When you start looking for the best recurve bow for beginners, you are guaranteed to come across one bow in particular

The samick sage..

It’s the best selling takedown recurve bow on the market.

But, do you want to know the truth about the Samick Sage?

It’s not the best recurve bow for beginners.

The best recurve bow for beginners is the Southwest Archery Spyder.

You can check out the Southwest Archery Spyder on Amazon.

The Best Recurve Bow Showdownbest recurve bow for beginners

Here’s the deal…

This article is actually a review of 2 top selling entry level recurve bows on the market. The Samick Sage and Southwest Archery Spyder. I didn’t actually buy these two bows to compare them. I  purchased the Sage first because of it’s popularity.

When it arrived, there where some things I liked and some things I didn’t like, but ultimately the decision would be made after shooting it.

My review of these two bows is all in this post but you can also check out the video

Before getting into the review, I’ll cover some of the basic aspects of recurve bows.

Different Types of Recurve Bowsone piece recurve bow

The modern recurve bow comes in two styles

  • One Piece Recurve Bows
  • Take-Down Recurve Bows

Take-down recurve bows are also referred to as “three piece takedowns” which describes the differences in these two bows. The one piece recurve is constructed from one piece of wood, though it may use other materials such as fiberglass as outer layers on the limbs. The picture on the right shows two very nice all wood one-piece recurves made by Schafer Silvertip.

The take down recurve, is made up of 3 pieces, the riser and a top and bottom limb which are removable.When discussing entry level bows, we are looking at take-down recurve bows primarily because of the price difference.

A recurve constructed of a single piece of wood is MUCH more labor intensive to make and that is reflected in the price which is anywhere from 2-8 times the price of your average take-down.

The way I look at this, especially for beginners is, start with an affordable entry level take-down and work your way up.

Different Styles of Take-Down Recurve Bows

There are additional categories for take-down recurve bows that you should know just to avoid confusion.

  • Traditional Take-Down Recurve
  • Olympic Style Take-Down Recurve
  • ILF Olympic Take-Down

The take-down recurve bow is the only style of bow used in the Olympics. So, as you might imagine there is a large market of very expensive Olympic style take-down recurves. This type of recurve bow will be labeled ILF which stands for International Limb Fitting. This designation is for risers designed to fit ILF limbs. Of course the limbs are also made to this specification for attachment. This is so archers can combine any ILF riser with any ILF limbs that best suit their shooting needs.

Recurve Bow Cost

ILF bows are some of the most expensive bows of any type (compound included) costing upward of $2,000. Both ILF risers and limbs are made from lightweight metals and composites. I wouldn’t recommend these bows for beginners.

Additionally, there are Olympic style take-down recurves. These bows are designed in Olympic style but made from much more affordable materials. Risers are still usually metal but these are usually combined with

The samick sage is definitely the most popular entry level recurve bow on the market today. While I think it is actually a well made, affordable take down, I had to send mine back. Instead, for me the better choice is Southwest Archerys Spider XL.

I’m going to quickly go over some specs and tell how these bows are similar and how they are different. The differences are why the not keeping the sage

Samick Sage and Southwest Archery Spyder XL Review

First Off let me say this review is not as ominous as it sounds. The title makes is sound like I discovered something terrible like Samick making their limbs out of plywood. Cardboard. That’s not case.

In fact, if you look at the case or rather boxes, these two boxes look suspiciously similar, Identical. Yes indeed, both of these bows are designed by the same company. And both of them are good entry level takedown recurve bows.

Samick makes the sage which is a 62 inch bow and the journey which is 64 inches. Southwest archery makes the Spyder which is 62 inches and the spyder xl which is 64 inches. The spyder is essentially the new and improved version of the sage.


best recurve bow for beginnersSamick Sage

  • 19.5 inches long
  • Right and left hand models available
  • Best grip design for recurve bow
  • Material- Dymondwood and hard maple
  • Drilled for accessories

Southwest Sypder best recurve bow for beginners

  • 19.5 inches long
  • Right and left hand models available
  • Best grip design for recurve bow
  • Material- Dymondwood and redwood
  • Drilled for accessories

It’s important to remember that both of these bows are designed by the same company. This means that overall there are more similarities than there are differences. This is evident when observing the risers.

Both risers are almost identical shape and length. Overall this is a good thing. The grip design is smooth and fits great in the hand while being big enough to promote good grip form.

As previously mentioned, the Spyder is “new and improved” version. This is seen in some of the differences in the two risers.  On the Samick sage it’s a combination of laminated dymondwood and hard maple.

Dymondwood is made resin wood veneers that are laminated and compressed, in case you were wondering!

The Spyder riser is made of the same material as the Sage but it has also incorporated a redwood finish.

The Advantages of These Risers

  • Stable– the wood won’t shrink or warp
  • Very strong– should be able to drive a truck over this thing (please don’t try that!)
  • Affordable– the composite wood on both of these bows make more affordable than an all wood riser

best recurve bow

The grip design is awesome, it feels very nice, it’s smooth and comfortable. If you are using a correct grip, with the bow in the web of your hand pushing toward the target, this design is as comfortable as it gets.

best recurve bow for beginners

Both of these risers are drilled with Accessory hole for stabilizer or bow fishing real. Also drilled for a screw in style rest for cushion plunger and a hole for a bow sight

The Limbs

These bows are modeled after some older take down recurves that were designed to allow the archer to switch out the limbs, and use lighter limbs for target shooting and heavy limbs for hunting, 3d archery.So limbs are available from 25#-60#.

