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Guide to the different types of bows

A bow consists of at least one string, one handle and two limbs.

The types of bows are grouped into three categories: the recurve bow which is also called a classical bow, the longbow also called a straight bow and the compound bow which is a bow with pulleys. The other bows listed in this mini-guide are sub-categories of classical or compound bows.

Recurve or classical bow

Arc recurve hattila

Technical characteristics: The recurve bow is recognizable by the curves of its branches and its more massive handle. It can be used for instinctive shooting without sighting device, but can be enhanced with accessories to optimize its use, such as a stabilizer, a sight, vibration dampers... It is available in different sizes and powers, up to 40 lbs for adult recreational shooting.

Hattila.com offers for children and beginners recurve bows 15 lbs with prices ranging from 39.90 to 64.90 euros.

Advantages: This bow offers the widest possibility of practice with leisure, competition, hunting, target shooting indoors or outdoors.

Disadvantages: A little less adapted for hunting than the compound.

Monobloc bow

Arc monobloc hattila.com

Technical characteristics: Simple and essential, it is ideal to start in traditional shooting. More stable, the recurve monobloc bow is made in one piece, often in wood, and is reserved for traditional bow lovers.

The arrows can be made of wood, carbon, aluminium or fibreglass.

Monobloc bows are available in several sizes and powers. Prices range from 150 euros for an item coming from China to more than 1000 euros for more sophisticated material.

Advantages: Light, cheaper, beauty of the bow.

Disadvantages: Reduced performance, fixed grip, not upgradeable.

Removable bow

Arc démontable hattila

Technical characteristics: The limbs fixed on the body are removable for transport or to modify the bow's performance. The materials used are carbon, fibreglass or aluminium, but the handle can be made of wood. Ideal for progressing archers, there is no need to buy a new bow to change its properties.

The prices are very fluctuating depending on the materials and the power of the material. A minimum of 300 euros for a handle and 400 euros for a pair of limbs is required.

Advantages: More rigid, more refined, it offers different adjustment possibilities, better performance and the grip is interchangeable.

Disadvantages: Heavier and more expensive.

Bow with pulleys or compound

Arc a poulie de chasse ou loisir

Technical characteristics: The Compound or cheap bow with pulleys is a bow allowing a faster propulsion of arrows by a set of hoists which multiplies the power. The criteria of choice are very numerous (size, length, power). For leisure, the power ranges from 12 lbs (for children) to 75 lbs for hunting bows. Higher powers will be reserved for hunting.

Hattila, online bow shop, offers a concentrate of choice and prices, with a starting price of 39.90 € for a compound bow for children with a power of 12 lbs. The maximum price for the compound leisure bow is €124.50.

Of American design, it is mainly used for hunting, nature and target shooting.

Advantages: High power, precise shots.

Disadvantages: Difficult adjustments.

Straight or longbow

Arc droit longbow

Technical characteristics: The longbow is also a traditional bow of large size (2 meters), straight, D-shaped. It is now possible to find straight bows of different sizes, depending on your morphology. Made of a single block, it is made of yew, boxwood or

glued laminated wood. It is a medieval bow of English origin with instinctive shooting, reserved for confirmed archers practicing nature shooting.

The powers of the longbow range from 25 to 60 lbs. The arrows must be made of wood for the competition.

The prices are varied from 100 euros to more than 1000 euros.

Advantages: Flexibility, lightness, aestheticism.

Disadvantages: Without an aiming aid, it is difficult to control and has a low yield.

Wooden bow

Arc en bois

Technical characteristics: The wooden bows are either monobloc recurves or longbows. They keep the authenticity of nature and instinctive shooting and their lightness allows them to keep in hand for hours.

The sizes and powers proposed are numerous and wooden arrows are preferable.

Robin Hood and Game of Thrones fans will appreciate this equipment.

Advantages: Flexibility, lightness, beauty of the bow.

Disadvantages: Difficult to master, a bow for one use.


Arc barebow

Technical Specifications: Used in some field shooting competitions, the barebow is a traditional recurve or longbow, which can be shot without the addition of equipment such as a sight, stabilizer, range indicator or aiming mark. The bow is stripped of its accessories, with the possible exception of the button-berger.

The characteristics of the sizes and powers, as well as the adjustments correspond to the classical bows.

Advantages: Good way to learn all aspects of shooting, strong feeling of the bow instinctive shooting.

Disadvantages: Need time to master technique and gestures.

Hunting bow

Arc de chasse en ligne pas cher

Technical characteristics: All bows, recurve, longbow or compound can become hunting bows. It all depends on the game to be hit and the archer's will. The difference will be especially in the arrows which will have to be equipped with broadheads. The indispensable accessory of any bow hunter is the knife or rather the knives to deal with the caught game.

The purists will keep the traditional longbow or recurve bows favouring instinctive shooting.

The compound bow was created in North America for hunting and some very powerful equipment allows it to catch big game, such as wild boar. The position can be held for a long time and patience is the prerogative of a good hunter.

Hattila.com offers compound hunting bows from 50 to 75 lbs at €189.00.

Competition bow

Arc de competition

Technical characteristics: Each type of bow has its own competition, but the official bow of the Olympic Games remains the recurve. The competition is held on indoor or outdoor target (FITA). Nature shooting is done on animal crests, while 3D shooting is done on painted foam targets imitating animals. Hattila.com offers competition bows from €989.00.

Here are the different types of competitions according to the federations and the types of bows used:

  • Line shooting: indoor shooting (27.3 yds maximum), outdoor shooting (76.5 yds maximum).
  • Course shooting: field shooting (24 known and unknown targets, distance 5.4 to 65.6 yds), shooting in nature (21 targets in animal imagery, distance 5.4 to 43.7 yds), 3D shooting (on 3D replica animals), ski-arc (equivalent for the biathlon bow).

Advantage: Ideal minimum equipment, light.

Disadvantages: Incompatible with hunting.

The Japanese bow or Yumi

Technical characteristics: The Yumi is a traditional Japanese bow that is used to practice a martial art called Kuydo, heritage of the Samurai. Originally made of bamboo, fiber or carbon are tolerated. The bow is held exclusively with the left hand and its asymmetrical handle is in the lower third. The very large bow is more than two meters long and is deprived of any equipment. The Japanese arrow is called the Ya. It can be made of bamboo, aluminium or carbon fibre.

Advantage : The quality of the posture and the gesture is privileged allowing to obtain a perfect shot.

Disadvantages : Spiritual practice, requires a specific outfit.