Why Do Bows Bend?

Note: If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we may receive a commission but at no extra cost to you

Regardless of what type of bow you use, most bows bend. This gives them a rather distinctive appearance. Yet, have you ever wondered why bows bend? What is the function of these bends? 

Bends are normally part of a bow’s design. In this case, the bend will help the user. However, if your bow is meant to be straight, bends can develop over time. They can be an indication that your bow has become warped and that you may need to get a replacement. 

Below, we have covered all of the reasons why bows bend, whether this is part of their design or not. 

Why Do Bows Bend?

It Is Their Design

The main reason why bows bend is that they are simply meant to transfer as much energy to the arrow as possible. While some bows are meant to be straight, others utilize a bent design.

For instance, the most common variety of bow, known as recurve bows, have bent designs. Hence, the name of these bows. In fact, these bows curve in two different places.

Longbows are also somewhat bent, though it is more subtle than recurve bows. They are designed to look like a “D shape”, so the bow is slightly curved. Composite bows also feature bends. These bows are rarely used today, but many traditional composite bows, including those from Korea, have large bends. 

A bow with an incredibly pronounced bend is the Turkish bow. This lesser-known bow is recurved and comparable to the composite bow.

The substantial bend sets the Turkish bow apart from other European bows, which tend to have more straight designs.

Bows that bend are either known as recurve or reflex bows. Reflex bows are specially curved, resulting in them being reminiscent of the letter C. The difference between reflex and recurve bows is that the latter turns toward the body of the archer while the former turns away.

They Have Been Warped

recurve and longbows

On the flip side, if you have a bow that is meant to be straight but has become bent, this could be a sign that something has gone wrong with the bow.

Though longbows have a minor bend, as mentioned above, the bend will begin to worsen over time. This is because increased use will warp the wood, thus bending it into a different shape – The bow will loose some of its strength.

If this occurs, you should consider replacing your bow. This is because your performance will likely be negatively impacted by improper bending. In addition, the bow could snap if it is bent too much. 

This condition is known as “string follow”. Essentially, this is when the bow is indefinitely bent in the same direction as the string, hence it follows the string. This means that you are not drawing the bow as much as you should be able to, thus affecting the speed and power of the arrow. 

Increased Tension And Power

As mentioned, many different varieties of bows are meant to bend. The reason for this design trait is that the bend raises the bow’s tension and stress, thus increasing the power of the arrow.

This is why bent bows are often preferred to flat ones. As a result, a bent bow can lead to improved archery performance

Brace Separation

Another reason why bows are designed to be bent is that they separate the handle and the string. If the bow was not bent, then the string would hit your hand once you have fired the arrow. This would be quite painful and could cause injuries. 

Because a bow is bent, the string does not reach the handle once you have finished drawing it. Instead, it returns to its original position, which is not close to the position of an archer’s hand.

Therefore, one could make the case that the bent design of bows is a safety and logistics feature.

Enhanced Draw Weight

Lastly, a bow might be bent to improve draw weight. If you are unfamiliar with this term, draw weight refers to the force required to pull the bow.

Often, this information is listed when you order a bow, as it is important to find a model with a draw weight that is suitable. Many bent bows, such as recurve models, have high draw weights. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Arrows Actually Straight?

Yes. Well, at least they should be straight. Several manufacturers are advertising a high level of arrow straightness. Nevertheless, arrows actually bend slightly when in mid-flight. This is referred to as the Archer’s Paradox.

However, because they are made from strong materials, arrows will return to their straight form once they have landed.

Can You Fix A Bent Bow?

If your bow has become warped, it can be fixed. Though this is true, we recommend hiring a professional to mend the bent bow.

This is because it can be tricky to fix a bow if you do not have any training or expertise. This is because bows are built to have specific shapes. This often involves the use of heat to achieve the desired shape. 

What Are Recurve Bows Made Of?

The materials used to construct a recurve bow can differ. They can be made from wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber, aluminum, or bamboo.

Though many customers find bows made of natural materials to be preferable, you should bear in mind that they are often more expensive than those made from artificial materials. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve wondered why bows bend, we hope that you found the answers above satisfactory. If this is merely because of the design of the bow, you do not need to be concerned about this bend.

However, if it is due to “string follow”, we thoroughly recommend that you look into changing your bow. Alternatively, you could try to have it fixed.

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.

Leave a Comment