How to Shoot a Recurve Bow

The bow of Legolas was singing… The last arrow of Legolas kindled in the air as it flew, and plunged burning into the heart of a great wolf-chieftain.” – The Fellowship of the Ring, “A Journey in the Dark”. In this guide, we will show you on how to shoot a recurve bow if you are just starting out.

The last few couple of decades saw resurgence in the interest in JRR Tolkien’s works. And at the forefront of this is the curiosity people have over a very bad-ass choice of weaponry- the recurve bow.

In modern times where guns and bombs are the weapons of choice, bows provide some form romanticism and mystique to warfare of old. Thus, the passion for archery also benefited from the renewed attention.

But archery isn’t as simple as nocking an arrow and letting it fly. And with no Nazgul to practice shooting on, it’s imperative that you know the proper way of shooting a recurve bow before you injure yourself or another human being.

Shooting a Recurve Bow

You may not end up looking as magically flawless as Legolas, but you can still aim for at least a Katniss Everdeen, right? So how exactly do you ensure you’re shooting your bow properly?

Prepare properly

You’ll need your bow, of course. And arrows. Plus a target. You also need to have your safety equipment ready. This includes your arm guard and finger tab.

Make sure your arm guard is on the forearm holding the bow. This protects your arm in case the string hits it. Your finger tab goes on the finger that’s going to pull back the bow. This is your protection against the string tension as you pull back.

shoot recurve bow

shoot recurve bow

Get in the correct position

Legs should be shoulder-width apart. Your non-dominant leg must be slightly forward. Stand perpendicular to your target. Don’t raise the bow yet as you load the arrow.

Locate the target

Look at your target. Raise the bow to shoulder height. Draw halfway. Chest in, shoulders down. Do not rotate your elbow so much.

Your pointer finger should now be pointing directly to the target. Modern recurve bows have handles that naturally allow for the hand to be in this position. This means you have the proper grip.

Pull back

Pull the string back. Your hand should end up resting just underneath your jaw bone. The bowstring should be touching your face. Now, take aim.

Slide, don’t jerk

Now that you’re in position, you can release the arrow. Remember to slide your fingers off the string instead of jerking it back. Otherwise, the arrow won’t fly straight.

You have to remember to do this consistently or you’ll be plagued with inconsistent shooting.

Sounds easy enough? Sure it does. It doesn’t mean that beginners aren’t making mistakes, though. And there are in fact, many ways to mess it up.

How You Could Go Wrong

Here are some of the ways to get shooting wrong:

Poor stance – many beginners have their feet or knees pointing to the target
Arm gets hit by the string – arrows are slowed down when the string hits any other object
Very tight grip – notice the arrow fishtailing or wiggling side to side? That’s a sure tell that you are gripping your bow too tight.
Not anchoring in the same place – you must draw at the exact place everytime if you want your arrows to have good grouping

Recurve Bow Shooting Tips

There are just so many ways to mess up. But how do you get it right everytime? PRACTICE, that’s how!

Even without using a bow and arrow, you can do this. Just raise your bow arm up and down. Do this while keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Pretend to draw the bow back until your forefinger reaches your mouth. Remember, you have to make sure you keep standing straight and tall.

When you actually start shooting, you might want to consider placing the target as close to you as possible without damaging or interfering with your form. 5 to 10 yards away is a good starting point. This way, you can learn about correct forms and postures first.

There’s just no better way to go old school than doing archery. The bow and arrow have been around for hundreds of years. In the old days, the tool helped men in hunting food and games. Many famous historical figures used the “stick and string” and passed legends of its use.

Final Words on How to Shoot a Recurve Bow

Modern times have given us various advancements in the field of archery. We now have compound bows, sights, rangefinders and a whole lot of other gadgetry. But regardless of the form it takes, archery will always have its draws.

So don’t be scared of unleashing your inner archer. The above tips on how to shoot a recurve bow should help you get started. Who knows, shooting your handy recurve bow, you may yet become the Elven archer of your dreams.

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