Getting Started With Recurve Archery

Jan 3, 2022Archery Basics, Archery Styles, Bows, Recurve

Interested to learn more about recurve archery? When you’re just getting started, it’s important to understand the different bow types. There are three main types of bows available – compound bows, longbows, and recurve bows. Recurve bows are a great option when first getting started because they are simple and effective.

This complete guide to getting started with recurve archery will help you understand what a recurve is, why it may be a good choice for you, how you can get started, and how you can improve your shooting abilities using a recurve bow. After reading the information below, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a recurve archer!

What is Recurve Archery?

Recurve bows are simple when compared to compound bows; a riser and two limbs. Think of recurves as improved versions of the longbow. Recurves not only store more energy, they deliver energy more efficiently. This is accomplished through the design of their limbs. The tips of the limbs curve forward (towards the target), to accomplish higher speed and power.

They are lightweight, easy to maintain, easy to transport, and made using super-strong materials, like fiberglass and aluminum. More traditional recurves are still made using different varieties of wood.

When choosing to shoot a recurve bow, you should also consider your style. There are more traditional and modern style recurves, so choose what fits you best.

Why Recurve Archery?

Recurve archery is for those who enjoy the challenge of tradition. Recurve bows have been around for generations and whether you choose a traditional or a modern design, it takes dedication to excel.

If you prefer a simple “stick and string” setup without all the extra accessories, then traditional archery would be your best option. If you’re more interested in tournament style shooting and/or Olympic archery, then modern recurve archery is ideal.

Whether you prefer traditional or modern recurve, there are a number of benefits to shooting this bow type. Recurves are less complicated than compounds and more modern than longbows. Here’s what you’ll experience when choosing a recurve bow.

The Benefits Of Recurve Archery

  • Simplicity
  • Lightweight
  • Portability
  • More powerful than a longbow
  • Affordable

Getting Started With Recurve Archery

Success begins with a solid foundation, meaning you must pay close attention to the basics of archery. Perfecting your form builds muscle memory and leads to consistency. Be sure to focus on your shooting technique and follow the advice of a certified archery trainer. This stops you from picking up bad habits by copying untrained archers at the range.

To get started, you’ll need some equipment. This includes things such as a bow, arrows, arrow rest, quiver, armguard, release aid, sight, stabilizer, and finger sling among others.

Finding Your Bow

First, you must find the right bow for you. The most common mistakes people make when choosing a recurve bow is picking one that’s not the right size and choosing a draw weight that is too heavy. If you’re just starting out, getting professional advice from your local archery shop ensures you’re making the right selection. That said, don’t feel pressured to find the “perfect bow”, as many archers buy new equipment as they progress.

Also keep in mind storage and transport. Take down recurves are a great option, which makes it easy to disconnect the limbs so you can transport the bow from one place to another without worrying about space or damage.

Finding Your Arrows

To find arrows that are right for you, you must first determine your draw length. Once you’ve figured your draw length simply add one to two inches to find your ideal arrow length. You don’t have to focus too much on arrow weight when first starting out because you’re just learning the basics. Buy at least six of the right-sized arrows at the same time you’re buying your bow. Many bow shops sell arrows that have tips, fletching, and nocks, so you can start shooting right away!

Choosing An Arrow Rest

An arrow rest is where your arrow rests as you draw, making this a very important piece of equipment. There are a few different rest styles to learn so you can make the right choice. Considerations include how well it holds the arrow in place, how much it interferes with the arrow, and its overall adjustability. Off-shelf, stick-on, and plunger style rests are popular choices. We have an entire article dedicated to arrow rests, so look there to learn more about what may work best for you.

Choosing Your Quiver

A quiver is simply a piece of equipment that holds all your arrows. Target archers generally prefer hip quivers as they offer easy access and keep arrows out of the way. Bow hunters generally use bow-mounted quivers for their extreme convenience. Ground Quivers are ideal in practice and competing environments. We have a whole article dedicated to arrow quivers if you’d like to learn more about the different options available.


Armguards protect your forearm from string slap. You can choose a simple armguard or a large armguard to protect yourself from potential injury. While optional, armguards are highly recommended as a safety accessory, especially if you’re just getting started.

Release Aid

Release aids are devices that support the pull and release of a bow string. Finger tabs and finger gloves the two main available options. Finger tabs provide a smoother release compared to finger gloves due to the design and materials used. There are mechanical releases, but those are strictly designed for compound bows, so steer clear when shooting a recurve!


