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How to Aim a Recurve Bow: 4 Methods Explained!

How to Aim a Recurve Bow
Written by Catherine Weeks
Last Update: August 11, 2023

People who aren’t familiar with archery typically believe it’s all-around aiming. But if you’ve ever used a bow, you realize that it’s not true. In recent years, a large number of archers have returned to more classic techniques of archery. It is one of the reasons why recurve bows have become extremely popular. Below we will show you how to aim your recurve bow with or without using sight.

How to Aim a Recurve Bow? – Full Methods

How to Aim a Recurve Bow

Equipment That Will Assist You With Aiming

1. Sights

A bow sight is a tool that assists archers hit targets by using pins, circles, lenses, or other markers. Archers typically position their sight at the center of their targets to establish a reference spot for aiming. Sights need to be adjusted according to the bow and range firing. They will make a significant improvement in accuracy if used properly.

2. Clicker

A clicker is typically only present on recurve bows and informs the archer when the bow has been pulled back to the right draw position or maximum draw. It emits an acoustic “click”, meaning that the archer would only unleash the arrow if the clicker is heard. A clicker is a valuable tool for recurve archers to use.

3. Armguard

An armguard is a band that wraps the interior of an archer’s forearm to protect it when shooting. It’s usually made of plastic or leather. The arm guard protects the archer’s arm from damage caused by the bowstring or arrow fletching. Armguards should also help keep loose clothes from getting trapped in your string, potentially sending an arrow off target.

4. String Release

A string release is a tool used in archery to assist the archer shoot arrows more accurately by releasing the string with a trigger instead of the archer’s fingertips. It’s designed to speed up string release and reduce the amount of pressure applied to the string by the archer’s fingertips.

5. Properly Fitted Bow

The bow needs to be adjusted to the correct draw length for maximum effectiveness. The archer’s ability to draw a specific amount of pressure on the string determines to draw weight. Younger archers may only be able to pull around 30 pounds, while adults can pull 50 pounds or even more. You must choose a bow that is appropriate for your level of strength.

Aiming Recurve Bow With Bow Sight

Bow sights are quite common on all sorts of bows. Aiming a recurve bow using a sight is far more precise than without one.

1. Mediterranean Draw

When shooting with sight, it’s best to use the Mediterranean method to grip the string, also known as the split-finger method. This name comes from the way we hold the string with our fingers. In this method, you first put your ring and middle finger on the string, just underneath the arrow’s nock. Place them as near as possible to the nock.

Next, place your index finger on top of it. The arrow’s nock should be between your middle and index finger this way. If you look closely at the finger tab worn by Olympic archers, you’ll see that they always feature a cut on their leather pads that covers their fingers.

2. Anchoring

As a result of the change in how we hold the string, whenever we aim with sight, we employ a new anchor point. That anchor point is referred to as a three-point-anchoring.  As you might expect, this approach involves anchoring the string at three locations. Instead of putting your index finger towards the side of your lips like in barebow anchoring, you will place your hand beneath your jaw when drawing the string.

To do this, most semi-pro and professional finger tabs have a ledge that is designed to attach the tabs to the jawbone. If you can buy the finger tab with such a shelf, it will make things easier for you because it will give you a fixed location to anchor your jawbone.

3. Use the Sight to Aim

Even if you can shoot a firearm, using your bow sight is a whole different feeling. It is, nevertheless, still very straightforward. When aiming using a bow sight, there are several things to remember. After pulling your bow and fixing it, point your dominating eye via the sight towards the target. Hold your pin hovering about the center while you concentrate on your target.

It is necessary to leave the pin hover and not push yourself to remain on target. You will never be able to hold your breath long enough to be still. Instead, attempt “floating” your pin over the bullseye. Maintain your attention focused on the objective as you start preparing to unleash the arrow.

Aiming Without Using a Sight or Barebow Style

Although shooting a recurve bow with a bow sight is straightforward and uncomplicated, shooting without it is more challenging. There are four major methods to this, and each has its particular style.

