Black Widow KB Recurve

Smooth-drawing, sweet-shooting Black Widow takedown bows have been a favorite of mine since I first launched an arrow through one in the early ’90s, and this newer one-piece KBX model delivers the same type of buttery smoothness in a noticeably lighter package (total weight for a 58-inch KBX is 2.5 pounds versus 3 pounds for the 58-inch PSA three-piece takedown). The design of the KB (which has a 201⁄4-inch riser) is based on Black Widow’s PA one-piece recurve that sports a slightly longer (22 ¼-inch) riser; so if you ordered both bows at 58 inches, the KB would have the longer limbs, allowing for increased, smoother limb action throughout the draw cycle. Part of the beauty of this Widow and several others I’ve shot is that it feels like you’re pulling less poundage than listed. Then you release and see the arrow sizzle downrange. Although I love the travel friendliness of Black Widow takedowns, it’s hard to beat the crisp responsiveness of a well-made one-piece bow. Choices, choices.

The name “KB” is an homage to former Black Widow owner Ken Beck, who preferred the “short and sweet action” of these bows. Shoot one, and you’ll likely agree. The KB is available in lengths of 54, 56, 58 and 60 inches; prices start at $1,050 for “Graybark” and “Autumn Oak” laminations; the stunning KBX (Exotic woods) model shown (yew and cocobolo wood) starts at $1,230. www.blackwidowbows.com

3 Rivers Dalaa Takedown Recurve

Interested in the latest modern advances in traditional archery? Thinking about adding to your compound experiences but finding it hard to give up the “fine-tuning” capability modern bows offer? Check out the unique line of DAS Bows from 3 Rivers that allow nearly infinite custom adjustments while still retaining the unique feel — and all the challenge — of traditional archery. The Dalaa (Da-Laa) Takedown Recurve allows you to customize your bow with adjustable draw weight and draw length, riser length, interchangeable grips and limb style/material. If you can’t rig this bow to shoot bulletholes, the problem is likely not the bow. The Dalaa Riser is machined from 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum alloy to deliver zero flex for maximum strength and energy transfer, with the shelf cut 3/8-inch past center (adjustable side plate included) and a highly radiused arrow shelf that allows shooting off the shelf or use of a plunger and elevated rest. Risers work with both DAS recurve and longbow limbs, and they’re tapped to accept a wide variety of quivers and bowsights, as well as front stabilizers/bowfishing reels. New for 2014 are attractive Woodland Hunter Limbs (shown) that deliver a nice “natural camo” effect. www.3riversarchery.com

Striker Classic Long Bow

New for 2014 from Striker are the Striker Classic (shown) and Striker Sport longbows, both of which retail for $649. And while this article shows you can pay more and less for a quality traditional bow, Striker makes a strong argument that these bows are a smart compromise — especially for those looking to step up from a beginner model. Both of these reflex/deflex models are similar; the Classic is made with handsome, buttery Bocote wood laminations and measures 60 inches; the Sport is made with Gray Super Flex Action laminations with red phenolic inlays and measures 58 inches. Both are available in poundages ranging from 30 to 60 in 5-pound increments. What might be best of all is, there is no extended wait typical with custom bows. These bows are being made to the aforementioned specs in order to ship immediately — a neat concept. I shot the Striker Classic and was impressed with several things, including the nice and compact, finely crafted limb tips that no doubt help overall performance, and the lack of hand shock for such a compact bow. Maybe most striking is the overall lightness; this bow is a dream to carry and so easily maneuverable it’s a great choice for treestand and ground blind alike. Check out a video of these bows being made at www.strikerbows.com.

Bear Archery Grizzly Recurve

Traditional usually refers to an entire category of bows, not just one bow. But Bear’s Grizzly Recurve is a tradition in itself. First produced in 1950, it hasn’t been so much as tweaked since 1964. There is something to be said for a bow that is still in production and selling well after all those years; in fact there are a lot of somethings to be said for it. Long ago dubbed “The Working Man’s Bow,” presumably for its moderate price, The Grizzly Recurve is nonetheless a classic beauty — one piece, with a Dymondwood Riser and limbs overlaid with clear maple, backed and faced with black fiberglass. The arrow shelf is cut past center for better arrow flight, easier tuning and more easily achieved accuracy, and it features bear hair with a leather side plate. The limbs are impressively stable and won’t twist without some serious abuse, and the Grizzly comes with an excellent Dacron Flemish String. The length is 58 inches, and it will accommodate a Bear Custom Recurve quiver. Peak draw weights are 50, 55 and 60 pounds in right-hand models, 55 pounds in the left-hand version. It’s a great traditional bow for beginners and experienced shooters alike, and believe it or not, you can own one for about $340. www.beararcheryproducts.com

PSE Blackhawk

PSE calls it a great entry-level recurve bow and an excellent value. We just call it an excellent bow. (Full disclosure: We recognize the convenience of a take-down bow, and there are some great ones, but there is a special place in our hearts and on our bow racks for one-piece recurves.) Traditional recurves tend to have graceful lines, but this one stands out in that regard — which is simply to say it’s a great-looking bow. At 60 inches, it’s long enough to be nice and stable without being too long. The riser is made from laminated hardwoods, and the shelf is crowned over the grip to facilitate instinctive shooting. It’s efficient as traditional bows go and doesn’t stack. If you’re a compound shooter who has always thought about trying a traditional bow, this is indeed a great one to start with. But don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming back to it after buying other, more expensive recurves. At $230, it’s not just an inexpensive way to get into traditional archery — it’s practically a steal. www.pse-archery.com