When you’re starting out as an archer one of the things you’re undoubtedly going to need is a bow, you won’t get far throwing arrows at a target, that’s for sure 😉 One of the questions you're undoubtedly going to want answered is "What's the best Beginner Recurve Bow?". There’s a lot to take in when you first start out in the sport, bows have different features and different styles, but if you’re here then you’re probably wanting to try target shooting, hunting, field or 3D archery and you’re a traditionalist or someone who wants to shoot a bow of the same style used in the Olympic games (that’s the recurve).
I’m going to take you through our top picks for 2017, and give you our winner.
Our Best Beginner Recurve Bow Picks for 2017
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon.
Recurve Bow Buying Guide : What Features do I Need?
Price & Affordability
It’s a sad fact of life that price is a factor in most everything we do, we can’t all afford the best of everything so price has to be a factor in your choice of bow. There are many ways a beginner can damage a bow, stringing it incorrectly or without a stringer (don’t do this)… which will most likely void any warranty you may get, dry-firing it or shooting it without an arrow (don’t do this either), and just general misuse. Do you know how long you’ll use your first bow? You may give up the sport after 2 months. For those reasons the first bow you buy probably shouldn’t be the most expensive, I’d suggest something you can comfortably afford until you know what you are doing.
We’ve a guide to finding your draw weight, that depends on your sex, build and general strength so take a look at that, but in general you don’t want to go too heavy. A draw weight that’s too high will result in your being ‘Over Bowed’ (the bow is overpowering you) and this will affect your technique, you need to start with a low draw weight that you can easily pull with good form and then repeat this form day after day to develop good muscle memory and strength, then you’ll find you will be able to naturally progress up the draw weight scale to something more powerful. A bow with interchangeable limbs that can be upgraded with differing draw weights is a good choice for a beginner.
Bow Size (AMO Length) / Draw Length
If you know your draw length you can estimate your ideal bow size, but you may find that an affordable entry level bow doesn’t come in exactly the right size for you. So what you need to take these two things into consideration
1) ensure the bow is not going to be taller than you
2) large bows with longer limbs are more forgiving
Trick shot archers tend to use longbows (which are as the name implies… long…) and these can be as tall as an archer, or they use bows with a long limb length. Generally speaking the bigger the bow the more forgiving it will be and the higher range of draw weights it will support. So I’d suggest as a beginner that bigger is better, but not at the expense of everything else.
How physically heavy the bow is in your hand is probably really going to only have a bearing on your choice if you are yourself of a slight build OR your intention is to use and carry the bow for extended periods of time. You’re raising the weight of the bow in one outstretched arm so they are generally built to be light, as a beginner weight doesn’t really have to have much bearing on your decision.
Riser : Wood or Metal?
A wood riser will be cheaper (generally) than a metal one, so this will help to keep costs down. Wooden risers are generally more pleasing to look at than metal ones.
The riser of your bow is where you grip it, some are bare wood and some have special grips to make them easier to hold when hot or to cover the bare metal. Bare wood is fine to grip without any special grip.
A riser can also come pre-drilled for an array of accessories such as a stabiliser, arrow rest and sight, wooden risers that aren’t pre-drilled can be DIY drilled (this may void your warranty) so having all types of fitment available is not absolutely necessary when first choosing.
A target archer will probably want fitments for a sight, rest and stabiliser as a minimum. A hunter may also want fitments for a quiver and / or bowfishing reel.
Left or Right Handedness
Some bows only come in right hand variations, and some one piece bows available in both handedness will restrict draw weights on one hand or the other. Ensure your bow comes in the right handedness for you. See our left or right handed bow guide to find which you need.
Most bows come with a string out of the box. Beginner bows will come with an acceptable quality of string, generally it won’t be the best out there but, strings wear and string break and can be replaced and upgraded so this shouldn’t factor heavily into your decision.
Arrow rests are easy to fit and replace and some bows allow shooting off the shelf without a rest anyway (but if you do this you’ll find it easier with feathered vanes on your arrows as opposed to plastic ones). The particular type of rest supplied with a bow probably shouldn’t affect your decision.
Limbs / Upgradeability
Takedown bows (bows that can be assembled and disassembled into 3 parts) can normally have their limbs replaced. Replacing the limbs of a bow is cheaper than buying a whole new bow and can increase or decrease the draw weight. Buying a bow with readily available limb replacements that lets you progress from a low draw weight to a high draw weight is a good idea as a beginner.
How your bow looks is going to be down to personal choice, unless you’re a hunter who doesn’t want white limbs covered with lettering and a bright blue riser you’ll find the overall aesthetics is a personal choice thing. So go there with something you like and something you’ll be happy seeing in your house.