Sights or no sights? The use of sights is up to you. Sights help you aim your bow…so you can choose to use one or focus more on instinctive shooting. Most people try archery for the first time without a sight. Some people stick with this or start using a sight to gain higher accuracy. Traditional archers don’t use sights, but modern recurve archers definitely use sights to their advantage.


Stabilizer or no stabilizer? The use of stabilizers is up to you. Stabilizers increase inertia, help reduce vibration, and help the bow drop forward upon release. A stabilizer can help balance your bow as it reduces movement while you’re in the process of aiming. Again, you won’t see many traditional archers using a stabilizer, but modern recurve archers take full advantage of this accessory.

Finger Sling

Finger Sling or no finger sling? Finger slings are designed to keep your bow in your hand upon release. Many people hold their bow grip tightly, but you want a relaxed grip and a finger sling stops you from dropping your bow. They work by attaching a small rope to your thumb, around the bow grip, and to your middle finger. This holds things in place and helps reduce user error upon release.

Where To Shoot Your Recurve

Your goal is to shoot consistently accurate! This means you must practice often to perfect your execution. When it comes to where you should practice, keep in mind your shooting goals. In addition to the below four areas, you can also check out high schools, colleges, universities, and city or town parks…just be sure to check with local authorities.

Backyard Range

Shooting a recurve in your backyard is extremely convenient. However, only if your backyard is big enough to do so. This must be done without endangering anyone in the area. There may be laws regarding this, so first check your local laws to see if you can legally shoot a bow on your property.

Bow Shop

Many archery shops provide a limited archery range. This may be the right place for you to practice if you’re interested in learning more as experts work in bow shops. If you want to learn even more about recurve archery or the idea of having professional advice readily available appeals to you, bow shops are a great place for you to shoot your recurve. Just know that most bow shops have a maximum distance of 20 yards or less. If you want to shoot longer distance, you need to visit an archery range.

Archery Range

Some archery ranges offer both indoor and outdoor ranges, offering versatility. While indoor ranges limit distance, you can still improve your shooting ability by practicing different archery drills. Outdoor ranges often provide different terrain and distances up to 80 yards, so there’s plenty of challenge/variety. This is exactly why outdoor archery ranges are my favorite place to practice!

Public Hunting Areas

Many states set aside large areas of land for public use, specifically fishing and hunting. If you’re located near public hunting land, first find out the details of shooting laws to ensure you’re following all rules in place. Be sure to wear bright clothing and always be aware of any other shooters or hunters within your vicinity.

How To Improve Your Shot

There are many ways to improve your accuracy. Depending on how much you practice, you can grow proficient with a recurve bow rather quickly. All it takes is a little focus, practice, and determination to succeed.

Take Archery Lessons

Taking archery lessons from a certified archer instructor will improve your shooting abilities quickly. Taking lessons early on helps to avoid establishing any bad habits, which can be difficult to correct years down the road. Lessons can be taken locally and we also offer a full introductory online course for those who prefer to learn on their own.


You must practice regularly if you want to improve. Practicing helps improve your form, focus, and strength, in turn building muscle memory and consistency. That said, you must be sure you’re practicing correct form. Once you’ve established good form, you can self-correct and continuously improve.

Shoot With Advanced Archers

Shooting with other archers is part of the fun. When possible, shoot with others who have more experience and knowledge than you. By doing this, you’ll challenge yourself, gain insight, and grow your abilities faster than if you shot with those who shoot worse than you.

Archery Drills

You should practice using one or more training exercises specifically developed to enhance your shooting abilities. Whether you practice at home, your local archery range, or somewhere else, be sure to focus on the shooting drills that support your growth as a recurve archer.


Recurve bows are both fun and challenging to shoot, making them a great first bow. If you’ve decided that recurve archery is right for you, it means you’re committed to spending the time it takes to improve.

Plan on spending at least $100 to $200 on your very first recurve bow. As you progress, you’ll likely spend a few hundred dollars on your next recurve bow. This is because you start to outshoot what the bow is capable of, so you need to find a bow that’s more accurate and fitting to your level of skill.

If you’re serious about recurve archery, get your first bow, start practicing, and become an archer today!

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1 Comment

  1. Robert Butin

    Good info. Have purchased bow quiver arrows target and practice tips for arrows.


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