Choosing The Right Longbow: The Ultimate Guide

by | Oct 15, 2022

The longbow has been in use for thousands of years, and its history is a fascinating one. The earliest known longbow was made from yew wood and dates back to 3,000 BC. It was used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans in warfare. However, it is the English who brought the longbow to its peak of perfection during the Middle Ages. So what does all this history mean when you’re choosing the right longbow today?

In general, choosing the right Longbow comes down to matching the bow length to your height, plus a couple of inches. The bow should be comfortable enough to shoot with and match your goals and expectations.

With that being said, you’ll still need to have a lot more information at your disposal before you make that critical choice in purchasing your first Longbow. Below we’ve put together all the information you need in one place to help make that choice a little easier.

How to Choose The Right Longbow: The Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents:

Note: Click on the headings to navigate to the corresponding sections.

Choosing The Right Longbow

When it comes to choosing the right longbow, there are various factors that you need to consider. The most crucial factor is your purpose for using it – whether it’s casual target shooting or serious hunting. This will dictate what type of bow you should purchase – either traditional or modern style.

Another crucial consideration is your physical ability, including draw weight and length based on personal strength and size as well as left or right-handed bow preference.

Additionally, material options matter when choosing a quality longbow such as wood, fibreglass carbon fibre etc., because each material has pros and cons that affect performance differently.

It’s important to remember that selecting a proper grip style preference or string type option can also make all of the difference in how comfortable you feel holding onto your bow while aiming downrange!

Ultimately trying out different bows before making any final purchase decisions will go far towards ensuring optimal success with picking just what feels good enough too!

Determine Your Purpose

When it comes to choosing a longbow, your intended use is a crucial factor. Are you planning on casual target shooting or serious hunting?

The type of bow that you choose will have a significant impact on your overall experience and success. If you are looking for a bow to use primarily for target shooting, then you can consider longbows with lower draw weights and lengths.

These will be easier to handle and more forgiving on the accuracy front. On the other hand, if hunting is what interests you, then you should invest in a heavier and longer longbow that provides more power and accuracy over longer distances.

Casual Target Shooting or Serious Hunting?

For those who are just starting out or enjoy archery as a hobby, casual target shooting might be all they need. It is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors while challenging oneself to improve their skills. In this case, investing in an expensive or high-performance bow might not be necessary.

If, however, your primary interest is in hunting with your longbow, then this requires you to make additional considerations when selecting one. Hunting bows require more power than target bows since they must penetrate the animal’s hide and draw blood effectively.

Traditional or Modern Style?

The next step in choosing the right longbow is deciding between traditional or modern styles of bows. Traditional models can be made from wood and typically feature symmetrical curves at each end of the bow limbs, providing simplicity and elegance in design.

Choosing the right Longbow

Modern bows tend to incorporate more complicated designs using high-tech materials like carbon fibre materials for strength with lightweight construction for improved manoeuvrability when hunting game animals such as deer or elk.

These bows are often marketed as “compound” models. They use mechanical cams that help reduce fatigue for the archer. They also provide greater accuracy and power when shooting arrows at long distances.

Consider Your Physical Abilities

Choosing the right longbow also means taking into account your physical abilities. Longbow archery involves a lot of upper body strength, so it’s important to select a bow with the appropriate draw weight and length for your personal strength and size.

Draw Weight and Length Considerations Based on Personal Strength and Size

The draw weight of a bow refers to the amount of force required to pull back the bowstring. Generally, adult males can handle higher draw weights than adult females or children.

If you’re new to archery, it’s recommended to start with a lower draw weight and work your way up as you develop more strength. Draw length is also an important consideration.

This refers to how far back you can comfortably pull the bowstring without overextending yourself. A good rule of thumb is to measure your arm span from fingertip to fingertip and divide by 2.5; this will give you an estimate of your optimal draw length.

Left or Right-Handed Bow Preference

In addition to physical ability considerations, it’s important to choose a bow that suits your handedness – are you left-handed or right-handed? This will determine which side of the bow you will hold in your non-dominant hand (the hand that does not pull back on the string).

