For those archery aficionados / toxophilites out there who love collecting recurve bows, this list is for you.
There are particular bows that stand out from the rest, some for historical reasons and some because they are really great bows worth mentioning. They are classics and if you are into collecting recurve bows, these are ten classic recurve bows worth adding to your collection. For each bow I will be listing reasons WHY this particular recurve is worthy of your attention and why it is worth collecting.
Any recurve bow that is older than 1932.
- It was really hard to make recurve bows prior to 1932. You had to use often a mixture of different woods, wood laminates, horn, bamboo... thus using different materials to make a recurve bow was pretty standard. It is possible to make recurve bow out of nothing but a single piece of wood - by shaping the wood with heat treatment, but any recurve bow made in the fashion has probably long since broken. Thus any recurve bow that is older than 1932 and in good enough condition to be a wall hanger is a collector's item.
- Don't plan on shooting your antique bow. If it has survived this long it is probably because people did NOT shoot it that much and took good care of it. Please do not shoot it.
- Any bow this old belongs in a museum. You should consider yourself lucky to have it in your collection.
- William Folberth patented the fibreglass-wood recurve bow in 1933. Thus any bow made by him is automatically valuable for that historical reason alone.
- Folberth bows are VERY RARE. I have only once ever seen a Folberth bow on eBay and I got outbid trying to buy it. I wanted it as a museum piece. Just finding a William Folberth bow is a rarity within itself.
- Folberth did a good job of making his bows look pretty. They were both groundbreaking and beautiful.
- In theory it is possible to shoot a Folberth bow if it is in good condition, but I would not do so. Anything that old deserves to be a wall hanger in a museum and should be treated with care.
|Spring: The author with his Bear Grizzly Static after a day of shooting.|
- The Grizzly Static was Fred Bear's answer to William Folberth's patent of the fibreglass-wood recurve. He created a recurve bow that had aluminum on the belly of the bow and fibreglass on the back of the bow, thus bypassing Folberth's patent. Bear then applied for a patent in Canada, bypassing the American patent system and allowing him to produce his recurve bow without having to pay royalties to William Folberth.
- The alunimum-wood laminate limbs make the bow a historical oddity, worthy of having in your collection.
- What is fantastic about the Grizzly Static from 1949 is that as bows they still shoot well today. You can buy one that is in good condition and still shoot it recreationally. (I don't recommend hunting with one.) Thus if you are looking for a vintage bow worth collecting that you can still shoot for fun, this is definitely one to get.
- The Bear Archery Co. mass produced the Bear Static. That means that they are not as rare as a William Folberth bow and there are quite a few that have survived the test of time, are still shootable, and are definitely worth buying.
- The Grizzly Static makes for a very beautiful old bow because of the wood laminates contrasted with the aged aluminum. The tips alone are amazing.
|Bear Grizzly Static Tip|
- After Fred Bear stopped making the Grizzly Static, they came out with Bear Grizzly bow - which became the basis for every recurve bow they have made ever since. The Cheyenne, the Super Grizzly, the Polar, the Bear Cub, the Kodiak, the Kodiak Hunter, the Kodiak Cub, the Kodiak Magnum, the Super Kodiak, the Supermag 48, the Takedown, etc, etc, etc - every model, regardless of design or year, effectively owes its design to the Bear Grizzly.
- While you certainly can find old Bear bows from the 1970s, if you want a truly vintage Bear bow you need to be thinking older and that means you are looking for a Bear Grizzly.
- Fred Bear modified the Bear Grizzly a bit at a time until eventually perfecting the design in the late 1960s. This means that early versions of the Grizzly are valuable for being "more experimental" and newer versions from the late 1960s / early 1970s are also desirable.
- Fred Bear preferred to hunt with the Bear Grizzly during much of his bowhunting career, even into his old age. While he did shoot and sometimes hunt with other bows, the Grizzly remained one of his favourites.
- You can get a modern Bear Grizzly made from Diamondwood or Futurewood, and while those are certainly nice they are not as desirable as an old Bear Grizzly made of unmodified wood laminate.
- Over the years they came in various colours so if you want you can kind of just pick a year that has a colour that you like. (My preference would be a green one.)
- Regardless of the year, the Bear Grizzly is a very pretty bow.
- Any Bear Grizzly that has been well kept and cared for should still be good shootable condition, meaning you can both enjoy its historical relevance and still shoot it for fun. Potentially you could even hunt with it, but if you do take care not to get it wet and damage the wood. It would be a true shame to damage it. I recommend oiling the wood regularly.
|Bear Grizzly Bow in Green|
The Damon Howatt X-150 or X-200 from the 1970s.
- You are familiar with the Ford F-150, yes? It is the most sold vehicle on the planet. Ford F-150s are the standard for trucks. They are a good basic truck that gives you everything you want in a truck, and reasonably priced. This is what the Damon Howatt X-150 and X-200 bows provided. They were (at the time) a good basic recurve bow at a reasonable price, and gave you everything you wanted from a recurve bow. Damon Howatt ultimately ended up mass producing these bows so much that they became the standard bow for people to buy when first getting into archery.
- Damon Howatt later got purchased by Martin Archery, which meant the Damon Howatt X-150 became the Martin X-150. That is still a desirable bow, but the name "Damon Howatt" on the bow is considered to be worth more.
