What’s the Best Youth Recurve bow for 2021?

Garret Jacob | |

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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. We will cover everything from draw weight to draw length, to bow size and proper technique. Additionally, we have combed through hundreds of reviews and also have taken into consideration our own personal expertise to gather for you the best youth recurve bows currently on the market.

The Best Youth Recurve – Our Top Picks

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

A youth recurve archer
A youth with a take down recurve

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 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 CharacteristicsRecommended Draw Weight
Small Child – 70 to 100-pounds10 to 15 pounds
Large Child – 100 to 130-pounds15 to 25 pounds
Smaller Female – 100 to 130-pounds25 to 35 pounds
Medium Female – 130 to 160-pounds25 to 35 pounds
Smaller Male – 120 to 150-pounds30 to 45 pounds
Medium Male – 150 to 180-pounds40 to 55 pounds
Larger Female – 160+ pounds30 to 45 pounds
Larger Male – 180+ pounds45 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 weight less than 40-pounds. 

Keep this in mind when you are purchasing a recurve 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.

How to Size a Youth Recurve Bow

To size a 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 1748
17 to 1954
19 to 2158
21 to 2360 to 62
23 to 2764 to 66
27 to 2966 to 68
29 to 3168 to 70
31 or greater70 to 72
*AMO stands for the Archery Manufacturers Organization. When shopping for a bow you will see its AMO bow length in the product description and specifications.

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 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 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 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 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 with a 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 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 variants. 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 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. 
  • Affordable.

What we didn’t:

  • Only covered with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Check out this video brought to you by our friends at Lancaster Archery Supply.

Bear Archery Goblin

The Bear Archery Goblin 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.
An amazing review of the Southwest Spyder recurve bow by one of our favorite archers NUSensei

SAS Samick Sage Junior

The Southland Archery Supply Sage Junior 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.
Again, it is strongly recommended that you use the SAS stringer tool to string your SAS Samick Sage Junior recurve bow.

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