If you’re not sure which hand dominance applies to you, try writing something down with both hands – whichever feels more comfortable is likely your dominant hand.

Once you know whether you’re left or right-handed, make sure to select a longbow that corresponds with that preference. It will feel more natural when holding it in position before shooting.

Material Options

Pros and Cons of Wood

When it comes to choosing the material for your longbow, there are a few options available. One of the most traditional materials is wood.

Many archery enthusiasts prefer wood longbows because they have a classic look and feel. However, there are some downsides to using wood as well.

One of the biggest pros of using a wood longbow is that they tend to be quieter than other materials, which can be beneficial when hunting game. Additionally, wood longbows can be customized with different stains and finishes to give them a unique look.

On the downside, wood is susceptible to warping over time if not properly maintained. Plus, they require more maintenance than other materials since they can be negatively affected by moisture.

Pros and Cons of Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber

Fibreglass and carbon fibre are two popular modern materials used for making longbows today. They both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

Fiberglass is generally more affordable than carbon fiber but it’s slightly heavier too which can affect accuracy in some cases.

Despite being less expensive, fibreglass can increase accuracy if designed properly. This makes them popular among hunters who want an affordable option with good performance that’d rather not maintain every now and then compared to wooden bows.

Carbon fiber on the other hand tends to be more expensive. Still, it also has many benefits like being highly durable as well as lightweight thus reducing fatigue during extended use.

It’s also able to store more energy when drawn back. This allows for faster arrow speeds which could reduce compensation needed from archers over longer distances. This ensures greater accuracy overall.

But, unlike fibreglass bows these types require a meticulous inspection as damages or cracks would make them unusable thus increasing maintenance costs in turn

Bow Length

Choosing the appropriate length for your intended use is crucial when selecting a longbow. The overall length of a bow can affect its performance and accuracy. As a general rule, the taller you are, the longer your bow should be.

However, it is not only height that needs to be considered; other factors such as draw weight and intended use also come into play. Longbows and recurve bows differ in their length.

Girl Shooting a Longbow

A longbow is typically longer than a recurve bow, with an average size of 68-72 inches. The length of a longbow allows for a smoother draw which can deliver more power to the arrow.

On the other hand, recurve bows are shorter in length due to their design that features limbs that curve away from the archer’s body at both ends. This results in more stored energy and faster arrow speeds compared to longbows.

Choosing the appropriate length for your intended use

When choosing between longbows and recurve bows based on their lengths, it is essential to consider your intended use for the bow. Longbows are perfect for traditional target shooting and outdoor hunting due to their smooth draw and quietness when used correctly.

On the other hand, recurve bows perform well in competitive archery competitions or Olympic-style events because of their reduced mass weight and shorter design. When deciding on what kind of bow you need, you must look at its specific purpose thoroughly before making any purchase decisions.

Longbows vs Recurve Bows

The primary difference between these two types of bows lies primarily in their design and functionality rather than just their physical appearance alone.

Longbows have been around since ancient times while Recurve Bows were developed from longbows over time through trial and error by craftsmen looking for ways to improve upon them.

In terms of performance, if you’re looking for more power and a smooth draw, go for a longbow.

However, if you want faster arrow speeds and less weight to carry around, then choose a recurve bow. Ultimately, the bow you choose will depend on your particular needs and preferences.

Choosing the right Longbow

Draw Length

Calculating your draw length can be done in a number of ways. The simplest is holding both arms out to your sides at shoulder height and measuring the distance from fingertip to fingertip. Then you divide that number by 2.5.

Draw Weight

As most Longbows have typically higher draw weights than recurve bows, you’ll need to start with the lightest longbow you can find. A complete beginner to archery will need to practice form before tackling a heavier bow.

The lightest draw weight for a Longbow you’re likely to find is around 35lb. If you can’t hold your anchor point for 30 seconds without shaking with any draw weight, then you should think about moving down in weight.

If your 35lb Longbow is still too heavy, then I would recommend an entry-level Recurve until you build up the strength.

Additional Features to Consider

Grip Style Preferences

When it comes to choosing the right longbow, grip style is often overlooked. However, the grip can significantly affect your comfort and accuracy when shooting.

There are two main styles to choose from: low-wrist and high-wrist. If you prefer a traditional feel and aesthetic, a low-wrist grip may be the way to go.

This style has a narrow grip, allowing for more control while shooting but can be less comfortable if you have larger hands. In contrast, a high-wrist grip offers more support for your hand and wrist, making it an excellent option for beginners or those with weaker grips.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. So before making a purchase decision, make sure to try out both styles and determine which feels most natural to you.

String Type Options

The type of string used on your longbow can also impact its performance and longevity. There are three common string materials: Dacron, Kevlar, and Fast Flight.

Dacron is the most widely used material in traditional archery due to its affordability and forgiving nature on the bow’s limbs.

Kevlar is more expensive than Dacron but offers increased durability while still being gentle on the bow’s limbs. Fast Flight strings are made of synthetic materials that provide faster arrow speeds but put additional strain on the bow’s limbs.

Again, personal preference plays a significant role in string selection based on what level of speed or durability you want for your bow.

Additionally, different strings will require specific brace heights or tension settings; thus consulting with an expert beforehand can help ensure the proper set-up of your longbow before use.

Different Types Of Longbow

Longbows hold a special place in the hearts of purist archers. Crafted from a single piece of wood, Longbows are the epitome of archery tradition, culture and history.

Even with the simplicity of a Longbow, there is still more than one style to choose from depending on the particular style of archery you want to shoot.

The 3 Main Types of Longbow Are:

  • The Classic English Longbow
  • The American Flatbow
  • The Horse Longbow

Each one comes with its own lineage and is therefore suited to different types of archery.

The Classic English Longbow

Think of Robin Hood. That’s the English Longbow. No other bow in history can conjure up that kind of imagery. As the name suggests, the bow is native to England and was made famous during the Hundred Years War in the 14th century and the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Due to its length of 2m (198cm) plus, the English Longbow is perfect for archers with longer draw lengths.

Originally, the bows boasted immense draw weights demanding considerable strength and endurance for prolonged shooting. Nowadays, manufacturers produce bows with lower draw weights, making them accessible for beginners who seek the allure of traditional archery.

This barebow technique requires you to shoot off the hand and focus more on archery fundamentals such as correct form and shot process.

The American Flatbow

A shorter bow than the English Longbow, the American Flatbow came into prominence in the 1930s. It gets its name because the bow limbs are much flatter than the D-shaped belly of its English cousin.

Developed as a hybrid of the English Longbow and the American Flatbow, this bow comes in at around 30cm shorter than its English counterpart at 1.7m, so it is suitable for archers with shorter draw weight and length.

The US primarily utilizes this bow for hunting purposes, as its construction with fibreglass enables the incorporation of higher draw weights, enhancing the bow’s penetration for game hunting

It also has an arrow shelf that allows for more stability for hunting.

The Horse Longbow

The Horse Longbow or Hybrid bow is the shortest of the Longbows at 1.6m, but also the most versatile. It’s a ‘reflex’/deflex’ design, which means the bow’s limbs curve slightly towards the archer in the centre of the bow before curving away at the limb tips.

It combines both the power of a Recurve bow with the forgiveness of a Longbow. This ‘Hybrid’ style has led to many cultures around the world adopting the bow by adding their country’s own individual flair and uniqueness to it.

The bow can easily be adapted for both target practice as well as hunting.

Related: How To Make Longbow Arrows: A Step-By-Step Guide

Buying A Longbow As A Beginner

There are plenty of options when it comes to buying your first Longbow. You could either go custom-made or factory-made. But as a beginner, you should be looking at a factory-made stock bow until you’ve decided that Longbow shooting is the right choice for you.

