As one of the coaches of an archery club, we are naturally asked about buying bows and equipment. Our club allows for Compound Bows, Traditional Recurve bows, and Olympic Recurve bows. This will be the first article in a series of articles about recommendations in regards to purchasing archery equipment. We first start off by answering the most fundamental question: “Should I buy a recurve or compound bow?” We’ll help you answer that question through a brief quiz. Answer honestly and I hope it will be come clear which direction I would send you, or perhaps you are interested in both recurve bows and compound bows. This quiz should help clarify things.
What good is a quiz however if we don’t also provide the answers? The quiz is for to help you diagnose your interests. I will provide the “answers” to the questions, but these “answers” are really the background of why that question was important.
So lets begin with the quiz. Print this out and circle your answers, or on a separate sheet of paper number the sheet and write your “Yes” or “No” answer next to each number.
- Are you a hunter, have interest in hunting? 
- Do you have dreams or aspirations of going to the Olympics? 
- Are you a member of a family of hunters? 
- Are you a fan of history or have a love of classical things? 
- Do you have a need to be excel at every task you do? 
- Are you willing to put a lot of effort into a difficult task for the benefits and payoffs long down the road? 
- Do you enjoy gadgets and mechanical things? 
- Would you agree with the statement “Simple things are best”? 
- Do you have a physical handicap, especially of the upper body? 
- Are you physically strong and fit in the upper body? 
That’s it. Not too bad, eh? Here’s how to score your quiz; add up the numbers from the bracket for the ODD number questions (1,3,5,etc.) where you answered “Yes” and those are your “Compound” scores. Add up the numbers from the brackets next to the questions for the EVEN number questions (2,4,6,etc.) where you answered “Yes” and those are your “Recurve” scores. The highest total is most likely the avenue that I would recommend you follow. Of course, this is your life and your money, so feel free to over rule this quiz as you see fit. My #1 interest, is to get people involved in the great sport of archery and for these people to love the sport as much as I do.
Now, on to the thoughts and purpose behind the questions above. If you have NOT taken the quiz yet, read no further until you do. Yes, you may go back and change your answers based on the information I provide here.
1:Hunter? Compound bows are better for hunting. They are more accurate at longer distances, easier to carry through the woods because the bow is smaller, they are more powerful in that they shoot the arrows in a greater fps than recurve bows, and you can hold the draw of the bow longer because of the let off of the bow. Since you are taking this quiz, you aren’t already an expert at recurve archery, so I would recommend someone just starting off, and interested in hunting, to go down the compound path. Yes, there are plenty of recurve hunters and they do very well, but this is an introductory quiz. 20 points.
2: Olympics? The Olympics only allow for recurve bows. If it is your dream to go to the Olympics, even a little bit, you should go down the recurve path. You can always switch over to compound later down the line. You can’t get to the Olympics with a compound, period. 15 points.
3: Family hunts? If you are coming from a family of hunters, you can often score some inherited equipment! Bonus. These family members are also knowledgeable of the tuning and setup of hardware and can be a great asset. Take advantage of that knowledge. 10 points.
4: Classical things? There’s something romantic and historical about recurve bows. Even the Olympic recurve bows all decked out with their sights and stabilizers and kisser buttons and spinner arrows still maintain a certain historical romance about them. Less weighted points for this question, but it’s worth asking. 5 points.
5: Need to excel? I can show you how to shoot a recurve bow in 10 minutes, but it can take years to “master” a recurve bow. Bottom line is that the technology of a compund bow helps you become “excellent” at shooting faster. If you need to excel and aren’t willing to put in the years it would require to become a master of archery through a recurve bow, then compounds might be a better fit. 5 points.
6: Effort level? This is the flip side of #5 above. It has been described that “Compound archer is a science, and recurve archery is art.” If you are the kind of person that is willing and enjoys putting in the long hours to develop an art, then you might be the kind of person that enjoys recurve archery. I guess I could have asked “Have you ever taken music lessons over a long period of time?” Same thing except a recurve bow is your musical instrument. 5 points.
7: Gadgets? Some people love gadgets. These kinds of people might be drawn to a compound bow. And boy are there gadgets to be had on a compound bow; peeps, sights, stabilizers, releases, silencers, etc. This is a small indicator but I thought I’d add it to the quiz. 3 points.
8: Simple is better? If you love the simple things, then you might like a simple bow. In fact, you might be drawn to “traditional archery” which is just the bow, string, arrow and you! Olympic archery allows for more “stuff” on the bow. The quiz is just designed to help you determine whether to go compound or recurve but if this question really struck a chord with you, take a look at a traditional recurve bow. 3 points.
9: Handicap? This is a big one but I didn’t want to lead off with it. Archery is quite literally almost for everyone! I love that about archery. If you have a handicap, no matter what it might be, archery is still possible for you to participate in. If you are in a wheelchair, or are missing an arm, or lack arm or hand strength, more options are available to you with a compound bow compared to a recurve. The shorter bow length leads to a greater string amplitude. This makes it a better choice for those in wheelchairs. The “let off” of a compound bow, allows those that lack upper body strength to participate. 15 points.
10: Physically fit? Unlike a compound bow, the farther you draw back a recurve bow, the more strength it will take to draw back. A bow is exactly like a spring in this aspect. It takes strength to draw back and hold that draw while aiming a recurve. It’s a beautiful thing though. As long as you have the correct weight of bow, this should not be a problem. Do not buy a youth too strong of a bow! They may end up with a shoulder injury, or worse in that they may lose the love of this great sport. If you are physically fit, there’s no reason that you couldn’t find a recurve bow that matches your body. 5 points.
I welcome your comments. Are there questions that I left off? Did I weight the questions incorrectly? Did I miss any aspects of archery for consideration? Please let me know and I can make adjustments to my quiz, and make it even better.
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