Archery Bow Types Explained for Archers & Bowhunters
- Erik Himmel
Few sports have a history as enduring and riveting as archery’s that spreads throughout generations making it an area for fans to experience, enhance, and flourish. The tangible changes in archery equipment and coexistence of the traditional gear are proof that people appreciate innovations but not at the expense of the older versions of bows and arrows. So, it’s no surprise that archery bows are available in variable shapes and styles to help archers achieve their specific shooting and bowhunting goals. Wondering which bow types helps accomplish what? Well, here it goes.
In this article, you’ll be reading the different archery bows; more specifically, the types of compound bows and traditional bows.
Archery Bow Types
Archery bows were no more than a simple weapon. What once was a battle/combat item has now been a very popular sports tool. Time has set the course of what today’s bows have been.
The basic difference between recurve bows and other bows is in the tip of limbs. In most bows, limb tips curve towards the archer. But in recurve bows, tips of the limbs curve back the other way.
Recurve bows consist of three parts
- Riser (The bow’s center section that has the limbs attached to it)
- Limbs (The extremities of the bow where string is attached and provide the shooting force)
- Grip (The part of the riser that the archer holds)
These bows come in two popular styles, such as modern and traditional recurves. Let’s take a look at the following details.
Modern recurve bows are usually made from layers of fiberglass or wood around a core made of carbon foam or wood. They are characterized by the curved tips at either end of the arms. This design facilitates increases the speed of the bow and the smoothness of the release.
Once unstrung or string have been removed, the bow will break down into three parts to allow for easy transport and adaptability. The top and bottom parts are called “limbs”, Limbs are made of wood, fiberglass, carbon, and other materials. The middle part is called the riser and is usually made of metal, but may also be made from wood or carbon. The bow gets its power from the unique curve at the limb tips.
- Arrows can be released smoothly. That is why modern recurve bows have widespread use in target archery and the Olympics.
- They can be used in field archery & 3D archery.
- Does not have higher arrow velocity
Traditional recurve bows are made either from single pieces of wood or wood composition. Mongolian and Turkish soldiers used this type of bows. These are one of the traditional types of bow.
These historical bows were made from bone and horn wrapped in leather. They were further changed by multiple groups of people in Central Asia so that they can be used from horseback. Some are still made in that style today to preserve their traditional style.
- These bows are ideal for mounted archery. Archers can ride horses at a greater speed while shooting at targets along their path.
- Using these bows requires lot of skill.
This is actually one type of recurve bow on which the limbs can be taken apart from the riser for easy storage, transportation, and upgrades. The great benefit of the takedown bows is if any part is broken, you can easily replace the broken part.
The limbs of takedown bows are made of fiberglass. And the riser is made of alloy, carbon, aluminum or wood.
- They are quite portable
- They are inexpensive and easy to use.
- While practicing, you can quickly and cheaply increase draw weight by changing limbs. Thus, it may help to develop your muscles and get stronger.
- Maintaining accuracy consistently may become hard with this type.
Modern crossbows have many similarities with firearms. They have a short bow attached horizontally to the muzzle. Crossbows can be held like a gun or rifle. China is believed to be the birthplace of crossbows. They were used in battle in the Greco-Roman and Medieval ages
The crossbow has a mechanism that allow the string to be pulled back and latched into place until the trigger is pressed. The specific arrows designed for crossbows are usually referred to as ‘Bolts’ and pulling the trigger on a crossbow fire the bolt.
Crossbows come with one special type. They are called the pistol crossbow. Because they are designed to be held and fired with one hand much like a pistol.
Some specially designed crossbows are great for target archery. But make sure you know the rules of the competition because regulations regarding crossbows can be quite strict.
- Crossbows do not have long firing ranges.
- They are heavier than compound and recurve bows.
- Crossbows have short firing ranges and need heavier draw weights to perform on the same level as compound and recurve bows
A flat bow is a bow that comes with non-recurved, flat, relatively wide limbs. They were the traditional weapon of the Native American tribes. That is why they are also to as the American Flatbow.
Flatbows feature relatively wide limbs. Cross section of two limbs or where two limbs meet are rectangular in shape and have rounded non-bending handle. Flatbows are made from one piece of wood.
- The Flat bow tolerates better stress of bending than other wooden bows. Because stress is evenly spread into two limbs.
