Recurve bow hunter in an open field

How To Shoot a Recurve Bow For Beginners

- Creative XP Brand Team

Recurve bows are one of the most popular types of bows among archers today. They are widely used in competitions and are the only bows used in Olympic archery. Getting used to firing a recurve bow takes time and practice and means that you must also become familiar with the parts of the bow. 

This guide will give an overview of how to shoot a recurve bow. We will discuss the different parts of a recurve bow and highlight some common mistakes to look out for.

Parts of a Bow

Before getting into the proper way to fire a recurve bow, it is important to understand the parts of the recurve bow. These will come up throughout the process of firing a bow.


This is the part of the bow that the archer will pull back and release to fire an arrow. 


The bow riser is the middle part of the recurve bow, and it functions as the handle. Risers also contain the arrow rest, and just as the name implies, this is where the arrow sits on the bow. 


Every recurve bow contains two limbs that attach to the top and bottom of the riser. The bowstring is attached to the top and bottom limbs.


Just like firearms, bows have sights to help archers aim. You can typically buy separate sights to adjust to your preferences and needs.

Nock point

Consistency is key in archery, and a nock point helps archers stay consistent by providing a single spot to place an arrow for each shot. 

Steps to Set Up Your Recurve Bow

Recurve bows can be disassembled and easily set up for convenient transportation, and experienced archers can quickly set up their bows. Learning how to set up your recurve bow is a crucial step in success on the range. It may take some time to get used to, but in time, you'll be able to quickly assemble your bow. 

The following steps can help you get started.

Make sure that you have all of your parts and tools

Before you set up your recurve bow, make sure that you have brought all the necessary parts with you. This includes the limbs, riser, and bowstring mentioned above. You should also make sure that you have a hex wrench and screws, which should come with the bow.

Attach the limbs to the riser

For this step, line up the top and bottom limbs with their corresponding pegs on the riser. The top and bottom limbs will be clearly labeled. Once you have these connected, screw the limbs in to secure them in place. 

String the bow

This step is arguably the most complicated in setting up the recurve bow. This is in part because stringing the bow on your own can be difficult in general and also because getting the right amount of tension in the bowstring can be hard. Using a stringer can help make the process easier.

Crimp the nock point to the bowstring

Using pliers, crimp the nock point onto the bowstring. The goal of this is so that the arrow will be level to the arrow rest when it is nocked. If you don't do this, your accuracy will be affected.

Get in some test shots

Once you've finished setting up your recurve bow, it is important to try a few test shots. Pay attention to any wobbling in the arrow, as this may mean you need to adjust your nock point. 

How to Shoot a Recurve Bow

Once you have set up your bow, it is time to practice shooting. Consider the following tips when learning to shoot a recurve bow. 

Focus on finger placement on the bowstring

After you have nocked your arrow and are ready to fire, it is important to remember proper technique in pulling back on the bowstring. Use your index finger to grip above the nocked arrow, and use your middle and ring fingers to grip below the arrow.

Hand placement on the riser matters

The hand the grips on the riser will drastically affect your accuracy for better or worse. New archers may be inclined to grip the bow tightly and have their wrists in line with the bow. This will make your shot worse, and it could leave your forearm at risk of getting hit by the bowstring when you release an arrow. Instead, try to shoot with your wrist at a 45-degree angle. This will help improve accuracy and will get your forearm out of the way.

Follow through when firing an arrow

One of the lessons that all expert archers have learned is that relaxing helps. Once you have released an arrow, you should allow your hand to follow through and relax in the air. Try not to move it until you have seen the arrow hit its target. This will help you avoid doing too much to affect the arrow's release, and it will feel natural over time.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shooting a Recurve Bow

Mistakes are a normal part of archery, especially when you're first getting started with a recurve bow. Recognizing mistakes can help you avoid them in the future, though. Here are a few of the most common mistakes novice archers make with recurve bows.

Not releasing fast enough

Some new archers tend to think that you have all the time in the world to aim once your bowstring is fully drawn back. This is false. The longer you hold the bowstring when it is drawn, the more tension you will feel. When this happens, you may notice your arm shaking, and this will lead to a poor shot.

Not paying attention to posture

A lot of accuracy with recurve bows comes from the posture of the archer. Focusing on your stance and keeping your back straight can help you find consistency in your shots. Additionally, using your shoulder blades for the drawing motion is important.

Failing to follow through on a shot

It may seem silly to leave your hand hanging in the air when you know you have already released an arrow, but this is essential for accuracy. When an archer moves either arm during the firing process, they may accidentally do so before the arrow has fully left the bow. This can affect the arrow's trajectory. Following through helps ensure that the arrow travels with no further interference. 

Neglecting grip and finger placement

Earlier, we discussed the downsides of incorrectly gripping the riser and bowstring. Rookie archers may think that they have found a unique way to hold the bow, but this will ultimately lead to less accuracy and consistency. The 45-degree angle grip is considered the best way to hold a bow. 


Learning to shoot a recurve bow takes time and practice, but if you stick with it, you'll have a fun new hobby that you'll be able to do for years to come. After a few times, setting up the bow will come easily. Finding the proper form while shooting can involve trial and error. Once you get it figured out, though, you'll start to see the arrows grouped tighter around the target.

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