So you’ve spent some of your hard earned cash on a nice recurve bow, or perhaps you’re planning to in the near future. But is it worth the investment? Let me give you some insight on what to expect and how to make your bow have a full and happy life.
If a recurve bow is well maintained and cared for you can expect it to easily last a lifetime and even be passed down to the next generation. A large factor that affects a bow’s life span is how well it’s maintained. It’s not uncommon for people today to be shooting bows made in the 1950’s or before.
Does that mean you can buy a recurve and just shoot it forever? Well not exactly.
Parts of a Recurve Bow and their durability
Recurves are made of very few parts, essentially just two parts in many cases. The bow itself, and the bow string.
You might also have a rest, stabilizer bars, or a sight on your bow.
In addition, if you have a take-down bow, such as is popular in Olympic style recurves, the limbs are removable and replaceable.
The Riser and Limbs
These are what make up the majority of the bow. On traditional recurves the riser and limbs will be one piece. Take down recurves have removable limbs, making the “body” of the bow 3 pieces.
This main part of the bow is what makes up most of the cost and is also the part that will last the longest, probably your lifetime if cared for properly.
Recurve bows are typically made from 1 of 3 basic materials: Wood, Fiberglass, or Carbon fiber. They can also be made up of a combination, or have a metal riser.
Wooden bows are probably the least durable in terms of longevity, but they can still last a very long time. The only real issue here is that a strictly wooden recurve bow will fatigue more quickly, losing some of it’s power. This is especially true if it’s stored improperly.
Something to note however is that many wooden bows have fiberglass backed or fronted limbs that will provide a longer more consistent life.
Another very common material used in the construction of recurves is fiberglass. This material holds up very well to repeated use and will last a very long time.
As mentioned above, sometimes wood and fiberglass are used together in order to create an aesthetically pleasing and long lasting bow. These materials have a long history of holding up well over time.
A modern material that’s becoming more popular is carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is lightweight, strong, and unaffected by climate changes. This makes it very durable. However, there’s not much data yet on how that affects the life of the bow.
In theory it’s durable nature should mean the bow could last practically forever, but it’s unclear how well it holds up to repeated use over time.
Carbon fiber recurve bows just haven’t been around quite long enough to say with certainty how long they could last. I suspect they will hold up just fine though.
The string is an integral part of a bow. Without it, your recurve is basically just a fancy stick. The string is what transfers the energy from the bow to the arrow.
It’s also a part that needs to be cared for and periodically replaced. The string takes a lot of abuse firing arrow after arrow.
Replace your string every 3 years at minimum. If it shows signs of wear, tear, or fatigue, then it should be replaced.
You DO NOT want to risk breaking a string, it’s bad for the bow and quite unpleasant for you as well.
Recurve bowstrings are made up of multiple strands of material. This material (whether natural or synthetic) will stretch, fray, and generally wear out with time and use.
Proper care of the bowstring will help prolong it’s life. This includes using a bowstring wax to protect the string from damage and premature wear.
Rests, Sights, and Stabilizers
In addition to the main components of a recurve bow, there are numerous accessories that you could choose to add to it. Most target and Olympic style recurves will have spots to add a rest, a sight, and stabilizers.
Typically your accessories will wear out or be damaged before your bow does. However, if you take good care of your sights and rest by keeping all screws snugged and taking care not to hit them on things, they can last just as long as your bow does.
Stabilizers probably won’t need to be replaced unless you choose to do so. There aren’t any moving parts to them and even with minimal care they should last a very long time.
Proper Care Will Make your Recurve Bow Last Longer
As with most things in life, the better you treat your bow and take care of it, the longer it will last. So just what needs to be done to keep your recurve in good shooting condition?
NOTE: Do not ever Dry Fire your bow, it will damage your bow in one way or another. Dry firing is pulling back the string and releasing without an arrow nocked.
The Bow Riser & Limbs
You should wipe your bows riser and limbs down with a soft cloth regularly to keep dirt and grime from setting in. A microfiber cloth works great for this and it only takes a moment, in fact it’s a good habit to do after every session.
Many recurves are made simply from laminated wood and something to seal the wood. Some are fiberglass coated, some are not, and some are entirely fiberglass.
Because most recurves will be coated/sealed with something, the care of them is usually the same. Before storing the bow you can use a polishing compound (simple auto compounds work good) to clean and polish the bows limbs and riser.
I would recommend you take the string and any accessories off before doing this. After using the polishing compound, give the bow a good final wipe down with a clean soft cloth.
As I mentioned earlier, your string will not last as long as your bow will. In most cases it should be replaced every 3 years or so unless it has visible damage, at which point you should replace it sooner.
You should visually inspect your string for cuts or frays every time you shoot. Waxing the string with beeswax or bow string wax periodically will help to prolong its life and protect it from water, dirt, and grime.
When to Unstring?
It’s also advisable to unstring your bow anytime you plan to store it for a long period of time.
Some people unstring their bow every time they shoot but that actually puts more wear on it than just leaving it strung up.
However if you aren’t planning to use it for an extended period you should unstring it so as to prevent fatiguing the limbs. If left strung, over time it could weaken the bow and lessen the draw weight.
So just to recap this article, take care of your recurve bow by changing the string when needed, keep it clean, and store it properly.
Doing these things will help to ensure the bow lasts a lifetime, and maybe even can be passed on to the next generation of archers.