Best Longbows(2024)With Reviews

Written By Ron Parker 

Updated

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If you are interested in traditional archery and want to make the jump to a longbow, our staff archery expert has put the best longbows on the market to the test and rated them on a number of criteria so that you can find the best longbow for your situation.

Our Top Picks

Best For overall

Bear Montana Longbow

Bear Montana

Best for Beginners

SinoArt Sparrow Longbow

SinoArt Sparrow

Best budget

SAS Pioneer Longbow

SAS Pioneer

Best Longbows For Hunting And Archery At A Glance

Best Longbow Overall

Bear Montana Longbow Review 
 

Bear Montana Longbow

It's hard to find something not to like about the Bear Montana. With the simplicity and elegance typical of the Bear brand, it also has impressive power for a longbow: up to 60 pounds of draw weight. It manages to do this without being all that long either, at just 64 inches. This makes it an excellent choice for hunters since it has enough draw weight to be legal just about everywhere and is compact enough for traditional hunting in wild terrain.

The small size can also be nice for deer hunting in treestands, a ground blind, or even hobby shooting since it makes it easier to transport. However, it's worth noting that the lowest available draw weight is 35 pounds, which might be a bit much for non-lethal purposes.

Beyond its simple specs, though, the Montana is a high-quality bow that's durable and capable of lasting you a long time. Made of maple wood, the lamination is expertly done, so the tension remains consistent over years of use for better accuracy and power. Similarly, the grip is comfortable and easy to hold, yet it's also tough, great for use outdoors and in bad weather. 

Bear Montana Longbow Laminated Limbs

Above the grip, you'll find a bear hair arrow rest. This allows you to shoot from the shelf while minimizing friction. Shooting from the shelf like this is both more accurate and more in the spirit of traditional bowhunting.

What We Like

  • High power
  • Compact size
  • Bear craftsmanship
  • Tough grip
  • Bear hair arrow rest

What We Don't Like

  • High minimum draw weight

Bear Montana Longbow Review Video

The Bear Montana is our favorite longbow overall. It's an ideal choice for most purposes, from bowhunting big game in the wilderness to LARPing in town. Thanks to its durable design, typical of the Bear brand, it's a bow you can count on and one worth investing in if traditional archery is truly one of your passions in life.


Best Hunting Longbows(aside from the Bear Montana)

PSE Oryx Longbow Review

PSE ARCHERY Oryx Longbow

The PSE Oryx immediately caught our attention with its long 68-inch design formed from quality wood in the style of an old English longbow. This gives it a 28-inch draw length that is appropriate for most archers and makes it accessible for beginners, women and teenagers. 

Similarly, it has draw weights available as low as 30 pounds. This might not be enough to hunt legally in your state, but it is easier to learn on. If you want to hunt, you can get it with power up to 55 pounds.

Our main complaint with the Oryx is its weight. We still found it light enough for learning on and even stand hunting, but if you're carrying it around while still hunting, it might get tiresome. Weight is a bigger factor with longbows as well since their shots create more torque on your shoulder.

Other than that, though, we're big fans of this bow. We especially like the grip. It's comfortable and instinctive, which helps beginners learn and prevents you from having to readjust if you're holding your aim for long periods while waiting for your quarry to come into range. Plus, it works for both right- and left-handed shooters. You don't even have to worry about choosing the right handedness, and the bow can be used by multiple different archers even if they have different dominant hands.

What We Like:

  • Traditional design
  • 30-55 pounds of draw weight
  • Comfortable grip
  • Right- and left-handed

What We Didn't Like:

  • Basic lamination
  • Heavy

The PSE Oryx is an effective hunting bow with enough power for big game. At the same time, it's affordable and accessible whether you're a beginner, on a tight budget or just casually interested in traditional bowhunting. 


Bear Ausable Hunting Longbow: Best For Tree Stand

Bear Ausable Longbow

First of all, the Bear Ausable is a gorgeous bow made of unique but stylish bubinga wood. This beauty reflects the high-quality craftsmanship behind the bow. It's layered and laminated with black and white fiberglass that also matches the sophisticated design while providing consistent tensions over many seasons.

