In-Depth Beginner’s Guide to Recurve Bow

A recurve bow is a traditional archery bow crafted with 3 key parts- a bow string, a handle, and limbs (upper, lower). They are deliberately designed to be lightweight and shooting from a Recurve Bow is extremely easy.

A Recurve Bow can come either in ‘One-piece’ or have a ‘Take-Down’ design. A take-down bow is nothing but a bow that allows you to detach both the limbs from the handle.

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Take-Down Bows are easy to maneuver around. The damaged part of the bow can be repaired easily, without having to send the complete bow for repair.

Are you a Novice Archer looking for a Guide to get started with a Recurve Bow?Below given comprehensive information will hand out more tips and tricks on how to use a Recurve Bow correctly.

How To Choose Your First Bow And Arrow

A. Difference Between Recurve Bow and Compound Bow

The only aspect that is common between a Recurve Bow and a Compound Bow is that they both use a bow string and an arrow.

Apart from that, both of them have a different structure and use different technique for performing archery.

Structure

Recurve Bow

Credit: purrsonalitydesigns.com

Compound Bow is a contemporary archery gear that uses latest bow technology and hence delivers more precise results.

Compound bow usually has longer string, allowing you to pull back farther. This will create more power and will result in a highly precise shot.

A compound bow uses cam on both sides of the bow and the string is passed through them several times. This is what causes the bow to generate a powerful force as you pull it back. At first, you might find it hard to draw back the string, but after a certain point you will notice that the resistance has been reduced and pulling back the bow has become much easier.

And hence, you will be getting more dominance over the force of the bow and the generated force will help you to shoot farther away than a recurved bow.

On the other hand, in a recurve bow, you will notice that both ends of the limbs have been curved back in the inner direction. A single string will be attached flat against these ends. This curved design of a recurve bow is what helps in generating force while drawing a bow.

Compound or Recurve?

Recurve bows were previously made from wood. However, now you can find them in fiberglass or carbon material as well, to promote lightweight and durable design.

Compound bows are made from aluminum or carbon material. Their construction is sturdier than a recurve bow.

Purpose

Recurve Bow

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Compound Bow

Compound bow is widely used for hunting adventures because of its ability to shoot at farther distances and provide high precision.

Also, the hunter does not experience quick fatigue with a compound bow, as it eases the force required to pull back the bow. It has the capacity of taking down big games

Recurve Bow

Recurve Bow

Recurve bow is used in Archery competitions to hit targets, also popularly used in Olympics. You can also use a recurve bow for hunting smaller preys.

Technique

Recurve Bow

Compound Bow

Compound bow allows the shooter to take a shot at greater distances without demanding much effort.

This is what gives more control to the archer and results in an accurate shot. When combined with different essential accessories like a sight scope, you can enhance this accuracy level.

 Recurve Bow

Recurve Bow requires the archer to be more technically strong. Here, the archer needs to use his strength to pull back the bow, without any ease in the resistance.

At full draw length, you might experience fatigue, especially when you still need to hold the bow for some time.

You can still take fairly precise shots with a recurve bow, you just need to aim and shoot quickly, without holding the bow for too long.

Accessories

You can use many of the accessories for both recurve as well as compound bow. However, many shooters prefer a recurve bow that is minimally accessorized.

Weight

Recurve bow is deliberately designed to be lightweight; hence this feature comes handy when you are hunting for a long period.

Speed

Compound bow uses the mechanical advantage of storing the energy; hence it can shoot the arrow much faster than a recurve bow. Because of which, you can use a heavyweight arrow with a compound bow to hunt a larger animal. It will provide better penetration and accuracy.

Cost

Recurve bow is slightly low-priced than a Compound Bow, due to their simpler design. However, the price may still vary as per the features and quality of the bow.

Which To Choose?

It completely depends on your type of application, skill level, and preference. Both of the bows have their own pros and cons. Many archers still prefer a Recurve Bow as it can challenge their skills.

​B. Draw Weight For A Recurve Bow

While selecting a recurve bow, one of the most important factors to consider is its draw weight. It is nothing but the amount of force that the archer needs to apply for fully drawing the bow back. The greater the draw weight, more effective will be your shots.

Choosing Draw Weight

Archer’s weight, gender, and age play a significant role while selecting the draw weight.

