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Entry level recurve
Thinking of getting into traditional archery. Any suggestions on a good starter bow that won’t break the bank?
Look up “black hunter recurve” on Amazon. You can get one of those for around $100. Interestingly, they shoot really well and are well made for the money. I got a longbow (same riser, different limbs) for my son who is really rough on stuff and it has held up well.
I would suggest starting off with 40 to 45 pounds. You do not want to overbow yourself, especially when you’re starting out! You can get heavier limbs for that bow for hunting and 50# is adequate.
Get a set of arrows and tune them to the bow. You will probably want a 500 spine arrow for a lighter recurve. You may need some heavier field points to tune up those arrows, depending on how short you cut them. There is nothing wrong with having extra arrow out front or having extra weight in the points, but untuned arrows can be miserable trying to shoot accurately!
If you’re in the Denver area, look up Rocky Mountain Specialty Gear. Tom Clum is probably the top traditional bowhunting coach in the world. He has an online course called “Solid Archery Mechanics” that is an amazing value.
What Treeline said about starting with a lower poundage. Too much poundage can cause bad habits. Also, the Southwest archery Spyder is basically a refined Sage. You can get higher poundage limbs later for about $80. Put a low stretch string on it and it will shoot great. You need to know what your draw length is on a recurve though. If you draw over 28 inches I would suggest a 64" Syder XL. I have the 62"Spyder and I draw 28". I wouldn't go over 40lbs to begin with.
Tons of great used equipment out there for a fraction of the original price. If you buy something with a proven track record it's a better bargaining chip when you want to move up or out. Do some homework on length and poundage to find your comfort zone. Most first timers that go from compounds to sticks go too high in poundage with less than satisfactory results.
I have bought several of the German made bows from 3 Rivers and they have some starter bows that are great .I have had a few of the Galaxy line bows and now a Bodnik longbow and a bear paw recurve which I absolutely love to shoot both. Those are in the mid $300.00 price range but the recurve came with everything and a bow sock. Some the German made come with a 30 year warranty as well. Plus you get “Free” shipping from 3 Rivers. They are Sponsors on Stickbow Leatherwall which is part of the Bowsite . Like others have said don’t over bow yourself and I have some custom bows that cost triple that amount and don’t see much of a difference in performance. Sometimes if you kn9w someone who shoots Traditional traditional they are usually very kind to let you shoot their bow and don’t have to break the bank to get set up for hunting. Enjoy shooting and have fun learning .
The Creed recurve
The Creed recurve
Funny Bruce I just saw your last name and that is the name of my Bear Paw “Creed” recurve I absolutely love shooting . It is so smooth drawing and reason I went on a low poundage is I severed my right hand in a log splitter in 1985 and had my mid palm re attached and shortened a little . I don’t have full usage but can still shoot a bow with a glove . Here’s the Creed at a stump shoot back in March .
Hey I’m very sorry for the BIG image and I tried to edit it but don’t know how to reduce the size.
Treeline x2. I purchased a black hunter with recurve limbs for my daughter for Christmas. I got it through the Footed Shaft store. The same bow can be bought on Amazon and eBay under different names at a lower price. It is a fun, smooth drawing bow that’s ridiculously cheap for the quality. Heck you could always gift it to a beginner when decide you love traditional archery and purchase something different.
Thanks for the advice guys. I have a question. I live a long ways from a shop that handles recurves so I will likely buy online. With a compound I have a 29.5” draw length. Why would that change with a recurve?
This is a great thread! I'm also interested in shooting traditional. A friend of mine suggested a long bow to start off with because he thought it would be an easier transition, but we didn't have time to get into specifics. I'll have to follow up with him at some point. Does anyone have any opinions on longbow vs recurve for starters?
Samick Sage is nice, because it is a "takedown" bow (recurve).
Packable, easy on the wallet.
Damocles sage would be my choice. It’s affordable plus it just a dang good shooting bow.
As far as buying used, you don’t even know what you like or prefer yet. So, dumping $300-$600 on a name bow that may have a grip that causes you problems isn’t the best avenue in my opinion.