The reason this bow is our recommendation for hunting from a tree stand is that it's incredibly compact. At just 64 inches, it's as short as some recurve bows. This gives you more maneuverability and makes it easier to position yourself in your stand. You definitely don't want to bang your bow against the metal of your tree stand when you stand up to aim, so this is a big advantage.

Keep in mind that this bow only comes in one draw weight: 45 pounds. This is right in the sweet spot and enough to legally hunt big game in most states without being overwhelming. You'll certainly need to practice your aim, but building that skill is what's so fun and rewarding about traditional bow hunting.

A nice touch that we really liked was the reinforcement of the limb tips. This lets you use a Dynaflight Flemish Twist bowstring, one of which is included with the bow. This higher-quality string resists stretching, so your shot is more consistent, and you can better practice and hone your accuracy.

What We Like

  • Gorgeous design
  • Durable craftsmanship
  • Compact length
  • Reinforced limb tips
  • Flemish Twist string included
  • Leather grip

What We Don't Like

  • Only one draw weight
  • Top-shelf price

If you hunt regularly from a tree stand and plan to do so for years to come, the Bear Ausable may just be the lifetime bow you've been looking for. An investment in your hunting career, it's both fun to shoot and accurate. Plus, we can't say enough about the beautiful traditional design combined with the leather grip. 


PSE Terra Longbow

PSE Terra Longbow

The PSE Terra is similar to the Oryx but a bit more advanced. For one thing, it's more compact at 64 inches. This makes it a little easier to handle for smaller shooters such as women and teenagers.

Like the Oryx, the Terra is available in draw weights of 30 to 55 pounds in five-pound increments. This is an ideal range for bowhunting. Just make sure you check your local laws as you may need to get it with at least 35 or 40 pounds.

As for durability, the Terra is well-made, with a crafted riser and laminated limbs of both wood and fiberglass. It's an excellent choice for hunting outdoors, and the wooden grip stays relatively warm even in cold weather.

Overall, we found the Terra to be an accurate bow as well, though it does only come with a Dacron bowstring. Dacron is a tough material that resists stretch, but not quite as well as bowstrings like FastFlight or Dynaflight.

What We Like:

  • Short length
  • 30-55 pounds draw weight
  • Wood and fiberglass lamination
  • Ergonomic grip

What We Don't Like:

  • Weaker bowstring

The PSE Terra is an accurate and effective bow for hunting game like whitetail deer. We particularly recommend it for archers of shorter stature like women or teenagers who have difficulty with normal longbows. It puts less pressure on your shoulder muscles for easier drawing and aiming.


Southwest Archery Scorpion Traditional Hunting LongBow

Southwest Archery Scorpion Longbow

The main reason we chose the SAS Scorpion for our list is that it has a huge range of draw weights. You can get it in 25 pounds at the low end or 60 pounds at the high end, all in five-pound increments. This means you can get quite a bit of power, especially for a longbow, and certainly enough to hunt big game. Meanwhile, if you're new to longbows or archery in general, you can start with a lower draw weight to learn good form.

Another thing we liked was the option to include a stringer tool with the bow. Ideally, you should unstring your bow anytime you don't use it for more than a week or two or if you're going to transport it under delicate circumstances. Plus, you'll have to string it when you get it. Doing so without a stringer tool can be dangerous for both you and the bow, so the inclusion of the tool is a nice touch.

Now, the Scorpion comes with a 16-strand Dacron bowstring. Dacron isn't the worst material, but it's also not the best, and 16 strands is a bit much if you're getting one of the lower draw weights. Luckily, though, the limb tips are reinforced. As a result, you can change out the bowstring for a tougher FastFlight or Flemish Twist model, which we recommend.

Finally, it's worth noting that SAS includes a one-year warranty with this bow. If you're new to traditional archery, this lets you buy with confidence.

