Shortbow Vs Longbow

There are significant differences between short bows and longbows, whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just starting. However, both are good options, and their functionality cannot be denied.

The shortbow was created, but further improvements resulted in various kinds. A longbow is a singular bow with exceptional characteristics, such as shooting over longer distances and carrying heavier arrows to pierce armor.

A short bow is made to shoot at close and medium ranges. Their arrows aren’t particularly heavy, but they are light enough to fit into the bow’s capacity. A short bow can be anything from a crossbow to a recurve bow.

Longbows are made to traverse vast distances with incredible accuracy, breaking through defenses and tough amours. However, because they are longer than short bows, archers who use this sort of bow require a lot of room to shoot.

Difference between Shortbow and Longbow

Even so, many individuals confuse one form of bow with another. They are on the lookout for a bow that will endure a long time and match their requirements. However, the truth is that it all comes down to how you maintain and care for your chosen bow.

Others inquire which bow is best for them as a beginner archer. You can understand the difference between shortbow and longbow in our guide.

By the end, you’ll know which of these classic bows is more suited to your sort of shooting, whether you imagine yourself as Robin Hood in medieval Europe or using something more modern. (Read What Are The Four Main Causes Of Hunting Incidents)

Is A Longbow Or Shortbow Better?

Shortbows shoot far faster than longbows, resulting in a higher overall DPS. In most cases, the slight change in attack distance is not worth the speed loss. A shortbow’s surprise attack value far eclipses that of a longbow.

What is a Shortbow?

Generally, the standard measurement of a shortbow is around 3 feet. But typically, a bow under 5’5” or 60 inches can be categorized as shortbows. Modern hunting recurve shortbows are around 48”.


What is a Longbow?

For generations, famous archers and hunters have used this sort of bow. Longbows are the most prevalent and commonly used bows throughout history. Even now, most tribes who live in remote locations use them. (Learn What Must Hunters Be Able To Do In Order To Properly Identify Game)

Archers have long favored longbows because of their size, range, and impact characteristics. It’s a simple single curved bow that is 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length.

The weapon’s design allows an average-sized guy to draw from a little more than half of his wingspan.

The length of an English longbow was approximately 1.98 meters (6.6 ft). On the other hand, the Japanese produced a longbow that was roughly 2 meters or 6.5 feet long. Yumi is a Japanese bow that is significantly longer than a traditional European bow.

Although it is the most basic bow form, it has many advantages over shortbows.

Longbow Pros

  • Long draw length
  • Stores more energy
  • Shoots heavier arrows
  • More velocity and accuracy
  • Arrows fly straighter

Longbow Cons

  • Not suitable for horseback use
  • It needs room to fire
  • Not suitable for shorter archers

Shortbow Pros

  • You can fire arrows faster
  • Effective in a tight space
  • Easier to carry
  • Suited to smaller archers

Shortbow Cons

  • Shorter draw lengths
  • Only suitable for short bow arrow use

Distinguish a longbow from a shortbow

Basic Differences of Shortbow Vs. Longbow

Each form of the bow has its characteristics and applications. Furthermore, each bow is unique, and several characteristics distinguish a longbow from a shortbow, such as:


The fundamental distinction between a shortbow and a longbow is this. A longbow is six to seven feet long, and a shortbow is roughly 60 inches long. Longbows are also bigger and heavier than shortbows.


Their names likewise define the bows’ ranges. The longbow’s design allows you to shoot arrows at more considerable distances without sacrificing impact. It features a longer bow length, allowing you to pull the string further and give the arrow greater energy.

They designed short bows for agility and close-range shooting. The damage isn’t minor, but the range is vastly different. A shortbow is more suited to shooting foes from a horse or close range.


The appropriate arrows for both bows are also different. The biggest difference is the arrow’s weight. To match the bow’s size and weight, you’ll need to use bigger and heavier arrows with a longbow.

Short bows use lighter arrows with a lesser range because of the arrow’s lighter weight. That’s why, on a long-range shot, it can readily shift direction.