1. Gap Shooting

The gap shooting method requires aiming with the point of your arrow. It is accomplished at a point on an imagined vertical axis that passes through the target’s center. The most crucial component of gap shooting is having a steady, repeatable firing procedure. Every shot must be the same every time.

Before you shoot, you must be aware of the distance separating you and your targetBegin at 5 yards, place the point of your arrow in the middle of the mark, and shoot. Calculate the distance between the point of impact and the middle of the objective. Now, back up to ten yards and fire again. Aim at the middle and measure the distance once more. Assume it is 12 inches long. You now understand that you must aim 12 inches underneath the bullseye to strike the target at 10 yards. Repeat this technique at any range you will be aiming, and you will have your distances mastered in no time.

2. String Walking

String walking will be the next technique of aiming your recurve without the sight. The point of your arrow should always be directed towards the middle of your target if you use the string walking method. The distinction here is that based on the distance to the objective, your drawing arm will go up and down your string.

Although your anchor location remains the same, this positioning on the string will alter arrow trajectory to guarantee you strike your target. By changing your holding on the string, you may alter the connection between your eyes and arrow. This causes an arrow to hit lower or higher. The nearer you are to your goal, the lower your arm will be positioned on the string. String walking is usually considered to be a better shooting technique than gap shooting.

3. Face Walking

The next technique of aiming is known as face walking. This technique is similar to string walking but in the other direction. Rather than sliding your drawing arm up and down your string, your anchor point will do so. You may adjust the arrow effect based on the distance by shifting your anchor position up or down over your face.

The most significant advantage of this approach is that the bow’s tuning does not alter with distance. That’s because your draw hand is always at the same place on the string. One of the most significant drawbacks of this approach is the irregularity of anchor positions.

4. Instinctive Archery

The last technique of aiming without bow sight is known as intuitive archery. When shooting instinctively, you do not “aim” at the targets. Instead, you concentrate on the region where you wish your arrow to strike. Then you lift your bow, pull, and fire. An archer must accomplish all of this while keeping a good concentration on the desired target. This style of aiming is comparable to throwing a basketball or striking a golf ball.

The most conventional method of aiming a bow without a bow sight is instinctive shooting. To aim instinctively, start by placing your legs in a comfortable posture. Concentrate on your objective, lift the bow, and shot in one smooth motion. The more you use this technique, the quicker your brain will estimate the modifications needed to reach your objective.

Which Aiming Technique Should You Use

Learning to aim your recurve bow may be a thrilling experience. There are several methods to aim with a recurve bow, whether you use bow sight or not. The technique you finally use will be heavily influenced by your unique style and interests. In most situations, a sight enables you to acquire the most precise results relatively fast.

On the other hand, if you aim without a bow sight, you have a variety of techniques at your disposal for aiming. Also, be aware that there are many ways to unnecessarily complicate your aiming technique. If you shoot without a bow sight, you may, for example, utilize the riser’s makings to “measure” the distance. That looks to be a decent concept, but for many archers, it complicates everything. Even if you aim using a sight, you’ll discover that your arrows don’t always land where you want them to.


1. How Long Does It Take to Master Bow Aiming?

It might take years to perfect archery to improve your skills and learn everything you have to know while shooting with your bow. It also depends on whether you’re using a recurve bow, an Olympic bow, or perhaps a compound bow.

2. How Far Can You Aim With a Recurve Bow?

The recurve bow’s precise distance for target shooting is around 50 and 90 yards. The maximum range of a recurve bow for hunting is around 25 to 45 yards, based on the pull weight and the archer’s skill.

About the author

Catherine Weeks

Cathy believes that hunting is not about downing an animal; rather, it’s about enjoying the purity of this challenge and making a connection with nature.

She loves country music, horses, shooting, and hunting; and spends her weekends in the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.

Though Cathy has hunted most of her life, it was not until her partner gave her a bow that she realized she had finally found her passion.

She is always determined to share her missed opportunities, dedication, emotions, and small details that people often forget to mention when they talk about their hunting experiences.

Cathy also works to promote wildlife preservation and protect natural resources. She thinks “patience” is the most important thing that can make a big difference.

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