How To Shoot a Recurve Bow – Basic Guide

This guide is meant as a very simple introduction to how to shoot a recurve bow. There are many more details involved in the shooting process, things you can do to to perfect your aim. The goal of this guide is to give you a basic step by step layout so that you don’t end up scratching your head when get your first recurve bow and attempt to shoot it.

Before you begin, make sure that your recurve is properly tuned.

Step #1: Positioning

Make sure your legs are positioned around shoulder width apart as you position yourself for the shot. Make sure your torso, hips and entire body are turned perpendicular towards your intended target. Seat an arrow on the rest, nock it, and lift the bow.

Step #2: Preparing For The Shot

Lift up the recurve bow so that it is at approximately shoulder heigtht, while making sure your bow arm is straight and locked at the elbow. Do not clinch the bow with your grip; rather, let the bow rest against and push into the inside of your palm as you pull the string.  Make sure of the following:

  • That you shoulders are kept down
  • That the elbow of your bow arm is not rotated in a way that would make the string hit it as you release
  • That only your head is turned towards your target; the rest of your body should be perpendicular to the target

Pull the string about half-way through and take note of the above. Once you are sure your positioning is correct…

Step #3: Draw The Bow

Pull the string all the way, until the string reaches the corner of your mouth. (Your string hand should be located right beneath your jawline.) While pulling, do not use the muscles of your arms (biceps, triceps, etc.); rather, use your back muscles to do the majority of the work as they are significantly stronger than your arm muscles.

Step #4: Take Aim And Release

Aim with your dominant eye while keeping the other eye closed. Once you are certain you have the arrow pointing at your target, release the string by simply letting it slide out from your fingers. Do not jerk the string nor abruptly release it; try to think of it as simply relaxing the fingers holding the string – relax them just enough to allow the string to slide out and accelerate the arrow. If you jerk the string or pull on it right before you release, the arrow will not fly straight.

Remain motionless in position after you release the string until the arrow hits the target. The goal here is to train you not to jerk your body as soon as you release the string, as it will negatively impact arrow trajectory. Just relax your fingers while keeping the rest of your body in position, and wait for the arrow to hit.

How To Shoot a Recurve Bow – Summary

As mentioned, the above is just a basic guide. We will provide some more detail on the subject in a few upcoming articles.


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  1. I am left eye dominant and right handed. I decided to learn to shoot left handed. My accuracy improved dramatically. Used to think I was just lousy at aiming and grew up thinking I was just not cut out for things like this. It may actually be an advantage since you access your right brain more, the instinctive brain, when using your left eye

  2. Bow arm locked at the elbow?
    I’m new to this, but everywhere else I read says this is not proper technique.

  3. I watched a few youtube videos that recommended shooting with both eyes open. What do you think about shooting with both eyes open?

  4. Multiple reasons why you shouldn’t aim with one eye closed.. Ever throw a rock with one eye closed as a kid ? Didn’t think so.. With 1 eye closed there is quite alot of information coming into the brain to be processed.. You are trying to look at the target, the string is in the way, the sight is in the way, the arrow is in the way… Open up 2 eyes and the brain starts to ignore things it realizes don’t matter.. The string starts to become transparent and the sight becomes a bit blurry, But guess what, you can see the target perfectly fine and the sight magically super imposes itself onto the target.. Yup !! You can now see through things that are otherwise are in the way with 1 eye closed, the other eye feeds the brain with extra info on whats behind all this mess in front of your dominant eye and tells the brain that the right eye can see the target clear so it adds that information to gain a better picture of what it wants to see or focus on more clearly .. Not to mention that you can now balance better and have a wider field of view.. Field of view would be very important if you were a hunter, try and aim at a deer that’s moving with one eye closed as opposed to both eyes open..

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