70lb Recurve?


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Mar 5, 2013
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Ive been hunting with a recurve for almost 20 years now. I've done Africa once for plains game with a 48 lb black widow....with no issues. Sub 100 yard recoveries. I shot the light bow because, well, frankly, I shoot a light trad bow more consistently. However, I am heading again to hunt Cape Buffalo. I have a bud who will loan me a 68lb recurve. I've seen ( and read) about the ribs and thick hide on these animals. I guess I have two questions I'd like to draw on the experienced folks here. And I'm a realist....so , I can and will consider all constructive input/ideas. I have a few months to start shooting it and find suitable arrows if I start now.
1) Is that lb recurve just not really an option and I should just nix it right now?
2) If it is doable, assuming reasonable distance and near perfect placement. I am anxious to hear thing like what would be considered minimal arrow weight, suitable broadheads etc.?
Man that's awesome I'm sure you will get it done. Who you hunting with?
I shot 67# pound recurve for years and was very successful. For Buffalo, 950 grain arrow minimum, 20% or more FOC and a Ashby single bevel style head. I like the 185 grain Grizzly heads with a steel 125 grain glue in insert.
Iron will makes a 200 gr and 250 gr head for buff. I have some older aluminum gold tip arrows. They are like steel rods 950 grain. Fly like darts out of my compound out to 50 yards.
I'm a realist too and I'd say you're marginal at best. Here's why.

Here's the minimums according to information from this site and others concerning bowhunting in South Africa. These numbers come from a whole heck of a lot of experience.

Minimum Equipment Requirements for Bow hunting in South Africa
- Big Game
Bow Kinetic Energy 80 ft/lbs
Arrow Weight 700 grain
(Elephant, Rhino, Hippo, Buffalo)
- Medium Game
Bow Kinetic Energy 70 ft/lbs
Arrow Weight 550 grain
(Kudu, Eland, Oryx / Gemsbok, Hartebeest, Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, etc.)
- Small Game
Bow Kinetic Energy 40 ft/lbs
Arrow Weight 400 grain
(Warthog, Nyala, Springbok, Impala, Blesbok, Duiker, Steenbok, Ostrich, Caracal, Black-Backed Jackal, Game Birds, etc.)

So, the cold hard question is, does your set-up you intend to shoot add up to these minimums for buffalo? Maybe, just maybe, though that's optimistic.

So the next question, since I know people will claim it can indeed be done is will your outfitter and PH even let you use such a set up?
They have to stick their neck out and back you up. I'd be talking to them first. If so, then look over everything on this site about bowhunting buff, there's plenty here. Then practice, practice, practice.
I think the kinetic energy requirements are very misleading, they don't take momentum into the equation or broadheads. I have taken the kudu in my avatar and two blue wildebeest and a waterbuck with my recurve and had pass through s or exit wounds on all with 40ft lbs of kinetic energy. Yet they say I need 70lbs ! I've also taken moose and a pile of elk with the same set up.
Agreed that the kinetic energy number isn't all that relevant with arrows. What the PH thinks would be relevant.
I shot two huge buffalo bulls and one buffalo cow with a 75# @ 28” Black Widow longbow. I used Grizzlystik arrows with STOS broadheads. The two bulls were single arrow kills. My arrows weighed 1200 grains for the first bull and I think down to 950 grains for the second - from memory.

All the best!
I would suggest researching guys that have hunted buff with a bow like Ricardo Longoria who comes to mind. There are a few I cant remember now.

Speak to the outfitters I am sure they can help.
Lammie Potgieter from daretobowhunt is very very knowledgeable with regard to trad bow hunting and you will not go wrong with him!
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i just did some quick math (hard for a caveman) a 950 gr arrow needs to travel at 195 fps to get the apparently needed 80 ft lbs. OR
A 700 gr arrow at 228 fps to get the 80 ft lbs.

i doubt a stick bow will be able to do either at 70# draw weight.

that said, i bet you could kill a buffalo with a 70# recurve/longbow if you were 20 yards away and you use heavy, 2 blade single bevel broad heads. don't know the arrow speed of your setup, but i don't know how heavy a bow would need to be used to get 80# from a stick bow.

a shooting machine (i.e. compound) bow MIGHT be able to get the required velocity at 70# but that would be cutting it close i believe.
Alaska Bowhunting Supply has a tremendous amount of experience and data for hunting DG in Africa and specialize in DG archery big game set ups, give them a call!
thanks for all the input. I really appreciate it. I'm still undecided. I'll keeps yas posted
great replies.....I'm leaning to it not being a good idea to use a 70 lb recurve.....
Lots of guys here use 70# recurves or longbows - even a little lighter!

That said I’ve got a beautiful 80# black-and-white ebony take-down Black Widow PCH I’d like to sell - too much bow for me these days (used-to be easy!).
Lots of guys here use 70# recurves or longbows - even a little lighter!

That said I’ve got a beautiful 80# black-and-white ebony take-down Black Widow PCH I’d like to sell - too much bow for me these days (used-to be easy!).

I'd love to have that bow....but 80 might be a bit too much for me.....but I bet its a beauty
There is a big difference whether draw length is 26" or 30" and if bow and shooter is perfectly tuned or not. 70#/30" should be enough if everything else is perfect.
Read the very last paragraph first. That really opened my eyes. Then go back and read the rest. The link above was in another post in the Bowhunting Africa section titled 2019 Terminal Arrow Performance Update. An update to Dr. Ashby's research. Without trying to offend anyone who has voiced an opinion on this thread, who all probably have experiences that have led to their opinions, I'd look hard at what Dr Ashby has presented to all of us ( the arrow and broadheads combined with all features that you may take advantage of), consult with you outfitter and PH, and then decide what you think you are capable of. I also 2nd the suggestion of talking to Alaska Bowhunting Supply.
Bowhunting and the equipment used are all a very personal choice, and what works for some doesn't for others. I'd hate to see someone pass up a dream hunt without having all the data available to them. At the same time, as hunters, and especially Bowhunters, we all have a great responsibility as well to harvest our quarry in as ethical a manner as possible. Best of luck in exploring the possibilities.
Hey, just be careful of those expensive ABS broadheads, I heard a whisper they like to break and the other day I saw a photo of one that impacted a buffalo shoulder and buckled and chipped - good design but questionable steel. VPA etc could be a better option.
in the above link, this part of the report (all of which was very interesting) is what stood out to me:

Arrow Force Derived From the Bow

"Arrow force derived from the bow comes at the end (of penetration factors). Any bow, be it compound, recurve or longbow, is capable of imparting only a set amount of energy to an arrow of a given mass, producing only a finite amount of arrow force. Modest arrow-force gain can be obtained through use of higher-mass arrows, increasing bow efficiency. Any substantial gain in arrow force from your bow requires either obtaining a more efficient bow or increasing your bow’s draw-weight. The penetration-gain obtainable by increasing your bow’s draw-weight pales in comparison to that achieved through better arrow design. (See 2007 update, Part 3 through 5 and 2008 Update, Parts 3 through 6).

Increasing draw weight offers a potential for better terminal arrow performance, but that potential is all too easily squandered by a poor-performing arrow. Enhancing arrow performance reaps far richer rewards than does increasing draw weight. Increasing draw weight while ignoring your arrow's design features offers only a very modest gain in terminal performance. "

more things to ponder.(n)

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