- Making the rectangular cross-section isn’t very easy.
A longbow is the simplest style of bow among others. The bow just a piece wood of attached to a string. The longbow was the weapon of English soldiers from the 14th century until the advent of firearms.
A longbow features rounded limbs and is normally as big as an archer standing over 5 feet (1.5 m) to allow a full draw. When the string is pull, the longbow curves gently toward the archer forming the shape of the letter “D.” These bows are made of a single piece of wood. Modern longbows do not differ markedly from their historical counterparts.
- Crafting the bow is easier. Skilled bowyers can make a wooden longbow is just a couple of hours.
- Aiming with longbows is much more difficult than other modern bows.
- They do not have the same velocity as a compound or recurve bows.
- The longbow requires more practice and patience to become a skilled archer.
The reflex bow has curved arms that face away from you. When you remove the string from the bow, the whole body of the bow bend forward into a C like shape. The Mongols used these bows during their Asia and Europe conquest.
The materials from which these bows are made withstand a whole lot of pressure. Because while shooting, the archers need to flex back the bow from the bend forward position. And, this gives the bow more power to shot at a greater speed.
- Archers can shoot more forcefully
- The bow is difficult to draw fully.
As the name suggests, A Yumi bow is a Japanese bow. These bows were very popular among samurai warriors. At the present time, there are three kinds of Yumi bows. These are a synthetic yumi, a lacquered bamboo yumi, and a standard authentic bamboo yumi.
The Yumi bow is usually designed to be taller than the archer. The material of this type is a combination of bamboo and wood. Since bamboo isn’t very resistant to damage. So, it is replaced by modern materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber. It is an asymmetrical bow. Asymmetrical means the lower part is shorter than the upper part.
- Shooting from horseback and from a kneeling position is easy thanks to its asymmetrical shape.
- Yumi bows need a lot of care and can lose their shape if not maintained well.
Types of Compound Bows
Compound bows utilizes a levering system involving cables and pulleys to bend the limbs or ends of the bow. This levering system allows the archer to apply less physical effort to draw the bow fully. Since less effort is required to keep the bow fully drawn, the archer achieves better aim and increased accuracy. These bows can be classified in terms of the number of their cams and designs. I’ll be discussing four compound bow types (according to the cams).
Single cam compound bows are ideal for novice archers. Because they are easier to pull and shoot. But arrows shot from them have lower velocity.
Single cam compound bows feature a single “power cam” at the bottom of the bow, while the cam at the top of the bow simply holds the string in place and does not increase the draw weight of the bow. The top wheel of the single cam is also referred to as idler wheel.
- Single cam compound bows require less maintenance.
- They have quiet operation.
- They have low arrow velocity.
Twin cam compound bows provide the highest degree of accuracy and speed. But they are noisier and that could hamper your bow hunting.
Twin cam compound bows feature two power cams attached at the top and bottom of the bow’s arm. The sizes of camps can be either round or elliptical.
- They offer the highest velocity of arrow as well as accuracy
- These bows are noisy requiring complicated maintenance
Binary compound bows offer more accuracy than twin cam compound bows. Another advantage of binary type over twin compound bows is they require less maintenance.
Like twin cams, Binary cam compound bows utilizes two power cams. But in this case, the cams are linked together instead of attaching with the bow’s arm. In this type, correcting imbalances between two cams is easier than their twin counterpart.
- Offers very high velocity.
- Highly complex design.
- Not suitable for beginners.
Hybrid cam compound bows are more precise to hit target than twin or binary type.
Hybrid cam compound bows have evolved to correct design flaws of both twin and hybrid type. Their top cam does not harness any power to the bow. But it acts like a control cam that stabilizes the power cam at the bottom of the bow. Because of this power stabilization, they offer more accuracy.
- They are highly precise for target shooting.
- These bows require a little maintenance.
- These bows deliver low arrow velocity.
- You won’t love it much for hunting.
Among the above types, crossbows and compound bows are the most popular choices while others also enjoy some prominence. With all merits and downsides in mind, you can find what suits your needs most. But I tell you what; be careful about the laws on crossbows and other bow types because you don’t want to jeopardize your career/pursuit as a bowhunter or archer. Write to me anytime you need to know anything more or you just want to share your thoughts with me and my community!