These aren’t compounds. They are finicky to what best suits you. But, the shooter can adapt to any bow and become proficient. So, start low and poke around until you develop the muscles and form necessary to shoot consistently.
Definitely look at Tom claims stuff online. He’ll make you a killer with a trad bow if you follow his advice.
Go on the Leatherwall and pick you up a nice used vintage Bear Grizzly. You can pay more, but you don't have to, and there's tens of thousands of old vintage bows still making meat today. My personal bow is a 1967 Grizz and she's a whisper quiet killer, not to mention pretty to look at!
Learn to draw, anchor, release correctly and get good form. It will help immensely shooting them.
Your draw length should be your draw length, no matter what kind of bow you shoot. Your full draw length is based on skeletal structure rather than the type of bow you are shooting. Figure adding 3 pounds per inch of draw length past 28" on most recurves.
That said, it is very normal to collapse a bit with a traditional bow vs. a compound because you are holding back the full draw weight rather than a minor fraction of it with a compound. You will compress/collapse more with a higher draw weight than with a lighter one. Interestingly, the loss of draw length ends up having more impact on bow performance than the draw weight. If you draw a lower poundage draw weight bow further, it will perform better than a higher draw weight bow drawn to a shorter distance. Tom Clum's systematic breakdown of the draw, anchor and release process will help you understand the concept.
A true longbow is much more difficult to transition to from a compound than a recurve. The handle is not shaped like a pistol grip on a compound or recurve and you will grip it with a "low wrist"(bent wrist) versus a "high wrist" (straight).
A lot of "longbows" on the market today are hybrids and will have a shaped grip like you are used to on a compound or what you would see with a recurve. Those will be easier to shoot due to the grip configuration.
The draw-force curve is also different for a longbow vs. a recurve. The majority of the longbows you will shoot will get stiffer faster than a recurve, referred to as "stacking". Instead of a consistent 3 pounds per inch at the end of the draw cycle, you will feel more like 4 or 5 pounds per inch. It can be difficult to get to full draw or shoot with good form with a bow that stacks like that. Longbow limb designs with more reflex/deflex tend to soften that draw-force curve out a lot versus the old school straight limbed longbows. The reflex/deflex in the limb design will also allow for a shorter bow length than a straight limbed bow to minimize stack. Some recurves actually feel like they are letting off as you get to the end of the draw cycle due to the recurve portion of the limb rolling out towards the end of the draw cycle.
Although you can start out with an old Bear or other used bow, most of the time, if they are hunting bows, they will be a higher draw weight than a beginner will be able to handle to develop good shooting form (over 45#). Those Black Hunter bows are amazing for the price and shoot just as good as bows costing 10 times the price. A guy could get different limbs for one riser or just get a 35-40# to learn with and a 50# to hunt with for an all-in cost of $200... Far less than one used, old bow that may have a twisted limb or crack that could cause delamination.
You'll likely draw about 28" but that's not as critical on stick bows. Look for a used 40 to 45# Martin or Howatt for entry into the sport, shoot the hell out of it and eventually buy a new bow 5 to 10# heavier
Samick Sage works great for my adult son
FYI regarding Treeline's comment about going light with the draw weight-- I inherited my dad's 58 lb Bear Super Kodiak and wanted like heck to kill something with it. It was too much poundage for me (I have much longer arms than my dad did and he was stronger than me) and I struggled to shoot it worth a darn. I dropped down to a lighter bow and discovered that I'm a total puss-- 39 lbs was plenty for me! I couldn't believe it! I shoot a 65 lb compound with no problem. 39 lbs in a recurve was about all I could handle to start with.
treeline, thanks for the information! I'll start with your recommendations. I've already checked out some of Tom Clum's videos, he knows what he's talking about.
My son shoots a Fleetwood Timber Ridge 45#. Basically a Black Hunter with fancy wood and clear glass. Fantastic bow and crazy value. He killed a nice 8pt whitetail with it.
Bow is imported but Fleetwood is a Colorado company ran by great folks in Poncha Springs. They have all sorts of entry level trad options.
