Compound Crossbow Vs Recurve Crossbow

Hunters are often confused about the most common types of crossbows compound and recurve. The difference in both of these crossbows is also diminishing, with many accessories being added to recurve. However, the main difference between them is their construction and working mechanism. Compound crossbows have cams, pulleys, and multiple cables, whereas recurve crossbows have a simple design. Compound crossbows have shorter limb lengths, whereas recurve crossbows are bulky with a wider limb length.

Let’s look into each of these types of crossbows, how they are different from each other.

Table of Contents

Draw Weight

Draw weight is the force required by the crossbowman to pull the bowstring into a cocking position. For example, A 100 lbs. draw weight crossbow would need the crossbowman to pull the bowstring back with a force of 100 lbs.

Cam and pulleys system helps in low draw weight of the compound crossbow without sacrificing velocity, and the hunters feel more at ease when holding the crossbow. Recurve Crossbows have a more considerable draw weight, resulting in uneasiness when aiming for the target, while the Compound Crossbow is in a full-drawn position.


Recurve Crossbows have a larger footprint, thus not great for portability, while Compound Crossbows have small sizes.


Recurve Crossbow has a larger footprint, and its simple construction has contributed to lower its weight. In contrast, compound crossbows have heavier accessories and components.


If the recurve crossbow doesn’t have string silencers and limb dampeners, they can be loud. Compound crossbow is quieter than recurve crossbow because of silencers. Proper tuning of the crossbow strings can further dampen the noise levels.


The crossbow range refers to the distance the arrow or bolt can travel using a particular crossbow type. For Recurve Crossbows with 30 lbs. draw weight, the range is 15 – 20 yards, whereas Compound Crossbows have 30 – 40 yards.

However, the experience and skills of the hunter count too in achieving effective shot range.


Compound Crossbows are more accurate because it doesn’t recoil as much as compared to Recurve Crossbows.


Recurve Crossbows are easier to maintain, and the strings can be replaced with a simple tool in the field compared to the Compound Crossbow, which requires a bow press to restring the crossbow.

The framework and working mechanism of each type of crossbow set them apart from each other. Every kind of crossbow has its limitations and advantages. Before buying your first crossbow, our recommendation would be to go to the archery shop and feel the weight and comfort of the bow in your hand.