Traditional bows can be longbows or recurves, so long as they do not have sights, stabilizers, or other accessories. You can identify the longbow by its straight limb tips at either end of the bow and the recurve bow by its curved tips. Archers shoot traditional bows in all the major types of archery. You will see traditional shooters in target archery, field archery, 3D archery, and some will use them for bowhunting at higher draw weights.
What is special about traditional bows?
As we discuss in our section on the Types of Archery, traditional archery means different things to different people. For some, it means technological simplicity. For others, it means coming as close as possible to an historical ideal.
Traditional bows usually do not come apart the way “takedown” recurve bows do for target archery and the Olympics. Another type of traditional style bow is called a “selfbow,” which is a longbow made from a single piece of wood. Traditional bows may be made from different woods or natural materials which have been laminated together. They may also combine wood and fiberglass laminated limbs.
What should I look for in my first traditional bow?
For both longbows and traditional recurves, a good rule of thumb is to make sure the bow is slightly shorter than the archer. It should also have a relatively low draw weight, regardless of the archer’s natural strength. For more in depth reasons why low poundage is beneficial to new archers, see the section on draw weight.
Most archers begin with a simple, affordable bow that will help them learn the basics of the sport. They then transition to a more advanced bow when they are more comfortable with shooting form and are ready to begin competing. This can save money in the long run, because if you begin with advanced equipment you may realize that after some time your needs may change as you learn more about the sport. This is especially true if the archer is young and still growing.
Your first traditional bow should:
• Match your eye dominance
• Be matched to your draw length
• Have a light draw weight that you can easily draw and control
• Be affordable, but good enough quality to be able to grow with the archer for the first 6-12 months of shooting