A recurve bow is the bow which tends to be used in archery competitions and is also the bow used in Olympic archery events. It can be readily recognized because of its distinctive appearance, with the two ends of the bow curling into curves. (Think of two loose S-shapes placed end to end with a slight curve in the middle where the bow is held.) Because of this special shape, the bow will be twice as long as the draw length (the distance of the archer’s full draw). Like all bows, recurve bows work by turning the energy of the archer into kinetic energy through the string of the bow.
These bows are made of various materials. The limbs (the S-shaped, working parts of the bow) are often made of layers of materials such as fiberglass, wood, or carbon, basically a laminated construction. These materials and this construction will make the recurve bow stronger. The center of the bow, also called the riser because it rises from the limbs, is rigid and is generally composed of metal, wood, or carbon.
Why choose a recurve bow?
The curved shaped of the limbs are part of what makes a recurve bow special. The shape grants more speed and power to the arrow. It also has a smoother release. However, because of those factors, it is a less forgiving bow in that mistakes in form can lead to lower accuracy. They are generally smaller and shorter than the traditional bow because they are able to pack more punch into a smaller instrument.
Because they are smaller, they are more transportable. Further, some models can be disassembled (take-down bows), making them even easier to carry and store. Once they are unstrung, take-down bows can be broken down into three parts. This feature also makes them less costly to repair because only the part that needs repair need be worked on, rather than the whole bow. They are also good for beginners because they can be modified. The archer can easily replace the limbs with limbs of a different length.
How do you choose the right bow?
The answer to that question will depend on whether you are a beginning or an expert. Beginners should avoid buying overly expensive or complicated models because their needs as archers might change over time. Start with a basic model until you figure out exactly what your needswill ultimately be.
The length of the bow chosen will be determined by various factors. For one, the bow should be twice as long as the archer’s draw length (see earlier definition). Draw length can be determined by having the archer actually draw on a bow, but because that method requires the archer to maintain proper form (something a beginner will generally not be able to do), draw length should be determined by the following measuring technique: Stand with your arms spread out completely at your sides. Have someone measure the distance from the tip of your middle finger on one hand to the tip of the middle finger on the other hand. Divide that length by 2.5. The result of the measurement and calculation will be your draw length. It is important to use a bow that is the right length: If the bow is too short, it can be overdrawn, resulting in decreased accuracy; a bow that is too long will mean that you are not getting the best performance out of it.
Further, you should select a bow that matches your eye dominance. Eye dominance is similar to handedness: it refers to the eye that is the stronger of the two. However, keep in mind that eye dominance does not always correlate withhandedness. In other words, you might be right-handed, but left-eye dominant. Deciding whether to buy a left-handed or a right-handed bow will be determined by eye dominance.
To determine eye dominance, stand with your hands in front of you and make a triangle out of your thumbs and index fingers. Find something about ten feet in front of you and place it in the center of the triangle that you have made with your hands. Close your left eye and then your right. If the object is still centered when your right eye is open and your left eye is closed, then you are right-eye dominant. (The majority of the population is right-eye dominant.)
Draw weights will be determined by strength and body type; however, beginners should generally start with lower draw weights (the amount of force required to draw the bow) and increase the draw weight as they gain more experience. Heavier draw weights can be advantageous because they can increase the stability of the draw. Beginners should also start with lighter-weight bows; as they progress, they can begin to work with heavier ones.