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How to Shoot a Recurve Bow

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Shoot a Recurve Bow

Archery has gained a lot of attention in the last few decades. But the use of bows and arrows is not new. Bow and arrows are considered one of the oldest weapons humans have ever known. Along with time, everything has upgraded so have bows and arrows. There are different categories of bows such as longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, etc.

 A recurve bow is different from other bows, it has a different structure and is mostly used for target shooting but is also capable of hunting. The recurve bow has a different aiming and shooting system. So today, we will teach you how to aim a recurve bow and how to shoot a recurve bow. We will also introduce you to many facts related to aiming a recurve bow. So without any delay sharpen your arrows because we are about to get started.

What is Aiming?

Aiming generally refers to pointing or directing something toward the target. It helps to hit the target and without aiming to hit any target is nearly impossible. Especially in archery, you can not hit your target without an aim. Aiming also increases accuracy in any weapon such as a bow or gun. The pointing helps the shooter to know exactly where the target is and without aiming it becomes harder to hit the target.

What Are Bow Sights?

Bow sights are bow accessories that help you to aim. It gives fixed points of reference according to distance to improve your accuracy. It also helps to focus on the target more than aiming without a bow sight. There are different kinds of bow sights used worldwide but all of their purposes are the same.

How do Bow Sights Work?

Bow sights are like the scope of a rifle. Fibre optic pins are most likely used as a crosshair in bow sights. The crosshair indicates the focal point. For aiming, you have to place the focal point on the target. There are pins set up for specific distances. If you have a target in 30 yards, you will use the 30 yards pin to aim.

Types of Recurve Bow Sights

1.    Open Ring Sight

There are different kinds of recurve bow sights to aim with. The very common type is the open ring sight. The bow sight is nothing but an open ring as the name says. To aim with this bow sight, you have to put your target right in the middle of the ring. Using this bow sight is easier than it sounds, but it is not accurate as other bow sights. Other bow sights are more accurate and well-built.

2.    Pin Sight

The pint sight is the second type of bow sight. There are different kinds of pin sights as well. Single-pin and multi-pin bow sights are mostly used. The pins are used for shooting from a distance. These pins indicate the distance and it helps to increase accuracy. A multi-pin bow sight is more effective than a single-pin bow sight.

3.    Target Sight

Target sights are the last type of bow sights. They are a lot more complicated than pin sights and open ring sights. This type is made for professionals so beginners should avoid this bow sight. To use target sights one needs to be an experienced sharpshooter. Target sights allow very small adjustments including vertical and windage. These bow sights are very expensive so make your choice wisely.

How to Aim a Recurve Bow

It is necessary for an archer to aim his bow while shooting. Without aiming, shooting the target becomes a hundred times harder. In aiming there are two main options: aiming with a bow sight and aiming without a bow sight.

Both methods are very effective if you can execute them properly. Many archers prefer using an aiming sight while shooting a recurve bow whereas others like to aim without an aiming sight. It totally depends on you which you find comfortable, so we will introduce you to the methods to find out the best for you.

How to Aim a Recurve Bow With Sights

It is normal for beginners to not have enough accuracy while aiming without sight. What you can do is aim with a bow sight. Aiming with a bow sight will significantly improve your accuracy and improve your aim. So here are the steps to aim for a recurve bow with sights.

1.    Hold the string

Every archer has a different style of holding the string. But among all of the techniques the Mediterranean technique is famous for recurve bows. To follow the Mediterranean method, you have to put your middle finger and ring finger on the string and below the nock of the arrow. Make sure your fingers are close to the nock and place your index finger above the nock. Now the nock is placed between the gap of your index and middle finger.

2.    Determine the Anchor

When you aim using a bow sight you have to determine the anchor points. This technique is called three-point anchoring. To follow this technique, put your finger on the tabs shelf in a position where it also touches the bottom of your jaw. pull back the string so it touches your nose and next it will touch your lips. So the three anchor points are the bottom jaw, nose, and lips.

