What You Need to Know About the Types of Bows for Hunting

Hunting is a continuous learning process, just like any other aspect in life. After you master one skill in hunting, you must move on to another skill and master that as well. In this way, you are maximizing the time that you have as an able-bodied hunter while learning as many skills as you can. If you’re a hunter who wants to try out the joys of bow hunting, this article can tell you all about the different types of bows for hunting.


Bow hunting is a subdivision of hunting that makes use of bows and arrows to subjugate the animal you are hunting. Hunting with bows has been with the human race for thousands of years. Our ancestors used it for warfare as weapons and for hunting as tools. Ever since the first bow and arrow emerged in history, people have been finding ways to improve it.

Today, there are many types of bows for hunting that you can choose from. If you are a beginner, then you may find a hard time trying to decide what type of bow is right for you.

Bows differ in form, function, and advantages and disadvantages when used for the sport of hunting. In the next section, we will discuss the features of each bow so you may be able to better understand the differences between them.

Types of Bows for Hunting

There are four different types of bows namely: recurve bow, compound bow, traditional bow, and crossbow.

The Recurve Bow

An Olympian using a recurve bow

An Olympian using a recurve bow - Photo credit: www1.pictures.gi.zimbio.com

In ancient times and modern history, recurve bows were used by warriors on horseback, because this type of bow is shorter than a traditional bow and delivers more energy and speed with each arrow. Thus, it was easy to use while on an uncomfortable place such like a horse’s back.

In more modern times, recurve bows are mainly used for archery and sport. A recurve bow has a distinct form: the ends of the limbs curve away from the archer, a shape that gives more power and speed to the arrow. While using this bow, you won’t need a lot of strength to draw, which makes it a good bow to start with if you are a beginner.

However, a disadvantage to using the recurve bow is that if you draw the string for a longer period of time than needed, your aim is most likely to waiver, unlike when using a compound bow. The accuracy of your shot when using this bow is also related to the bow’s draw weight. Thus, you need to estimate this while testing out the recurve bow.

In terms of hunting, the recurve bow is great to use for hunting small creatures since the arrows you can deliver with this bow are fast, fast enough to hit a skittish animal. It’s also recommended for bow fishing; another great pastime for many hunters.

Another advantage to using the recurve bow while hunting is that it’s easier to carry around thick brush and forests, meaning that your bow won’t get tangled up while you’re walking.

The Compound Bow

A hunter using a compound bow from a tree stand

A hunter using a compound bow from a tree stand - Photo credit: assets.bowhunting.com

The compound bow is essentially an enhanced version of the traditional bow that uses a levering system. The cables and pulleys in the levering system allows the hunter to draw a full and heavy draw.

Arrows that are shot from a compound bow are more powerful, accurate, and precise. This is mainly why most hunters who hunt down large animals such as bucks prefer to use a compound bow.

Moreover, a compound bow is also rigid in its structure, which makes it more energy-efficient. The compound bow is also less prone to being affected by external factors such as temperature and humidity, so shots are most likely to go off accurately and precisely to the target.

There are disadvantages with using the compound bow, unfortunately. Well, I wouldn’t recommend this type of bow for beginner hunters because the levering system makes it very difficult to draw. It requires a lot of strength and patience, which a more experienced bow hunter should have.

Moreover, the compound bow would need more maintaining because of the intricate parts. Thus, if you are not ready to upkeep your hunting bow, then choose another type from this list.

The Traditional Bow

A man using a long bow for target practice

A man using a long bow for target practice - Photo credit: www.virginexperiencedays.co.uk

Also known as the long bow, the traditional bow was already being used hundreds of years ago as a weapon. The body of the traditional bow is long and is relatively easier to draw than the other types on this list.

The traditional bow is still being used to this day by modern hunters and archers. However, it would not be so practical to use while out hunting in the field if you do not know what you’re doing. Most hunters and archers are up to the challenge of using the traditional bow to be able to master it, but it would take much skill, practice, and patience before one is able to do so.

Other disadvantages of the traditional bow are that it is harder to aim, which is why it takes skill to use as mentioned before, and it do not deliver the same arrow speed as the other types of bows.

Nevertheless, if you are more experienced in bow hunting and archery, you can try using the traditional bow to widen your skill set.

The Crossbow

Hunter with a crossbow on a tree stand

Hunter with a crossbow on a tree stand - Photo credit: www.grandviewoutdoors.com

The hunting crossbow is widely used by modern hunters because it is light and easy to carry around while trekking in the woods. It’s also quieter than the other bows, so you have less chance of spooking your prey before actually getting to them.

A crossbow is essentially like a firearm in terms of how you aim it. When using a crossbow, you would need strength since it is fairly difficult to draw, but it pays off when your shot goes out accurate and precise to your target.

The crossbow is a good choice when hunting down bigger game like elk or deer. Since these animals have a good sense of hearing, there is less chance of them running away because the crossbow won’t make much noise when firing.

Moreover, the crossbow is a good choice if you want to do target practice. It can deliver long-range shots, but you would need to have skills to be able to do that.


In this article, we talked about the different types of bows for hunting, including their advantages and disadvantages. If you are a beginner bow hunter looking for the right type of bow, then I hope this article cleared things out for you. Remember to choose wisely, especially if this is going to be your first bow.

If you enjoyed this article, why not share this with your hunter or archer friends? Questions and comments can be left in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

Sheldon Martin

Sheldon Martin is the founder of Captain Hunter. CaptainHunter.com is a site dedicated to the sport of hunting. We have a deep respect for nature and for the environment, and we therefore take the sport of hunting very seriously. Never think that you are alone in the woods again. Our goal is to share what we know with who needs it most.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed