Our club members shoot a wide variety of bows, the main types being Recurve, Barebow, Longbow and Compound. Members are happy to offer guidance to new members wanting to know more. Archery bows have existed in various forms throughout history and have evolved through the ages, with many now made with materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, as well as traditional materials.
Recurve bows were historically used by horsemen and modern versions are the only bow used in Olympic events. These bows are named for their distinct shape: the central parts of the limbs curve toward the archer, and the tips of the limbs curve away from the archer. This configuration gives the bow more power, and less strength is needed to use the bow. Recurve bows are used to teach archery, and beginners usually start with a Barebow recurve, which is basically a recurve bow but without any components such as sights, pressure buttons, clickers and stabilizers - long rods, V bars etc, so aiming is more instinctive - as with the longbow.
A flatbow is a bow with non-recurved, flat, relatively wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section. Because the limbs are relatively wide, flatbows will usually narrow and become deeper at the handle, with a rounded, non-bending handle for easier grip. This design differs from that of a longbow, which has rounded limbs that are circular or D shaped in cross-section, and is usually widest at the handle. A flatbow can be just as long as a longbow, but can be very short. (Typical lengths would be 68-70" for a flatbow, 70-72" for an English longbow, and 72-76" for a warbow-weight English longbow; but these styles may easily overlap each other.) Traditional flatbows are usually wooden self bows (bows made of one solid piece of wood), though laminated and composite flatbows have been made in ancient and modern times. Modern flatbows commonly use fiberglass.
Longbows were first recorded in use during battle in 1298 and were a dominant weapon on the battle field until the mid-16th century. The bows are characterized by their simplicity: they consist of a long, slightly curved piece of wood the same height as the archer and do not have arrow rests or sights. Longbows are much more difficult to aim than other modern bows and do not have nearly the same velocity as compound or recurve bows. The longbow requires more practice and patience to master, but many archers enjoy the challenge of learning to effectively use longbows.
Compound bows were first produced in the 1960s and involve an innovative system of cables, pulleys and eccentric cams that assist the archer in holding a heavy draw weight at full draw. This system gives archers time to aim a powerful bow without causing excessive muscle fatigue. However, a good deal of strength is needed to initially draw the bow. Compound bows are less affected by changes in temperature and humidity than bows made of natural materials, which gives them better accuracy, distance and arrow velocity. Compound bows are typically not used by beginners because of their inherent complexity.
A composite bow is a traditional bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together, cf., laminated bow. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the outer side of a wooden core. When the bow is drawn, the sinew (stretched on the outside) and horn (compressed on the inside) store more energy than wood for the same length of bow. The strength can be made similar to that of all-wood "self" bows, with similar draw-length and therefore a similar amount of energy delivered to the arrow from a much shorter bow. However, making a composite bow requires more varieties of material than a self bow, its construction takes much more time, and the finished bow is more sensitive to moisture. To find out more about the different bows click on this link, which will take you to Wikipedia.