FWIW....I would suggest figuring out your draw length first. If it's long like mine (31" + or -), that will limit your choices. It maybe easier to get a custom built one if ya can't find anything.
I've got a take-down and I can't pull it anywhere near my comfortable DL without fear of blowing it up. I have a hickory self-bow I made a while back and might work on that a bit more to get it where I want it. Long arms can be a pain.
The Black Hunter will not disappoint you. It is relatively inexpensive and a proven performer.
go to alternative sporting services. get an ilf riser ( metal 25'' long and a set of ilf long limbs) much easier to learn with this set up. they always have a sale on risers and limbs. light limbs the way to go. you can always buy better and heavier limbs later
Creed, A lot to take in on how you would hold a longbow and like some have mentioned it’s best to try someone’s if there’s any trad events near your neck of the woods. Anyway I’m not trying to confuse you in any way but there are different handle shapes on longbows and hybrids longbows as well. Here are some drawings from Fred Asbell book called Instinctive shooting 2 and it shows a few variations of handle designs. Many hybrid longbows may have the locator style grip and Fred’s book explains the difference . His book is a good read for anyone starting in the Traditional archery.
Lots of great info here. Just reading all of this has me interested in a possible purchase. Thanks to all for your knowledge!
If you end up with a 30" draw, you would be pulling about 45 lbs or so on a 45lb recurve. You may have the same draw on a recurve as you do on a compound...but you may not.
I shot and hunted with traditional (and shot competitively) for about 50 years. Draw length has as much to do with your shooting style as arm length. I leaned into the draw and canted my hunting bows, similar to Keefer's photo, and my draw length with both recurves and longbows is right at 28". If I was shooting a more upright target style (as I did long ago with a 66" Wing target bow when I shot on the college archery team), it increased to 30". My draw length with a compound is 30.5".
But the most important thing, as others have said, is to not overbow. That will lead to bad habits on top of bad habits. Its easier to get a bow or limbs of higher poundage as you work yourself into it, than it is to break bad habits (short drawing, snap shooting, etc..)
I bought a beginner recurve off Amazon today with the thought if it does not work I can return it and get something else . 40lbs, 28” draw. I should have it Friday. Many thanks to those who gave advice. I am anxious to try it!
What make and model did you end up purchasing??
Just one thing to be aware of on the Black hunter/galaxy line… A lot of these bows look very much alike, but some of them have a riser made of basically film-dipped particleboard where others are actually laminated wood. And as mentioned above, the Fleetwood is a step up, aesthetically. Yes, you can save a few bucks on the big site, or you can pay a smaller operation to actually set the thing up for you correctly with a nocking point and arrows in the proper spine. Do not fear the Aluminum. It’s very easy to get the spine right and you needn’t go to an extra-heavy point to get there. Part of the joy of shooting a single string bow is watching the arc of the Arrow, but too much of a good thing gets frustrating really fast . For example my younger son with one of his earlier bows; at 50 feet-ish he was shooting groups that were about 8 inches wide and a couple feet tall just because his arrows were too slow to provide a useful trajectory unless we were willing to stand there and take the same shot over and over and over at the same distance every time…. and what the hell fun is that?
And JMO…. You simply cannot go “too light”, but once you get up to about your personal limit, just a couple of pounds either way can vastly improve your shooting or can turn everything to…. Dirt.
I used to know a guy who had shot an #80 compound for many years, and a #35 recurved absolutely kicked his ass.
Better than a sage by far
I ended up buying a 62" 40lb sage. It was affordable so I wouldn't be out a lot if it doesn't work. I just got it put together and maybe have time this evening to try it.
I don't care how big and bad ass you are and shooting a 70# compound, start off with a 35-40# recurve and develop good form. Then buy replacement limbs for hunting weight (45-55#) bow. My Bob Lee 45# recurve shoots thru most whitetails if shot at a reasonable distance. Samick Sage, PSE Recurve, etc.
Creed, I don't think you can go wrong with that choice or any others provided in this thread. Have fun and enjoy, you'll definitely have fun shooting it.
Keefers, your story and pic are amazing... great form!
It ain't the bow it's the arrows and the indian......