Longbows and recurves have been used for a long time and they are both very effective weapons. Both weapons also look fairly similar, especially to a beginner. Are there really any major differences between the two that makes one of them better than the other? Let’s dive into the construction of these bows and see how that affects their performance.
The major difference between a longbow and a recurve bow is the construction of the limbs. A longbow will look like one “long” piece of wood that is bent from the force of the string, while a recurve bow has curvy limbs, which makes it look like the string fits to the bow and not the other way around.
Longbows are made this way out of simplicity and ease of manufacturing, but like anything else, the easy way is not always the most effective. The extra curves allow a recurve bow to store much more energy than a longbow, making recurve bows more powerful than longbows in general. Keep in mind, though, that some special longbow builds will rival recurves.
Longbows are also much longer than a recurve, hence the name. Due to the recurve’s better design, it can afford to be smaller than the longbow. So if the size is something you care about, recurve may be the way to go.
Speed & Power
In general, these two types of bows are not all that different in terms of speed. Some of the top-performing longbows can shoot upwards of 200 fps. A recurve can shoot upwards of 225 fps.
While it does not sound like a huge advantage, shooting slightly faster can make recurves a tad more accurate and forgiving in poor conditions.
Like I mentioned before, a recurve bow shoots a little bit faster on average than a longbow. So with a faster-moving arrow, we are less prone to see the effects of wind on each shot. Plus with a longbow, 20 yards is a long shot if you want to be accurate. With a recurve bow, that effective distance is nearly doubled to 35 yards. Some archers can easily shoot farther than this but for the average archer, this is about as far as we can expect to shoot with one of these bows.
Draw Back Smoothness
A longbow’s draw weight depends on how far you are able to pull it back. In general, it is easy to pull back at the start but it gets harder and harder the farther you pull it. Compare this to other types of bows that are “smooth” meaning that the effort required to pull it back is uniform throughout its draw length.
In comparison, a recurve bow has a much smoother and evenly dispersed draw than a longbow. Most recurve bows have a draw weight of around 40 pounds. This may sound like a lot to a new archer, but it is not all that heavy once you try it.
For once the longbow wins. Longbows are in general quieter than recurves. The twang that comes from the string can be noticed in both bows, but we can use string silencers to try and alleviate that noise.
Which Is Best for Hunting?
When it comes to hunting, a recurve bow can kill most types of game in North America. Plus with an effective range of 35 yards, we can get close enough to most animals without much of a problem.
Longbows are still very effective for killing. This was the type of bow the Native Americans used and they were able to kill whitetail deer, bison, and each other with it on a regular basis. You will have to practice a lot with a longbow to get your accuracy where it needs to be, but if you are looking for a challenge, try out a longbow in the woods.
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