Bows are pretty large things and they need to be un-string to be stored, you shouldn’t store your bow with the string tensioned and fitted. When a bow is unstrung it gets even bigger! With that in mind you’ll find that unless you have a lot of room, or a wall to hang your bow on a takedown bow will be a good choice. Then you’ll be able to purchase a carry case and store your bow in a cupboard, large draw or wardrobe.
Some takedown bows can be assembled without tools, whether you prefer this option or not is really down to personal preference, will you always remember to take the necessary tools everywhere you take your bow?
Different manufacturers give different warranty periods with their bows and will generally only ever cover the riser and limbs and not things like the string or arrow rest. Bows can have quality issues, some may have defects in the limbs and they may break earlier than expected.
Manufacturers warranties can be full for a period and limited for a period after that, a limited warranty will usually cover PART of the cost of replacing the defective component after a certain period, say 50% limb cost after 12 months. Manufacturers warranties will also usually come with caveats and be voided unless you:
- Always use a stringer
- Dry fire your bow (never, never shoot it without an arrow)
- Modify your bow
- Abuse or mistreat your bow
We’d always suggest purchasing your bow from a large online retailer with an exceptional track record in customer service, that way, no matter what the manufacturer warranty is you can always return to the retailer if you have any concerns.
Our Top Picks In Detail
Southwest Archery Spyder (Regular or XL)
The ‘Sage killer’ or ‘Sage v2’ designed by the same people (but not sold by the same company) who made the widely sold and sought after Samick Sage the Spyder lives upto the name, it’s lighter, more polished and has slightly better build quality than the Sage. A good looking bow with a wide range of draw weights and 2 different AMO lengths available (normal or XL 64"), a very affordable price point and limbs that can be interchanged with those from the Samick Sage and Samick Journey. There isn’t much to not like about this bow with the exception of the fact that you can’t assemble or take it down without the supplied tool.
Samick Sage (or Journey)
The Sage is an excellent bow, not just for the price, but and excellent bow overall. If 62” AMO is not long enough for you simply switch up to the Samick Journey which is the same bow but with longer 64” AMO limbs to give a longer draw. The Sage will shoot as well as bows in higher price brackets and looks great and has the added bonus that you can put it up and take it down without any tools. For beginners this bow comes in a wide range of draw weights (we always recommended to go low end on your draw weight for your first bow) which should be easily upgradeable by changing limbs which will be widely available due to the popularity of the bow over the last few years.
A decent quality traditional takedown barebow. The Courage comes in a range of draw weights, is light, nice to look at and is supplied with a 3 year limited manufacturer warranty and a furry ‘rug’ style stick on arrow rest. All the necessary fitment points for quiver/sight, stabilizer and arrow rest are pre-installed on the latest iteration of this bow. As a beginner, you may want to look at something with a longer AMO length for an easier experience as this one only comes in at 60”.
Martin Jaguar Elite
The Martin Jaguar Elite uses the same riser (we’re pretty confident) that Martin use in their well respected range of compound bows which makes this a good and easily upgradeable entry point into the ownership of a metal recurve bow. The riser is available in 2 color choices camouflage or matte black, comes equipped with all the necessary mounting points and has a thermal grip. As this riser is made from metal (aluminium and magnesium) that makes this bow lighter than most weighing in at 2.6lbs which is a plus point when you are starting out as your muscles will tire more quickly from a heavier bow. The issues with this one are firstly for lefties, you can only get it in the right hard version, the supplied arrow rest is a little on the flimsy side (although this can easily be replaced) and the assembly and disassembly requires locating bolts inside the riser with the screws which can be a little fiddly.
From the largest US archery manufacturer comes a great beginner bow available for juniors (PSE Jr Razorback) and up-to 35 lbs draw for adults, that draw weight should be fine whilst you are learning, anything higher and (unless you are very strong) you won’t achieve good form. A good size bow at 62” the PSE is handsome, easy to shoot, easy to assemble without tools and generally available everywhere due to the large PSE distribution network. One downside to this bow (for some) may be the white limbs with the PSE logo making it look like a target shooters bow rather than one belonging to a hunter or super-hero 😉
Verdict : Best Beginner Recurve 2017
Ask us to choose and we'd choose the Southwest Archery Spyder. The king is dead, long live the king.
No longer does the Samick Sage rule the roost any more, the Spyder is everything the Sage was and more. There is only one area where it lacks, it requires a tool to assemble, however if that really matters to you, you could replace the bolts on the Spyder with those from the Sage to get the best of both worlds.
The Spyder is lighter, has a more quality finish and is available in more draw weights and AMO sizes than the Sage, it’s designed by the same engineers and they only refined the experience.
We gave this our pick for the best beginner recurve for 2017. But this is a bow for all skill levels.