Introduction to Recurve Bows
The recurve style bow is one of the oldest styles of bows around. Dating back to the ancient Mongolians, recurve bows were the weapon of choice for much of Asia as well as Roman imperial archers during the Middle Ages and the great wars therein. Due to its simple design and readily available materials, the recurve bow is alive and well to this day.
The recurve bows of ancient times were generally made of many different materials laminated together, including wood and horn. While the structure of the modern recurve bow is the same, the materials used are a bit different. Recurve bows today are made from combinations of fiberglass, carbon fiber, aluminum alloy and wood. With many more options today, recurve bows come in many price and quality levels. This article seeks to isolate a few of the best cheap recurve bows on the market and provide descriptions, pros, and cons of a few good options.
5 Qualities to Consider in a Recurve Bow
Although the materials are different and more advanced, the design of the recurve bow has remained largely unchanged. Recurve bows are roughly the same today as they were 2,000 or so years ago, during the great Roman Empire. More or less a “stick and string” set up, the last 6-8 inches of either end of the bow are what make it a recurve design. The last few inches will change direction and “re-curve” away from the archer. It allows for the string to be in contact with the bow limbs for those few inches. The string contact provides less hand shock when the draw is released as well as more velocity for the arrow.
There are also a couple different variations of recurve bows. The basic recurve bow is exactly what is described above. Wood or fiberglass bows with the limbs and riser glued together and shaped to develop the recurve effect. The takedown recurve bow is a more popular style of bow. It can be disassembled for easy transportation or storage.
The takedown recurve bow is the most popular variation of recurve bows today. The overall portability and options for changes or upgrades resonates with the modern hunter or marksmen. For the bow and arrow shooter that travels for their shooting adventures, the takedown bow makes it easy to pack and travel with. Because the limbs separate from the riser, it is also possible to upgrade either part while being able to keep using the other.
A very important aspect for someone looking to buy a recurve bow they wish to upgrade over time. The standard recurve bow does not provide any of these features and if a limb breaks or the shooter wants to upgrade a part of the bow, they will have to purchase a whole new bow.
Draw Weight and Draw Length
Other important aspects of a recurve bow are the size, weight, draw length and draw weight. These measurements vary from bow to bow and person to person. It’s important to get the right sized bow to deliver the draw weight and draw length necessary for effective shooting. With a few measurements, you can easily determine your correct draw weight (how much pressure it takes to fully draw your bow) and draw length (how far you have to pull back to achieve full draw). The weight of the bow itself is an important part of selecting a bow that people often overlook. Depending on the activities you will be doing with the bow, weight can play a big part in the bow’s effectiveness.
We have discussed proper draw weight and draw length in other articles that you can find here, and needless to say these are features you do not want to overlook. One important note is that with take-down recurve bows you are able to increase your draw weight with different limbs. Each set of limbs is set to a particular draw weight, so there is definitely added versatility with a take-down recurve bow.
Draw Length is calculated by measuring your wing span, from finger tip to finger tip and dividing that by 2.5. That would be your basic draw length. So if you have a wing span of 70 inches, your draw length would be: 70/2.5 = 28 in.
Overall bow length
As we have mentioned before it is necessary to find the proper sized bow, based on overall length of the bow. Below is a basic chart of the size ranges that will be beneficial for you. These bow sizes are based on what your draw length is. Thus figure out what your draw length is and compare it to this table and you can find your bow size.
Draw Length Recurve Bow Length 15" 46-50" 18-20" 52-56" 20-22" 56-60" 24" 60-64" 26" 64-68" 28" 68" 30" 70" 30+" 72"
Overall bow Weight
For a bow that will primarily be used for target practice, a heavier bow would not affect the shooter as much as if it were used for hunting. A bow primarily used for hunting should be lighter, as it will be necessary to carry the bow around for long periods of time. A heavy bow in this instance will fatigue the shooter and make it difficult to make the necessary shot at the right time. Note that extremely light bows may be more difficult to keep steady while firing.
Different Uses for your Recurve Bow
Recurve bows can be used for both of the basic bow and arrow shooting activities: target shooting and hunting. In fact, recurve bows are the only kind of bows allowed in competition at the Olympic games. There are a few differences between a bow that should be used primarily for hunting versus a bow primarily used for target shooting.
The draw weight of a hunting bow should generally be higher to give the extra “umph” necessary to take down an animal effectively. When shooting at an archery competition, there will likely be dozens of arrows shot. A lighter draw weight more effective in this case, as archers will quickly experience arm exhaustion. Having said that, accuracy is usually increased as draw weight is increased. Especially at greater distances.
Generally, target bows are a little longer than hunting bows because they are a more stable shot and don’t need to be as maneuverable. A shorter bow is easier to use under cover of tree or while in a hunting blind. Another important difference between a bow used for target shooting versus a bow to be used for hunting is not in the bow at all, but in the arrows.
There are two main differences arrows can have when used for hunting or target shooting. Total arrow weight and tip design. For a hunting arrow, a heavier arrow will do better because of the extra weight. The arrow will have more inertia on impact, thus penetrating the game deeper. An arrow for target practice can have a lighter overall weight because it does not need to go as deep. It is likely that the target is Styrofoam and very easy to penetrate.
