The Best Bows In History

The humble bow and arrow have been a part of human history for centuries. The first bows were simple, but as time progressed they became more advanced. Today, the compound bow reigns supreme as the most powerful weapon on the battlefield! Let’s take a look at some of the best bows in history: Compound Bows, Traditional Bows, The Longbow, Crossbows.

Compound Bows: The compound bow is the most advanced type of bow on the market today. It uses a system of levers and pulleys to create more power and speed than traditional bows. This makes it an incredibly powerful weapon for hunting or combat.


Traditional Bows: The traditional bow is the simplest type of bow, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective! In fact, many experts believe that the traditional bow is actually more accurate than the compound bow. It also has a much quieter draw, which can be an advantage in combat situations.


The Longbow: The longbow was first developed by the English in the 1300s and quickly became one of their most prized weapons The longbow is a simple design, but it’s incredibly powerful. It can shoot arrows over distances of up to 250 yards and is capable of piercing armour at close range.


Crossbows: The crossbow is a unique type of bow that was first developed in China in the 200s BC. It uses a system of levers and cranks to draw the string back, allowing for much more power than traditional bows. Crossbows are perfect for hunting large games or taking down armoured targets.

The English Longbow

One of the most famous bows of all time, the English longbow has a reputation for being a very powerful bow. This is for a very good reason.

Measuring in at around 6-foot (1.8 meters) long. This bow, which was later immortalized as the bane of many of England’s foes for centuries during the Battle of Agincourt and the Battle of Crecy, would become a legend in its own right.

These bows, made entirely of yew and dating from the English Civil War until the end of the Conflict, would have been used in the English army. Hundreds of 16th-century longbows were discovered when the Mary Rose was investigated in the 1980s; many were in excellent condition. Estimates for draw weights on these bows vary (usually around 100 lbs), but they tended to have draw weights of between 100 and 180 pounds (45 and 82 kg) when tested!

The bows’ effective range was said to be between 350 and 400 yards. The huge war arrows that were utilized had been stated to pierce all but the very best medieval steel plate armour. They were a strong weapon, although they needed a lot of training to effectively use.

Most historians agree that these bows were extremely useful in battle, but the punching force of these bows is a point of contention. Whether or not they are outright deadly, these bows were evidently valuable enough to form a substantial portion of English armies throughout history.

The Mongolian Recurve Bow

The Mongolian recurve bow, immortalized by the Mongols during the third century onwards, is widely regarded as one of history’s most powerful and deadly bows. These bows were known to shoot with remarkable accuracy at well over 500 yards (450+ meters) while being utilized from horseback. 

The draw weight of these bows was around 75 kg. The recurved bowstave was the key to the bow’s strength. This made the bow smaller and easier to transport, while also delivering a powerful blow.

The bows of this period were also composite, consisting of bamboo, animal tendon (sinew), and animal horn, allowing them to store enormous amounts of potential energy without breaking. Arrows were generally constructed of birch wood, had a diameter of 0.5 inches (1 cm), and ranged in length from 30 to 40 inches (80-100cm).

This bow helped the Mongols, and later their descendants, dominate several battles for centuries, as well as help them establish one of the world’s largest empires.

The Scythian Bow

The Scythian bow is another example of a highly lethal bow from the past. These compound recurve bows were some of the most sophisticated weapons of war at the time, made from wood, horn, sinew, and glue.

This bow was used by the Scythians (a group of nomadic warriors who inhabited Southern Siberia between the 9th and 1st centuries BC). This bow proved to be a very effective piece of weaponry, as it was used by the Scythians. The draw weight of these replica bows is disputed, with some showing a draw weight of around 100 pounds (55 kgs). However, it should be noted that this is based on bows being half-drawn to shoot short arrows.

The supposed purpose of these bows, like the Mongolian ones, was to be fired from horseback.

The Turkish Bow

Another significant historical bow was the Turkish bow, which utilized designs from the Eurasian Steppe (where Turkic people originate) to invent a highly powerful weapon of war.

They were made with a wooden core, animal horn belly (central part facing the archer), and sinew front. These bows have a very severe curvature when unstrung and are still utilized today in competitive archery. The Turkish bow was drawn using the archer’s thumb (unlike fingers in Europe). This method was created to aid shooting while on horseback.

Finally, the Ottoman archers developed strategies for shooting in battle, such as those who kept spare arrows between their fingers during the draw. According to contemporary accounts, these bows had a draw weight of around 65 pounds (30 kg). Other research has shown that these bows were comparable in strength to longbows.

The Japanese Yumi

The Yumi (Japanese for bow) is another of the world’s deadliest bows. The word when used in English generally refers to asymmetrical bows such as the longer daikyū and shorter hankyū. These weapons were an essential component of the samurai’s arsenal, and they were frequently utilized during the feudal age wars. In comparison to Western bows, these asymmetrical bows were far taller and may have been intended originally for use while riding with a reduced lower bow arm. 

The Yumi’s estimated maximum weight ranges from 110 to 176 pounds (50 to 80 kg), with reconstructions suggesting weights ranging between 50 and 80 kg.

The Crimean Tartar Composite Bow

The Tatar bow was another catastrophic historical bow. The Tatars were a nomadic people that lived in the Steppes of Eastern Anatolia and Eastern Europe north of the Black Sea, who were assimilated by the Mongols in the 13th century and then the Ottoman Empire later on.

The Tatars devised a horseback hunting technique using specifically made recurve composite bows, like other nomadic groups of the area. These powerful bows have a double recurved form (similar to a stylized letter M), which gives the archer unrivalled power.

Like the Turkish bow, they would later become the primary armament of cavalry troops. These bows were designed to fire huge war arrows and were considerably larger than other comparable bows at the time. At 28 inches (71 cm) of draw length, draw weights for these bows have been estimated to range from 30 pounds to 75 pounds (13 to 34 kg).

The Modern Compound Bow

The modern compound bow is one of the most powerful bows ever designed, with a design that looks more like a piece of laboratory equipment than a bow. These bows take advantage of mechanical advantage to store more energy than an average person could alone by incorporating several complicated levers, cables, and pulleys.

These bows have stronger bow arms than traditional recurves and longbows, allowing them to endure far higher stress levels than recurves or longbows. This sort of bow was originally designed in the mid-20th century and has since become one of the most popular for competitive and recreational archery throughout the world.

compound bows are generally constructed of aluminium, magnesium, carbon fibre, or a combination of these materials. The arms are frequently made of fibre-glass composite materials. Compound bows are typically considered to be easier to learn and shoot than crossbows. This is due to the fact that the draw forces are kept at bay by special cams on the bow rather than the archer’s own power. When the string is released, these cams unwind and speed up the string faster than the draw weight supported by the archer.

For example, a compound bow with a 70-pound draw weight and a 50% “let-off” will draw 70 pounds (32 kg), but the archer will only need to hold 35 pounds (16 kg) before releasing the arrow. Draw weights of these bows range from 40 to 80 pounds (18 to 36 kg), although this is merely a convention since for the same poundage, they produce greater release power than traditional bows. Larger draw weights are also available.

For today, that’s all there is to it. Have we piqued your interest in archery? Why not consider joining a local archery club right away? Or sign up for our Benchmark 3D Event? You get to learn a new skill while also getting some fantastic strength training. It’s a win-win situation.