Flaming Arrows Archery Club
Make archery your passion

Various Bows and Their Usage

By:George Loh


Archery is a sport that comes in many different forms. For many, it's a hobby, for others, a profession. In light of this, there are a lot of different directions that you can take when it comes to archery. Normally, archers try to hit a stationary target from a set distance, but bows and arrows can be used for hunting as well. Just as there are several different types of archery, so there are different types of bows, each with a different shape and a different use.

Compound bows are very common these days as they are a more modern form of a typical longbow. They use a pulley system to draw back the arms, which are usually too stiff to be drawn with brute force alone. The pulley and cam system leverages the arms down and stores up energy, allowing arrows to be fired with a much higher velocity. There are several advantages to using a compound bow over a more traditional bow, one of which being superior velocity and accuracy. Compound bows are typically made of an aluminum alloy that will not warp or distort as a result of moisture, temperature, or humidity. Compound bows have very developed stabilizers compared to more traditional bows, causing less vibration when an arrow is released.

Recurve bows are fairly similar to self-bows except for the fact that the upper and lower tips curve away from the archer. These outward curves allow the bow to store more elastic energy than straight bows would be able to, giving the user a tactical advantage. They are not typically used in competition as much as other bow varieties, but are instead used for hunting purposes. Historically they've been very popular with soldiers on horseback because the curve of the bow allows for a shorter bow length, thus making them less cumbersome than longer archery bows may be.

Self-bows are the purists delight. The oldest form of bow, these types is simply a long piece of wood, either slightly curved or straight, with a bowstring strung from each end. These bows can easily be crafted in nearly every part of the world from simple tools and materials. One disadvantage of self-bows is that they have to be very long to work properly, usually at least the height of the user. For the purposes of stationary archery, where the archer stands still and fires at a target, self-bows can be just as effective as composite bows, but in an environment with a lot of obstacles like woodland or urban environments their usefulness quickly diminishes.

The crossbow is not a traditional form of bow but definitely bears mentioning. It's a bow that has been mounted on a stock, allowing the bowstring to be drawn and locked in the pulled back position. The archer then needs only to pull a trigger or release a firing pin for the bow to fire. They are used for both hunting and target archery in modern times, although they have a long and violent history of warfare.