I see more people than ever before getting into traditional archery. Constant facebook and forum questions are popping up with folks looking for the perfect starter bow. I’m very excited about new people swapping over to a recurve or longbow simply because of my love for stick bows. I want to try to help guide you to the best choice for your budget when selecting your first bow. I have 3 great options to help you get started.
What is your budget for your first recurve
First decide what your budget will be. The cheapest bow I feel confident in recommending is the $160 Samick Sage. This bow is constantly recommended in forums and Facebook groups, and for good reason. It is fairly accurate, dependable, and extremely affordable. I owned a Sage for about 6 months before I upgraded when I first started out shooting a recurve. I gave mine away to a friend who wanted to try it out when I upgraded or I would still own it today. The second bow, and the one I really believe everyone should start with, is actually a riser and limbs from two different manufacturers. This combination will cost about $340 together but there are several reasons why I think this is the best option.
Fleetwood ILF hunter with Das bamboo core limbs
The absolute best option for a beginner recurve bow is a Fleetwood ILF hunter riser, paired with Das bamboo core limbs. I have owned this bow for a few years now and have taken deer and hogs with it. The riser itself can be bought in 3 different color combinations. I have the brown and auburn color so the pictures you see are specific to my bow. The riser cost is $140 if you buy from 3 Rivers archery and most places online. The cheapest I have found it is HERE on amazon for around $129 usually. The Limbs are 3 layers of bamboo surrounded by black fiberglass. They can be bought new for around $200 on places like 3 rivers archery or Lancaster archery supply.
You should start with an ILF bow for your first recurve
I highly suggest starting out with an ILF recurve as a beginner. ILF stands for international limb fitting. It is basically a standardized limb pocket blueprint for manufacturers to follow to create their limb and riser designs around. This means you can mix and match parts from different manufacturers with ease and not have any issues with fitment. This is the biggest advantage of an ILF bow because you arent stuck with a proprietary limb design like with the Sage and other cheaper beginner bows. You can start with the Das bamboo core limbs and if you decide you’re ready for a change you can even get a $1000 set of top of the line Uukha limbs and they will fit right on your riser! There are even several manufacturers that make longbow limbs for ILF risers. So if you decide you want to try a longbow in the future, all you need is a set of limbs and a string to go with them. Hopefully you can see the advantage to starting out with an ILF bow.
Fleetwood ILF hunter riser recommended upgrades
The fleetwood Ilf hunter is a 19 inch riser that is cut to center, making it easier to tune arrows. It has lateral limb adjustments for aligning your limbs perfectly. This comes in very handy when fine tuning your bow for perfect arrow flight. The grip fills my large sized hand nicely and the riser only weighs 1.7 lbs. I installed a $6 Bear archery hair rest and it paired nicely with this riser when shooting off the shelf. The only other upgrade I would recommend for a hunter is a Stop the Drop arrow holder. You can see mine in the pictures and I have one on all my bows. This will prevent your arrow from falling off your bow while you wait for deer.
Das Bamboo core limb speed
The limbs are quite good for the budget price I payed for them. They are smooth through the draw cycle and don’t stack too much when I come to my full draw length of 29 inches. I have the 40 lb version and I got 164 fps with a 540 grain hunting arrow when shooting through a chronograph at 3 feet. This is plently of speed for a hunting bow and actually quite good. In comparison, I only get 171 fps with the same arrow from my fully custom Black Widow PAC bow at 42 lbs. So the limbs store plenty of energy for full passthroughs on deer as long as you have the proper arrow setup. They will also give you a flat trajectory with lighter arrows is you’re just into target archery.
Choose your first recurve wisely
Overall, I highly recommend you start out with any ILF compatible bow as your first recurve. They can be found at a budget price and also upgraded to top of the line parts later on. The Fleet wood ILF hunter riser with DAS bamboo core limbs is my #1 recommendation but there are hundreds or different risers and limbs on the market making the combinations endless when you choose this route. However, if you only want to spend around $160 the Samick Sage is also a solid option and will shoot targets and kill deer also.
If you want to see this bow in action you can watch my youtube video showing the bow HERE. If you enjoy the article or my video please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel. My goal is to real 1000 subscribers by January 1st and I would appreciate your help.