What We Like:

  • 25-60 pounds draw weight
  • Optional stringer tool
  • Reinforced limb tips
  • One-year warranty 

What We Don't Like:

  • Thick bowstring

The SAS Scorpion is a powerful longbow that produces high arrow speeds and a lot of kinetic energy. This makes it great for traditional bowhunters looking to take down whitetail deer or even bigger game like elk, moose and bear. Even if you're not an expert, it's a good choice because you can include a stringer tool and take advantage of the one-year warranty.


AF Archery American Longbow

AF Archery Traditional American Longbow

Another AF Archery beauty. The American Longbow is another quality handcrafted bow from AF Archery. Like the Tatar Recurve, the American Longbow has limbs made of bamboo and a black walnut riser, laminated with clear fiberglass for strength and durability.

Weighing a little over a pound, the American Longbow is a solid one-piece bow measuring 62 inches long. Appropriate for hunting or target shooting, this smooth shooting bow is actually a hybrid reflex/deflex longbow.

Perfect for draw lengths 28 inches and longer. The American Longbow only comes in right-handed orientation.

Depending on the weight of your arrow, draw weight, and draw length, you can expect to get about 150 to 185 fps (feet per second) with this bow.

AF Archery American Longbow Set comes with the bow, bowstring, a stringer tool, finger tab, arm guard, shelf-pad, and a nock point. There are varying opinions as to the quality of the accessories.

The way we see it is the accessory items are good to get someone started. But will probably need to be replaced in short order.

As already mentioned the limbs are made of bamboo, with multiple layered reinforced limb tips. Quality handmade construction is an area where AF Archery doesn't disappoint.

Ranging from 35 pounds to 55 pounds, the AF Archery American Longbow should give you enough speed to take big game like deer and elk.

One common denominator through all these bow kits is that quality accessories are lacking. Sometimes the nock points are too small or the rest won't stay on the riser. Unfortunately, both issues exist with the American Longbow and may need to be replaced immediately.

The glue on the back of the rest doesn’t hold very well. It's hard to say if that is because the rests are old or if they just aren't made with enough adhesive on the back.

Another problem is the string. While the string is a good quality D97, the serving length is too short on the provided string. Recommended serving length on traditional bows is 9 inches, but the serving on the provided string is about 5 1/2 inches.

Left-handers will have to opt out of the American Longbow since it only comes right-handed.

What We Like

  • Durable construction
  • Multi-layered reinforced tips
  • Comes with a good D97 string

What We Don't Like

  • Accessories are not good quality

Overall, this is a great shooting, quality longbow. There are some minor defects and blemishes that occur either during the manufacturing process or in shipping. But the overall build quality is excellent for the price point.

Click Here For Our Full AF Archery American Longbow Review


Fleetwood New Frontier Longbow 

Fleetwood Frontier Longbow

Finally, we couldn't overlook the Fleetwood New Frontier. The first thing you'll notice about this bow is its gorgeous traditional finish that accents the carved maple wood. While it's a fully developed longbow designed for serious game hunting, it would also make an ideal bow for roleplaying or traditional archery hobby shooting thanks to this classic look.

That said, the finish helps you in the tree stand as well. It consists of natural coloring, greens and browns, that blend in with most hunting environments and help keep you hidden from game.

More importantly, the New Frontier has the power to hunt big game. Available from 29 to 55 pounds, it's powerful enough to legally hunt whitetail deer as well as elk and moose in most states. The higher power makes the bow more lethal for animals with thicker hides, but it also gives you better accuracy over long ranges, which is usually necessary for hunting game like elk in the wide open valleys of the West.

In fact, this is one of the most accurate longbows we've seen over long distances. This is also due to the cut-on center shooting shelf. This creates a straighter trajectory for your arrow and minimizes archer's paradox, which becomes even more pronounced when shooting over long ranges.