  • Children that weigh less than 100 pounds need to opt for the draw weight of about 10 to 15 pounds.
  • Children that weigh somewhere around 130 to 160 pounds, can use a draw weight from 12 to 16 pounds.
  • Medium-sized mature females who weigh more than 130 pounds, can aim for 20 to 35 pounds of draw weight. And, adult men with regular weight can opt for 40 to 50 pounds.
  • Large-sized men who weigh more than 180 pounds need to select the draw weight from 45 to 60 pounds.:
Recurve Bow

Choose a draw weight you can hold for at least 60 seconds without shaking.

Credit : Sabowhunter.co.za

If you are planning for hunting game, it is highly recommended to use a draw weight of more than 40 pounds. Or else, you might miss the shots and not be able to take down targets that are at a distance of more than 15 yards. Also, the penetration power of the arrow will be less.

If you are a novice hunter and find it hard to handle the draw weight of more than 40 pounds, practice with a lighter one. With consistent practice sessions, your back muscles will become stronger and eventually you will be able to work with heavier draw weights.

If you cannot handle the above mentioned recommended draw weights, always practice with lighter weight and then gradually increase it.

Recurve Bow

Credit: lancasterarchery.com

Choosing a draw weight should always be a personal choice rather than going for predetermined values. Recurve bow requires your arms and back to be fairly tough.

Beginners should always start with lightweight bows so that you can get used to the gear without experiencing fatigue very quickly. With lightweight bows, you can also practice your shots for an extended period of time.

Also, at full draw, lighter bows are easier to hold and aim. Hence, the stability and control of the bow is much more enhanced.

As a beginner, if you are over bowed, you will not be able to concentrate on your body alignment and the process of shot execution. Moreover, your body will not be able to handle the draw weight; you will not notice the misalignment of your body posture and gradually will feel dispirited.

On the other hand, heavyweight bows have a flat trajectory, thus, aiming a target becomes much easier. Penetration offered by heavier bows is also stronger than the lighter bows

C. How To Aim A Recurve Bow?

Once you have decided on the draw weight, next thing you want to learn is how to aim a recurve bow? Aiming a Recurve Bow mainly determines which technique you will be using to hit the bull’s eye.

Basically, there are 3 main approaches that help you shoot your target accurately

1. Gapping

The Gap Method For More Consistency!

Gapping is an extremely conscious method of aiming your target. What is a Gap? The trajectory of the arrow is not flat; it is somewhat elliptical in shape. When the arrow reaches its peak point, it descends rapidly.The descent of an arrow is much shorter as the compared to its ascent.

Heavier the draw weight, faster will be the speed of the arrow. Hence, the trajectory of the arrow will be more flat. For lighter draw weights, the speed of the arrow will be slow and trajectory will be more pronounced.

Recurve Bow

Credit : Archerynewbie.com

A Gap shooter needs to find out the trajectory of his arrow and compensate with it to hit the bullseye accurately. Gap is nothing but the distance between the trajectory of the bow and the aiming point.

Using split finger will cause larger gaps, so it is better to use three finger techniques. This will create shorter gaps, as your arrow will be much closer to your eye in 3-finger method.

Recurve Bow

Credit: Sherwoodparkarchery.com

For gap shooting, you will need a piece of paper, a pen and a measuring ruler.

  • Set up your aiming point and try to hit it from series of distances
  • Starting from 10 yards, take a shot towards the bullseye
  • Measure the gap between aiming point and the point where your arrow hit
  • Let’s say your measured gap is 10 inches
  • Now, for hitting the bullseye, you need to aim your shot 10 inches below
  • All you are doing here is finding the trajectory of your arrow and inverting it to accurately hit the aim point
  • Now repeat this process for 15 yards, 20 yards, 25 yards and 30 yards
  • Write down all of your Gaps and study how they differ for every distance
  • You need master the skill of Ranging, so you know how to technically use your gaps to hit the aim

2. String-Walking

Recurve Bow

String-Walking is the most accurate technique of shooting. It provides you with a high level of consistency, which is why this method is used by most of the Pro Archers. The only way you can shoot with String-Walking method is by using a 3-finger approach.

When you string-walk, you are pointing the arrow right where you want to take a shot by keeping the arrow as close to your eye as possible, regardless of the range. So, how do you adjust with the trajectory of the arrow?