The speed of the longbow and shortbow is also determined by their size, range, and arrow.

You can pull a longbow string harder, giving the arrow additional energy to cut through the wind. In a long-range shot, it also boosts the arrow’s speed.

For a shortbow, however, this is not the case as the bowstring is shorter; you’ll find less energy stored for the arrow to travel. Shortbow arrows shift in flight because of this. In addition, the arrow’s weight is less than the heavy arrows of a longbow which adds to this as well. (Find the Best Ladder Stand For Bowhunting)

Draw Length

A longbow is longer and more flexible than a short bow, giving you additional draw length and flexibility. The more you draw on the bowstring, the more energy you give the arrow, which causes it to move faster and farther.


The draw length also influences the force. The greater the draw length, the greater the arrow’s impact or force on the item. The arrow with a higher force receives the potential energy from the draw. After being released, this energy will transform into kinetic energy.

As a result, larger bows will have a higher impact force, whereas smaller bows will have a lower impact force because of a smaller draw length.

A short bow will provide a high force over a shorter distance, and a longbow will deliver the same force over both long and short distances.


Shortbows, such as Turkish or Mongolian bows, are built of various materials, including wood, sinew, and horn. As a result, their energy capacity can occasionally exceed that of longbows. However, they make the traditional English Longbow from a single branch of Yew.

Which is Better Longbow Or Recurve?

The draw curve, or the strength necessary to pull back and retain an arrow, is one reason compound bows are so popular. The draw curve is virtually linear with an English longbow: the further back you draw the bow, the more muscle it takes to hold it.

Shortbow and Longbow Similarities

Now that you’ve seen the differences let’s look at some similarities between the two bows.


Shortbows are marginally less expensive than longbows, although the difference isn’t considerable. Both styles are roughly the same price; however, a good longbow is considerably simpler to come by these days than a good shortbow because of the longbow’s widespread popularity.

Costs can rise as you look into better brands, and handcrafted bows are the most expensive.

Construction Materials

The materials used to make different bows don’t differ all that much. Because of their flexibility, Yew, bamboo, and elm were initially used to make a traditional long bow. However, many people prefer to use a wooden bow over modern materials like aluminum, steel, and fiberglass.

Composite bows are available in both shortbows and longbows, and they make them from a range of materials. (Read Can A Felon Own A Compound Bow)


In modern times, they use both sorts of bows in hunting and sport, which is usually down to preference.

Short bows, for example, are beneficial in hunting because,
with a smaller, shorter draw length, they make it easier to shoot many arrows at a moving target quickly. However, a lack of range from short bows is a disadvantage.

With a longbow vs. shortbow, while reloading a longbow takes longer, you can stand farther away, and with heavier arrows, better accuracy makes a cleaner shot.


Advantages of Shortbows

While shortbows aren’t as popular as longbows these days, there are still several advantages to using them. Let’s look at a couple of these benefits.

Shooting Speed

Because a longbow’s draw length is longer, it takes longer to notch and draw back the arrow. This entails a longer pause between arrows than a shortbow. As a result, shooting a moving target becomes easier since you can shoot more arrows at it before it vanishes.


Because of its size and weight, a shortbow is easier to pack and travel. The arrows and containers you use are also essential factors in moving about with the bow as you position yourself to shoot.

They traditionally used a quiver with a bow; however, some archers find it reduces their shooting speed. Some archers will stick their arrows in soft ground and grab them as required. You can also find a few expert archers fire with their arrows in their bow hands.

The shorter arrows and lighter weight of short bows make moving around much easier.


Because short bows are agile, they can be used in various ways. The most popular ways to fire a short bow are from horseback or tight spaces such as up a tree with feet with stage show artists.

As a result, the short bow is easier to use when kneeling, improving aim and accuracy as it has a shorter draw length, and less effort is required.

Advantages of Longbows

Aside from the artwork and nostalgia, a longbow vs. shortbow offers the following benefits:


A longbow’s range is far superior to a short bow, making it the medieval sniper weapon. In addition, the longer draw length of a longbow allows for more energy to be put into the arrows, allowing them to fly further and more accurately.

