Recurve Crossbow Vs Compound Crossbow


Hunters are always divided in their opinion on whether compound or recurve crossbows are better. The hunters can be biased towards the type of crossbows which they use for hunting expeditions. This makes it difficult to objectively assess the crossbows and come out with a rational recommendation of one over the other. The article brings out the differences between both the types of crossbows based on their features and analyzes them in detail.

Recurve Crossbow Vs Compound Crossbow

Difference Between the Crossbows

The difference between the crossbows on the basis of their design and other features are provided below:

Design and Principle

The two crossbows differ in their design and the way in which they store the tension needed to fire an arrow. The recurve crossbow uses the same design like a simple recurve bow. It uses the same principle as a simple recurve bow for firing an arrow. A bowstring causes the two ends of the limbs to curve and the string is pulled back for firing the arrow. The compound crossbow is more modern in design and uses cams and cables to create mechanical superiority over the recurve crossbow.


The compound arrow can fire at a much higher speed compared to the recurve crossbow. The design and working principle of the compound crossbows allow for greater tension in the limbs and as a result, the arrows are fired faster. The arrows fired from the compound crossbows have higher kinetic energy and thus they travel farther and have less drop. The arrows also sink deeper into the target when fired from a compound crossbow compared to the recurve crossbow.


The accuracy is the most important factor when evaluating a crossbow. The power and the kinetic energy generated from the crossbow won’t be of much use if the accuracy is low. The recurve bow has slightly greater accuracy compared to the compound crossbow. 


The crossbow being hunting equipment needs to have an element of stealth. The quieter crossbow will be more effective in hunting scenarios. The quieter crossbow will also let the shooter take another shot if the target is missed in the first attempt. The compound crossbow is generally quieter than the recurve crossbows. The recurve crossbows have longer limbs and more draw length which causes more vibration and noise while firing the arrow. 


The compound crossbow is made of more parts which means that there are greater chances of something going wrong or getting damaged. The recurve crossbow, on the other hand, has exerts more strain on the string as it has low efficiency in storing the tension. The bowstring in the recurve crossbows have to be more frequently replaced compared to the compound crossbows.


The recurve crossbow is the clear winner in terms of maintenance required. It is made of much fewer parts compared to the compound crossbows and hence the user does not require any special skills and expertise to maintain it effectively. It can be easily restrung and serviced by an average user without taking it to an expert for servicing.

The compound crossbows are more complicated in design and use more moving parts. This makes them a little difficult to maintain. The parts of the compound crossbows wear out with time and use which needs to be regularly replaced. The compound crossbow is not easy to maintain and self-service by the user. It may be needed to take it to the service centre or experts for its proper and effective maintenance. Thus maintenance of compound crossbows is more cumbersome and also expensive compared to the recurve crossbows. 


The recurve crossbows are larger and bulkier than the compound crossbows. The compact size of the compound crossbows makes them more maneuverable than the recurve crossbows. Hunting with the compound crossbow sitting on the trees or in a lying down position is easier due to its compactness and better maneuverability.

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The compound crossbows do not have a decoking mechanism. The shooter has to end the hunt by firing the arrow into the target. The recurve crossbow, on the other hand, allows for decoking mechanism. The shooter has to only remove the arrow and uncock the bow.


A recurve crossbow is less expensive than a compound crossbow as it has a simpler technology and lesser moving parts. A compound crossbow can be more than twice the cost of a similar recurve crossbow. The more affordable recurve crossbows are a great choice for shooters getting into using crossbows for the first time.


It is important to remember that there is no one choice for buying crossbows. No choice of type of crossbow to buy is entirely correct or wrong, rather it depends on the individual preferences. Recurve crossbows are best suited for beginners who are new to crossbows and hunting as they provide a simple to maintain and economical option for the users. The compound crossbow is suited to the more experienced hunter. It should also be stressed that the outcome of the hunting depends on many other factors and not just on the type of crossbow being used.