One question I’m asked often is, “What size bow do I need?” My answer is usually something along the lines of, “well, what do you want to do with your new recurve bow?”
The truth of the matter is that your proper recurve bow length will depend on a few different things.
For example, are you planning to do target practice only, or are you also planning to go bowhunting?
Let’s discuss these details a bit further, below.
Does it matter what size recurve I buy?
Yes, it does matter what size recurve bow you buy. You’ll want to get a recurve bow that is properly sized for your intended use because a bow that is too small will be harder to control and keep consistent. On the other hand a recurve bow that is too long will sacrifice arrow speed. It is generally unwise to use a “one size fits all” approach to archery.
Let’s go further in depth —
The problem with a recurve bow that’s too small:
If your recurve bow is too small you’ll be limiting yourself tremendously. You won’t be able to shoot your arrows properly and you’ll be restricted to the limitations of the smaller recurve. A common problem will be your draw weight.
And to be able to pull the string back to the right anchor point, you’ll have to overcome extra draw weight, measured in pounds, after you get to, and then exceed past, the natural draw length of your bow.
While this might not be hard for you to do, the problem comes with having extra difficulty in controlling your shots. And, because the draw may end up being different each time, you’ll also have a hard time keeping them consistent.
You may end up thinking that the problem is you or something you’re doing wrong, when in fact you just don’t have a properly sized recurve bow
Okay, so what about a recurve that’s too long?
This is far less serious of a problem than having a bow that is too small.
There is still a problem, however, and that is that if you have a bow that is too big you won’t be able to pull the string back to the spot the manufacturer designed it to be released at. This means that the arrow won’t reach its maximum speed and will ultimately transfer less energy to your target.
For target shooting this means that your arrow will drop faster. For hunting, your arrow will hurt the animal instead of kill it. That is inhumane.
What’s your draw length?
It is absolutely imperative that you figure out what your draw length is because that factors into what size recurve bow you should buy.
We’ve even provided you with a very detailed guide that outlines just how to figure out what your draw length is.
Then, once you know what your draw length is, you can move on to choosing the right size bow. We put the following list together to help you figure it out.
And, generally speaking, it’s considered a better practice to shoot a longer recurve bow than one that is too small, for the above-stated reasons.
- 14“ to 16” draw length = 48″ recurve
- 17“ to 20” draw length = 54″ recurve
- 20“ to 22” draw length = 58″ recurve
- 22“ to 24” draw length = 62″ recurve
- 24“ to 26” draw length = 64“ to 66” recurve
- 26“ to 28” draw length = 66“ to 68” recurve
- 28“ to 30” draw length = 68“ to 70” recurve
- 31“ draw length and longer = 70” to 72″ recurve
Additional criteria for recurve bow hunters:
Bow hunters have other things to consider that are important. For example, if you use a bow that is too small and your arrow doesn’t deliver the proper amount of energy to your target, you may just end up hurting your animal, instead of killing it.
It’s never cool to make an animal suffer, especially if it can be avoided by using the right gear to begin with.
A bit of a caveat to using the exact size bow you actually need, and is something that many bow hunters have to deal with, is that of maneuverability. If you’re hunting in a tree stand, blind, or are even stalking on the ground, you’ll have a harder time maneuvering a bigger bow.
Therefore, if you’re stuck with this type of instance, utilizing the shortest bow you can accurately and effectively shoot is the best choice.
You don’t want to go too short, though, because the longer the bow, the more accurate your shots will be, as a general rule of thumb.
Knowing what size bow you need that will be maneuverable that is also accurate and capable of delivering enough power will only come with experience, however.
The more experience you gain, and the more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be to know your own limitations, as well as that of your gear.
It is never a good idea to hunt with a recurve bow that is 58 inches or shorter. The shortest you’d want to use is 60 inches for accuracy purposes (because longer recurve bows tend to be more accurate). And, we’ve found that bows that are 64 inches are still capable of being moved around in the smallest of tree stands.
If you can keep it in that range you should be good to go.
For the beginner, having a recurve bow that is long enough for an easy-enough pull that allows you to reach your anchor point and suited for your draw length is ideal. Things will change a bit for hunting, but you’ll need a bow that will provide your arrow with enough power to provide you with a clean kill to prevent the animal from suffering.