A longbow can shoot much further, depending on your draw weight, and since longbows are often the same height as the users, make sure you never pick one longer than your height.


Longbows are more accurate than short bows because of their heavier arrows, which are challenging to deflect and drop less frequently.

The longbow outperforms the short bow in shorter range accuracy even at close range. This is because a longbow only has to hit a target once, and it does this hard from the heavy draw weight at a longer distance.

Traditional bows offer more piercing and were used initially to pierce heavy armor with more force over long distances. Such piercing skills help an arrow stick to a target instead of falling off as light arrows could.


The main difference between the two bow types is that the longbow is the most popular bow type for highly skilled archers and comes in many versions. While fine shortbows are scarce, longbows are plentiful.

Longbows also offer customization options like bow sights or aim aids. Overall, a longbow is easier to maintain than short bows and is a better investment than a short bow.

Recurve Bows

What About Recurve Bows?

The recurve bow is the most preferred bow shape since it has the maximum power. In addition, this is the only bow type chosen in the Olympics since shooting accurately needs more skill.

A recurve bow is similar to a longbow, but its limbs are curved. The bowstring slaps against the limbs, adding energy to the arrow.

So it hits faster and harder. A recurve bow is more difficult to compare to a shortbow than a longbow because it is similar in shape, size, range, and accuracy.

It requires more area to fire than a shortbow, requires slower reloading, and requires the archer to remain motionless while firing.

A recurve bow is easy to pack because it is smaller than a self bow or longbow. Because most recurve bows are disassembled and reassembled in three sections. This allows for more customization and cheaper part replacement of the bow’s limbs.

Power, Draw Weight, and FPKE

When calculating a bow’s total power, various variables come into play. For example, one shot’s kinetic energy is determined by draw weight, arrow speed, and mass. Here’s a closer look at each one.

Draw weight is usually expressed in lb. Choose a traditional longbow with a draw weight that feels good to you. Your ideal draw weight depends on your body size, athletic abilities, and whether you are hunting or target shooting. For example, target shooting requires a lighter draw weight to learn the technique.

A short bow can reach around five feet in length. For bow hunters, it is crucial to know that most states require a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds on the bow string. Hunting requires a larger draw weight to ensure humane killing.

Always check your state and local bow hunting rules for the minimum bow draw weight, as these can change, and you may need a heavier draw weight than you can handle to shoot accurately.

They commonly express arrow speed in fps (FPS). However, a successful hunter needs more than a high FPS. This helps to increase the kinetic energy necessary to kill a target at a long-range.

They express arrow mass in grains. For example, 0.065 grams (1/7,000th pound) The pound per foot of kinetic energy (FPKE) rating is calculated by multiplying the arrow speed by the arrow mass.

FPKE ratings measure the kinetic energy produced by modern longbows to ensure enough energy so the arrow accurately brings down the game with one shot when possible.

  • Small game such as rabbits, groundhogs, and prairie dogs have an FPKE rating of 25 or less.
  • Medium game such as deer, wild boar, and antelope benefit from an FPKE value of 25 to 41.
  • Big game, such as elk, black bear, and moose, require an FPKE grade of 42–65.
  • Extremely huge wildlife, such as cape buffalo, grizzly bear, and musk ox, receive a grade exceeding 65 FPKE.

When comparing the power of the greater draw length and arrow accuracy of a longbow, longbows win easily compared to a short bow.

A short bow is lighter and has a lower draw weight, making it easier to aim. Therefore, quickfire target practice in the garden is suited to a short bow where you can get better arrow accuracy from a lighter arrow.

But that more tolerable shortcoming does not predate a longbow. A longbow drawback goes to the user’s cheekbone, which helps them aim more correctly.

A short bow is drawn back to the dominant shoulder or forearm and does not line up as much with the user’s line of vision for a maximum range shot and is better suited to a shorter range with fewer variations to deal with.

Shortbow Vs Longbow

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