What Type of Bow Should a Beginner Use…Compound or Recurve?

When first dipping a toe into the compelling sport of archery, it’s better to use or hire your equipment at the club or group where you are learning for the first few lessons. Once the archery bug has truly bitten and you have decided that this mentally and physically fascinating pursuit is for you, then it is time to start looking into buying a bow of your own.

Archery is one of the few sports where the hobbyist gets to personalize their kit. Your first bow purchase should always be guided by the “suitable for you” factor rather than the “it looks so cool” factor. With this in mind, let’s look at the main key points that any beginner archer should bear in mind while on the hunt for a bow.

What Style of Archery Are You Interested In?

Archery is a very flexible sport – it can take place indoors or outside, in the wilderness or at your neighborhood range – any beginner should consider the convenience of traveling to an archery gathering that is the closest to them.

Next, discover which style of archery is practiced there. If the style of archery offered at the club is not what you are looking for, then you can widen the field of proximity.

There are five archery types:
• Target Archery
• Field Archery
• 3D Archery
• Traditional
• Bowhunting

And there are 4 types of bows:
• Recurve Bows
• Compound Bows
• Traditional Bows
• Crossbows

If mastering the art of bowmanship is one of your goals, we can take crossbows off the table. This type of modified bow is used in all the archery styles except traditional, but their high accuracy and long firing range do not make them a good fit for a beginner keen to learn archery basics.

Beginner archers should postpone buying a traditional or longbow until they have mastered the basic archery principles. Once entry-level archery has been mastered (usually taking around 12 lessons), core strength has built up and muscle memory has developed, then the novice archer can try out other bow types.

That leaves the recurve bow and the compound bow for the selection of the beginner.

Recurve Bows

If you are a fan of watching archery at the Olympics then you will recognize the Recurve Bow. It is the only bow allowed in the Olympics and makes its appearance in more than a few blockbuster movies too.

Recurve Bows have two small dipping arms that curve away from the archer at the end of the curving bow branch – hence its name. This double curve gives the arrow more power.

Compound Bows

A Compound Bow does not resemble the bow of popular culture; it looks more mechanical and futuristic. It derives its name from the little wheels at the end of the of the bow arms, called cams. These wheels work in tandem with the string to compound the energy generated when the bow is drawn.
This is a really handy mechanism enables the Compound Bow to be fully drawn but the archer does not have to withhold all the force that is stored in the bow. When the string is released, the cams unwind and propel the string faster than the initial holding weight. This is called “let off”.

Compound or Recurve – Which Bow is Best for the Beginner?

The entry-level lessons at any archery club will focus on the basic steps of how to use the equipment, your stance, and how to hit the target. Once these essentials have been mastered and a personal bow is your next step, first listen to the advice of your teacher, classmates, and seasoned experts.
Any teacher of archery will recommend the beginner start off learning with a recurve bow. There is ample proof that if a beginner archer uses a recurve, they will go on to become the better archer. The reasons for this are numerous.

The recurve bow provides much more information to the beginner and instructor. This “feedback” allows the participants to identify any flaws in their form and technique. The identification of initial problems can then be better gauged and addressed by the instructor.

The compound bow and the beginner using one can have the effect of covering up any minor or major flaws in such techniques as drawing and release. These executions (especially the release mechanism) must be done correctly from the start in order for the beginner to lay a solid foundation on which to learn.

This is when the beginner should take on board the instructor’s suggestions and guidance before buying their own bow; they may insist upon the use or purchase of a recurve. Once the entry level archer can no longer be termed an absolute beginner (at least 12 or more lessons are needed) then the choice between a recurve or compound bow can be resolved by the new archer.

The specific skills learned using a recurve bow accelerate the awareness of motor skills and control needed for a beginner in a shorter amount of time. If archery domination and proficiency is your ultimate goal, learning on a recurve bow should be your only choice. Archers who have learned on a recurve shoot higher scores and win more medals.

It may require more control and motor skills learning on a recurve bow rather than a compound, but the end results are stellar. If the student struggles to learn on a recurve, the instructor may switch them to a compound simply because they prefer the learner to carry on with their lessons and have fun rather than lose interest in the sport because of the difficulties in mastering a recurve.

In closing, some beginners are not successful (or happy) learning on a recurve bow and if this is the case, the swap to a compound bow is more desirable rather than letting the student struggle with the recurve. The aim of any beginner should be to enjoy the experience first and worry about choices later!

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