3.    Shoot the Arrow

While using a bow sight, you have to keep the pins square or circular part to overlap with your target’s yellow area. To improve your accuracy, keep your pin on the X mark of the target. This whole process might take 5-6 seconds. Now release the arrow slowly without moving.

How to Aim a Recurve Bow Without Sights

1.    Gap Shooting

Gap shooting is aiming with the tip of your arrow. The archer has to create an imaginary vertical line that goes through the center of the target and shoot there. For example, at 15 yards you will aim at the location below the center of the bullseye and as the distance increases the tip will keep going up. This is also known as “point on”.

The most important thing about gap shooting is you have to practice a lot. First, know the distance of your target and start practicing. For beginning start from 5 yards and put the tip of your arrow on the center of the bullseye. Now measure the distance from the target to your hitting position. This is the gap of your 5 yards shooting. Just repeat the same method with different distances and you will become good at gap shooting.

2.    String Walking

The next aiming method is called string walking. With this method, the tip of the arrow will be aimed at the center of the target. The difference here with gap shooting is the archer’s drawing hand will move up and down on the bowstring according to distance. The anchor point will always stay the same but the bowstring placement will affect the arrow’s flight. To closer targets, your hand will be placed lower on the bow string.

String walking is considered more effective than gap shooting. Because in string walking you aim your bow at the bullseye which gives consistency. But the problem is this method can not be used after a certain distance. But in range, it is a very effective method.

3.    Face Walking

Face walking is the opposite of string walking. In string walking, you move the bowstring but in the face walking method, you have to move the anchor. By moving the anchor point you can change the impact of the arrow depending on the distance. The best thing about this method is the bow tune does not change with distance. This method also has one big disadvantage and that is inconsistency with the anchor point. Different face shapes can complicate the method. Face walking is considered accurate but it’s not as accurate as other methods.

4.    Instinctive Archery

The last technique is called instinctive archery. As the name says, you have to use your instincts more than anything. You do not have to intentionally aim in this method but focus on the area you want to hit. This is kind of like playing basketball where you try to throw the ball in the basket and slowly become good at it. Instinctive archery is considered one of the oldest aiming methods. This method requires a lot of practice to become good at.

How to Shoot a Recurve bow

1.    Stand perpendicular to the target

To find the best stance you have to stand perpendicular to the target. If you are right-handed, stand with your left hip pointing at the target and if you are left-handed do the opposite. Keep your other body parts vertical and do not lean on any other side.

2.    Straddle the shooting line

The shooting line is the line that marks the distance from your target. Centre yourself over the shooting line and keep your shoulders wide apart. It increases your stability and helps to improve accuracy.

3.    Keep your head toward the target

While your body is perpendicular to the target, keep your head towards the target. Look directly into the target and keep your chest and shoulders down. Make sure you do not hunch up your shoulders.

4.    Hold the bow with a tight and comfortable grip

Most of the bows come with handles so grip it with your hand and keep the knuckles at a 45-degree angle. Many archers make the mistake of holding the bow too tightly. It is called a death grip, it causes inaccuracy in your shooting. Keep the hold comfortable so every movement will be smooth.

5.    Load the Arrow

Load your arrow by fitting the notch at the end of the arrow into the bowstring. Always load your arrow before lifting your bow. This is also known as “nocking” the arrow.

6.    Lift the bow

When you lift the bow, lift it up to your shoulder height. Make sure that your arm is straight and locked at the elbow. Drawing with a bent elbow is much harder. Keep the string between the riser and your arm.

7.    Pull back the bowstring

A perfect pull distance is when the bow string touches the anchor point. Anchor point means your hand will rest under your jaw bone and the bowstring should touch your face around the corner of your mouth. Do not be afraid if the bowstring touches your face, there is no risk unless you stick your ear in the string.

8.    Take Aim

Always aim with your dominant eye and keep the other eye closed. The dominant eye is more reliable and accurate for aiming. If you are using a bow with sights use the notch sight to line up with the target.

