The answer to the question is simple. No, recurve bows are not ambidextrous.
However, there are always exceptions to the rule, but if we look at the most common form of Recurve bows, the Olympic Recurve, the Barebow and Traditional Recurve bow, we see that these bows are all handed.
If we look deeper into this question, we must first look at the most basic type of bow, the Longbow. Its’ construction is just a long stick with a string looped over each end and arrows are shot off the archer’s hand.
This bow is truly ambidextrous, and arrows can be shot from either side of the bow. The major drawback of a longbow is its accuracy. To make a bow more accurate you really need to arrow to be pushed in a straight line by the string. Longbows do not do this. The most accurate type of bow, The Compound bow does. It does this by either having a “shoot through” riser or by having a shelve built in.
So now if we look at a Recurve bow riser, we see that they use one of these designs to ensure the string pushes the arrow as straight as possible. Recurve risers use a “shelf” design to hold the arrow in position and allow for a straight push of the arrow from the string.
This shelf design can also have different ways to do this. In the most basic form, the shelf has some padding on it and the arrow sits directly on it.
In more advanced risers, like the Olympic Recurve, arrow rest attached to the bow are used in conjunction with an item called a Plunger Button. Both are usually adjustable to allow for fine tuning of the bow to become as accurate as possible.
So, we now have a Recurve Riser that requires items to be bolted or stuck onto it. This does not even include all the other parts that are used for some forms of recurve archery like a sight, stabilizer and dampers.
This means that not only do we need to purchase a left- or right-handed riser, we need to buy handed extras to attach to the bow as well. Only the Plunger button is truly ambidextrous. Why do we need all these other parts? It is simple. We, as archers want to be as accurate as possible.
If we are shooting for fun or at a competition. We want are arrows as close to the center as possible. If you give an elite archer a target, 70m away, with their equipment They will hit gold virtually every shot.
Now give them a Longbow and see the difference. They would be lucky to even hit the target. Archers, no matter if they are shooting in competition, in their backyard or out in the wilderness hunting for food, want to be as accurate as possible.
By having equipment that has been developed of the years it has now got us to a point where we can hit a target the size of a DVD/CD (about 5” or 12cm diameter) consistently for elite archers and every so often for most people. This is what archers as a whole want. It may win us a competition or take down that prize Deer we have been after.
By now you may be thinking, I know a way to save money. Why don’t recurve risers work the same way as some compound risers and be shoot through?
It could mean one riser could work for both left and right-handed archers making recurve bow ambidextrous. This would save costs, and be quicker to manufacture a single riser rather than having to produce two risers.
Why Arent Recurve Bows Ambidextrous?
There are a couple of reasons why we don’t see these. First and about the biggest reason why is that it is against World Archery rules. Under these rules, recurve risers are not allowed to be “Shoot Through”. That in itself precludes most recurve shooters. Another reason would be weight. Having to hold the physical weight of the bow as well as the draw weight would not only be difficult for most archers but could also produce a lot more injuries.
And of course, if you were cynical, you would look at the archery companies themselves. Surely it makes more sense for a bow manufacture to produce two risers, left and right-handed, rather than a single ambidextrous riser. Two risers equal more profit. It would mean they would also sell more peripherals (rests, buttons, sights etc).
Even with all that has been said above, right at the beginning, it was stated that there are always exceptions to the rule. There are left and right-handed recurve bows able to be purchased. Are they as good or is it better to say as accurate as
Archery is my hobby & I usually hunt and play on weekends and after work. It’s a passion since I was very young and I love writing about it as well to continuously learn more and share the love of archery with others!