Setting Up Your Target Recurve Bow: How The Pros Do It

by | Jun 12, 2023

If you’re an archery enthusiast, then you know how important it is to have your target recurve bow set up correctly. Even if you’re a beginner, understanding the fundamentals of setting up your bow can make all the difference in your performance on the range or in competition.

A well-tuned bow will increase accuracy, consistency and ultimately make archery more enjoyable. Firstly, let’s talk about accuracy.

The accuracy of your shots depends on various factors such as draw weight and length, brace height, arrow selection and many others. If any of these elements are off or not properly set up, it can significantly affect the accuracy of your shots.

So by taking the time to set up your recurve bow correctly, you can ensure that each shot lands where you want it to. Secondly, consistency is key in archery.

Consistency means that every shot is executed with a similar form and technique so that each arrow hits its target consistently in a specific location.

A well-tuned recurve bow helps ensure consistent performance which boosts confidence and reduces frustration while shooting arrows.

Therefore, taking the time to properly set up your target recurve bow has major benefits for both casual archers and competitive shooters alike.

In this article we’ll walk you through selecting the right equipment, setting up proper string tension on your bowstring, installing accessories for optimal usage, tuning techniques for maximum accuracy, and maintenance tips to keep everything running smoothly. All with the goal of helping you get started with confidence!

Choosing the Right Equipment

The Importance of Selecting the Right Bow and Arrows for Your Needs

When it comes to setting up your target recurve bow like a pro, choosing the right equipment is crucial. The bow and arrows you select will directly impact your performance and accuracy on the range.

There are a few things to consider when selecting your gear. First, think about what type of shooting you will be doing.

Are you planning on competing in tournaments? Or are you just looking to do some recreational shooting?

Different types of bows and arrows are better suited for different types of shooting. Another important factor is your body size and strength.

It’s essential to select a bow that matches your physical capabilities to ensure maximum comfort and effectiveness. This includes selecting arrows with the proper spine stiffness for your draw weight.

How to Determine Draw Weight and Length

Determining the correct draw weight and length is crucial to selecting the right equipment for your needs.

Draw weight refers to how difficult it is to pull back the bowstring, while draw length refers to how far back you can pull the string before releasing.

To determine draw weight, start by assessing your physical strength level.

If you’re unsure, it’s always best to start with a lower weight until you build up more muscle and stamina. A general rule of thumb is that beginners should start with a draw weight between 20-30 pounds.

To determine draw length, stand up straight with both arms extended out perpendicular from your body with palms facing forward.

Have someone measure from fingertip to fingertip while standing against a wall or door frame.

Divide this measurement by 2.5, which will give an approximate estimate of your draw length. Selecting the right bow and arrows for yourself is essential in achieving optimal performance on the range – so take time choosing what suits you best!

Stringing Your Bow

Getting the bowstring aligned correctly is an important part of setting up your target recurve bow.

Your string has two loops; one small and one large. The larger of the two loops goes on the top of the bow. The smaller one, on the bottom.

To properly attach a bowstring to your recurve bow, it’s best to use a bow stringer.

Start by positioning the pocket end of the stringer over the bottom limb tip. The saddle end of the stringer should then be looped over the other limb and placed just behind the string loop.

Then you simply place your foot on the bow stringer and gently pull up until the loop slips into the string groove in the limb tip.

After this, pull carefully until both ends are seated fully in their respective nocks. To un-string the bow, you just have to do the same procedure, except in reverse.

Adjusting Brace Height for Optimal Performance

Brace height refers to how far away from the throat of your grip or handlebar you hold if you were holding an arrow at full draw.

You can measure brace height by using a brace height gauge from where it meets with your grip’s base to where it meets with a 90-degree line running through its centre point.

A good rule of thumb is that shorter bows require higher brace heights than longer bows. For example, if you have a 66-inch longbow, then its optimal brace height would be around eight inches or so.

On average though most people shoot between six-and-a-half inches up to around nine inches depending on their personal preference; anywhere within this range should be fine as long as there is sufficient clearance between arrow fletchings and riser/sight components.

To adjust the brace height of your recurve bow, start by stringing it up with the bowstring you wish to use and attaching any accessories.

Then, place an arrow on the arrow rest and take a couple of shots at a target. Check to make sure that your arrows are flying straight and true, noting if they fly high or low consistently.

If they’re hitting too high then move your brace height down by one-quarter-inch increments at a time until improvements are noted. You can increase or decrease the brace height by adding or removing twists from the bowstring.

Alternatively, if they’re hitting too low, go up incrementally in brace height until optimizing the height for maximum accuracy and consistency.

Installing Accessories

The Importance of Choosing the Right Accessories

Once you have selected your recurve bow and arrows, it’s time to start thinking about accessories. While not absolutely necessary, accessories like stabilizers and sights can help improve your accuracy and consistency.

