For the competitive archer, certain types of modern bows are used for official competition. The World Archery Federation recognises three categories of bows – Recurve, Compound and Barebow – permitted for use at international events.


This bow type is the modern version of a Traditional Bow. A Recurve is defined as a bow where the tips of the limbs curve away from the archer, and the single bowstring touches the limbs when the bow is undrawn. As a Recurve Bow is drawn, energy is stored in the limbs which then transfers to the arrow upon release.


This bow type is considered to be a more efficient mechanical design consisting of a single bowstring, two cables and a set of cams and pulleys that make it easier to hold the bow at full draw, and increases arrow speed and power. Compound bows are more accurate than other bow types due to the use of sights and mechanical release aids.

Photos by Kampus Production


A Barebow is the same bow type as a Recurve for mechanical purposes, but does not use accessories to assist with aiming (sights) and stability (stabilisers). To qualify for use at an international event, a Barebow must fit through a ring measuring 12.2cm in internal diameter (World Archery Rulebook, Chapter 11, 2023 version).

Photo by RDNE Stock project

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