The tip of the arrow is a little more complex. There are a lot of different types of arrow heads, used for different types of hunting. Suffice it to say, a dull or blunt arrow head, often called a field point, will be used for target practice. A broad speared or hook design will be best suited for hunting. There are also broad heads, or points, that are referred to as mechanical. The spears come out when the arrow enters the target or game. The most popular weight these days for arrow points is 100 grain.
The three recurve bows reviewed in this article are 3 of the best cheap recurve bows available on the market. They all have their own strengths and drawbacks that we will illustrate below. All three are classic recurve designs and takedown bows.
The Samick Sage Recurve Bow is a fantastic, beginner, cheap recurve bow. Along with a top quality riser and limbs, the bow comes with some great accessories to really make this bow the complete package. The Samick Sage Recurve Bow has a combination of hard maple and fiberglass limbs making it very sturdy. The riser is a little thicker than average recurve bows, allowing for a full grip while shooting the bow. That may pose a problem to someone with smaller hands.
The Samick Sage weighs only about 3lbs. This makes it a perfect takedown bow for packing in and taking a trek to your favorite hunting spot. The package comes with bow string, a stick on arrow rest and a stringer tool. Also included on the riser are pre-installed brass bushings for the addition of a stabilizer and sight or arrow quiver. Not only are the accessories great, the bow comes prefabricated for customization.
Overall, this is a great bow that assists with learning and will make sure the shooter is comfortable with the bow. It is the most expensive bow reviewed, but it provides the most flexibility in terms of draw lengths and draw weights. It is also most appropriate for hunters.
The SAS Spirit 66” bow is a bit of a longer bow, but recommended for shooters under 6 feet tall. Like the Samick Sage, the limbs are a combination of maple and fiberglass. These ensure that this bow will stay strong and bend, not break, throughout the useful life of the bow. The riser is made from three different types of Asian wood, proving to make it very durable and resistant to the elements. The woods are Gmelina Arborea, Beech, and Chuglam.
This bow is rated for draw weights of 22, 26, 30 and 34 pounds, giving great flexibility in the type of shooter that can shoot this bow. Another advantage of the great range of draw weights is the fact that a shooter can really grow up with this bow. It can be the first bow they have, the one the learn to love archery on. It will help develop them into a well-versed hunter or target shooter.
The PSE Razorback Recurve Bow is a classic, old school style, 62” hunting bow great for getting in and out of the woods. Like the other bows reviewed, it is a takedown style, crafted from a combination of wood and fiberglass. The PSE Razorback Recurve Bow is rated and adjustable for four different draw weights: 20, 25, 30 and 35 pounds, providing a great range for achers of any skill level.
At 62 inches long and only 2.2 pounds, the PSE Razorback is a fantastic takedown bow designed with target practice in mind. The light weight frame will provide archers with the ability to carry the bow long comfortably while heading to their destinations. The bow also has sight mounting inserts built into the riser, making it customizable for almost any sight available. This is a great bow not just for beginners, but for archers of any skill level.
If you are looking to purchase a solid recurve bow at a cheaper less expensive price, whether it is going to be used for hunting, target shooting, or both, these three bows are great places to start. Each of the bows provides opportunity for maximum customization, as well as a platform for development as a bow and arrow shooter. Especially for starting out, having a bow that is capable of being a great all around bow is essential.
In terms of a cost to value ratio, and a ranking of which bow would be best for the average beginner, it seems necessary to rank them in two separate fashions. First listed are for the shooter that is going to be primarily hunting with the bow. The second options are for the marksman that is going to be primarily target shooting.
Best Cheap Recurve Bows on the Market for Hunting
As for the hunting bow, I think the Samick Sage Recurve Bow is best suited with a hunter in mind. It’s higher draw weight options, accessories, and pre-installed bushings ready for any attachments make it the perfect hunting bow. After the Samick Sage, I would suggest the PSE Razorback Recurve Bow for hunting because of the smaller, lightweight frame.
Best Cheap Recurve Bows on the Market for Target Shooting
If you are looking for a bow to be used for target shooting, out of these three, I would suggest the SAS Spirit 66” Take Down Recurve Bow first because of its length. At 66 inches, the extra length will provide shooters with the necessary stability to hit long range targets. The adjustable draw weights also make it easy for target shooters to change weights over time as they see fit. I am going to place the Samick Sage second in the target shooting rankings because of the available options for the bow. Even though it is 3 pounds, less than 1 pound more than the PSE Razorback, the added weight will provide the shooter with maximum stability while going for the long target.
Looking at these options of the best cheap recurve bows on the market, there is no wrong answer. They are all fantastic and capable of high performance in whichever sport they will be used for. The shooting of a bow and arrow is an ancient talent that represents survival. With the introduction of target shooting, bow and arrows will remain an impressive display of talent as well as the ability to live off the land. Be safe and learn the basics and you will have a fantastic time shooting your recurve bow.