Types of Bows – Options in the World of Archery

The ability to be a proficient shooter in archery is an extremely undervalued skill. It is one of the first forms of hunting and an Olympic sport that has been popular for decades.

For those who are considering finding a new hobby for themselves, getting the right type of bow can be a hassle.

If you are thinking about jumping into the archery world you will learn quickly that there are tons of different types of bows you can choose from.

Which one will fit your goals for archery? Which one fits your body type best?

Whether you are looking to simply enjoy an outdoor activity or extend your hunting season, there is the perfect archery bow type for you. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of the types of bows and which will suit your needs best.

Why Try Archery?

Archery is a rewarding sport that offers something for everyone. The types of bows range widely with multitude of different purposes. In order to pick the perfect bow for you, you must first decide what you want to gain out of practicing archery.

Some people prefer archery because of its unique challenge to your skill set. Coordination, strength, stamina, and accuracy are all skills you must master to be a good marksman in archery.

Target shooting is a great way to build your skill set and enjoy yourself outdoors. If you are looking for a bow and shoot targets, you certainly have that option.  There are many types of bows and arrows designed purely for target shooting.

You may want to get into archery because you wish to be a hunter. Archery extends hunting seasons in most states. Typically there is a short window before rifle hunting seasons where you may hunt with only a bow and arrow.

The adrenaline rush felt when releasing an arrow on a game animal is far greater than many other types of hunting. The increased movement required when using a bow, as well as the decreased range creates an exciting challenge for any hunter.

Whether building your skills on the target range or while chasing game, the choice of what types of bows you will need will vary heavily on the shooter. The options are limitless but when you decide what the purpose of your bow is, then picking your perfect bow is a much simpler task.

Before You Buy

After you’ve decided on your purpose for purchasing a bow there are a few things you need to consider before you pick which type of bow is right for you.

Each type of bow offers different advantages that can make it the ideal choice for some archers, but less than ideal for others.


With the multitude of different types of bows there is also a broad range of costs. You may want to have a top of the line bow for both prestige and personal comfort. However there are also many companies who offer less expensive bows that still support great performance.


While you can pick from many types of bows that are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, reliability should still be a top priority. You want to go with a company that has a great track record and a strong warranty behind its product.

Nothing will make a hunter more frustrated than drawing back on the trophy of a lifetime and having a malfunction.

Physical Ability

Finding the perfect bow will depend greatly on the intended shooter’s physical abilities.  Some types of bows will require more strength to draw back than others. All archers are not made the same and bows vary accordingly.

There are many other options to consider when choosing your perfect setup.  Things such as the look of the bow, colors, camouflage, and accessories offered are all important elements.

Before you can start narrowing down the small choices you must first pick the type of bow that will work best for your intended purpose.

Target Bows

There are a multitude of bows, which are crafted and marketed to be used as target bows.  All types of bows can technically be used for target shooting, but may not be ideal.

A perfect target bow would be light, easy to shoot, and with a light draw weight to increase shooting volume before the archer begins to tire.

All of the types of bows (Compound, Crossbow, Traditional) have options that are geared for being used for targets more than hunting. Many archers choose to go with crossbows, as they are easy to become proficient with right out of the box.

Others decide they want to build a personal skill in using a bow and therefore go with one of the many types of compound bows. Which type of bow would be perfect for you varies on your personal needs of your bow.

Hunting Bows

The majority of the bows you see online and in outdoor retailers are most likely types of bows for hunting. Some of the things that make a hunting bow stand out are its size, draw weight, and arrow speed.

The size depends on what type of bow for hunting you plan to be using.  Someone who plans to track through the mountains chasing elk may need a lighter bow than someone who plans to hunt primarily from elevated stands chasing whitetail deer.

Draw weight and arrow speed go hand in hand and also depend greatly on what you intend to hunt. The larger the game you intend to hunt, the higher the draw weight you’ll need.

Someone planning on hunting small to medium sized game such as deer or antelope won’t need the same power someone hunting grizzly bears. Everything is dependent on your intended purpose and the type of hunting situations you may find yourself in.

Types of Bows

Traditional Bows

Recurve and longbows have been used for thousands of years. Their design is timeless.

While compound bows and crossbows use of technology have provided increased speed, the ability to manipulate a simple piece of wood and string and turning them into an effective weapon is highly respected.

Using traditional bows connects us to the past, and once mastered, is a satisfying and unique skill.

What’s to Like

  • Increased challenge shooting or hunting.
  • Great way for inexperienced shooters to develop correct shooting form.
  • Quickest firing type of bow.
  • Extremely low maintenance with a simple design.
  • Very few accessories needed to get started.

