The Difference Between Recurve and Compound Arrows

The Difference Between Recurve and Compound Arrows

All arrows look the same, right? Well, they all may look similar, but that doesn’t mean they are literally the same. In fact, there are different types of arrows, which can be separated according to the type of bow you are using. 

So, the difference between recurve and compound arrows is in their use. Recurve arrows are mostly used for practice and tournaments, while compound arrows are used for hunting. In most instances, you can use the same arrows for recurve and compound for tournaments. However, recurve arrows aren’t great for hunting like compound arrows are.

What really matters is that you know what type of arrows you need to purchase for your bow. So, let’s first look at these types of bows.

All Arrows Aren’t Created the Same 

The first thing you need to understand is that there are different types of arrows because there are also different types of bows. Each bow has its own purpose, and they would be built and maintained for that specific purpose.

For example, you don’t need the same bows for practice and hunting. Having a standard longbow or a recurve bow is enough for practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice with a compound bow.

On the contrary, you can, but it isn’t something befitting of an amateur archer. As it is like that, you won’t use the same arrows for different purposes.

Thus, before we venture even further into arrows, let’s take a step back to understand the use of these two bows.

Now before we dive into looks at recurve and compound bows, check out this video to see them in action:

Recurve Bows 

Recurve bows are mainly used for practice, range shooting, tournaments, and, in some instances, hunting. However, they are usually used for tournaments and practice. 

The reason for this is because recurve bows can’t use sharp-tipped arrows, which are amazing for hunting. The mechanics of the bow, as well as its construction, dictate that it should only use smaller, lighter arrows, which won’t be effective against bigger game. 

However, you can still use it recreationally and for hunting small game such as rabbits and wild poultry. Along similar lines, recurve bows are much better for practice and tournaments. 

Recurve bows are lighter, easier to use, and a lot faster than compound bows. They don’t have complex mechanics or techniques for use. They are better for beginner archers because they allow the user to practice their form much easier. 

Compound bows, on the other hand, are great for people who know how to use a bow already. 

To figure out how far a recurve bow can shoot, check out this article: How Far Can You Shoot a Recurve Bow but keep in mind that arrows will directly affect distance.

Compound Bows 

Compound bows are more modern and well-constructed bows with amazing ability and effect in hunting. They are also amazing for tournaments. However, practicing with them will be more appropriate for intermediate archers. 

So, let’s tackle that problem with practice first. The main reason why a beginner shouldn’t use a compound bow is because it is more complicated than a recurve bow. The apparatus of cams may overwhelm beginners who are trying to perfect their form and just getting to know archery inside and out. 

Yet, compound bows are peerless when it comes to hunting. The apparatus of compound bows allows for a stronger and faster hit while using less drawing energy. Therefore, you can set the draw and lie in wait until you are certain you can hit your target. 

Now that you know what these bows are used for, it’s time to see the use of recurve and compound arrows. 

Recurve Arrows Use 

Recurve Arrows Use 

Recurve arrows are used mainly for hitting practice targets. Therefore, they have to be lighter, shorter, and more fitting for indoor use. 

Since there are different types of targets with varying thicknesses, recurve arrows are made to pierce a variety of targets. Additionally, the recurve bow has limited drawing power, so shooting heavier projectiles will be much harder with a recurve bow. 

Thus, it is much easier to use it with lighter arrows that are often made of wood or composite materials. The weight of the arrow also plays a huge role for recurve arrows. A lighter arrow will be needed to use the quickness of recurve bow’s draw. 

You can then truly utilize the recurve bow’s full power. The recurve arrows usually come with a softer tip—such won’t always be metal, or is made of a lighter metal alloy that can pierce practice targets easily. 

You can use wooden arrows for practice, as they will easily pierce beginner practice targets. They don’t weigh too much, and you can buy them quite easily. These targets are the same as the practice targets commonly used in movies. 

All in all, these are the main traits of the recurve arrow’s use. Though it’s possible to use for hunting, such purpose should be for more experienced archers only, as you will need a greater skill to operate them during a hunt. On top of that, you will require metal tips for hunting.

Types of Recurve Arrows 

So, now that you know what’s the use of recurve arrows, it’s time to separate them accordingly. These are the types of recurve arrows. 

  • Wooden Arrows 

As the name implies, these arrows are made of wood. Their main use is for practice and for targets with less thickness. These are great for practice and best suited for amateurs. They are affordable and easy to find.

Wooden arrows can be quite cheap but often this reflects the quality. Try one of these strong wooden arrows for the perfect shot.

  • Aluminum Arrows 

Also as the name implies, these are made of aluminum. The trick with aluminum arrows is that they are of a light metal alloy, perfect for the recurve bow. Aluminum arrows are a bit pricier and better for practice for beginners with some experience. 

  • Composite Arrows 

Composite arrows are a more advanced arrow for the recurve bow. They’re great for competitions, since they can be custom made and prepared to pierce stronger targets, all the while retaining their speed and power.

  • Field Arrows 

These are arrows made for hunting, and are usually composite or composite arrows with metal tips that can pierce an animal’s flesh. Yet, note that there are restrictions to the bow, meaning they can only use a less powerful field arrow. 

Compound Arrows Use 

Compound Arrows Use 

Compound arrows are used for tournaments and hunting; therefore, it is a solid and powerful arrow that won’t break when used with a compound bow’s mechanism. That’s why you will want to use proper arrows to get the most out of that let-off mechanism. 

There are several things a composite arrow needs to be to utilize the let-off mechanism. It should: 

  • Be made of strong materials 
  • Have a metal tip 
  • Be of proper dimensions (weight and length) 
  • Have enough piercing power 

Here, the same rule applies as with the recurve bow. The arrow should appropriate the shooting mechanism in the bow, so your arrows will need to be made of strong materials. Wood, for example, can be a part of it, just not the main material. 

Also, the arrows should have a metal tip. It can be a composite tip; however, in most instances, it should be metal. A metal tip can carry the force behind the let-off, so it won’t break upon impact. Luckily, there are a ton of metal tips you can use depending on your purpose. 

Thus, each archer should pick an arrow depending on their own prepositions, along with picking a proper weight and length. The archer can also really customize their approach to archery by picking a proper arrow. 

Finally, the arrows should provide you with a proper piercing power. Without it, archery itself would be meaningless.

Types of Compound Arrows 

Now, remember that the compound arrow needs to be strong and resistant. That’s why compound arrows are made from the following materials. 

  • Composite Arrow 

Composite arrows are amazing when used with compound bows because they can be modified to fit the let-off effect perfectly. They are great for tournaments and can also be used for hunting. The secret is to know which type of arrow fits your technique best.

  • Metal Arrow 

These are really common with the compound bow, as they are heavier and easier to use. They also give the user more control. Additionally, they are safer and simpler to use, and are good for both tournaments and hunting alike.   

  • Field Arrow 

These are great for hunting and have a proper weight to hunt medium game. It can pierce the body of medium game with ease. 

  • Broadtip Arrow 

These are arrows made especially for hunting. They have broad, sharpened metal tips that pierce the skin of animals with ease. They also fit the compound bow perfectly. There exist many types, but one thing is certain—they are made to kill. 

Take Your Shot

It all comes down to the purpose of your needing those arrows, and each bow offers you a chance to utilize its full capacity. 

So, take some time to know your bow’s ins and outs. Then, research and decide which bow will suit your needs and experience the best. Take your shot carefully and remember to have fun. 


My name is Roland, and I have over a decade of experience in archery, both with bow and crossbow. I want to share the best tips and tricks about archery and help you reach the next level. So, browse through the blog and find relevant information about archery and stick around.

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