The two styles of bow most commonly used are the classic straight bow, developed from the English longbow, and the recurved bow, originally of Turkish design. Bows are made of wood, fiber glass, a laminated combination of wood and fiber glass, or metal. Laminated construction is the most expensive and is generally considered the most desirable. The average length of a bow is 6 feet (180 cm) for men and grown boys and 5 1/2 feet (175 cm) for women and grown girls. The length of a child's bow should be roughly equal to the height of the child.
Bows are also classified by the weight of pull required to draw back the bowstring the length of an arrow. The average weight for a man is 35 to 40 pounds (15-18 kg); for a woman, 20 to 35 pounds (9-15 kg); for children, 15 to 20 pounds (6-9 kg). One way of determining proper weight is to hold the bow at full draw, or arrow's length, for about 6 seconds. If the strain is too great, the weight is excessive.
The beginner should not buy a bow specially designed for hunting. Such bows are generally too heavy to shoot the hundreds of arrows used in target shooting in a single day. Proper target bows, on the other hand, can often be adapted for hunting later on.
Bowstrings are generally made from linen or a synthetic cord, such as Dacron. Each end of the string is looped to fit into the notched ends of the bow. Strings are usually waxed, and the center of the string, called the serving, is reinforced. When not in use, bows should be unstrung and protected from moisture.