A recurve bow is a bow with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. This type of bow stores more energy and delivers energy more efficiently than an equivalent straight-limbed bow, giving a greater amount of energy and speed to the arrow. This bow is often accompanied by additional accessories including slights, long rod and stabilisers (as shown in the picture). The sight allows the archers to aim at the target regardless of the distance being shot. Long rod and stabilisers add additional weight and increase stability.
When a recurve bow is used without a sight, long rod or stabilisers it is referred to as barebow. The archer must use other reference points for aiming e.g. the end of the arrow and change what this is align to depending on the distance being shot.
A compound bow is a modern bow that uses a levering system, usually of cables and pulleys, to bend the limbs.
The pulley/cam system grants the archer a mechanical advantage, and so the limbs of a compound bow are much stiffer than those of a recurve bow or longbow. This rigidity makes the compound bow more energy-efficient than other bows, as less energy is dissipated in limb movement. The higher-rigidity, higher-technology construction also improves accuracy by reducing the bow’s sensitivity to changes in temperature and humidity.
Often used for hunting due to it’s compact size and arrow speed, the compound bow is generally considered to be the most accurate bow type. However, it should be noted that any bow is limited ultimately by the skills of the archer that is shooting it.
A longbow is tall and roughly equal to the height of the user, this allows the archer a fairly long draw, at least to the jaw. A longbow is not significantly recurved. Its limbs are relatively narrow so that they are circular or D-shaped in cross section.
Longbows have been made from many different woods over many centuries of use (including Yew and wych elm). The historical longbow was a self bow made of wood, but modern longbows may also be made from modern materials or by gluing different timbers together.