What’s NOT to Like

  • Heavily decreased range compared to compound and crossbow types.
  • Hardest type of bow to shoot accurately.

Though a challenge, traditional bows are a joy to shoot. Without the aid of sights to master using only your eyes and instincts to know where to aim is a thrilling experience.

Recurve type bows along with longbows are the perfect choice for someone who wants to hunt in a more traditional way – the way their ancestors once did.

Compound Bows

Compound bows are currently the most common option for hunters and target archers alike. There are more types of compound bows than any other, and have limitless accessory options to fit every shooter. Compound bows come in every shape and size, and vary greatly in price.

What’s to Like

  • More affordable accessories and more options.
  • Mix of technology and tradition.
  • Thrilling challenge when hunting.
  • Increased range over traditional recurve or longbows – comparable to crossbows.
  • Easier to customize to shooter than crossbows and recurve or longbows.

What’s NOT to Like

  • More physical ability is needed to hunt large game with compound bows compared to crossbows.
  • Increased challenge to shoot – more discipline and practice time required.
  • More difficult for children to use effectively as hunting bows.

Compound bows provide a good combination of traditional archery methods and technology to increase the effectiveness of the weapon. Compound bows host a huge amount of accessories aimed toward helping the shooter.

It is worth noting that compound bows also require more accessories to get started. This is great because it really helps you customize the look and feel of your bow, but it also means more money required after the initial bow purchase.

With more options than any of the other types of bows, there is sure to be a compound that can fill whatever desire you may have.


One of the most attractive archery bow types is the crossbow. They are great for hunting and target shooting alike.

Unlike other types of bows, crossbows do not have to be drawn at the moment you want to shoot.  The string is drawn back and locked at full draw until the shooter is ready to release the bolt by pulling a trigger.

Crossbows work well with children or those with less physical ability, as once the bow is cocked it stays in place until the shooter decides to shoot. Many types of crossbows come with the option to attach a scope, much like a rifle. This makes the crossbow a great option for accuracy right out of the box.

What’s to Like

  • Increased out of the box accuracy for new shooters.
  • Higher speed than compound and traditional bows.
  • Great for kids or less able-bodied shooters, as it offers more power and range than any other bow they could draw.
  • Required practice time is less than other options because once the bow is sighted in it stays that way.

What’s NOT to Like

  • Crossbows are not legal to use in archery season in all states – check your local regulations.
  • Although crossbows are easy to use, if operated incorrectly they can cause injury.
  • Crossbow bolts and other accessories are more costly than those of other bows, however you don’t need as many accessories to get started.
  • Many crossbows are quite heavy when compared to compound or traditional bows.

Crossbows are a great option for new shooters as well as veteran archers who want to try something new. They are the pinnacle in archery technology, and are becoming accepted by more states as a type of bow for hunting.

There are many types of crossbows out there, and even more opinions.  Read up on each brand and check into warranty before you decide on a certain crossbow.

Best Bow for You

Each of these types of bows offers things that the others cannot. Crossbows are easier to use, compound bow types mix technology and tradition, and traditional bows offer a thrilling challenge. Each of these qualities means different things to different people.

Although guides can help to narrow down which bow you think would be the best fit for you, the only way to really know is to go out and shoot. Many retailers and shops will allow you to shoot bows to test them before you buy. This is the greatest resource in choosing which bow fits your needs.

Once you decide on which of these types of bows is the avenue you wish to pursue, there are huge amounts of different bows in each category. Hundreds of brands from which you can pick your perfect bow; each with its own pros and cons.

With this amount of options the process can seem daunting.  However, remember at one point each and every archer had never picked up a bow before. 

Becoming a proficient archer certainly is a process, and one that should be enjoyable. Do not let anyone else’s opinion be a deciding factor on your personal choices. No two people are alike and neither are their shooting habits.


All about Preference

It’s a matter of personal preference when speaking about the best types of bows for archery. This is why the large amount of different types of bows can be found in the market. No two shooters are alike, and neither are their perfect bow types.

Once an archer has chosen which fits their goals as the best type of bow for hunting or bow for target shooting, they will have a huge amount of choices on which to accessorize their bow with.

What type of arrows? Two inch or four inch fletchings? Fixed blade or mechanical broad heads?

The list goes on, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to what type of bow is best for you.

With all the different types of hunting and target bows available to the modern day archer, one must try and narrow down the list. Find what works for you best and get to shooting.

Eventually your setup will be fine tuned to fit every preference you have as an archer, but to get there it all starts with finding the bow.