Artful Archers: The 7 Best Recurve Bows

Opinions differ on where the first recurve bow was created. Some say that they came from Asia. Some claim they owe their lineage to the middle east. Still others say that ancient Egyptians first made them initially. Whatever their origin story, this bow is a compact style made for both hunting and archery that was found to be superior to the longbows used by western cultures. The trick is the curve of the limbs, which go away from the archer allowing for more tension to be carried in the bow for enhanced force when released.

The more power your bowstring carries, the faster and further an arrow will travel when loosed. If you can get the power in a more compact package, then you’ll spend less time snagging it on things and more time actually hitting your target. They differ from compound bows in that they are harder to draw, requiring more might on the part of the user. They often come in a standard single-piece model, but you can also get takedown bows that break into three pieces. Whatever your fancy, one of the 7 best recurve bows will hit the mark.

PSE 10 Snake

PSE 10 Snake

Pro: Inexpensive and hard to harm
Con: Only comes in single draw weight

Starter Kit: There’s no need to spend a lot of money to determine if you want to live the recurve lifestyle. The 60″ Snake is a true full size bow for the price you would pay for a toy. It has a 22-lbs. draw weight without the option to go bigger, so it’s easily outgrown by the serious shooter. Due to the low draw the most you’ll be able to hunt is rabbits and turkeys, and only then if you’re a crack shot. Mostly the intent is to give you a low price backyard target shooting bow that lets you get used to using a recurve. It’s nearly impossible to damage or harm, so once you’ve upgraded you can pass it on to the next newbie. [Purchase: $40]

Martin Jaguar Takedown Bow

Martin Jaguar

Pro: Aluminum riser aids in smooth drawing
Con: Only comes in a right-hand model

Maximum Efficiency: A couple of ounces over 2.5 lbs. this is a lightweight takedown bow that packs down tight and can be put together in seconds by the most inept child. Once it is ready to go, it starts off with a 30-lbs. draw weight for smaller game, but you can easily upgrade to 55-lbs. if you are planning on doing more serious hunting. Not only is the draw powerful, but smooth, thanks to the wood and fiberglass limbs, so no jerking on the pull or hesitancy on the release. You get a smaller 7″ brace meant for more experienced users, but casual archers certainly aren’t excluded. Martin’s patented Thermal V grip lets you hold fast in any weather. [Purchase: $131+]

Samick Sage

Samick Sage

Pro: Right and left-handed options
Con: Picks up aesthetic nicks and dents easily

Most for the Money: It’s easy for your pocketbook to suffer as you go down the rabbit hole of recurve bows. Hundreds of dollars can be wasted when the truth is that the Sage is all you need for a lifetime of shooting. The draw weight starts off at 25-lbs. but can grow to 60-lbs. as your expertise goes from amateur to expert bowman. The riser (grip section in the middle) of the bow and the limbs are made from laminated wood that offers a good grip, smooth draw, and keeps vibration to a minimum. It’s quiet when fired so as not to alert your prey or annoy other people at your favorite range. Accepts tons of accessories for a customized experience. [Purchase: $140]

PSE Blackhawk

PSE Blackhawk

Pro: Solid, dense frame
Con: Unforgiving of inexperienced shooters

Heavy Hitter: The Blackhawk is one of the most beautiful bows we’ve ever tried, which immediately made us suspicious. When a company prizes form over function, terrible hunting is the result. To our delighted surprise, this is more than just a set of sexy curves, but a heavy hunting bow that brings down plenty of game. It doesn’t use a padded grip, so the riser is made from the same fiberglass-laminated hardwood as the rest of it, which gives you reliable steadiness, but can wear on your hands at first. Draw weight is typically 45-50-lbs. though you can find models that are slightly lower if you hunt around. [Purchase: $254]

Bear Archery Grizzly Bow

Bear Archery Grizzly Bow

Pro: Bear hair shelf for smoother draw and better arrow grip
Con: Extremely limited accessory options

Lifelong Friend: The designers at Bear did this one right from the very start. It’s design hasn’t changed in 50 years because there hasn’t been a need for alteration. It’s one of the shorter options you can buy at only 58″, but the reduced stature doesn’t cause it to suffer when performance is your objective. The size strikes a good balance for both distance shooters who need range and hunters who require mobility but don’t want to spend time with a takedown bow. Stronger rookies can cut their teeth on this, but the 40-60-lbs. draw weight will require that they bulk up before they’re able to pull and release without trembling. [Purchase: $352+]

Martin Hunter

Martin Hunter

Pro: Only 2 lbs. 3 oz. in weight
Con: Long

Silent Assassin: As the name suggests, this bow is meant for hunters rather than target shooters. It works for either discipline, but with its severely reduced vibration, it’s better for anyone who needs near silence on their release. The accuracy is pinpoint with the Hunter since it keeps the arrow steady through the entire shooting action. It runs a little long at 62″ and isn’t a takedown model, making it better for field operations rather than moving through the woods. Depending on your needs, you can find it in 35-65-lbs. draw weight making it perfect for big game hunters. If you want to spend the money, this is kind enough to allow greenhorns to learn the right way to shoot. [Purchase: $540+]

Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow

Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow

Pro: Comes with a Tact-Zone scope equipped
Con: Expensive

Cross Purposes: Crossbow users need only know the name Excalibur when it comes to recurve bows. They are one of the few makers who know that compound is not the only desireable choice for anyone who prefers a trigger to a pull string when they feel like going for a shoot. Any of Excalibur’s products are good, but the Matrix 380 is the best. The draw is a full 260-lbs. with a release of 380 fps (feet per second), making it a stone cold killer on par with any deadly compound you can find. [Purchase: $950]

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