What We Like:

  • Beautiful design
  • Camo coloring
  • Draw weight up to 55 pounds
  • Cut-on center shooting shelf
  • Reinforced limb tips

What We Don't Like:

  • Right-handed only

If you want to hunt big game out west, the Fleetwood New Frontier Longbow is one of our favorites. With a sleek traditional finish, cut-on center shooting shelf and high power, you can hunt actively and effectively even in tough terrain and over long distances. Plus, the reinforced limb tips allow for the installation of advanced bowstrings, and you even get a case for storage and transportation.


Best Longbows For Beginners

SinoArt Sparrow 54” Traditional Longbow

SinoArt Sparrow Longbow

The most important thing to note on the SinoArt Sparrow is that it's just 54 inches long. That's… really small, especially for a longbow. At the same time, it's still available in draw weights of 30 or 35 pounds. This is a decent amount of power for such a small bow and in some cases, even enough to legally hunt whitetail deer. In other words, it's the perfect bow for kids, teens and women looking to get started with archery but still use their longbow for serious applications.

Additionally, it also makes sense for young beginners because it's affordable. Whether you're purchasing it for yourself or getting it as a gift for a beginner, it's not an excessive investment. This makes it a great way to get started with the sport even if you'll likely have to upgrade in the future. And if you decide you don't like archery after all, you haven't lost too much.

Unfortunately, we do want to point out that this bow only comes in a right-handed version. It's important to use an appropriately oriented bow, especially for learning, since your form will otherwise be incorrect, and you may experience painful wrist slap. That means this isn't a good bow for left-handed archers.  

The package comes with the bow itself, a basic bowstring and a traditional arrow rest. While not a lot, it is enough to get started and learn proper form and aim.

What We Like:

  • Short 54-inch AMO length
  • Affordable price
  • Traditional arrow rest included

What We Don't Like:

  • Just two draw weight options
  • Basic lamination
  • No accessories

The SinoArt Sparrow is our top choice for young archers who aren't tall enough yet to take advantage of a full longbow or learn proper form on one. Similarly, it's also a good choice for smaller women who still want decent power for hunting or target shooting. Either way, it's an affordable option that's easy to learn on. 


SAS Gravity Longbow

SAS Gravity Longbow

We love the SAS brand in general, so if you're looking to get started with traditional archery or longbows specifically, the Gravity is definitely one of our top recommendations. It features a fairly advanced and modern longbow design with an ergonomic grip that makes it easier to learn proper form.

Similarly, at just 1.3 pounds, the Gravity is a lightweight bow. Along with the grip, this lets you hold it out level while you practice your aim. A heavier bow would put a lot of strain on your shoulder and make it harder to learn.

In addition to the light weight, the Gravity is also compact. It's designed for taller adult archers with heights up to 6'2" and a maximum draw of 31 inches, but the bow itself is only 64 inches long, similar to many recurve bows. Once again, this makes it easier for newbies to aim properly since the bow has less torque when you shoot it. You can hold it with better stability.

Finally, consider that SAS makes the Gravity in a large range of draw weights: 25 to 55 pounds. A low draw weight is usually a better idea for beginners since it's more manageable, but if you want to start hunting with it later, you may need more power, over 40 or 50 pounds depending on the game you want to hunt and your local laws. 

What We Like:

  • Ergonomic grip
  • Lightweight
  • Long draw length
  • Many available draw weights
  • FastFlight string compatible
  • Right- and left-handed

What We Don't Like:

  • Larger investment for beginners
  • Not good for youth or shorter adults

The SAS Gravity is an ideal model for archers who have a bit of experience but want to start learning the longbow as a weapon for hunting or target shooting. That said, it's also a fun choice for full-grown adults totally new to archery. It has a versatile range of available draw weights, so consider your needs before selecting one as this bow could last you a while.


Ragim Archery Longbow

Ragim Archery Longbow

We just have to say: this is a beautiful bow. With a maple wood and fiberglass design, the carving and finish with its classic red wood coloring gives you confidence when shooting. Made in Italy, it's a high-quality model that you should only get if you're serious about archery and plan to use it for a long time.