Tighter Groups with String Walking!

Here, you need to adjust the point where you are going to grab the string. Through consistent testing, you will know exactly where to grab your string. Now, when you knock your serving, there are tiny little loops. If you count each loop deviate, you will know how much distance you need to move down or move up for an accurate shot.

Best equipment to use for String-Walking would be a Take-down Recurve Bow that comes with an arrow riser.

Take-down bow is the gear that allows you to detach both the limbs from the riser. These are easier to carry around, designed to handle the stress of string-walking and are much easier to repair.

3. Instinctive Shooting

The Secret to Instinctive Archery

Instinctive shooting is often misunderstood that it does not needs to be learned. However, it is like training your unconscious mind to make adjustments whenever you spot a target.

Firstly, you ought to have a repeatable and consistent shot-cycle to enhance the skill of Instinctive shooting.

Shot-cycle refers to everything you are doing while shooting an arrow. If you are repeating every part of this process, you will eventually improve your consistency with time.

D. How to Shoot a Recurve bow?

Selecting The Right Bow

Recurve Bow

If you are planning to use your Bow for hunting, you might want to opt for a bow that has higher draw weight.

Next thing you want to decide is whether you want a ‘take-down bow’ or a ‘one-piece bow’. Take-down bow allows easy portability and also helps to alter the draw weight.

If you ever feel like going for a higher draw weight, you can just purchase a new set of limbs instead buying whole new bow equipment.

Selecting The Right Arrow

Recurve Bow

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Draw length is the length that your arm can pull back while shooting a bow. For beginners, you can measure your draw length by a simple method. Stand against the wall and spread your hands parallel to the ground with open stretched palms.

Measure the distance (in inches) between one ends of your hand to the other end of your hand. Now, divide this distance by 2.5. This will determine your draw length. Arrow length will be fairly 1.5 or 2” longer than the draw length.

Arrow Selection - How to Choose the Right One

Make sure the arrow has a heavier shaft and fine penetration power if you are using it for hunting. For target shooting, the penetration power does not matter that much.

Also, make sure the broad-head of an arrow is sturdy, durable and can capably pierce sharply through the target while hunting.

Loading The Bow

Recurve Bow

Credit: edupics.com

A fine-quality bow stringer will allow you to securely and consistently string the bow.

Arrows are the next thing on the list. Make sure to measure your draw length with the help of an expert, and then ask his advice on which to purchase.

The nocking point needs to be attached to the string and it will function as a constant place from where you can shoot the arrow each time. It will help you to direct shots correctly and protect your hand from injuries caused by vanes.

For practice sessions, you might want to consider buying a target. A good-quality target will protect your arrows from bending or breaking and also will not allow complete penetration of an arrow.

Accessorizing The Bow

Recurve Bow

Credit : World-of-archery.com

Not all of the below mentioned accessories are necessary to use, but some of them might ease the process of shooting.

Wearing an arm guard on the forearm of your bow hand will protect it, especially when the string hits your hand. Finger tabs will ease the strain you feel while drawing back an arrow. Without finger tabs, your fingers might suffer from blisters.

Arrow rest is a useful accessory that can be used to position an arrow while drawing it.

A wrench for unfastening broad-heads also comes handy to detach its tip from the arrow without cutting your fingers.

Wax for bow string will protect the string from breaking and also protect it from dirt, moisture, etc. Lube the bow string with a good-quality wax, every 2 to 3 weeks.

Bow Accessories

A sight helps you to aim the bow efficiently towards your target. Beginners might try it out for learning how and where to aim the bow. Pro archers do not always prefer a sight and rather use instinctive shooting skills.

Quiver is also one of the significant things to purchase, as it will enhance the lifespan of your bows. Quiver is like a container used to store the arrows prior to its use. Mostly they need to be attached to your shoulder or around your waist.

 Stance

Recurve Bow

Credit: Hunthacks.com

For right-handed archers, it is recommended to position your left hip pointing towards the target (vice versa for left-handed archers). Do not lean towards any side and keep your body posture straight. Your feet must be at a 90°angle with your target and must be shoulder-width apart from each other.

