For novice archers, choosing the right bow can mean the difference between excelling at the sport and sticking with it for life, or quitting in frustration and never shooting again. With such a wide selection of recurve models to choose from, it can be difficult for archery newcomers to choose the best one. After all, there are so many features and specs to compare. It’s all pretty overwhelming if you’re getting started.
After examining all the different beginner models on the market, paying particular attention to features that are most beneficial for beginners, as well as price, and user comments regarding use, accuracy, durability, and comfort, we have narrowed the field down to the top 3 beginner recurve bows!
Let’s take a closer look at them in our in-depth reviews. We’ll also talk you through what you should consider when you’re making your final purchase.
First, take a quick look at our current most popular recommendations:
Ragim Wildcat Set
Best Beginner Recurve Bows
The Wildcat is our favorite starter kit for people who have never picked up a bow before, especially for younger archers. The set conveniently includes everything a novice needs to get started quickly, and it’s is available in a variety of draw weights, making it easy to suit to any novice’s strength level. We love that it’s designed to grow with the beginner, since the removable limbs that can be replaced with heavier limbs as your strength increases. It’s a recreational set, which means you can’t take it hunting, but this one will help you develop your form and sharpen your aim before you get out in the woods.
It’s easy to learn on. This one has a molded grip that’s easy for smaller hands to get around, and it comes with a leather finger tab for new archers to protect themselves from the string. The tab also helps you learn smooth release without causing too much blistering on your fingers.
It comes with 24-34 pound pulls available. You can opt for the lower end to suit smaller kids, or size up for older kids or adults who are just starting out. We always recommend starting below your maximum weight, so that you can practice form and keep a steady pullback. As one buyer wrote, this one “doesn’t fatigue you so you can practice your form for hours.”
It comes with targets, helpful charts, and instructions. There’s also a faux-leather belt quiver which can hold up to 12 arrows.
This one even comes with a sight! That’s pretty impressive, since sights are added extras on some more expensive bows.
You’ll also get 4 practice arrows in the package. They’re ultra-durable, with fiberglass shafts and metal tips that can stand up to the rough-and-tumble of the learning curve.
It’s surprisingly well-built. The riser and the limbs are all made from laminated wood, and look simple but smart. We didn’t find any reports of issues with the limbs, even after it’d been shot regularly. That’s pretty impressive, given that even the Samick and the Martin occasionally have some issues with limbs.
It’s full-size. While this might look like a toy set in the pictures, it’s full-size, made from real materials, and it can really shoot. While it’s not quite a hunter’s bow, it’s a learner’s model that feels like the real thing. That means you won’t have to make any leaps between the Wildcat and your next model.
It’s inexpensive, especially given how much you get in the box. This one will cost you just slightly more than the Samick Sage.
The 62” length might be a lot for some younger archers to handle. This one’s recommended for kids above 8, but if your child hasn’t hit their growth spurt, they might have some trouble.
You can’t take this one hunting. It’s just not powerful enough, and it’s not rated as a hunting bow.
For more information, or to purchase the Ragim Wildcat Takedown Recurve Bow, click here.
The Jaguar is another great option for new archers. The aluminum riser and custom grip make this one a good choice for gun owners who are looking to transition to archery, since it feels a little less “traditional” than some other models. The takedown design gives it a lot of the versatility of the Sage, and the shock absorption and dampened grip give it even better performance. We’d recommend this model to stronger folks looking for one that’s set to feel like the big boys.
It’s very solidly built. The Jaguar uses a machined aluminum riser to give you a nice balance between light weight and durable construction. Previous buyers were very impressed with the quality of the riser in particular. Several compared it to holding a gun rather than a bow, in a good way. It’s extremely solid, and feels reassuring.
There are a few other features we love on the riser, aside from the tough frame. It includes Martin’s Thermal V Grip, making it easy to grip in any weather conditions, as well as decreasing vibration noise. It’s also pre-socketed for accessories, just like the Sage. Since the Jaguar’s bolts are set into aluminum, they’re not going anywhere!
It comes with a tool for helping you string it more easily. Previous buyers commented that it takes a lot of the work out of stringing, especially if you’re trying to do it by yourself.
It’s a bit more powerful than the Sage. The laminated wood and glass limbs provide a real punch, with the snappiness of maple and the repeatability of the fiberglass backing.
It’s lighter than the Sage. That’s down to the aluminum riser and the narrow limbs. The whole thing weighs less than 3 pounds!
It’s ready for hunting. The Jaguar comes in an all-over camouflage design, which is perfect for blending into the woods.
It breaks down very easily for packing into a backpack or storing it away in close quarters, such as in a safe. The takedown design also means you can switch the weights–though there aren’t as many options as you can get for the Sage.
It doesn’t come with as many weight options. This is a better choice for people who already have a fair amount of upper body strength, and aren’t starting from scratch.
Martin’s included arrow-rests are pretty cheap. Most previous buyers exchanged them for an after-market model. Some reviewers were disappointed in the accessories as a whole, since there’s not much included besides the stringing tool.
You can purchase the Martin Jaguar Recurve Bow here.
