If you love archery or bowhunting, there are not too many days in your life more exciting than the first day your child comes to you and tells you they want to shoot a bow just like you.
Archery is a great sport for any developing individual as it teaches discipline, responsibility, the safety of yourself and others, and most importantly, it can be self-empowering and build confidence in a young person.
Whether the end goal is to prepare your child for bowhunting or to have them participate in competitive target shooting, the first step is finding the proper equipment.
There are many things to consider when securing the proper archery equipment for your child or teenager, and in this article, we are going to walk you through it. Everything from draw weight to draw length, to bow size and proper technique will be covered.
Additionally, we have combed through hundreds of reviews and also have taken into consideration our own personal expertise to gather for you the top 5 best youth recurve bows currently on the market.
The Best Youth Recurve – Our Top Picks
- Southwest Archery Tiger – Best Overall Youth Recurve Bow
- Bear Archery Goblin – Best Youth Recurve Bow for Children Under 11
- PSE Razorback – Best Youth Recurve Bow for Teenagers
- SAS Samick Sage Junior – Most Dependable Youth Recurve Bow with the Best Warranty
- Southwest Archery Spyder – Best Youth Recurve Bow for Bow Hunting
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon and other retailers
What Draw Weight Should a Youth Recurve Bow Have?
Draw weight, whether you are talking about for youths or adults, is determined by an individual’s size, overall strength, and sometimes gender. I know gender can be a touchy subject, and we are not saying that males are always stronger than their female counterparts, it has to do with where their center of gravity lies.
For men, the center of gravity in their bodies is higher up in the body and can range from the chest to the mid-abdomen. For women, the center of gravity is more in the lower abdomen and hips.
The higher center of gravity for men can often lead to more upper body strength and allow them to pull heavier draw weights with a little bit more ease.
The size and overall strength of an individual can vary significantly from person to person and by age.
To simplify things, we have created this table for guidance. This table is to be used as a general guide, and your situation or your kid’s situation may be different.
General Guide for Recurve Bow Draw Weights
|Archer Characteristics||Recommended Draw Weight|
|Small Child – 70 to 100-pounds||10 to 15 pounds|
|Large Child – 100 to 130-pounds||15 to 25 pounds|
|Smaller Female – 100 to 130-pounds||25 to 35 pounds|
|Medium Female – 130 to 160-pounds||25 to 35 pounds|
|Smaller Male – 120 to 150-pounds||30 to 45 pounds|
|Medium Male – 150 to 180-pounds||40 to 55 pounds|
|Larger Female – 160+ pounds||30 to 45 pounds|
|Larger Male – 180+ pounds||45 to 60 pounds|
Using this as a general guide will help you select the proper draw weight for your child. Remember, it is not recommended, and even illegal in some states, to hunt with a bow with a draw weight less than 40-pounds.
Keep this in mind when you are purchasing a recurve bow for your child, and if they are younger and cannot shoot 40-pounds or greater, stick to the archery range until they develop the upper body strength necessary. We will talk more about using youth recurve bows for hunting later in the article.
How to Size a Youth Recurve Bow
To size a youth recurve bow for your child, the first thing you need to do is measure their arm span and determine what their draw length is. The draw length is directly proportional to the axle to axle bow length.
First, have your child stand up straight and hold their arms straight out parallel with the ground. Make sure they do not overstretch, but instead they hold their arms out naturally.
Next, using a tape measure or tailor’s measuring tape, measure the distance from the tip of one of their middle fingers to the other. Do this by placing the tape measure flat against their back.
Once you have the final measurement from fingertip to fingertip, take that number and divide it by 2.5. Now using that final number, see the table below for a general guide of what bow length is best.
Again, not all individuals are proportioned the same. This is especially true for teenagers and children that are constantly growing and have changing bodies. Use this table as a rough guide, and if you have the opportunity, go into a pro shop, and try out a few different sized bows to see which is the most comfortable for your child.
On a side note, since children and teenagers are always growing, it might be better to get one size up and let them grow into it so that you will not have to buy a new bow every time they grow a few inches.
Recurve bows can be more forgiving when you are shooting, and if they are not drawing back to the optimal draw length by a couple of inches at first, it is ok. The bow will simply fire with a little less power than designed. They will quickly grow into the bow.
