Hunting bows have come a long way since the days of sending arrows down range in the face of hordes of heavily armored calvary. The bow is a truly ancient weapon, dating back to the stone age. It’s also one of history’s oldest and most dangerous weapons.
If you’re not convinced, ask Genghis Khan or King Henry V about the devastating power of the bow. The former used two versions of a recurved composite bow to conquer most of the known world, and the latter embraced the 7,000 longbows to cripple the French and end the 100 years war.
The types of bows in the modern era are far more technologically advanced than their ancient predecessors but the longbow and the recurve bow are still used for both hunting and archery tournaments today.
Types of Hunting Bows and What to Hunt with Each
1. Recurve Bows
The recurve bows are largely unchanged, and a modern recurve bow would be right at home in the hands of a 13th-century Mongol Warrior. It’s called a recurve bow because the limbs of the bow curve away from the shooter.
These curves provide much more energy than a standard bow, and it’s a truly ingenious design. So much so that we still use them today. This is a great bow for beginners and expert archers. When it comes to hunting, however, the recurve is nowhere near as dominant as the composite.
The bow that Henry V used, along with 7,000 archers, to win the battle of Agincourt in 1415, proved for all time the devastating potential of the longbow. In this list, the longbow is the most difficult to draw and shoot, despite its standard look.
It’s simple, elegant, and powerful. You can’t wield a longbow if you have weak arms. Hunters who are skilled with longbows will take them out in the field, but it’s mostly reserved for archery tournaments and various competitions today.
3. Compound Bow
The compound bow is the pinnacle of archery and bowhunting technology. Unlike the previous two, which look similar in terms of antique aesthetics, the compound is a marvel of pulleys, cables, and cams. It’s as complicated as it is wickedly powerful.
It’s designed with these pulleys, cams, and cables to allow tremendous potential energy storage with little effort on the draw. It’s the most commonly used bow in hunting today and can include almost all of the accessories (scopes, silencers, and even triggers) found on modern rifles.
Crossbows are historically relevant as well. When the French army met Henry V on the battlefield, their archers wielded the technologically inferior crossbow. Today, modern technology altered the overall aesthetic, combining elements of the compound bow with traditional elements of the crossbow.
They have short limbs and the traditional body of a modern rifle. Like they did in the 15th century, a crank mechanism is required to draw the cable back. Though they store more potential energy for more powerful, short-range shooting, they lack the distance of the longbow.
You can hunt almost any game with a crossbow, including bears (as long as it’s legal in your state). However, you want to make sure your first shot is a kill shot, and that goes the same for the bows above.
Most hunters today use crossbows and compound bows. Using a longbow or a recurve bow requires different skills and strategies, especially with the longbow. You’re looking at 90 to 125lbs of draw on a longbow. The more you pull back, the heavier it gets.
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