Differences in bow types


January 20, 2008, 02:08 AM
What's the major differences between a Longbow, a Recurve, and a Flatbow? Here's what i know already.

Recurve: These are usually shorter than the other two, almost never stacks (if made right), is faster than the other two and can be a bit noisier because the string will slap against the limbs.

Flatbow: Is usually roughly the same length as a longbow if not just a touch shorter, the limbs aren't put under quite so much stress as a longbow, usually has the same general brace height as a longbow, is quieter than a recurve, and the limbs are usually wider (toward the riser end) than the riser it's self.

Longbow: This bow is typically quite long with a very low brace height, is prone to stacking unless made very well, is very quiet, the limbs are usually under more stress than any other limb design, is slower than other bow types, and this bow type invokes more nostalgia than any other bow design.

What are the other differences? Which bow has the most/least hand shock? Also, I've always understood a flatbow to be the same exact thing as a longbow except that a flatbow's limbs have a rectangular shape to them whereas on a longbow either the back or belly (can't remember which) is rounded. Are they actually that much alike or am I simply out to lunch on that?

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January 20, 2008, 09:19 AM
The one with the least handshock is a low draw weight/ length ratio longbow.

A flatbow isn't just a stubby longbow because you have a wider, more robust, limb type. So, it reacts differently than the longbow and shoots very differently with regard to the felt stacking, handshock, and acceleration curve.

All the bows you mentioned are the same basic tool, but due to construction will shoot very differently because they were made to address different purposes.

January 20, 2008, 12:50 PM
An English longbow has a rounded belly. The yew wood used can withstand a great deal of compression and therefore requires less surface area. Making the belly rounded also requires less woodworking and less wood---meaning that more bows could be made quicker from a log.

A recurve isn't always faster than other two. The added mass at the recurves can actually make is slower than it's straight counterpart. That's where skill come in. The recurve will shoot smoother though.

A flatbow is used when less compression strong wood is used. It gives the belly more surface area to bear the load of compression. A properly designed flatbow can be quite fast due to the larger amount of working wood. Limbs will be thinner than a longbow.

The longbow will have a more arc of circle tiller whereas the flatbow will have a more elliptical tiller.

Here's an example of a red oak flatbow:

January 23, 2008, 01:52 AM
A Howard Hill style longbow will tend to have the most hand shock. Other than that, there is a fair amount of variation between bowyers' exact designs which would make generalizations difficult. A well-designed recurve will not have much hand shock, but neither will a well-designed hybrid reflex/deflex longbow.

If you are shopping, its best to try to get to a traditional shoot or traditional pro shop and try a bunch of bows to see what feels best to YOU. Other differences would include a takedown feature (either 2-piece or 3-piece) of any of these styles and overall mass weight of a bow which will change the way a bow feels and shoots. If you will be using a bow to hunt with, a longer bow can often be more awkward than a shorter bow depending on the setup (treestand, ground blind, heavy brush).

I shoot all three of the styles that you mention, but my personal favorite is a relatively short (56"-58") hybrid reflex/deflex longbow.

Check out www.tradgang.com for a traditional-only forum.

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