Archery: Recurve Bows
In archery, recurve bows' top and bottom tips curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. This gives it
an unusual appearance to the novice and has lead to some people stringing archery recurve bows the wrong way, which
will sometimes cause them to snap, especially if the archery recurve bow is drawn to shoot an arrow.
Archery: Recurve Bows
Recurve bows can provide greater power to the arrow than simple bows of the same length, because of the way the
tips are under extra pressure. This means that to provide a certain amount of power, say to penetrate light armour
at fifty metres, a recurve bow could be shorter than a traditional straight bow. This made recurve bows the
preferred weapon for those fighting from horseback or in close conditions such as massed ranks or wood land.
The drawback of this is that archery recurve bows have to be constructed from stronger, better quality materials
if they are to be reliable. This sturdy construction and unusual shape can produce an abnormally loud noise on
shooting, which is an obvious disadvantage if stealth is a requirement, say in a night time ambush or hunting a
flock or a herd.
In archery, recurve bows were usually made out of composite materials in countries where they were really
popular like those countries including modern Italy and east of it as far as China and Japan. The composite recurve
bow spread in popularity throughout this region in the second millennium BC.
The composite recurve bow was brought west by the Romans, but in general, the warmer and drier southern parts of
Europe took up the recurve and the northern, wetter countries stayed with the all-wooden longbow.
Archery recurve bows remained in popular use for thousands of years, but eventually lost out to the gun. The
final large battles fought between the gun and the recurve bow were probably between the American Indians and the
settlers in the West and between Japanese traditionalists and modernists in the East.
In modern archery circles, modern archery recurve bows are normally known as just recurves and
they refer to the types of recurve bows used in the Olympics and other competitive archery events.
Nowadays, archery recurve bows are complicated affairs made from a range of natural and synthetic materials such
as wood, carbon, carbon fibre, carbon foam, aluminium alloy, magnesium alloy, and plastic.
In the hands of some manufacturers, these materials will produce recurve bows capable of providing a consistent
performance. The heavier modern recurve bows are an aid to stability and therefore accuracy in themselves. They are
the only bows allowed at the Olympics and are the most common bows in use in archery competitions in Europe and
In archery, recurve bows these days are mostly 'take-down' bows, which means that they can be dismantled. The
ability to dismantle a bow aids in transportation, upgrade and repair or replacement of damaged parts.
However, the joints of take-downs often make a little extra noise on loosing the arrow, so most hunters still
prefer the older style, one piece archery recurve bows.