Centre yourself along the shooting line and stand firmly. Turn your head towards the target, without turning your whole body. Do not hunch up the shoulders and keep your chest in.

Shooting

Recurve Bow

Hold the bow securely yet with ease; do not hold it too tightly. Most recurve bows come with a handle, so you will eventually know how and where to grip it.

Thumb and index finger needs to be turned inwards to some extent and other fingers should be in a relaxed position.

Now, the notch integrated at the end of an arrow needs to be fitted onto the bow string. Notching points will help you to place the arrow better. Nocking the arrow must be done before lifting the whole equipment.

Lift the loaded bow and make sure to keep your elbows straight and locked. Draw the string back until your hand reaches right beneath your jaws. Bow string should be very close to your face and near to the corner of your mouth. Do not face your body towards the target; only turn your head towards it.

How to Use a Recurve Bow

You can now close one eye and utilize your dominant eye to aim the target. If using a sight, make sure to aim your target through it and with your eyes as well.

Now release the arrow from the string and do not jerk the string whatsoever. Keep it smooth and gentle.

Keep your stance stable until the arrow hits the target to avoid any sort of hindrance with the shot.

E. How to String a Recurve Bow?

Stringing your bow securely is very important, as you do not want to whack yourself due to the tension in the limbs and also do not want to bend your limbs while manually stringing the bow.

The best and safest way to do this is with a bow stringer.

  • Make sure to purchase a bow stringer that is deliberately designed for recurve bows and also see if the ends of the stringer fit tightly onto the limb tips.
  • Slide the large loop of the stringer over the tip of the upper limb and make sure it is positioned at the correct side of the bow. Attach the small loop into the lower limb’s notch provided.
  • For stringers having two pockets, you can fit the larger pocket over the lower limb. By now, the small loop on the string will be covered and this will keep the pocket secure onto the groove.
Recurve Bow
  • Slide the smaller pocket onto the upper limb’s tip.
  • You need to hold the handle of the bow and keep it horizontal, such that your dominant hand is near to the upper limb.
  • Make sure to secure the loose string loop in its place with your dominant hand. Make sure to position the bow with its limb tips pointing in the upward direction and string as well as stringer are beneath it.
  • Lower the position the bow to a point where the stringer will touch the ground (not string). Step on the stringer with both of your feet and position them shoulder-width away from each other. Make sure to use the balls of your foot. Pro archers can use just one foot.
Recurve Bow

Credit : Topbow.net

  • If you are using a saddle type of bow stringer, make sure to hold the saddle in pace with one hand.
  • Take the loose section of the bow stringer and with a firm grip pull it upwards. This will bend the limbs to the desired level. Also, simultaneously move the loose string loop smoothly up to a point where it fits into the notch that is available at the tip of the bow.
  • Make sure to check if its secure onto the groove provided
  • Lower the position of the bow until the stringer is relaxed.
  • And lastly, remove the bow stringer from the bow

F. Accessories For a Recurve Bow

Following are some of the accessories that will help you directly or indirectly to hit the shots with extreme safety and precision.

Clicker will help you to release the arrow when have fully drawn it back. A ‘click’ sound will notify you that you have reached the optimum draw length and now you are ready to release the arrow.

This will help you to keep your draw length consistent every time you shoot.

Kisser is like a consistent vertical reference point in the form of a button. It is attached to the bowstring. Archer touches this button (generally with his lips) every time while taking a shot.

Basic Archery for Beginners - The Kisser Button

Stabilizers are weighty rods deliberately attached to the bow, giving additional stability to the whole unit. This also helps in eradicating vibrations.

As explained above, you can also use an arm guard, finger tabs, sight, arrow rest, etc. for comfortable and safe archery

Conclusion

Working on how to use a Recurve Bow precisely is important, especially for novices. With consistent practice sessions, your arm and back muscles will be strengthened.

To get started with, work on your body alignment and shot execution, instead of hitting the target. When you master this step, now you can work on hitting your target as accurately as possible.

If you have any questions as regards to using a recurve bow, you can comment them down below.

Always remember:

  • Beginners should never start with greater draw weights
  • Over Bowed Archer will eventually miss the shot or lose precision
  • Make sure you have Repeatable and Consistent shot-cycles
  • Enhance your body posture and hold the bow correctly
  • Use accessories, wherever necessary
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