Recurve crossbows or compound crossbows, what bow is best? This is a question that often gets asked by the beginning crossbow hunter. The answer, whatever one you like the most. Each bow has features the other doesn’t. Let’s get a couple things out of the way before we take a look at each model. One,when it comes to accuracy, any of the modern day crossbows will be more than capable of successfully harvesting game at ethical hunting distances. If you are leaning one way or another because you think one type might out shoot the other, think again. Crossbows are more than capable of shooting better than most of us can actually aim. Two,all crossbows are loud. Some make less noise then others, but all are louder than we would like them to be. Don’t expect your crossbow to be as quiet as your favorite vertical bow. String stops and silencers can help, but the noise a crossbow makes is just something we’ve got to live with. That being said, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both types.
Some of the advantages of the recurve crossbow are in the simplicity of their design. They are generally less nose heavy than a compound and therefore are lighter and are easier to aim offhand. They require only one string and most hunters can perform basic maintenance on them from the comfort of their living room without the need of a pro shop or bow press. This factor alone can play a huge role in your decision if you live hours from the closest archery shop. Disadvantages are that they tend to be a good bit wider than the compound crossbow, and require more draw weight to produce the same arrows peed. Because the trigger mechanism is holding the peak weight when the bow is in the cocked position,serving life can be greatly reduced.
Some advantages of the compound crossbows are they are faster at lower draw weights than recurve bows. They are easier to cock by hand than recurve bows, however a simple rope cocking aid or crank style cocking aid makes either type more user friendly. Narrower overall widths make compound bows more appealing to hunters in thick cover or tight areas. Most compounds however, will require a bow press to replace the string or cables. To date you will find a wider variety of choices in the compound style crossbow than recurve styles. Disadvantages are, you will definitely need a bow press or take the bow to a pro shop to be worked on, and because of the extra components up front, they tend to feel nose heavy. Also, some of the bows with narrow axle-to-axle length require a cocking sled to cock the bow.
Ideally, you should try to shoot some of the different models if possible, before buying one. At the very least, shouldering a few different crossbows will give you a good indication if a bow may or may not fit you. With so many choices, and new manufactures popping up every year, choosing a crossbow can be overwhelming to the beginning crossbow hunter. In the end, it really comes down to what bow appeals to you the most.