Which Is Faster: Recurve or Longbow?

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When becoming an archer, speed is not always the most important factor. Instead, accuracy and power are needed to hit a target. The speed of the arrow will not really affect its ability to hit a target.

However, speed is nonetheless desirable in a bow, particularly if you are hunting. This is because the arrow needs to be fast enough to penetrate a target without it moving.

If you are prioritizing speed, you may be wondering which bow is the fastest. This may cause you to question if a recurve bow is faster than a longbow.

If so, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put these bows to the test.

What Is A Recurve Bow?

Recurve bows are arguably the most popular form of bow. This bow is designed to curve in the opposite direction of the archer. This gives the bow increased power. Recurve bows are built from a wide array of materials, such as carbon fiber or fiberglass. Ideally, lightweight materials are used to make them.

These bows have been around for centuries. It is hard to say when and where they originate from, as several ancient races used recurve bows.

For example, they were used in Ancient Greece, Egypt, and China. Nowadays, recurve bows continue to be widely used by archers. In fact, this is the type of bow that is used in the Olympic Games. 

What Is A Longbow?

Longbows are a long and tall form of bow, hence the name. Historically, longbows were used in warfare. Particularly in the Middle Ages, it is well known that they were used by English soldiers.

The longbow is still used by archers today, though it is not as popular as some other varieties of bows.

Due to the fact that they were created centuries ago, longbows have very basic designs. The limb is typically made from just one piece of wood.

The type of wood used to make a longbow varies, though they are commonly constructed from yew.

Which Is Faster?

A Rundown On The Longbow

From our experience, recurve bows provide more speed than longbows. This is due to the design of the recurve bow, which stores a heightened amount of energy. Consequently, this energy will be converted into speed when the arrow is shot.

In contrast, the more simplistic design of the longbow means that it cannot store as much energy. The straighter design results in reduced speed. Thus, the speed of the arrow is negatively affected.

Of course, though recurve bows are faster, the speed can vary from bow to bow. This is because some brands are superior to others. Also, the age of a bow can affect its speed.

Therefore, a brand new longbow could be faster than an old recurve, but this is quite rare. This is why it is important to do research before buying a bow.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Recurve Bows?

Now that you know that recurve bows are faster than longbows (in most cases), you might think that they are the superior bow.

Though this may be the case, there are a few pros and cons that you should be aware of before investing in a recurve bow.


  • Lightweight design
  • Compact (takedown versions available)
  • Suitable for archery and bowhunting
  • Portable


  • Limited accuracy, especially if you are untrained

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Longbows?

We don’t want you to think that longbows are completely worthless because they are slower than recurve bows.

In fact, there are some areas in that longbows excel. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of longbows:


  • Increased durability
  • Decent power
  • Acceptable accuracy
  • Traditional feeling
  • Quieter


  • Limited portability
  • Limited accuracy, especially if you are untrained
  • Not well suited to bowhunting

Which Is The Better Bow?

While generally speaking, the recurve bow is faster and more powerful than the longbow, it is not necessarily the better bow.

In our opinion, both types of bows have their own advantages and disadvantages, as listed above. Thus, they can be used effectively in different situations.

If we had to pick one of these bows, we would say that the recurve bow is superior. This is due to its versatility, which is unmatched by the longbow. Also, recurve bows are available as take-down bows – You simply can replace the limbs – which makes them easier to store or change draw weights.

If you are trying to decide for yourself, we hope that this judgment will not affect your decision. After all, they are both brilliant bows. They merely have different strengths and weaknesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Type Of Bow Is Easier To Shoot?

The answer to this is a matter of opinion. From our perspective, recurve bows are easier to use. However, others might disagree and claim that longbows are simpler.

If you have not yet formed your own opinion, you might want to try using both a longbow and recurve bow.

Are Longbows Forgiving?

Yes, longbows are somewhat forgiving. They are certainly more forgiving than recurve bows. In archery, “forgiving” refers to how much a bow is affected by the user.

A bow that is forgiving will not be as impacted by a mistake caused by the user. Longbows tend to be more forgiving because of their more rigid designs.

Can Recurve Bows be Used by Beginners?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable for recurve bows to be used by inexperienced archers. In fact, many teachers recommend starting with a recurve bow.

As mentioned, they are quite straightforward to use, so you will be able to pick up the basics of archery with a recurve bow.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the recurve bow is faster than the longbow. But if you are participating in traditional archery, this information should not affect your choice of bow too much.

This is because speed is not that important in standard archery. However, this should be relevant to bowhunting, a sport in which speed is crucial. As a result, we recommend that you opt for a recurve bow if you wish to bowhunt.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

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