General Guide to Finding Proper Bow Length
|Draw Length in Inches||*AMO Bow Size in Inches|
|14 to 17||48|
|17 to 19||54|
|19 to 21||58|
|21 to 23||60 to 62|
|23 to 27||64 to 66|
|27 to 29||66 to 68|
|29 to 31||68 to 70|
|31 or greater||70 to 72|
How to Shoot a Youth Recurve Bow
When you first begin shooting a recurve bow, there are a few basics that you need to be aware of in order to be successful and to improve your skills with practice.
One of the basics includes having properly sized equipment for your frame and strength. This pertains to draw weight, bow length, and draw length. Also, are you shooting the correct handedness? Make sure you are comfortable with your recurve bow at all times.
Next, once you have all the proper equipment, there are two general principles that apply to archery as they apply to all things in life. Those are visualization and breathing.
You want to visualize your target, your draw, and see yourself successfully striking your target. Then make sure during the entire motion of your shot, you do not hold your breath and that you are breathing deeply, calmly, and continuously.
The idea is to combine your breathing, visualization, and smooth draw and release to form a consistent shot that is the same every time. Perfecting this, and its repetition is the key to becoming a great archer.
Next, you have the form. Consider your stance, your grip, how you nock your arrows, your grip on the bowstring, your draw, and your release.
Last, you have your accessories including your arrow rest, sight, plunger, armguard, thumb-rings for a thumb draw, etc. These are the least important factors, but still, they are part of the package deal.
Focus on the main ideas of archery first, then add the accessories as you become more experienced.
The information above is intended only to be a brief introduction to the main key considerations you should think about when starting to shoot a recurve bow for the first time.
I only provide you with an introduction because, for the greatest detail on proper archery form, I defer to my colleague David James who has prepared an excellent piece on everything you need to know about shooting with proper form.
Check out “How to Shoot With Proper Archery Form” for more details!
Can You Hunt with a Youth Recurve Bow?
Some recurve bows for youth are ok to use for hunting while others are not. The main determiner of whether your youth bow is good to be used for bow hunting is the draw weight.
Remember, you need a draw weight of 40-pounds or greater to go bow hunting. This is highly recommended, but also in many areas, it is the state or local law implemented by your local Department of Natural Resources.
The 40-pounds or greater rule especially applies to big game like whitetail deer, elk, bear, etc.
The reason for this is to ensure a humane kill.
If you shoot a whitetail deer with a recurve bow with a draw weight less than 40-pounds, there is a decent chance that you will only wound the deer. A wounded deer will take-off and you will not get a second chance to strike it again. It will run away far and die a slow death by either bleeding out slowly or by being injured to the point it can no longer gather food and take care of itself.
This is a terrible way to die, and any hunter with a conscience will not wish this upon any animal.
The other reason for shooting a recurve bow with a draw weight greater than 40-pounds while bow hunting is the distance factor. You will need to shoot your target from a distance and maintain a particular striking force capable of causing a humane kill.
Recurve bows with a draw weight less than 40-pounds will lose striking force and momentum rapidly over a short distance.
So, again, if your child can not draw a recurve bow with a draw weight greater than 40-pounds, keep them at the archery range until they develop the strength. The more they shoot, the more they will develop the muscles in their chest, shoulders, and most importantly, the back’s lateral muscles. Additional core training will develop your child’s archery strength faster as well.
Youth Recurve Bow Reviews
Southwest Archery Tiger
The Southwest Archery Tiger youth recurve bow is an excellent choice for the young archer in your family. This bow can be 48 to 62 inches, comes in right or left-handed, and has a draw weight between 16 and 29 pounds. The bow itself weighs only 3 pounds, is made from high-quality wood, and contains an applied clear coat to protect the wood from moisture and scratches.
The Southwest Archer Tiger youth recurve bow has a recommended brace height of 7.625 to 8.5 inches. Also, the bow has pre-installed threaded bushings for accessory upgrades, plungers, and mechanical rests.
With an elegant design, quality construction, and the use of durable materials, this youth recurve bow is an intelligent purchase.
*Includes one 14 strand Dacron string, one adhesive arrow rest, a stringer tool, and detailed instructions, including photos, for assembly.
Draw Weight: 16 – 29 pounds.
Draw Length: 28 inches.