For one thing, it's only available in 50 pounds of draw weight. That's a lot of power and will be a bit harder to learn on, so you have to be dedicated. At the same time, it's enough for hunting big game or shooting over long distances. If these are your goals, it may well be worth it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't really get any accessories with this bow. In fact, you don't even get a rest. Your best bet is to get a simple shoot-off-the-shelf rest which reduces friction and saves your arrows without requiring any complicated installation or changes to your aim.

What We Like:

  • Well-crafted Italian design
  • Powerful
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

What We Don't Like:

  • Big investment
  • No accessories included
  • Only one draw weight available
  • Right-handed only

The Ragim Longbow is simply one of our favorite bows, both for its appearance and craftsmanship. It's a bit more of an investment for a beginner, but we still recommend it if you're serious about learning traditional archery and plan on needing a lot of power for years to come.


Best Longbow Under $200

SAS Pioneer Longbow

SAS Pioneer Longbow

The SAS Pioneer is surprisingly inexpensive for what you're getting, especially considering the SAS brand. In fact, for under $200, you get one of the largest ranges of draw weights we've found on a longbow. You can choose between 29 and 60 pounds in five-pound increments. In other words, the value for the power and craftsmanship is nearly unbeatable.

We also appreciate the unique design. The Pioneer has a particularly traditional design with a wrapped grip on the riser and padded arrow rest that allows you to shoot from the shelf for better accuracy while keeping in the spirit of traditional archery.

The bow is also quite durable for the price. The riser consists of makore wood and cassia siamea while the limbs are made from laminated maple and fiberglass. We found that this lamination maintains its tension over repeated use when compared to other budget models.

What We Like:

  • Great value
  • Large range of draw weights
  • High power available
  • Traditional design
  • Quality lamination
  • Right- and left-handed

What We Don't Like:

  • Loses accuracy with high power
  • Small grip

If you're on a budget but you still want a well-crafted bow that is available with a lot of power, this model from popular brand SAS is one of the few that meets that description under $200. Despite this low price, you can still get up to 60 pounds of draw weight in a quality bow that's designed for advanced archery applications. 


Best Affordable Longbow

KAINOKAI 60'' Traditional Hunting Longbow

KAINOKAI 60'' Traditional Hunting Longbow

Because longbows are so simple, they're often inexpensive ways to practice archery. Plus, they're fun and challenging due to their traditional designs. The Kainoki longbow takes these principles to the extreme by offering an enjoyable model at under $100.

This is admittedly a simplistic bow with draw weights only available at 20, 25 and 30 pounds. This isn't enough to hunt big game, but it's plenty for target shooting and makes it a more manageable bow for roleplaying and reenactments, which is what the bow is geared towards.

Overall, it performs well for these purposes as well, though it does lose some accuracy over longer distances. The design and finish are beautiful, and the lamination is well-done, so it holds up with repeated use.

Another thing we like about this bow is that it weighs just 1.43 pounds. While this makes it easier to shoot, we especially like it because it makes it easier to transport and carry, especially for roleplaying purposes.

What We Like:

  • Affordable price
  • Traditional finish
  • Quality lamination
  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like:

  • Difficult accuracy
  • Few available draw weights

It's hard to find a more affordable bow than the Kainoki longbow. Though insanely inexpensive, you still get a quality-crafted weapon made of wood and bamboo that's fun to shoot and beautiful too. In fact, we primarily recommend it for hobby shooting and Medieval archery roleplaying. It fits the style perfectly.


Best Takedown Longbows

SinoArt Takedown Longbow

SinoArt Takedown Longbow

We like the takedown longbow from SinoArt because it allows you to fully take advantage of the takedown design with draw weights ranging from 25 to 60 pounds. This means that if you're a beginner, you can start with a low, manageable draw weight and then work your way up to more power for applications like big game hunting. 

Similarly, you can have a few different draw weights and switch out as needed. Get a pair of 25-pound limbs for the range, 40-pound limbs for deer hunting and 60-pound limbs for moose hunting.