- These days old Damon Howatt bows are desirable. Any Damon Howatt bow is automatically worth something to a collector. So much so that the Martin Archery company is now making new Damon Howatt bows under the Damon Howatt brand name, because they have recognized the brand name is worth something to archers.
- While the price was reasonable back in the 1970s, the price of a X-150 or X-200 in good condition has dramatically skyrocketed. Expect to pay a pretty penny.
- They are not as pretty as some other bows, but they still look pretty good.
|Black Hawk Avenger with Two Arrows|
- Black Hawk was a bow manufacturer during the 1960s and 1970s, and they made extremely pretty recurve bows (and very pretty wooden compounds too, but we shall not be discussing that today). So the primary goal in acquiring a Black Hawk bow is the fact that they are so beautiful.
- Black Hawk often had the coolest names when it came to model names. eg. I have a Black Hawk Avenger from 1972. Just the name sounds awesome.
- The company experienced a fire in their factory and they had to rebuild and remake all the old designs in order to meet the orders people had made. They did make all the bows that people ordered, but by the time they finally delivered the bows they were often over a year late on delivery. This ruined Black Hawk's reputation and spelled the demise of the company as people stopped ordering their bows. With no new orders coming in, the company decided to close up shop and the bowyers who worked there went their separate ways to start their own smaller archery companies.
- Not only do Black Hawk bows look amazing, but they still shoot very well too. Like old Bear bows and old Damon Howatts you could still potentially hunt with a Black Hawk bow.
- Because they are so desirable and beautiful, Black Hawk recurve bows are often gobbled up by collectors - which means they are now pretty rare. If you see one and it is in good condition, you should attempt to buy it.
- Black Widow specializes in making recurve bows that look exotic and beautiful, and the company is still making weird, strange and beautiful bows today. If anything, they have only gotten weirder.
- While it is possible to buy a new Black Widow that looks pretty unusual and beautiful, from a collector's perspective what you really want is a Black Widow from the 1980s because they are comparatively rare and more exotic.
- Black Widow uses an unusual design feature. While most three piece takedown recurves attach the limbs to the back of the bow, on a Black Widow they attach to the belly of the bow. While they are not the only company that does this, it is rather rare for bow manufacturers to attach the limbs in this manner.
- Back in the 1980s the PSE Blackhawk was considered to be really good value for money. It was a beautiful bow, in a moderate price range, and you got an amazing bow for comparatively little.
- Today you can still buy a brand new PSE Blackhawk, but the price has skyrocketed in recent years. You still get an amazing bow, but it is in a slightly higher price range. However for the true collector, what you really want is an original PSE Blackhawk from the 1980s that is in "cherry" condition and still shoots straight.
- Because the PSE Blackhawk was so desirable in the 1980s there are quite a few still out there in collections. During the next 20 years as Babyboomers start kicking the bucket of old age I expect we shall see a flood of old PSE Blackhawks that end up back on the market.
- The PSE Ghost is also a nice bow to consider getting, but the PSE Blackhawk is still the more desirable one to collect. When in doubt, get both!
- If you noticed the similarities between the company "Black Hawk" and the PSE Blackhawk, you are not alone. Some of the bowyers who left Black Hawk in the 1970s later ended up working for PSE during the 1980s.
- After buying out Damon Howatt, Martin made a large number of bows during the 1980s. The Martin Mamba was one of those bows - and it is considered by some to be one of the best recurve bows ever made.
- While it looks a bit similar to the Damon Howatt X-150, it has a more striking design, used more exotic woods and more wood laminates, thus creating a more beautiful bow. The X-150 looks a tad boring in comparison.
- The Mamba is still made today, because never goes out of production. They just keep making it. Whereas the X-150 was the "Ford F-150 of bows", the Mamba was the recurve bow equivalent of a Ford Mustang. It was pricier, fancier, and fast.
- Expect to pay a pretty penny for a Martin Mamba that is in good condition from the 1980s. They are highly sought after.
- G. Fred Asbell / Bighorn Bowhunting Company
- Don Assenheimer / Assenheimer Bows
- Jim Brackenbury / Jim Brackenbury Bows
- Robert Brigham / Brigham Bowhunting Company aka Brigham Custom Recurves
- Keith Chastain / Wapiti Recurves & Longbows
- Dale Dye / Trails End Custom Recurves
- Mike Steliga / Bruin Custom Recurves
- Mike Fedora / Fedora's Archery
- Earl Hoyt Jr. / Hoyt Archery
- Terry Hughes / Arkansas Stick
- Don McCann / Don McCann Custom Archery
- Rocky Miller / Heritage Archery
- Ben Pearson / Pearson Archery Inc.
- Ron Pittsley / Predator Traditional Bows
- Alan Rothhaar / Rothhaar Recurves
Final Note - At present there are no recurve bows from the 1990s or 2000s that I feel have any sort of historical value. There are certainly lots of pretty bows in good condition that you can buy just for the sake of collecting them, but none of them from 1990 to present really stand out in my opinion. Perhaps I will amend this in the future if I see a model of bow worth mentioning, but at present there aren't any I would be attempting to collect.
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