Choosing a Basic Recurve for a New Archer - High Altitude Archery

Basic Recurve for Recreation or Target Archery

Basic recurves are great for an introduction to archery for recreation and even to start competing.  Recurves in this category are usually characterized by a wooden riser and wood / fiberglass limbs.  Generally speaking, the limbs can be taken off the riser, and replaced with new limbs as the archer gains skill and strength. Basic recurves have mounting points for accessories such as weights, stabilizers and sights, though it is unusual to see anything other than a weight or single long-rod stabilizer used with a basic recurve.

At High Altitude Archery, we prefer the Samick Polaris, Samick Sage or PSE Razorback or Nighthawk as a basic recurve. We find these manufacturers provide good quality at a reasonable cost.

Choosing the right size of basic recurve

Recurves are relatively easy to size correctly. When strung, the recurve should stand with one tip on the ground and the other tip should be roughly between the middle of the ear to the top of the head. For example, given a 5′ 9″ individual, a 66″ recurve would be a very good size.

Where sizing gets tricky is when dealing with younger archers who may be growing rapidly.  In these cases, keep in mind that it’s better to choose a bow that’s slightly longer than required than having a bow that is too short.

Choosing the right draw weight for a basic recurve

An appropriate draw weight depends on several factors specific to an individual.  When sizing a bow at High Altitude Archery, we take into account an individual’s strength and skill level. We attempt to find a draw weight that is “challenging but not difficult”.

When deciding between a slightly heavier or slightly lighter draw, we will consider the archer’s skill. For a higher skill archer, we will recommend the higher draw weight, where a more novice archer would be recommended a lighter draw weight. Archers just learning how to shoot will be working mostly on form, and will suffer if they’re “fighting” a heavy bow.

During an in-person bow fitting, we will present the archer with a number of different draw weights and look for a weight in which the archer will be able to hold at anchor with minimal shaking. It should take effort, but not be difficult for the archer to come to anchor, and the archer should feel like they could continue to shoot for at least an hour without being too fatigued.

Generally speaking, new archers need a bow of 20# or less to practice correct form. An experienced archer might want a bow up to 30-35# for general recreation or basic target archery use.  For hunting, bows of 35# or higher are required in Colorado, and other states have minimums that may differ.

The next step: Arrows & Accessories

The bow is only part of what you need – read on to learn how to select arrows, armguard, finger protection, quiver and any other accessories you might need.