The main issue with this bow is that it's a bit on the heavy side at 2.2 pounds. However, it's still easy to hold and aim because the riser and grip are incredibly comfortable and ergonomic. It's available in both right- and left-handed versions and is made of quality wood that's treated for outdoor use.

Finally, we love how extensive the SinoArt package is. You don't just get the bow but a stringer tool, string nocks, fur rest pad and string silencer as well. These are all helpful accessories, especially if you plan to hunt with the bow. Be sure to use the stringer, too, since this is the only way to string and unstring your bow safely.

What We Like:

  • Takedown design
  • 25 to 60 pounds of draw weight
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Right- and left-handed
  • Accessories included

What We Don't Like:

  • Heavy

If you want a takedown model so you can change out the limbs and draw weight of your longbow, we suggest this SinoArt model. The limbs are available in a large range of draw weights, and you get important accessories as well that help you start shooting as soon as possible and hitting bullseyes or kill zones.


Black Hunter Takedown Longbow

Black Hunter Takedown Longbow

The Black Hunter Takedown Longbow is similar to the SinoArt Takedown Longbow in that it has an ergonomic wood design with a range of available draw weights from 25 to 60 pounds. These limbs are laminated fiberglass and bamboo, so they provide precise and consistent power for the draw weight you need.

Where this bow loses out slightly to its SinoArt competitor is the takedown design itself. It's a bit harder to line up the limbs perfectly, though we wouldn't rate this as a serious problem.

Another thing to keep in mind is the lack of included accessories compared to the SinoArt bow. That said, you do get a bow stringer, a nice extra that many bows don't come with. You should regularly unstring your bow when you're not using it, and of course you'll have to do so to change out the takedown limbs as well. The bow stringer tool is the only way to do this safely without risking damage to the bow and yourself.

Finally, we do like that Black Hunter includes a 12-month warranty. This allows you to buy with confidence, especially if you're on a budget and looking for a beginner takedown bow.

What We Like:

  • Ergonomic wooden riser
  • Laminated bamboo/fiberglass limbs
  • 25 to 60 pounds of draw weight
  • Bow stringer included
  • 12-month warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Difficult takedown
  • Fewer accessories included

Overall, the Black Hunter Takedown Longbow is another solid takedown option, especially if you're on a tight budget but still want the ability to trade out the limbs later for more powerful draw weights up to 60 pounds. Changing out the limbs is made easier by the included stringer tool, and the 12-month warranty gives you a better assurance of quality even when getting an affordable product.


Best Survival Longbow

SAS Recon Folding Longbow

SAS Recon Folding Longbow

The SAS Recon is arguably the most unique model on our list. For starters, it's made of aircraft grade aluminum rather than wood, which makes it lightweight but tough, an important feature in survival and emergency situations.

However, the Recon's main standout feature is its foldability. The limbs pivot on the riser, allowing them to fold down. When folded like this, the bow is just 24.5 inches long, so it's easy to tuck away or store at home or in a vehicle for emergencies. Plus, you can even store up to three arrows within the riser. It makes an ideal part of any survival kit.

As for the bow itself, you can get it in a right- or left-handed orientation with draw weights of 45, 50 or 55 pounds. Considering the unique design, this is an impressive amount of power that can work for home defense and hunting for survival and sustenance.

Along with the bow, you get a Dacron string. There are admittedly better bowstring materials than Dacron out there, but they likely won't work well with the aluminum design. You also get a camo case which further helps with storage and use for survival.

What We Like:

  • Tough aluminum construction
  • Foldable to 24.5 inches
  • Arrow storage in riser
  • High power
  • Camo case included

What We Don't Like:

  • Dacron string only
  • Few draw weight options

A foldable longbow like the SAS Recon is a smart addition to your survival kit. It provides enough stopping power to take down game but is easily stored and transported so it keeps you agile in dangerous situations. And best of all, it's strong and durable to handle rough weather and terrain.

