Recurve vs Compound Crossbows, What’s the Difference?

recurve vs compound crossbow

I’m sure that all of us who love the outdoors have had a desire at some stage to go back to our roots and really live out the life of traditional woodsmen. Back in the day, hunting formed an integral part of that life and most hunters used archery equipment for hunting.

Nowadays this has turned into a sport where everyone can join the fun, from target shooting right through to serious hunting, with hunters turning back to more traditional hunting methods like bow hunting and crossbow hunting.

Let’s have a look at the difference between modern recurve and compound crossbows.

What it a Recurve Crossbow?

The modern recurve crossbow has curved “limbs” usually made of carbon laminates, fibreglass laminates or a combination of the two materials.

recurve crossbow

The poundage of the limbs is measured after the limbs have been fully drawn back by the string to the final nocking point. (This poundage is the power which will be transferred to the bolt when the trigger is pulled.)

The velocity that the bolt will travel at is measured in Foot per Second (FPS). Recurve crossbows usually fire with a lower velocity than their compound counterparts and are solely reliant on the shape and strength of their limbs to generate energy.

What is a Compound Crossbow?

The main difference is that the limbs (also constructed from carbon laminates) incorporate a cam system for additional compounded energy during the shot.

compound crossbow

The compound is reliant on a combination of limb strength as well as the unique cam system, which increases the velocity at which the bolt will travel as well as the kinetic energy produced.

The compound crossbow shoots at a much higher velocity than the recurve and as such is a formidable hunting weapon that packs a real punch. Compounds, being more high-tech than the recurve, requires a bit more knowledge of compound function for maintenance purposes, which may involve taking it in to a pro shop for servicing.

One hugely important thing to remember about any bow is that they should never be drawn back and fired without an arrow. This is called a dry fire, which will damage or split your bow’s limbs and could pose a safety hazard to the shooter.

How Do They Compare?

*Velocity vs *Power (Kinetic Energy)

Velocity is the speed that a certain weight of arrow travels. A light arrow shot from a bow will go superfast but won’t carry slamming power, whereas a heavier arrow shot from the same bow will go a bit slower but carry more slamming power (kinetic energy). So a fast velocity doesn’t necessarily make the arrow a killer. The power is more important.

We’ve put together a list of the best available products below…

Best Recurve Crossbows

Arrow Precision’s Inferno Fury

inferno fury

The Inferno Fury by Arrow Precision is a great recurve crossbow for target shooting and small game hunting.

It has a draw weight of 175 pounds, but being a recurve has a much slower velocity of 235 FPS.

An awesome feature is the 3 dot multi-range scope for various distances, taking a lot of guesswork out of aiming at a target. The comfortable padded sling is great for carrying the weapon over your shoulder while you walk through the woods.

This recurves’ slower velocity and lesser kinetic energy unfortunately makes it suitable for only smaller to medium game at very close distances, however this makes it a great weapon for first time shooters to get into the sport and for target practise.

SA Sports Fever Set

sa sports fever

Having a straightforward, simple to use weapon is always great in the field and this makes the SA Sports Fever a winner.

It has all the necessities neatly combined into a light weight classic recurve.

It has a 175 pound draw weight and velocity of 240 FPS, but packs a bit more kinetic energy than the previous option, making it more suitable as a hunting weapon.

The multi reticle scope is really cool and easy to use and once you have set your first crosshair in at 20 yards, the increments per crosshair down are about 10 – 15 yards depending on the weight of the bolt. This just makes aiming so much easier over different distances.

One small problem with the overall package is the aluminium bolts that are supplied. Aluminium bolts easily bend and get damaged whereas Carbon bolts are far more consistent for shooting. This is not such an issue because in your first few weeks of shooting you will likely lose or break bolts anyway while you get used to your weapon. So do yourself a favour and replace these with carbon bolts, you won’t regret this.

If you want to get serious about stalking the woods for a deer with a recurve crossbow, then the SA Sports Fever is your bet.

Best Compound Crossbows

Centerpoint Sniper 370

centerpoint sniper

The Centerpoint Sniper 370 is a hard-core hunting crossbow that will be suitable for hunting most game animals out in the woods.

It has a 185 pound draw weight and fires a carbon bolt at 370 FPS. It comes with a great scope which is really simple to set for accurate shooting, that’s an important feature especially for hunting purposes, you want to be sure that you deliver an accurate and deadly shot first time.

This model is slightly heavier than the others, but this can be an advantage adding stability while aiming for the shot.

If you are really keen to hunt a deer or elk in the woods this season, then the Centerpoint Sniper is a great choice.

Barnett Recruit

barnett recruit

For women or younger guys who want to start out with hunting, the Barnett Recruit is just perfect. It’s a great brand too.

It is a lighter and smaller model but still packs enough kinetic energy to take down most game animals with ease.

This package comes with all the bells and whistles to get into the field quickly. The stock length is adjustable, which is really great because for younger shooters it can be adjusted as they grow older. Poundage on this crossbow is 130 pounds and shoots a bolt at 300 FPS. It comes with a red dot optic sight for pinpoint accuracy to your target. This package includes a quiver with carbon bolts.

So if your kid or wife is keen to get out hunting with you, then the Barnett Recruit is a brilliant choice for them to start out with.

How to Choose the Right Style for You?

crossbow hunting

Deciding which crossbow is right for you might seem daunting, but let’s make it easier by looking at what you want out of the experience.

The Traditional Option

If you are the type of outdoors person who wants to feel the nostalgia and romance of being in the woods to shoot a few bolts at targets or maybe hunt an animal once in a while, then the SA Sports Fever Recurve is the one that would cover most bases for you.

For the Serious Hunter

For the more serious hunter who really wants to spend time in the woods tracking a specific deer or elk trail for days before committing to the kill, the Centerpoint Sniper comes out as a brilliant weapon truly designed for the hunt. (For even more exotic hunting, you could also check out the Best Hunting Slingshot article here.)

Fun Starter Sets

For new generation hunters and the guys and girls that are just starting out with this great sport, the Barnett Recruit Compound or the Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Recurve are the way to go.

Both of these packages have everything you need to get started and are really great value for money.

Product Videos

Here are some video reviews for the 4 options.

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury

SA Sports Fever 543

Centerpoint Sniper 370

Barnett Recruit

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2 Comments on "Recurve vs Compound Crossbows, What’s the Difference?"

  1. Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated, and was thinking of moving the compound re-curve. You just made my mind up. Thanks.

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