9.    Release smoothly

Smoothly release your fingers from the string. If you do not release it smoothly, the arrow won’t fly straight. Do not move your arm while shooting. Moving the arrow will decrease your accuracy.

10.Do not move until you hit the target

Many archers make the mistake of moving right after they release. Remember that once you release the string, it still has to go through the bow’s body. If you move at that time it will change the way of your arrow.

How to Choose the Best Recurve Bow for Yourself

1.    Select a bow

Recurve bows are mainly used for hunting and target shooting. Those bows are the same but the only difference is the draw weight. So decide if you are choosing the bow for target practice or hunting. If you are buying it for hunting, you will need to draw more weight.

2.    Determine a suitable Draw weight

Many things depend on the draw weight of your bow. The ideal draw weight for an adult is between 18-24 pounds. Choosing a lower draw weight will provide less speed and power. You can choose a lower draw weight as a beginner but make sure to increase it with time.

3.    Make sure you are choosing the perfect bow size

There are various types of bow lengths. The perfect size bow length is the top limb that stays between your nose and forehead when placed in the ground. An average teenager or adult should use 66-68 inch bows.

4.    Decide if you want a takedown bow

A takedown bow offers easy portability and a dismantling facility. Takedown bows can be separated. A takedown bow offers a huge range of draw weight. You do not need to buy a bow to increase the draw weight, but you can increase it by only purchasing new limbs.

5.    Try different bows

Trying bows before buying is an important checkup to do. Some bows might feel uncomfortable because of their built quality and many other things. The best thing you can do is locate a physical store and check different bows before buying.

6.    Ask experts for the perfect bow

You can ask the experts for the perfect bow for you according to height and strength. Ask an expert from an archery club or the owner of the shop to find the best bows.

How to Choose the Best Arrows to Shoot a Recurve Bow

1.    Measure your draw length

Draw length means how far you have to pull the bowstring to shoot the arrow. To measure the draw length, spread your arms out to both sides and hold them parallel to the ground. Measure the exact length of one hand’s middle fingertip to the other hand’s middle fingertip. Divide the length by 2.5 and that’s your draw length. The arrow length will be 1 or 2 inches longer than the draw length.

2.    Choose the arrow material and weight

There are different kinds of materials used for making arrows. Most arrows are made of wood, aluminum, or carbon. It keeps them lightweight and makes them easier to shoot. The arrow shaft can make a big difference. If the arrow shaft is heavy, it will sink more into the target. If you are using it for target practice you don’t need a heavy arrow. But if you are using it for hunting you will need a heavier arrow.

3.    Consider whether to get vanes or fletchings

Vanes are plastic rudders and fletchings are feathers. They are used to avoid deflection in the air. If you are shooting outside use vanes, they are strong and rainproof as well.

Extra equipment that makes using a recurve easier and safer

1.    Target

The first thing you will need to practice recurve shooting is a target. You can buy targets from sports stores or online. Otherwise, you can also make targets by yourself.

2.    Armguard

Armguards protect your forearm from the string. While shooting a recurve bow the string can become dangerous and hit hard on your forearms. You can find armguards at any sports goods store.

3.    Finger Tab

Finger tabs are made of leather that protects your fingers from the tension of the string. You can also buy gloves to save your fingers but gloves are very expensive so it is a smart idea to use finger tabs.


4.    Bow Stringer

Bow stringers help to put strings in a bow. It bends the bow limbs and helps to tie the string properly.


5.    Optional Training Equipment

Along with the above-mentioned accessories, there is other optional training equipment like bow sight and clicker. You can use them to perfect your shots and master archery fast.


Shooting a recurve bow is exciting and fun in many ways. There are many ways of shooting and aiming a recurve bow aside from the mentioned methods. The above-mentioned methods are approved by experts and they are easy to learn. We have mentioned different methods so you can find the best fit for you. Remember that your first method will have an effect on your whole archery career. We also have mentioned how to aim a recurve bow and much-related information. So choose carefully and get started with your recurve bow!

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