How To Shoot a Recurve Bow – Complete Step-By-Step Guide

How To Shoot a Recurve Bow - Complete Step-By-Step Guide

So, you've decided to take up archery and specifically, to learn how to shoot a recurve bow. Wise choice, my friend! Recurve bows have been around for centuries, used by various cultures for hunting, warfare, and sport. This age-old weapon offers a unique combination of simplicity and elegance, making it both a thrilling and rewarding pastime.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the nitty-gritty of shooting a recurve bow. You'll learn about the proper stance, gripping techniques, and more, all while keeping the fun in the fundamentals. But first, let's clear the air on what makes a recurve bow unique.

What is a Recurve Bow?

A recurve bow gets its name from the distinctive shape of its limbs. Unlike a traditional longbow, the recurve's limbs curve away from the archer when unstrung. This design provides greater power and accuracy, while maintaining a relatively compact size.

Key Components of a Recurve Bow

Before you start shooting, it's crucial to know your bow's anatomy. Here's a rundown of the main components:

  1. Riser: The central part of the bow where you grip it.
  2. Limbs: The upper and lower parts that flex when you draw the bow.
  3. String: The cord connecting the limb tips.
  4. Nock point: The spot on the string where you place the arrow's nock.
  5. Arrow rest: The platform where the arrow sits before you shoot.
  6. Bow sight: An optional accessory that helps improve your aim.

Now that we've got the basics covered, let's dive into the steps of shooting a recurve bow.

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

Step 1: Get into Position

  • Stand perpendicular to your target, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your body relaxed and maintain a slight bend in your knees.

Step 2: Grip the Bow

  • Grasp the bow's riser with your non-dominant hand.
  • Allow the bow's weight to rest on your hand, using a relaxed grip.
  • Your knuckles should be at a 45-degree angle to the bow.

Step 3: Nock the Arrow

  • Place the arrow on the arrow rest, with the nock against the string.
  • Make sure the arrow's odd-colored vane (also called a fletching) is facing outward.

Step 4: Master the Draw

  • Extend your bow arm, keeping it slightly bent and relaxed.
  • Use your dominant hand to draw the string back towards your face.
  • Keep your elbow in line with the arrow, and your shoulder down and relaxed.

Step 5: Find Your Anchor Point

  • As you draw the string, find a consistent spot on your face to anchor it.
  • Common anchor points include the corner of your mouth, the tip of your nose, or your cheekbone.

Step 6: Aim and Release

  • Focus on the target, using the bow sight or the arrow's tip as a reference.
  • Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, release the string smoothly, allowing your fingers to slip off.

Step 7: Follow Through

  • After releasing the arrow, keep your bow arm extended and your eye on the target.
  • Maintain your stance until the arrow hits the target.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Every archer encounters a few hiccups along the way. Don't worry – it's all part of the journey. Here are some common issues you might face and how to address them:

Problem: Arrows Veering Left or Right


  • Check your grip to ensure it's not too tight or too loose.
  • Make sure your bow arm remains steady and extended throughout the shot.

Problem: Arrows Hitting Above or Below the Target


  • Adjust your bow sight, if you have one.
  • Experiment with different anchor points to find the most consistent position.

Problem: Inconsistent Groupings


  • Focus on consistent form, including your stance, grip, and anchor point.
  • Breathe deeply and maintain a steady rhythm throughout the shot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I choose the right recurve bow for me?

A: Factors to consider include your draw length, draw weight, and personal preferences such as aesthetics and budget. It's best to visit a local archery shop and try out different bows to find the perfect fit.

Q: How do I determine my draw length?

A: To find your draw length, extend your arms out to the sides, and measure the distance from fingertip to fingertip. Divide this number by 2.5, and you'll have a rough estimate of your draw length.

Q: What's the ideal draw weight for a beginner?

A: For adult beginners, a draw weight of 20-30 pounds is usually recommended. As you progress and build strength, you can gradually increase the draw weight.

Q: How often should I replace my bowstring?

A: It depends on how frequently you shoot and the quality of the string. Generally, it's a good idea to replace your bowstring every two years or after approximately 10,000 shots.

Q: Can I use any type of arrow with my recurve bow?

A: No, it's essential to use arrows specifically designed for recurve bows. These arrows should also match your bow's draw weight and your draw length to ensure optimal performance.


Learning how to shoot a recurve bow is a rewarding process that combines ancient techniques with modern know-how.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and practicing regularly, you'll be well on your way to becoming a skilled archer.

Remember, patience and perseverance are key, so don't be discouraged by the occasional missed shot.

Keep refining your technique, and soon enough, you'll be hitting the bullseye with ease. Now, get out there and let those arrows fly!