What we liked:
- Quality construction with durable materials.
- Sleek design with a protective clear coat.
- Adjustable bow length and draw weight.
What we didn’t:
- Only covered with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Bear Archery Goblin
The Bear Archery Goblin youth recurve bow is ideal for preteens with a draw weight of only 15 to 18 pounds. This bow has a draw length of 22 to 24 inches and has a 44-inch axle to axle length. With durable composite construction, a brace height of 6-inches, and an unbeatable price tag, this recurve bow is one of the best choices for a child just starting to get into archery.
The Bear Archery Goblin comes in both right and left-handed setups and includes two Safety glass arrows, an armguard, quiver, finger tab, and a sight pin.
What we liked:
- Durable and strong composite construction.
- Low draw weight for younger archers.
- Includes many additional accessories at no additional charge.
What we didn’t:
- Not covered under warranty.
PSE Razorback Jr.
The PSE Razorback Jr. youth recurve bow has multiple options for the axle to axle bow length and draw weight. Choose from the 62-inch bow for teens and the 54-inch bow for preteens. Select from draw weights of 15, 20, or 30 pounds.
The PSE Razorback Jr. makes an excellent starter bow for any youth and the variety of bow lengths and draw weights allow this bow to be versatile and ideal for all youth age ranges and body types.
The recommended brace height for the PSE Razorback Jr. is 6.5-inches. This bow weighs a mere 2.2-pounds making it a comfortable weight for youths.
This bow is crafted from superior hardwoods and contains both a threaded position for a cushion plunger and places to attach a stabilizer and sight bushings.
Overall, an excellent choice for someone between the ages of 10 and 15.
What we liked:
- Comes in both 54 and 62-inch.
- Choose between draw weights of 15, 20, and 30-pounds.
- Constructed from quality hardwoods for durability and a sleek design.
What we didn’t:
- Not available for left-handed archers.
Southwest Archery Spyder
The Southwest Archery Spyder is a bit more expensive than other youth bows on the market, however, it is more of a starter set than just a youth bow. This set comes with everything you need to get started with archery.
Included in the set are the Spyder bow, a bowstring, arrow rest, the stringer tool, an armguard, and three premium carbon arrows all encased in a convenient hard plastic airline-approved lockable travel case.
The arrows are 31.5-inches with 4-inch feathers and come in blue, green, or yellow. Choose between right or left-handed and draw weights that increase every 5-pounds and range from 20 to 60 pounds.
This bow also contains pre-installed threaded bushings for mechanical rests, plungers, sights, quivers, stabilizers, and bow fishing reels.
Constructed from naturally sourced wood and covered by a 1-year warranty after you register your product.
What we liked:
- Includes everything you need to start shooting immediately.
- Available in 5-pound increments of draw weights ranging from 20 to 60-pounds.
- Can be used for bow fishing.
- Comes with 3 premium carbon arrows.
- Includes hard plastic airline approved travel case.
What we didn’t:
- More expensive than other youth bows.
SAS Samick Sage Junior
The Southland Archery Supply Sage Junior recurve bow is a classic 58-inch wooden youth bow that is an excellent choice for the young archer starting out in your family.
This bow has an axle to axle bow length of 58-inches and is recommended for youths under 5-feet 5-inches tall. The draw length is 28-inches but can be adjusted to be shorter with a recommended brace height of 6.5 – 7.5-inches.
The draw weights on the SAS Samick Sage Junior are available at 14, 16, 18, and 20-pounds with both a right and left-handed option. The limbs are made from hard maple and reinforced with black fiberglass. Also, there are pre-installed brass bushings for a brass plunger, a stabilizer, a sight, and to attach a quiver if desired.
Included with your purchase is the bow, two stick-on arrow rests, and one Dacron string, however, the SAS stringer tool is not included and needs to be purchased separately. The SAS stringer tool is highly recommended for safe and proper assembly.
The SAS Samick Sage Junior is covered by one of the best and hassle-free 2-year warranties in the industry.
What we liked:
- Covered by a hassle-free 2-year warranty.
- Available in a variety of low draw weights designed for youth.
- Hard maple and fiberglass construction.
- Contains pre-installed brass bushings for plungers, sights, stabilizers, and a quiver attachment.
What we didn’t:
- SAS stringer tool sold separately.