RELATED: Can A Felon Own A Bow


What Is A Longbow

A longbow is a traditional vertical bow renowned for its simplicity and elegance. It has been used in warfare and for target shooting and hunting for centuries. Today it remains popular with archers and bowhunters who enjoy the minimalist design or who are interested in exploring or roleplaying with traditional technology. 

RELATED: Types Of Bows

Shape

The longbow is known for its straight and narrow form. When strung, it normally looks like the letter D. It has a continuous curve back towards the archer that distributes draw weight across the weapon's entire length.

Length

Longbows are usually longer than other vertical bows. Historically, they were often longer than six feet, more than the archers shooting them. Modern materials like fiberglass have allowed for shorter designs, but most are still between five and six feet.

Materials

Historically, longbows were made from a single piece of flexible wood. Yew was particularly common in the Medieval period.

Modern longbows may feature many kinds of woods, though, as well as synthetic materials like fiberglass and sometimes even metals like aluminum. These various materials may be laminated together to provide more strength in some areas or more flexibility in others.

Types Of Longbows

American Longbow

Also referred to as a "flatbow," the American longbow has a rectangular cross section and wide, flat limbs that taper towards the tips. This design allows the bow to distribute stress over a larger area, which reduces hand shock, making the bow more comfortable to shoot. Additionally, American longbows often have high levels of power relative to their weight.

All these factors have caused the American longbow to be a go-to for beginners, though experts like it as well. It's an effective weapon for hunting and fun for target shooting. 

English Longbow

The English longbow played a major role in European history when it allowed the English army to defeat the French in several battles starting with Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War in the Middle Ages[1]. Made of yew wood and well over six feet in length, these Medieval bows were powerful but agile, and expert English bowmen could shoot several arrows a minute to take on cavalry and pierce the mounted knights' armor.

Today, the English Longbow maintains the same mystique it did 500 years ago. Many archers prize it for its simplicity, and enthusiasts turn to it for an authentic traditional shooting experience.

Reflex-Deflex Longbow or Hybrid Longbow

The hybrid longbow combines features of the traditional longbow and recurve bow. Because the limb tips curve away from the archer when unstrung, you may sometimes see it called a "reflex-deflex" longbow.

This type of design optimizes power while minimizing recoil and hand shock. This makes it more comfortable to shoot and cuts down on noise. Consequently, it's a favorite among traditional bowhunters.

One Piece vs Takedown Longbows

Traditionally, longbows were always made from one piece of wood. Today, you may find one-piece longbows that are carved from a single piece of wood or that are made from several pieces of wood laminated together. 

Either way, a one-piece bow generally has better integrity and durability than a takedown model. The downside is that you cannot change the draw weights, and you will need room to store its full length at all times.

A takedown longbow, on the other hand, allows you to change out the draw weight by replacing the limbs. This feature is especially great for beginners who may want to start with a more manageable draw weight and then work their way up to higher power.

Added bonuses to the takedown design include the ability to replace limbs if they get damaged or twisted and easier storage. You'll just have to be extra careful about stringing the bow and installing the limbs.

RELATED: Longbow vs Shortbow

Difference Between A Longbow And A Recurve Bow

Shape

The difference in shape between a longbow and a recurve bow is easily recognizable. A longbow makes a simple D shape with a continuous curve back towards the archer while a recurve bow's limbs curve towards the archer near the riser and then away towards the tips forming an S shape.

Size

Longbows are usually longer than recurves. While there are exceptions, standard modern longbows are around 68 inches, and standard modern recurve bows are around 62 inches. Many high-quality single-piece recurves are even shorter than this.

Arrow Shelf

A traditional longbow, especially if it's of the English variety, does not have an arrow shelf at all. Instead, you have to rest the arrow on the hand that's holding the riser.

A recurve bow, however, typically comes with a built-in arrow shelf. This is a small ledge above the grip where you can rest the arrow before and during the draw. Many modern longbows include this feature as well, though it may not be as prominent. 

Noise Level

Longbows are often much quieter than recurve bows because the lack of limb curvature minimizes vibration. For this reason, many still hunters who track game in the open wilderness love single-piece longbows.