Custom bows have the advantage of being made from scratch with custom materials. You can personalise things like the hand grip and the finish, but part of the appeal of the Longbow is in its simplicity, so it won’t have all the trimmings of a modern-style bow.

Why Shoot A Longbow?

The fun factor is so much higher when you shoot a Longbow! You get to shoot wooden arrows with feather fletchings, you get to connect with the history and the tradition of archery.

Longbow Archers

You can enjoy a lifetime of learning how to master the Longbow after only a few minutes of learning how to shoot one.

You’ll finally understand why people who shoot with Longbows have the widest smiles of any archers.

Try Before You Buy

Importance of testing out different longbows before making a purchase decision

When it comes to choosing the right longbow, one of the most crucial steps is to try out different options before making a purchase decision.

No matter how much research you conduct or how great a particular longbow may look on paper, it’s impossible to get a real sense of its feel and performance until you test it out firsthand.

One way to test out different bows is by visiting an archery shop where you can speak with experienced professionals and try out their selection of bows.

Choosing The Right Longbow

Many shops offer rental services or allow you to demo bows on-site. An experienced salesperson should be able to provide guidance and recommendations based on your individual needs, preferences, and physical abilities.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and spend some time trying out different options until you find one that feels comfortable and meets your needs. Another option is attending archery events where vendors display their latest products for testing by attendees.

This can be an excellent opportunity not only to test bow models made from various materials but also to meet with other archers who have done so already.

While researching online reviews can give you some ideas about which bow models might suit your needs best, you must always check them in person before committing yourself fully.

Testing the bow’s draw weight, length, curve, and grip style preference can make all the difference when it comes down to overall comfortability when practising archery or hunting in real-life situations.

Take advantage of available resources at local shops or events as they will help save money by avoiding costly mistakes resulting from poor equipment choices that do not meet your requirements!

Maintenance Tips

Basic upkeep to keep your longbow in top condition

Congratulations on choosing the perfect longbow! You’ve made a great investment, and now it’s time to take care of it. Proper maintenance is key to getting the most out of your bow, whether you’re a casual shooter or a serious hunter.

Here are some tips for keeping your longbow in excellent condition.

First things first: Always store your bow properly.

Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, as this can cause damage to the wood or other materials. A dry, cool place such as a closet or basement is ideal.

Additionally, make sure that the bowstring is not under tension when not in use – this will help prevent any warping or twisting in the limbs over time. Cleaning your longbow is also an important part of maintenance.

Use a soft cloth and mild soap to gently wipe down the surface of the bow and remove any dirt or debris that has accumulated during use. Be careful not to use any harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that could scratch or damage the finish.

A quick wipe-down after each use can go a long way towards keeping your bow looking like new for years to come. Regular inspections are essential for detecting any issues early on before they become bigger problems.

Check for any signs of wear such as frayed strings or cracks in the limbs, and address them promptly with repairs if necessary.

With just a little bit of TLC, you can ensure that your longbow will last you for many adventures to come.


Choosing the right longbow can make a significant difference in your archery experience. By considering the purpose, physical abilities, material options, bow length, and additional features and trying out different longbows before making a purchase decision, you can find the perfect match for your needs.

Here is a quick recap of key points to consider when you choose a longbow:

Firstly, determine your purpose- whether you want to casually shoot targets or seriously go hunting. Secondly, consider your physical abilities and decide on draw weight and length based on personal strength and size.

It’s also important to choose material options that offer pros instead of cons- fibreglass or carbon fibre bows may be more durable than wooden ones.

Bow length should be chosen according to intended use- short bows are great for close-range while longer bows are ideal for longer-distance shots.

In addition to this, it is important to try out different longbows before making a purchase decision so that you can evaluate which one suits best for you based on your comfort level. Maintain your chosen bow properly by following basic upkeep steps.

When you’re choosing the right longbow according to your individual needs; every archery experience can become an awe-inspiring journey. Happy shooting!