A short bow is usually a reflex bow, a bow that has curved or curled arms that turn away from the archer throughout their length. Most short bows are made of a combination of materials such as bamboo, horn, and sinew, these are also called composite bows.
Historically almost all short bows were made of more than one material and therefore compound bows. Self-bows, bows made out of one material, are almost always longbows, approximately with the height of the archer.
- Decurve Bow: A decurve bow is a bow that has arms curved or curled at the ends to turn towards the archer.
- Deflex bow: A deflex bow is a bow that has arms curved or curled at the base, to turn towards the archer when unstrung.
- Recurve bow: recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is strung.
- Reflex bow: A reflex bow is a bow that has curved or curled arms that turn away from the archer throughout their length.
Japanese short bows are usually half the height of the archer, as the hankyū, or half-bow.The even smaller Kago Hankyū is a miniature-bow suitable for use in narrow space, for example from inside a palanquin.