This is a major advantage of these bows and in general, take-down recurves made like this. Switching limbs is obviously not possible with a one piece recurve. Being able to switch the limbs also depends on the strength of the riser, which is one area where the Sage and Spyder stand out.

These both have a medium limb with dual core maple. with fiber. They also have black fiberglass on both sides of the limb.
They don’t have a real hard recurve which gives you a really smooth draw. Bow bows have reinforced limb tips and are fast string compatible.

Why would you need to switch the limbs?  

This is a question that has been asked before.There are several reasons for switching out the limbs. The primary reason is for bowhunters. When bowhunting, faster arrow speeds are preferable for cleaner animal kills. Using a 60# draw weight for hunting is very common.

But 60# of draw weight takes a fair amount of the strength to pull. Additionall, you have to train all of the muscles you will use for drawing your bow which tend to get out of shape in the off season. A good practice for all bowhunters if they have not shot their bow for several months, is to start with a lower draw weight and work their up. This is a smart practice and helps avoid injury. With interchangeable recurve limbs, this is easily accomplished.

Advantages in target archery

Even for target archery, interchangeable limbs are nice. Being able to change the limbs allow archers to start with lower draw weights while working on form and tuning muscles. You can then test out heavier draw weights if you want to.

The advantage of heavier limbs for target archery is also related to arrow speed. Heavier draw weights will shoot arrows faster which will give them flatter trajectory. This helps with accuracy especially at longer distances.


Both of these also have a 16 string dacron recurve bow string.

Differences in the Samick Sage and Southwest Archery Spyder XL

These are the reasons I’m not keeping the Samick Sage.


The first category isn’t as important but it’s the aesthetics. While these two bows are very similar, the improvements to the Spyder give it a much better look and feel.

  • Smoother Riserbest recurve bow for beginners

The risers are nearly identical in shape and size but the Spyder has smooth edges whereas the Sage has very pronounced, sharp edges (not like it will cut you.) This is small thing but I definitely prefer the smoother edges of the Spyder.

  • Limb Bolt Tray

Both of these bows utilize a limb bolt tray. This aluminum tray is attached to the riser helps align the limb with the riser.  The tray is an affordable way to keep the limb aligned but it is one of my least favorite aesthetic aspects of these bows. More expensive bows comes with dual pins or a limb bolt and pin system which looks much nicer.

Still, the Spyder limb bolt trays are rounded and look much better than the Sage. Additionally, any pronounced aluminum point, like the Sage trays is more likely to draw blood when you accidently hit your hand on it. (I’m not saying I did that…) But a friend I know…

  • Limb Bolt

The limb bolt on the Sage has a big plastic knob so that it can be screwed and unscrewed by hand. For some archers this is a plus especially if need to take the bow a lot. The Spyder has a limb bolt with requires an Allen wrench to screw and unscrew. While I don’t necessarily like that these limbs require a tool, most of my bows, compound included require the use of an Allen wrench and I always have it on hand.

But this feature is also in the aesthetics category. In my opinion, the plastic knobs on the Sage limb bolts look ridiculous. It’s the single biggest negative for optics. It really cheapens the look of the bow.

What kind of limb bolt do you need?

The reality is that while being able to hand tighten the limb bolt is practical, it’s practically unneeded for me. I don’t use my recurve bow like my fly rod, taking it down in between fishing spots. The only reason I take the limb bolts off is to switch to different limbs.

So, for me, aesthetically the Spyder is way ahead of the Sage. I like the low profile flush limb bolts and rounded limb bolt tray. Additionally, I like the smooth, rounded edges on the riser.

The Big Difference

The main reason I am not keeping the Samick Sage is because of stacking.

Stacking is when the draw weight become extremely heavy at a certain length. For the Sage, the stacking starts and 26″ The bow is supposed to accommodate draw lengths up to 28″ but this is not true. My draw length is 28″ and I tested out a 40 lbs bow. Drawing became very unpleasant at 26 inches.

To be fair

The Southwest Spyder XL takedown recurve is actually an improved version of the Samick Journey model. It is 64 inches long whereas the Sage is 62 inches long.

The Spyder XL is 2 inches longer than the Sage, but still…

The stacking is bad.


Both of these bows are good entry level take-down recurve bows. Obviously if they are designed by the same company they are going to fairly comparable in their features. Still, the Spyder outdoes the Sage in a big way. It a much better looking bow but looks are not everything. The main issue is performance and I don’t think the Sage is a good pick for anyone with a draw length over 26 inches.

But… the Samick Sage is still a fine bow if you have a shorter draw length. You can check out the Sage here.

If you are considering a take-down recurve bow, your best bet is the Southwest Archery Spyder or Spyder XL. Whichever recurve bow you buy, learning how to shoot a recurve bow with good form is the most important things. That and practice!

Here are the features of the Southwest Archery Spyder from their website

Featuring a new, elegant, fast-flight compatible, reinforced limb tips and improved flush limb bolts it closely resembles most high end bows,

With its removable limbs that allow for easy transport and storage and its lightweight design, this convenient takedown recurve bow is completely portable. Whether its field, target, outdoor sports archery or bowhunting that you’re up to, you can simply pack it up in your backpack and you̥re ready to go.

Author: Kasey Jones

August 24, 2018