SHORTBOW vs LONGBOW (Nov-22 Updated)

Shortbow vs. Longbow is one of the primary debates between archers for centuries.

Shortbows are more commonly used by horsemen in history and it was more popular in the Genghis Khan era. On the other hand, the British, for many years they had the upper hand over their enemies thanks to their famous longbow. However, that doesn't mean that a longbow is better, and a shortbow is not the other way around.

It can be easily said that both bows have dominated the battleground in the medieval age for centuries. Yet, of course, each bow has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Shortbow archer vs Longbow archer

Quick Comparison: Shortbow vs Longbow

Choosing the right type of arrow and bow will directly affect your overall archery performance. So, I wrote this shortbow vs. longbow comparison, which will give you an in-depth look at the right type of archery equipment.

Quick Answer

Making a quick comparison between shortbow vs. longbow is not easy. But generally, shortbows are handier and better for quick aiming. On the other hand, the longbow shooting range is greater than the shortbows.



  • Fires Arrow Faster
  • Effective in Tight Space
  • Lightweight
  • Easier to Carry
  • Can be Used from Horseback
  • Less Expensive
  • Effective Range is 130 meters or 150 yards.
  • Long Draw Length
  • Can be Shoot with Heavier Arrows
  • Better Accuracy
  • Straighter Arrow Fly
  • Stores More Energy
  • Quieter
  • Effective Range is 180 meters or 200 yards.

Let’s dive right in...

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 categorised as shortbows.

Modern hunting recurve shortbows are around 48”.

Here are some advantages of a shortbow...

  • It has a shorter draw which allows to shot multiple quick shots in less time.
  • A shorter bow is easier to carry on horseback and allows you to take covers.
  • It is more agile and allows for quick movement.
  • Shortbows are perfect in close encounter or in close range.

The disadvantages of a shortbow...

  • It has a shorter range compared to a longbow.
  • A shortbow is less accurate, especially in a long-range.

What is a Longbow?

This type of bow is using by medieval archers and hunters for centuries. Longbows are most common and widely used types of bow in the human history. They are even used by most tribes living away from technology even now.

African Tribe using Longbow

Longbows are being preferred by archers for so many years because of the size, range and impact features. It is a basic single curved bow with a measurement of 1.5 meters or 5 feet.

The weapon’s design is appropriate for an average size man to draw from a little over half of his wingspan.

An English longbow was around 1.98 meters or 6.6 feet in length. On the other hand, the Japanese also developed their version of a longbow around 2 meters or 6.5 feet long. It is slightly longer than a classical European bow, and they called it Yumi.

 Despite it’s the most primitive version of the bow, it has lots of advantages over shortbows.

Here are some advantages that you get from a Longbow...

  • It allows you to hit a target from a long range easily.
  • A longbow is extremely effective, and launches projectiles arrows that could even pierce armors.
  • A longbow is a one-piece wood product that makes it easier to craft.
  • It provides more stability and precision while shooting.
  • You can launch 20 arrows per minute with a longbow in 400 yards, and it will project a massive blow to a target.

The Disadvantages of Longbow...

  • Longbows are not flexible as a recurve bow. That is why you feel a heavy hand shock after shooting an arrow.
  • It hampers your swiftness and mobility in a close-range fight.

Shortbow Vs Longbow: Basic Differences

Every type of bow has its attributes and usage. Moreover, each bow is not the same, and some differences separate a longbow from a shortbow, such as –


This is the main difference between a shortbow and a longbow. The length of a longbow ranges from six to seven feet; whereas, a shortbow is around 60 inches. Moreover, longbows are heavier and bulkier than shortbows.


As the name goes for the bows also define their ranges.

The design of the longbow allows you to shoot arrows at a longer distance without compromising the impact. It has a longer bow length, allowing you to pull the string further and deliver more energy to the arrow.

On the other hand, Shortbows are more made for mobility and close-range shooting. Though the damage is not less, the range certainly differs. A shortbow is more for shooting enemies from a horse or close quarters.


The appropriate arrows are also different for both of the bows. The main differs is the weight of the arrow.

With a longbow, you will have to use bigger and heavier arrows to compliment the bow's size and weight. On the other hand, shortbows have lighter arrows. But, shortbow arrows have a shorter range as the arrow's weight is less. That's why it can easily change direction on a long-range shot.


The size, range, and arrow also determine the speed of the longbow and shortbow.

A longbow allows you to pull the bowstring further, giving the arrow more energy to cut through the wind without any direction. It also increases the speed of the arrow in a long-range shot.

However, for a shortbow, that is not the case. The bowstring is shorter, which means it stores less energy for the arrow to travel. That is why shortbow arrows tend to change direction in a long shot. Moreover, the weight of the arrow is less, which also plays a part in that case.

Draw Length

A longbow is bigger and gives you more flexibility and draw length. The further you pull the bowstring, the more energy you deliver to the arrow, making it travel faster and further.


The force is also determined by the draw length. The bigger the draw length, the higher the impact or force of the arrow on the object. The draw transfers the potential energy to the arrow with a higher force. This energy will turn to kinetic energy after release.

That means the bigger bows will have a higher force, and a smaller bow will have a lesser force for impact. However, a shortbow will provide a high force in a shorter range; whereas, a longbow projects the same at long and short ranges.


Material is the most important parameter for every single product. So that, shortbows like Turkish or Mongolian bows are made from a combination of different materials like wood, sinew, and horn. So their energy capacity sometimes can be even more than longbows. On the other hand, the classical English Longbow is made from a single branch like Yew.

Longbow vs. Shortbow: Which One Is Better?

These two types of bows have their perks; let’s see which one is better in different aspects & what you should choose. 

aiming with a shortbow
  • Longbows are more effective in long range.
  • Longbows are a quieter weapons than shortbows.
  • Normally shortbows are less expensive. But generalization is not so right about it. 
  • Shortbows are lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Shortbows are effective in tight space.
  • Longbows can shoot with heavier arrows.
  • Firing an arrow with a shortbow is faster.
  • The longbow arrow trajectory is straighter.
  • Longbows are also better for perfect aiming and that’s why they are used in archery for centuries.
  • Shortbows have shorter draw lengths. That’s why a short bow arrow is not fly as fast as a longbow arrow.
  • Because of Longbows are made from a single piece of material, They’re not susceptible to humidity like shortbows.
  • Longbows store more energy. But the Mongolian shortbow is more efficient than the longbows. That means the same draw weight can shoot the same arrow faster and further with shortbows than longbows.

Your body size and condition will determine your draw weight. If you are only a target shooter, you should choose a bow with lower draw weight. This way you can easily master the archery technique.

But if you are a bowhunter, please note that most states have a minimum bow draw weight of 40 pounds for bow hunting. You should choose a bow with a heavier draw weight for hunting.

I hope this post was helpful for you to learn more about the shortbow vs longbow.

Feel free to ask me any questions or provide feedback and I'll be happy to respond in the comment section below.

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