 and 70 inches in length.

Which Bow is Faster?

The recurve bow has a bit more speed than the longbow because it stores more energy and the release is much more efficient. The recurve will actually fling an arrow downrange faster than a longbow with the same draw weight. That said, speed also depends on the riser, string, and arrow. Some recurves clock in at 190-210 feet per second (fps) and some claim to have reached the speed of 220 fps.

The English Longbow speed was recorded at 177 fps. That’s a pretty decent speed but that also proves that the recurve is a much faster bow. Even a modern-day longbow can never be quite fast as a recurve of the same weight and with the same arrow weight.

Which Bow is More Accurate?

I’ve heard a lot of rumors going around were people stating that the longbow isn’t as accurate as the recurve when it comes to shooting. In my experience, neither is better than the other. Both bows are as accurate as you can shoot. For either type of bow, the longer the bow the more accurate it is.

Often times it comes down to the weight of the arrow you use. Most often, accuracy varies most based on the person that’s using the bow. However, you can get great accuracy out of both the recurve and longbow in a competition or animal hunting.

How to Choose a Recurve Bow

The most important factor in choosing a bow is its draw weight. You should select a bow that you can pull. Otherwise the bow will be useless.

Heavier draw weight means the bow string will be harder to pull back (draw) but it also means you’ll be able to shoot farther and faster. For hunting a draw weight of at least 40 lbs is required in most places.

Popular Recurve Bow Brands

  • Hoyt Archery
  • PSE
  • Bear Archery
  • Greatree Archery
  • Martin Archery

Types of Recurve Bows

  • Basic
  • Composite
  • Takedown

How to Choose a Longbow

The longbow is an excellent learning bow. So if you’re a beginner its not a bad idea to start out with a longbow with a comfortable draw weight. The only downside is that longbows don’t have a lot of features or options and aren’t as good for hunting if that’s your aim.

They’re typically made from yew wood, elm wood, or ash wood wish some are made from other types of wood. Longbows can definitely be used for hunting, but you’ll just need to make sure you’re comfortable with your bow and that you can maneuver with it.

Popular Longbow Brands

  • Striker bows
  • Falco
  • Samick sports
  • Ringing rocks archery
  • Bickerstaffe bows

Types of Longbows

  • Laminated longbow
  • English longbow

Recommendation for Hunting

Both bows are great to shoot, but I would definitely choose a recurve bow if I were using it for hunting. Recurve bows are proven to have more versatility and power, and most archers would want more power for hunting. That said, you can certainly use whichever fits your criteria best. You should definitely try out both at a pro shop or sporting goods store if you have that option.

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