What is the Difference Between Compound and Recurve Archery?

Find out the difference between compound and recurve archery, and what the difference between the bows is.

Difference Between compound and recurve archery

Archery is one of the highest shows of precision, as it emerges as one of the most popular sports in the world. It consists of an archer shooting an arrow to a target that is 50-70m away, with the goal of hitting the centre of the target. In modern times, two competitive styles of archery have emerged, namely Compound archery and recurve archery.

Recurve archery has seen the likes of Deepika Kumari, Atanu Das and An San while compound archery is played by archers such as Jyothi Surekha Vennam, Tanja Gellenthien and Mike Schlosser. While the basic aim and working of both types of archery is similar, there are some notable difference between compound and recurve archery.

Recurve and compound archery are named after the types of bows that are used, namely recurve bow and compound bow. Find out the difference between compound and recurve bow.

Difference Between Compound and Recurve Archery: Mechanics

Difference between compound and recurve archery; release
  • How Shooting Feels:

The biggest and most notable difference between compound and recurve archery is how the bows feel. Compound bows are said to be more modern, hence easier to shoot due to let-off. Recurve bows on the other hand are more traditional and are slightly harder to shoot due to the the release.

  • Release Mechanism:

Compound archers are allowed to use a release aid, while recurve archers are not. A release aid is a device that helps to fire arrows more precisely, by using a trigger to release the bowstring, rather than the archer’s fingers.

This release aid allows the archer to release the arrow in a much easier way, since one does not need to manipulate the bow string with one’s finger. Since the releasing part of the process becomes mechanised, the arrows become much more consistent. This also means that if an archer’s fingers are weaker, they will find compound archery easier.

In recurve, shooting without a release aid is harder, and technique becomes an important part of the game and it takes longer to master. More finger strength is also required, along with good physicality.

  • Weight of the Bow:

When a bow is full drawn, the string is completely pulled and the arrow is ready to be released. In a recurve bow, the bow is heaviest when it is fully drawn. The average weight of the recurve bow according to the 2018 World Cup is around 20 to 25kg. This puts a lot of pressure on the athlete’s back, shoulders and arm muscles, and they have to move faster and aim well.

On the other hand, compound bows are heaviest when they are pulled between 60- 90%. When the compound bow is fully drawn it is much lighter, and therefore archers can take their time and aim well, unlike in recurve bows.

Difference Between Compound and Recurve Archery: Sights and Aim

Compound bow; Recurve Bow
  • Distance from Target:

The target for compound archery is set 50m away from the archer.

Recurve archery sees the target set at a distance of 70m.

  • How does one aim in recurve and compound archery?:

Compound archers use a peep sight to help them aim. A peep sight is a small, hollow circle installed in the string of a bow. The archer uses it in tandem with a bow sight to narrow their field of vision and take proper aim at their target. A peep sight allows the archer to have clearer sight, and set the string along the lines of the peep sight, which makes aiming much more easier.

Peep sights are not allowed in recurve archery, and aiming is slightly harder than usual. Recurve archers look along the string of the bow, and tend to release slightly quicker than their counterparts.

  • The Use of sights:

Archery bow sights are devices that use pins, circle, lens or other marker to help archers hit the target. Archers generally center the sight in the middle of their target to provide a reference point for aiming.

Both compound and recurve archers use sights as a part of their set up, and the sights are very accurate which allow for micro adjustments. Compound archers are however, allowed to use magnified sights, making their aim easier.

Difference Between Compound and Recurve Archery: Which is Preferred by Archers and Why?

Why archers prefer compound bows:

  • Compound archery does not require the greatest amount of physicality, and the release aid also allows for athletes with slightly weaker fingers to shoot as well.
  • The precision in compound archery is more, as the average arrow for compound is 9+.
  • The learning curve for this type of archery is also much less, as many recurve archers are also able to pick up compound archery quite easily.
  • The compound bow also feels very modern, which is preferred by many.

Why archers prefer recurve bows:

  • Recurve archery has a much more natural feel to it, since archers use their fingers to grip the string.
  • Precision in recurve archery is a skill acquired over time, with the average arrow being around 7+. This makes for much more interesting competition.
  • Recurve is also the older form of archery and has been played longer than compound archery.
  • Finally, recurve archery is an Olympic event, and hence for serious athletes looking to go the Olympics, it is the only choice.

Both the types of archery require an intense amount of precision and skill, and while recurve archery has made its appearance at the Olympics, the world hopes to see compound archery take the big stage as well.

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