Accessories

Many modern recurve bows have bushings that let you install accessories like sights, quivers, stabilizers, advanced arrows rests, etc. Although there are exceptions, most longbows don't have these bushings. Most traditional hunters don't use many accessories with longbows other than simple arrow rests.

Draw Weights

The recurve design normally allows for more power in a smaller package. Though modern materials have changed this somewhat, a recurve bow will be capable of much higher draw weights than a longbow of the same length.

However, keep in mind that recurves and longbows usually aren't the same length. The result is that many modern longbows have draw weights upwards of 60 pounds just like recurve bows. They just have to be longer.

Range

Traditional longbows were used in warfare and often have considerable ranges. Nevertheless, their simple design doesn't store and release energy as efficiently as that of a recurve bow. In other words, recurve bows are usually more accurate over a longer range, which can make them more effective in hunting scenarios.

What Can You Use A Longbow For

Traditional Archery

The longbow is arguably the defining piece of equipment when it comes to traditional archery. Enthusiasts enjoy the challenge and resulting reward that comes with mastering the longbow's simple but demanding design. It connects you with the history and spirit of the sport.

Bowhunting

Many bowhunters choose longbows because of their quiet nature and elegant minimalist design. While they don't provide the power of modern compound bows, the challenging nature of the longbow adds sport to the hunt and requires practice and patience that is all the more rewarding when you finally take down your trophy buck.

Target Shooting

The longbow is less popular than the recurve bow for competitive target archery, but it can still be a fun choice for recreational shooting. Not only are longbows fun, but they're usually less expensive as well, so they make for a more affordable hobby.

Click here for our guide to the best Archery Targets.

Reenactments and Roleplaying

Because of the longbow's significance in history, particularly the Middle Ages, many enthusiasts use it in reenactments, historical events and LARPing[2]. Their aesthetic matches the style and spirit of these events.

Pros And Cons Of Hunting With A Longbow

Pros

  • Quieter: Longbows produce less vibration and therefore less noise. This means your quarry is less likely to startle and throw off your shot. It also means you may not need bow string silencers.
  • Challenging and rewarding: Successfully bow hunting with a longbow requires practice and skill. This makes that success all the more rewarding.
  • Connection with nature: Longbows often mean still hunting through the wilderness and getting as close to your quarry as possible. This primal way of hunting is thrilling and connects you with the natural environment around you.
  • Lightweight: With their simple design, most longbows are lightweight and maneuverable. This makes them easier to carry into the woods.
  • Low maintenance: Longbows have very little to them. It's much less likely that you'll have some problem while hunting that requires maintenance or stops your hunt altogether.

Cons

  • High skill requirement: You likely cannot and ethically should not try to hunt with a longbow without a lot of practice first. Accurately landing a lethal shot with a longbow must be done at short range and requires considerable skill.
  • Limited range: One of the main reasons longbows require so much more skill is that their effective range is much less. You must often be within 20 yards of your quarry to shoot accurately.
  • Size: Longbows are, well, long. This makes them harder to maneuver in thick brush and also produces more torque when you shoot, further making accuracy difficult.
  • Limited customization: Most longbows do not have many options for accessories like sights, stabilizers or mounted quivers. These accessories can be helpful when hunting, but with a longbow, you must rely primarily on your own skill.

RELATED: Best Broadheads For Deer Hunting

Final Thoughts

A longbow is more than an elegant piece of archery equipment. It's a connection to history and tradition that's fun for many applications from bowhunting big game in the deep wilderness to Medieval LARPing with your friends. Our absolute favorite longbow is the Bear Montana, but we recommend considering your specific purposes and reading through the relevant views to find the best model for your situation. 

Resources:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt

2. https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/LARP

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Ron Parker

Ron is an archery instructor and expert bow hunter that lives with his wife and kids in central Ohio. When he is not teaching archery or in the woods bow hunting deer, he is writing informative articles for DeerHuntingGuide.net.

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