How To Use The Sight On A Recurve Bow

by | Aug 27, 2022

If you’re looking at getting into freestyle or Olympic-style recurve archery then at some point, you’ll have to familiarise yourself with the sight on a recurve bow.

While using the sight on your recurve may seem obvious at first, there are a few important points that you need to be aware of before you start.

  1. When aiming, the sight should not be the focal point – make sure you’re looking at the target, and that your sight appears blurred.
  2. The second reference point is your string – the string should be visible at the side of your vision. The string forms a rear site, allowing you to align it with your sight ring.
  3. Try to keep your sight picture consistent.
  4. Don’t treat the sight like a telescopic sight, use it as a reference point.
  5. Getting the arrow on target requires you to focus on the entire shot process, not just lining up your sight.
  6. Adjust your sights based on your arrow groupings, not on individual arrows.

That covers a basic overview of using the sight, but there are many more aspects of using the sight we need to cover in order for you to have a full understanding, So let’s get into it!

How To Correctly Use The Sight On A Recurve Bow

Getting set up

Once you have mounted your sight onto the bow, you’ll need to think about how far in or out you want to set your bar.

The closer you have your sight to the bow, the bigger the adjustments are going to be. With the sight closer to your eye, each adjustment will have a bigger effect on the target.

The further away you have your sight from the bow, the finer the adjustments are, due to the increased distance. At long-range targets, this will allow for much more precision tuning.

Sight On A Recurve Bow
Recurve Bow Sight

The vertical bar on the sight can also be adjusted using the 2 screws at the back. This is great when you need to adjust for short distances or very long distances. One downside to adjusting your sight for distance is that at some point you may find that the sight might obscure the target.

Most archers find that keeping their sights further out is more optimal due to the fact that making even the smallest of adjustments can have a big impact on the target.

As you get used to using the sight, you may find that have different sight and notch settings for different distances.

If that’s the case, then it is vital that you make a note of those settings, either on a notepad, on your phone or even taped to the side of your sight bar, so that you are ready to go at any given distance.

One thing to remember is that the numerical values on the side of the vertical bar do not refer to distance. They are simply arbitrary numbers that represent different distances.

Be careful that you don’t set your sight too close to your arrow, because if it’s too close, you might end up shooting the sight off!

If you’d like to know what all the other parts are on an Olympic Recurve bow, then you might like this article.

The Sight Is Not The Focal Point

Sight should appear blurred

When looking at the target, you should see that the sight is a blur. This gives you an overlay and a reference point. Your focus is the target, not the sight.

Use The String As A Second Reference Point

The bowstring should appear to the right of the target

You should be able to locate the string somewhere at the side of your vision. This second reference pint acts like a rear site, giving you the opportunity to align it with the sight ring.

The positioning of the string varies from archer to archer, with some archers preferring to keep the string closer to the riser.

Can also be next to the riser

This constitutes your sight picture, so wherever you decide to place the string, you need to keep your sight picture consistent.

The Sight Is Only Part Of The Shot Process

Only use the sight as a reference point. Getting the arrow on target is the end product of the entire shot process, from the draw to anchor, to aim, release and follow through.

Use the whole shot process

Base Your Sight Adjustments On Your Groupings

When most beginners try to fine-tune their sights, the tendency is to adjust their sight based on their best shot. The one that landed closest to the X.

However, if you shot 6 arrows and 5 of them grouped off the left in the Blue, leaving that one arrow close to the X, then the sight should be adjusted based on the grouping.

The reason is that the grouping shows more consistent shooting, whereas the X-shot, could just be a fluke.

If you’re a relative beginner and you’re adjusting your sight after every shot, then you’re not really understanding why you’re shots are off target.

The majority of the mistakes will be coming from you, and not the sight!

Focus on adjusting your sight on the groupings first to understand your shot placement better and don’t adjust anything after shooting a wayward arrow or two.

Chase The Arrow

Another thing that you need to remember when using the sight is that you need to ‘chase the arrow’. This is a rule that was designed in order to help you get your shots on target.

If you find that your shots are all a little too low, then in order to compensate, you adjust your sight down. This will make you lift your bow slightly which will bring your shots up.

If your shots then go too high, you compensate by bringing the sight up which brings the bow back down.

Same for left and right, you ‘chase the arrows’ with your sight until your shots are all hitting the target.

How Do You Adjust The Sight For Different Distances?

First, you would need to shoot a grouping at a distance you know you can hit the target from. For example 20m. If your shots are all on target, then make a note of your sight settings.

Now walk back to 30m. Shoot another grouping. if your arrows are slightly off target, make your adjustments. Remember the ‘chasing the arrow’ rule.

Shoot another group. If your arrows are on target, note down the adjustments.

What you should be doing is building up a list of sight settings so that you can save time whenever you shoot or compete.


Using the sight on a recurve bow can seem intimidating at first, but once you’ve taken the time to set everything up correctly, you should be able to tune everything in fairly easily.

One final thing to note regarding the glass lens in the sight. Magnifying lenses are against the rules for recurve shooters. Your sight lens should be plain zero glass!