“What is the best traditional bow out there?”
A loaded question if I’ve ever heard one, it’s something I never truly have a definitive answer to. There are hundreds of bowyers these days putting out quality stickbows, and it’s really hard to narrow it down to one particular bow.
Many people are quick to jump to the most popular name bows, the most mass produced bows. Although they may certainly be great, sometimes it pays to take a deeper look into the world of traditional archery. There are hundreds of great bows out there that aren’t as well known, but can rival many others out there when it comes to shootability.
Here’s a look at some of the best traditional bows for 2023 for both the veteran traditional archer as well as the beginner.
Centaur Carbon Elite Longbow
One of the most efficient and hunter-friendly trad bows you’ll find anywhere is the Centaur Carbon Elite Longbow. These bows are made one at a time by master bowyer, Jim Neaves, in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. Jim has figured out the perfect design that offers incredible performance in a lighter draw weight bow. It’s allowed for aging archers to stay in the game, shooting a lighter poundage trad bow that performs like a bow with a much larger draw weight.
The bow features a woven twill carbon back and belly and can be built to any custom features and specs you desire, including a sophisticated, yet simple, takedown design. These bows are truly a work of art.
Price – $1025
Old Mountain Mesa Longbow
Not only is this bow budget friendly but it is also incredibly stunning, featuring a combination of contrasting exotic woods. It has an extremely smooth draw, and shoots comparably to many other custom longbows.
It comes in two different lengths and several different draw weights, making it somewhat customized to the shooter’s preference. If I had to recommend a longbow to a beginner shooter, this would be it.
Price – $319.99
Damon Howatt Hunter Recurve
Damon Howatt has been out of the game for a bit, and is now making a comeback of some of their original bows under new ownership. The Hunter is one of the most popular recurves amongst hunters when it came out in the 60s, and rightfully so.
It’s longer length adds stability and accuracy, providing control to its impressive cast and speed. There is a reason this bow is making a comeback and it will certainly be a favorite again.
Price – $765
Tomahawk Kiska Longbow
This longbow is a work of art, both to look at and to shoot. Though it has a bigger price tag than some of the of the other bows listed here, it is well worth the money, and I should know as I have been hunting with one for the past few years. A quality bow hand made in the United States, the combination of brilliant design and flawless workmanship equals an impressive blend of speed, smoothness, and stability. The modern materials and beautiful woods make the Tomahawk Kiska SS truly the “Best of the Best.”
Price – $1099
Bear Super Mag 48
This is one of my favorite recurves I have ever shot. In fact, I own two of them in different draw weights. It’s a highly underrated bow from Bear, often overlooked due to its short length. It is incredibly easy to shoot, and one of the only recurves I can easily shoot in 50 lb draw weight. It is not a women’s bow, but is always one of my first recommendations to women wanting to get into traditional archery. The ease it takes to shoot this bow along with the affordable price tag make it a recurve that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Price – $419.99
This is what I like to refer to as the “ultimate beginners bow.” Not only is it affordable, making it a good option for someone who isn’t sure they’ll want to get into traditional – but it’s also practical. As a beginner, you may want to start at a low draw weight and work up to a heavier weight. As the Samick is a takedown bow, you can buy heavier or lighter limbs for the riser should you choose, and not have to buy a whole new bow.
I was skeptical of this bow for years, not sure how well it would shoot or if it was cheaply made. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I had the bow in my hand. I had expected it to be bulky and awkward, yet it had a nice grip and shot very well, making me stand firmly behind my recommendation.
Price – $232
This recurve is also a takedown, yet a slight step up from the Samick. You’ll be impressed by the clean, elegant curves of this bow, as well as the attention to detail. It comes in two different lengths, and various draw weights, making it ideal for both adults and kids. The no-tools takedown system makes this an ideal bow for beginners and “old-timers” alike. This is a bow that provides quality shooting while also staying within the budget of most people.
Price – $184
Lil John Youth Recurve
This is the bow that comes before the hunting bow. It’s the bow that looks like mom and dads, and actually performs like it as well. This is the perfect fit for kids 2-6 years old, when they’re too young to be serious about hunting but want to get out and fling arrows. Unlike most kids’ traditional bows that are fiberglass or plastic, this recurve is made out of makore, maple, and black fiberglass, making it something you’ll be able to hand down for years to come.
Price – $139.99
The bows mentioned above cover a wide range of options for traditional archers, new and old. Be sure to give them a look if you’re looking to buy your first, or next, traditional bow. You can also check out Lancaster Archery for their complete lineup of traditional archery gear. They have about everything you can imagine in the way of bows and accessories.
And if you are just getting started with traditional archery, be sure to check out the video below for a look at how to make it happen.