How to Choose A Recurve Bow

Which Bow Should I Buy? A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Recurve Bow

You may be considering buying a recurve bow to start your journey into archery. There are many benefits to starting with a recurve bow, including:

  • They are light and easy to transport
  • Recurve bows are much more affordable than compound bows and are great for beginner archers
  • You get a traditional archery experience with a recurve bow; recurves are favoured by “purists” who want to build their skill without gadgets
  • There are less parts to upkeep (vs. a compound bow) while you learn the fundamentals of archery

There are two factors you will want to consider when buying your first recurve bow: Draw Weight and Draw Length.

Let’s go over what these terms mean and how you can use them to choose the right bow for you.

Note: This is a guide for beginners who are interested in buying a recurve bow for target shooting. Bow hunters and compound bow shooters will have other criteria to consider.


Draw Weight

In archery, draw weight refers to the amount of force required to draw the bow string to full draw. The amount of force being applied against your finger tips increases as you draw the bowstring back further.

For example, a bow with 29 pounds of draw weight will have 29 pounds of force being applied to your finger tips at full draw.

A bow with "29lbs of draw weight" will have 29lbs of force applied to your finger tips at full draw

If you buy a bow that has a draw weight that’s too heavy for you, you’ll have difficulty drawing the bowstring to full draw. Your accuracy will suffer and you may start fatiguing too early.

Since shooting a bow requires you to use specific muscles that you might not be using on a regular basis, it’s recommended to start with a lighter poundage bow as a beginner. This will allow you to get more reps in drilling the fundamentals with proper form. Over time, your form will solidify and your muscles will adapt, allowing you to safely advance to a higher poundage bow.

To determine the right draw weight for you, consider factors such as the shooter’s physical strength, motor skills, and stamina. Below you’ll find recommended draw weights of recurve bows for people of different ages. Use this as a starting point.

Archer's Age

Recommended Draw Weight

  • Youth (Age 7-10) 10-14lbs
  • Youth (Age 11-13) 10-18lbs
  • Teenagers (Age 14-17) 12-22lbs
  • Young Adults (Age 18-22) 16-26lbs
  • Adult Females 16-32lbs
  • Adult Males 22-38lbs

Draw Length

What is draw length? Note that this is different from bow length . Draw length refers to how far back you can pull the bowstring. Drawing a bow too short or too long can negatively affect your shooting form, accuracy, comfort, and the performance of the arrow. You can calculate your draw length by doing a few simple steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms naturally extended in a “T” shape at shoulder height.
  2. Have someone measure the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the other.
  3. Take that number and divide it by 2.5.  This is your calculated draw length.

Compare Bows

With the right draw weight and draw length in mind, let’s take a look at a few beginner recurve bows.

While there are many new brands and companies offering recurve bows, Bear Archery® has been a pioneer in the industry, crafting fiberglass recurve bows for beginners since 1947.

We’ve put our trust into Bear Archery® and offer their line of beginner recurve bows with our foam-tipped arrows. Checkout the Bear Archery® beginner bows below (you’ll find suitable draw weights & lengths for all ages).



DRAW WEIGHT: 10-18lbs | DRAW LENGTH: 17-24 inches

The WIZARD is a highly recommended beginner bow for small kids. The limbs are made of fiberglass, making it a strong and cost-efficient bow for kids starting out.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one package, grab a WIZARD with the Complete Beginner Archery Set, which comes with six foam-tipped carbon fiber arrows, a beautiful backyard target board, and a beginner’s manual + engaging games that kids can play while practicing archery.

We recommend the WIZARD for kids starting at age 7.


DRAW WEIGHT: 10-20lbs | DRAW LENGTH: 20-28 inches

The CRUSADER is one-step-up from the WIZARD, and has the same fiberglass limbs with added length and draw weight. It’s a classic and is widely used at summer camps, school archery programs, as well as combat archery venues.

We recommend the CRUSADER for beginners starting at age 9. With that said, many teenagers and some adults enjoy using the CRUSADER to practice because of its affordability and light poundage.

TITAN Beginner Recurve Bow

DRAW WEIGHT: 20-29lbs | DRAW LENGTH: 22-28 inches

Here’s where we start getting into more intermediate-beginner territory.

The TITAN bow carries enough poundage to intrigue both teenagers and adults. While Bear recommends the bow for ages 12+, we find that adults and late-teens get the most value from this bow. The higher draw weight sends arrows flying much faster than its precursors, and gives beginner adults and teens a good, challenging bow to grow with.

Based on what we’ve seen, we recommend the TITAN for teens starting at age 13+. It’s around this age that they’ll either be comfortable with it or be able to grow into it quickly and continue to use for years to come.

FIREBIRD Adult Recurve Bow

DRAW WEIGHT: 29-35lbs | DRAW LENGTH: 22-28 inches

The Holy Grail for our grown-up shooters is the FIREBIRD recurve bow. It’s a beautifully crafted Bear Archery® recurve bow that comes with premium bowstrings made of dacron.

Like its precursors, the limbs are fiberglass. However, the FIREBIRD features an additional arrow rest to stabilize the arrow before release.

With 29-35lbs of draw weight, this bow packs enough power to shoot across a building, but is still very beginner friendly – it’s commonly used by adults in combat archery.

We recommend the FIREBIRD for adults and teenagers age 16+. It’s a beautifully made “beginner” bow, and will serve you long after you shed your beginner status.

Remember, buying a recurve bow with a draw weight that’s too heavy can hinder your ability to adopt a proper shooting form. When in doubt, it’s recommended to lean on the lighter side. A lighter bow will still allow you to practice with proper shooting form while preventing unnecessary fatigue and mitigating injuries from occuring.

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