The Samick Sage is one of our all-time favorites. It’s our recommendation to people who want one that will take them through their first shots right up to the big hunt. We love the attractive wood design, as well as the takedown feature for changing the draw weight. The Sage consistently makes the top lists of beginner bows, and it’s easy to see why! It’s performance far outstrips its price tag.
The takedown design allows you to change out the bow limbs. It’s perfect for new archers, since you can work on your form with a lower weight, and slowly edge up to a full hunting weight as you get stronger and steadier. Limbs are available pretty cheaply, and the bolt design makes them easy to replace.
It’s very affordable. The Sage is available for under $150, but performs with and looks like some models twice the price.
The layered riser combines two tones of wood, for a simple, but elegant aesthetic. We like its molded grip, as well as the solid construction.
It’s pre-set with brass bushings for adding accessories, like a sight or quiver.
It comes in pretty much any configuration you could want. There are right and left-handed models, and draw weights from 30-60 pounds. No matter your age or weight, there’s a Sage for you!
It’s very easy to set up. Most buyers found that the Sage was ready in a couple minutes. It’s even easy for people who haven’t shot a single arrow before.
It looks pretty good, for a budget model. The two-tone riser and double-face limbs give it some unique character, and the clear gloss lets the grain of the wood shine through. While this one is priced the same as models with plain, utilitarian fiberglass, it looks like a much higher-priced bow.
There are some quality control issues. Previous buyers reported some slightly messy finishes and sanding work on the wood pieces, as well as a few issues with breaking limbs. That’s pretty expected at this pricepoint. Most of the flaws we found were just aesthetic, and didn’t affect performance. Obviously, this isn’t meant to be a premium bow by any stretch.
It’s pretty big, at 62”.
Take a look at the Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow here.
How to Determine Which Beginner Bow is Right for You
Now that you’ve looked at our favorite recurve bows for beginners, let’s start figuring out what exactly you’re looking for in your new bow. There are a few important things to thing about before you shop, and while you’re trying to make up your mind.
Let’s examine what these features are and talk about why they are especially important for a new archer.
What Bow Features Are Important for New Archers?
•Make certain you know whether you need a right or left handed bow. If you hold the bow in your RIGHT hand and use your LEFT hand to pull the string, you are LEFT handed. If you hold the bow with your LEFT hand and use your RIGHT hand to pull the string, you are RIGHT handed.
•Experts agree that finding the appropriate draw weight (the maximum amount of force you need to pull the string) is essential. Most novices start with a lower draw weight and increase it as they become more experienced and comfortable with a bow. Check out our chart of recommended draw weights based on age, gender, and weight. Remember: it’s always better to round down than to max out your strength. You’ll improve your form and accuracy much more easily if you pull just under your strength limit!
•Measure your draw length. Draw length is the distance you can draw the bow back, and is dependent upon your arm length. It is essential that beginners choose the right length because it is necessary in order to attain and maintain the proper stance. Make sure you understand how to measure your draw length!
•As a novice archer, experts suggest that you refrain from hunting until you have gained some experience and feel comfortable with your recurve bow. All of the options above are perfect for target practice. However, if your ultimate goal is hunting, the Ragim Wildcat is probably not for you, unless you want to purchase a second recurve bow within a short period of time.
•As a novice, it is important to know that everything you need to get shooting is not always included when you purchase a recurve bow. You will need arrows, targets, and nocking points, as well as any other accessories to help you get started. You may prefer to buy everything separately, but keep in mind you have the option of purchasing full starter kits, like the Ragim Wildcat Takedown Recurve Bow Set. It includes everything you will require to get started, in one easy purchase.
Which of these bows should you buy to get started shooting?
If you’re shopping for a young archer, or have never touched a bow before, we recommend the Wildcat. It includes all the extras you’ll need to get started, and has very manageable draw weight options that will suit even smaller builds. While this one won’t be able to go in the woods with you, it’ll help you develop and refine your form and aim before you start hunting.
If you’re looking to get a starter bow that can grow with you all the way to the field, the Samick Sage is the model for you. It’s the best-selling takedown bow on the market, and we think it’s easy to see why. You can start out with a draw weight as low as the Wildcat, and then work your way up to limbs that are just as powerful as the Martin–all with the same bow. We love the Sage’s combination of classy wood construction and smart fiberglass backups, as well as the price–it’s the cheapest option here! While it doesn’t come with as many accessories as the Wildcat, it can compete with bows far out of its price class.
For people who already have some upper body strength, and are familiar with shooting, whether it’s from using guns or taking some archery lessons in high school gym class, the Martin is a great bow that you can buy once, practice on, and shoot for life. The aluminum riser is pretty much unbreakable, and the smart shock absorber system means that the Jaguar is the best-shooting bow out of our recommendations. It’s for new archers who know they want to be able to hunt, and can afford to make an investment in their first bow. However, since it doesn’t come in draw weights as low as the Ragim or the Samick, it’s not the best choice for younger archers or people who don’t have much upper body strength.
Want to compare the rest of the best recurve bows for beginners? Check out the best sellers on Amazon!