How To Aim A Recurve Bow

So you’ve got a recurve bow but you don’t know how to aim with it. Well, you’ll be glad you stopped by. Today we’ll be running through how to do so, both with and without sights.  

So how do you aim a recurve bow? You can either aim a recurve bow with or without the use of a sight. For those archers who aren’t using a sight, it will be absolutely critical to get your firing posture correct to have a good chance of accurate aim. For those using sights, you must remember that the sight is only a marker, not something guaranteed to net you a bullseye shot. 

Regardless of preference and current skill level, sights can help massively when aiming.

But they do need getting used to. 

And they do add to the complexities of shooting a bow.

At least to begin with. 

Nevertheless, let us now look at exactly how to aim both with and without sights.

That way, no matter what your style or approach, you know exactly what you need to do.

How To Aim A Recurve Bow With Sights

A bow sight is simply a tool, not a guaranteed performance enhancer. Making accurate shots, even with a sight, is still dependent on having good shooting technique. That said, using a sight can help you fine-tune your aim over a series of shots, giving you reference markers for how to improve.

Bow sights can take on many forms, from simple cross-hairs to a ring with three or more adjustable aiming pins. 

More complex sights resemble an apparatus of hollow tubes and rings attached to a rectangular unit on the bow, with dials to adjust various settings.

Aiming and shooting a recurve bow using a sight should be something you try once you’ve had some experience with archery under your belt. 

Adding too many variables like a sight in while you’re a beginner can distract you from forming a good shooting foundation with your stance and technique. 

For beginners, start by not using a sight on your recurve bow.

When it comes to using the sight during a shot, adjustments will need to be made depending on the distance away from your target and other conditions. 

Making sure that you use a consistent shooting foundation in terms of posture, anchor point, and a bow that is set up correctly for your body provides the best possible building block.

As you look down the sight towards your target, the actual components of the sight should appear blurry. 

This allows you to focus on the target itself, using the sight as a peripheral aid. 

As you draw the bow for your shot, stare down through the sight and try and line up the marker with either the yellow section of the target or the bullseye if you’re steady enough. 

Don’t focus your eye on the components of the sight, however tempting or natural it may feel.

Let your shot go within three to five seconds. 

Once you’ve fired, take a view as to where the arrow landed. 

If you missed the exact point that you were aiming for, that’s alright. 

You’ll simply need to adjust your aim for your next shot – something that a sight can really help with.

Many archers talk about a technique called “following the arrow.” 

This basically means taking note of where the arrow landed compared to where you were aiming with the sight. 

Then, if the arrow struck below the area that you targeted, you should adjust the sight slightly downwards of your original target area before taking your next shot.

Keep calibrating your sight throughout your shots, and you should see steady improvements. However, if you change shooting distance, you’ll need to perform this process again from scratch.

How To Aim A Recurve Bow Without Sights

Aiming a recurve bow without a sight is frequently referred to as “barebow” shooting. You’ll be relying completely on your technique, eye, and instinct to hit the correct area of the target. One of the best techniques for aiming a recurve bow without a sight is called “gap shooting,” where you manually adjust the point at which you release the arrow to compensate for gravity and other forces.

When first starting with archery, recurve bows are recommended for novices. 

It’s also recommended that you practice without using a sight or any other complex equipment for a while. 

This is because it forces you to concentrate on getting your foundational technique right – using the correct posture while shooting, getting the right anchor point, and so on.

When barebow shooting in this manner, there are some techniques that you can use to refine your aim even without using a sight on your recurve bow. 

The most common of these methods is “gap shooting.” This is a way of adjusting your aim depending on where your last arrow struck the target.

Once you’ve tried to aim your first arrow at the target, take note of where the arrow landed in relation to where you tried to aim it. 

If you aimed for the bullseye, but your arrow struck the target about five inches diagonally left, and below the bullseye, you have an idea of how to adjust your next shot. 

So you take note of that gap between the arrow and where you were aiming to guide your next attempt.

When drawing for your next shot, try and aim about five inches above and diagonally to the right of where you wanted to hit the target. 

This should compensate a bit for the force of gravity, and when you release the second arrow, it should hit much close to the bullseye. 

You can perform this adjustment after each shot or after you’ve exhausted an entire round.

A good method of differentiating the location of an arrow compared to the bullseye is to reference the arrow’s impact point as you would a clock. 

So, in our example of the arrow landing to the lower left of the bullseye, we can say that the arrow landed at around the eight o’clock position. 

Now, for your next shot, aim as if you were trying to hit the two o’clock point to the right and above the bullseye. This should result in a better shot closer to your intended target.

So even without using a sight on your recurve bow, you can find ways to create reference points that can allow you to adjust your subsequent shots for better results.

How To Ensure Accuracy With A Recurve Bow

There are several techniques that you can perform using a recurve bow, with or without a sight, to make your shots more accurate. These include things such as maintaining a consistent shooting posture, being measured in your shot speed, make sure the correct parts of your body are relaxed, and ensuring that your bow is correctly measured and weighted to your individual physical needs.

Starting from as solid a foundation as possible, even before aiming your recurve bow, can pay massive dividends in terms of accuracy. 

You need to make sure that your draw weight is right for your strength and skill level, as well as ensuring that you’ve got the correct draw length on your bow. 

This helps give you the easiest place to start building your shooting technique from. 

A suitable draw weight for novice archers is about 25 lbs (11 kg). When it comes to draw length, work this out by taking your overall height and dividing it by 2 ½.

It’s also good practice to keep a lot of your body loose and relaxed during the process of your shots. 

Too much tension in your entire body can inhibit your accuracy. Gripping the bow too firmly is a common beginner mistake.

It’s better to be fairly relaxed when holding the bow, concentrating the tension on your drawing arm. 

This also applies to holding the bowstring. 

Gripping the string too hard or in the incorrect position can ruin your accuracy. 

The best way to hold the bowstring is to curl two fingers around the string underneath the knocked arrow and have one finger curled around the string above the arrow. 

Make sure to use a consistent anchor point as well when you draw the bow back.

Loosing your shots too fast and not taking the proper time to reach full draw or aim properly is also a guaranteed way of generating inaccurate shots. 

Shooting as fast as Legolas is unrealistic! 

Going through the process of each shot calmly and methodically will help you to find a good rhythm and will also stabilize your accuracy. 

With slower shots, the amount of adjusting that you need to do in between attempts is easier to compensate for.


So there it is.

How to shoot a recurve bow both with and without sights.

You should now be in good stead to go out there and do what matters most – practice with your recurve bow.