This started as long post on KF, replying on the question, and finaly developed into this article, for reference. It explains how old static recurve bows work, and development of them and doesnít have pretension to be all around article on bow history. It can help you in search for perfect traditional bow.
In beginning all bows were longbows.
This is standard longbow, and it is clear that string is completely free from touching the bow from the nock to nock.. As you pull it draw curve is pretty straight from the start without suprizes.
Lets move further..
Here is very old model of static recurve, Scythian one..
Advantage is also that nock ends are pulled forward, so in short bow string wont sall from the nocks when fully drawn.
But that isnít only advantage of static recurve if it is constructed properly. Further development concentrate on that.
On further asiatic development string is laying on the bow at the start of the shyahs.. actually at the beginning you are pulling short stroud bow, lets say with shyah length of 4" each and strung bow length of 55" at the beginning you are pulling 45" bow.. Well short bow of same dimensions as longer bow is much harder to pull, and that short bow at the start of pulling thinks he is going to lets say 100# @ 29 draw length. So draw curve is very steep.. But at one point, string is straight and lift from the shyahs.. At that point 45" bow with 100# @ 29 suddenly becomes much longer bow and starts to draw 50# @ 29.. What is the trick.. It lowers progress of drawing curve suddenly, and it can go much flatter from that point, and more important surface of diagram which represent stored energy is much bigger than on longbow.. So that means automatically that arrow speed will be greater.
Here is example of perfect static recurve with that clever invention added.. It can be much more powerful than previous one, storing about 30% more energy per same draw weight.
Here is Avar example, perfect one,
Turkish with little shorter shyahs, but even more angled, so effect of them is pretty pronounced.
Detail of the shyah shows even better how string is laying on it.
And same bow drawn.
Ok, but that wasnít the end of development, after static recurves men developed working end recurves. One on the border was Indopersian one, and working ends recurves developed in India..
So I wonít to bother anyone with this any more, but at the end here is modern recurve, with working recurves. On this one, ends are fully working, making even more important thing, opening and getting straighter as bow is drawn. So curve is even more curved and bow stack less.
But my favorite is still modern hunting bow with static limbs, although it isnít as efficient as working recurve one..
There wouldnít be this article without these perfect photos, courtesy of Csaba Grozer, owner of Grozer Archery from Hungary. Watch his traditional bows at his website www.grozerarchery.com.