Compound vs Recurve Bow, Which One is Best for Survival?

Compound vs Recurve Bow,
Which One is Best for Survival?

If you’re in a survival situation, or planning to live off the grid,
you are probably interested in weapons.

Specifically, what weapon should you take with you.
Guns are a logical choice, but here in the UK they are not readily at hand for the average prepper.

They’re hard to maintain over long periods of time because they require ammunition. Once you run out of ammo, the gun will be useless.

A better choice for survivalists is the bow. But, there’s choices there as well.
Here, we will compare a compound vs. recurve bow, but which one is best for survival?

What’s the Difference between a Compound or Recurve Bow?

Many people have an opinion about which is better, but don’t have any evidence to back it up.

To help you make the best choice for you, we’ll go over the differences between a compound and recurve bow.

Bows have some similarities.

Both a recurve and a compound bow use leverage as a mechanical advantage.

Also, these weapons depend on stored energy to cast an arrow fast and far.

In both situations, the arrow will travel
much further than a person could throw it.

As preppers, we like to know stuff.... We all know knowledge is king, and especially survival and prepping knowledge. 

So knowing exactly 'how' a bow works is essential to understanding the 'whys' and 'hows' of a bow for survival and SHTF purposes.

Using a bow for hunting and survival is an age old skill, and going right back to basics it is really quite easy to make your own perfectly good, functioning bow.
But the modern bow can be a bit more complicated.

Recurve bows store energy as it is drawn.

As more energy stores, it gets harder to pull the string.
Compound bows are different because they use their mechanical advantage through cables and cams.

Cables and cams let off some of the weight used to draw the string back. A compound bow will send an arrow farther than a traditional bow.

The differences between compound bows and traditional models like a recurve have several other differences including price, accuracy, weight, power, and speed.

Price Differences Between Recurve and Compound Bows

Just looking at a recurve and compound bow, you can tell there is a price difference.

A top of the line recurve bow can cost as much as £1500. However, most traditional archers can get a great model for around £150 - £200.

Any archer interested in a compound bow should expect to pay around £150 for an entry level model. But, most higher end compound bows fall in the £500 to £1000 range after they are all set-up.

If you are trying to decide what type of bow would be ideal for a survival situation, the prices for each model are similar.

Which is more Accurate Compound or Recurve?

When set up right a compound bow is extremely accurate.

Using a peep, release, and other shooting accessories help make an average archer a great shooter.

bowhunting for preppersd

Without the help of cams and other mechanisms, a recurve bow is harder to draw and increases the possibility of the shooter shaking or quivering.

The movements can make shooting less accurate because of poor alignment.

 If you take an average shooter and give them both choices, they will likely be much more accurate with a compound bow.

Since accuracy can be the difference between eating or starving in a survival situation, a compound bow makes a better choice.

Recurve Bows are Much Lighter than Compound Models

Another consideration to make for a survivalist is whether weight makes a difference.

If you are going to carry your bow with you always, it might.  A compound bow can be heavy.  In comparison, a recurve bow is extremely light.
In fact, a recurve
 bow could weigh just a fraction of a compound bow.  Even compound bows made of super light material weigh more than a rifle, which still makes it pretty heavy.

If you have a ton of ground to cover, will be climbing, or running, a recurve bow is a better choice because it won’t slow you down.

Not convinced?
Think about this as well.  A bow isn't the only thing you'll be hauling on a daily or regular basis.  Likely, you'll also have a cook kit and canteen, hunting light, knives, and much more.

With so much to carry, it doesn't make sense to weight yourself down with a heavy hunting tool too.

A Compound Bow has More Speed and Power than a Recurve Bow

We talked about it earlier, but it’s worth going over again.

Not only is a compound bow more accurate than a recurve, but it also tosses arrows faster and further. Compound bows can do this because of their mechanical advantage.
For even better results, archers can use a heavy arrow, which will go far fast and penetrate deep.

Does Shoot Ability Matter?

Now, it’s time to talk about shoot ability.

It’s a controversial topic and those that favour either the traditional or compound bow may never agree completely.
However, there are still a few topics to highlight for consideration.

When shooters aim, and fire a recurve bow there it’s silky smooth.  
There’s no jerks or unexpected hand movements.  For this reason, recurves are often considered more shooter friendly.  

But, it’s important to consider whether losing some accuracy is better than a smooth shot.  Other factors to consider include noise.

Compound bows are noisier than a traditional bow.

Some older bow models make sounds like rifles being shot when the string is released.
There’s also a ton more hand vibrations when shooting, which makes it difficult to repeat repeatedly.

The Perfect Bow for Survivalists and Preppers

When it comes to survival situations, the best bow choice may be one that is made of raw materials.

Arrows and fletchings can be made with natural materials.

Broad heads can also be made or be made of stone.  If you have a traditional compound bow and run out of arrows, it’s not easy to make arrows for this type of bow.

A wooden arrow in a compound bow could cause the arrow to explode and become dangerous.

With all things considered, a traditional bow is a better choice for survival situations because the resources used to create are readily available in nature.

In conclusion, the best choice for survival situations are whatever you feel most comfortable using.

If you are comfortable shooting a compound bow before you found yourself in a survival situation, you’ll still be most comfortable with that choice afterwards.  The same goes for a traditional recurve bow.

Both weapons have relatively the same costs associated with them.  As far as accuracy goes, the best compound bow has some advantages.

But, in terms of weight and the ability to move while carrying the weapon, a traditional bow has the compound bow beat.

What this means is that it’s really a personal choice as to what type of weapon you want to use in a survival situation.

But, because of sustainability and the ability to reproduce arrows and even the entire bow if possible, we recommend relying on a recurve bow first with compound bows as a close second.

A big thank you to  Brandon Cox who took the time to send this great article over to me.

Brandon is the founder of the American website blog: StayHunting, and is passionate about all things of hunting and fitness.

Through his hunting website, he would like to share tips & tricks, finest tech that will excite all of the intricacies of hunting whether you be an amateur or a professional.

I hope this article has helped you, and given you more of an idea about choosing a suitable bow.

  • As we all know

    Bow Hunting in the UK is completely illegal

     and should not be practised anywhere in the UK.

    There are severe fines imposed on anyone seen or caught or attempting to carry out bow hunting for real.

However, please take a look at my article on

Bow Hunting For Food and Survival, where I cover the whole topic and how you can practice for SHTF without any legal problems.


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1 comment

    • Gary on May 31, 2020 at 3:03 am
    • Reply

    Good article, the rifle subject re affirmed what I had already decided, with it being reduced to no more than a fancy club once the ammo runs out, but if there are a few of you a rifle will increase the chances of everyone having enough to eat until trap sites are established, and someone else could have a bow.
    I stick to a take down recurve bow for simplicity and ease of maintenance over a compound bow. As it stands I haven’t found anyone to team up with yet so I have to look at what kit I can carry as an individual.

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