Setting Up Your Target Recurve Bow Like A Pro

However, with so many options available on the market, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. When selecting accessories for your recurve bow, it’s important to consider your own personal preferences and shooting style.

For example, if target shooting and competitions are your goals, and you have a tendency to shake when holding the bow steady, a heavier stabilizer might be helpful.

Similarly, if you struggle with aiming or are shooting at longer distances, a sight can provide valuable assistance.


Stabilizers attach to the front of your bow’s riser and help balance the weight of the bow while aiming. They come in different lengths and weights depending on how much stability you need.

Setting Up Your Target Recurve Bow Like A pro

To attach a stabilizer:

1. Unscrew any caps or plugs from the threaded hole on the front of your riser

2. Insert the stabilizer into this hole

3. Tighten it in place with any screws or locking mechanisms included


A sight attaches above your arrow rest and helps guide where you aim by providing visual markers for distance and alignment.

1. Choose a sight that matches the alignment of your eye with the string

2. Screw in any mounting hardware provided

3. Adjust pins or markers as needed based on personal preference

Related: How To Use The Sight On A Recurve Bow

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest is where you place each arrow before shooting it out from your recurve bow.

1. Decide which type of arrow rest aligns with your needs: full-capture vs drop-away.

2. Mount accordingly following specific manufacturer instructions for each model.

Keep in mind that attaching multiple accessories to your bow will affect its balance and weight distribution, so it’s important to experiment with different combinations to find what works best for you.

Related: How To Choose A Recurve Arrow Rest: A Beginner’s Guide

Tuning Your Bow

Paper Tuning

Tuning your recurve bow is essential for achieving optimal accuracy. One of the most popular and effective techniques is paper tuning.

It involves shooting an arrow through a piece of paper to analyze the arrow’s flight path. This technique helps you adjust your bow’s settings to improve performance.

To start, you’ll need a large sheet of paper held up by two objects like chairs or sawhorses. Make sure the bottom of the paper is flush with the ground and the top is level with your shoulders.

Next, stand around 6 feet away from the target with your bow and arrow loaded. Draw back and aim at a spot slightly below the centre of the paper, then release the arrow towards it.

Analyze the hole left in your paper target – if it’s perfectly round and symmetrical, then there’s no need to adjust anything on your bow.

However, if it looks more like a teardrop shape or wider on one side than another, that reveals that something might be off in terms of tuning between your arrows and bow settings.

Walk-Back Tuning

Another popular technique for tuning recurve bows is walk-back tuning which can improve both the horizontal as well as vertical accuracy of arrows.

This process involves shooting multiple arrows at different distances while standing still in one place until all targets are hit accurately enough that no further adjustment becomes necessary.

Starting at around 10 yards away from your target practice area (like a wall), shoot three arrows at once at different spots on said wall or other flat surfaces (like a cardboard box).

Then move back five feet before repeating this process until you reach about 30 yards distance between you and them; adjusting accordingly based upon how far off each shot lands compared to others already fired previously.

These are only two examples of many possible approaches to fine-tuning recurve bows.

Ultimately, the best tuning method will depend on your specific setup and preference, as well as trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques until you find the perfect setup that allows for optimal accuracy and consistency.

Maintenance Tips

Keeping Your Recurve Bow in Top Shape

Once you’ve invested in a quality target recurve bow, it’s important to take good care of it so that it lasts as long as possible. Here are some tips for maintaining your bow:

Clean the Bow Regularly

Dirt and debris can build up on your bow over time, which can cause damage or affect its performance. To prevent this from happening, wipe down your bow regularly with a soft cloth.

You can also use mild soap and water if necessary, but make sure to dry the bow thoroughly afterwards to prevent rust.

Inspect the Bowstring Regularly

The bowstring is one of the most important components of your recurve bow, so it’s essential to keep it in good condition. Check the string frequently for signs of damage, such as fraying or loosening strands.

If you notice any issues, replace the string immediately to avoid causing damage to other parts of the bow.

Related: Why You Should Wax A Recurve Bowstring

Common Issues and How to Address Them

Even with proper maintenance, issues can still arise with your recurve bow from time to time. Here are some common problems and how you can address them:

Sight Alignment Issues

If you’re having trouble with sight alignment on your recurve bow, there are a few things you can try. First, make sure that your peep sight is properly aligned with your sight pins – if not, adjust accordingly until they line up correctly.

You may also need to adjust the height of your arrow rest or stabilizer weights for optimal alignment.

Poor Arrow Flight

Poor arrow flight is often caused by an issue with arrow spine or weight mismatching – check that you’re using arrows that are suitable for both your draw weight and draw length.

You may also need to adjust your arrow rest or nocking point if the issue persists.

Make sure that you’re using the proper release technique – improper technique can cause arrow flight issues as well.

By following these maintenance tips and addressing common issues that may arise with your recurve bow, you can ensure that your equipment is in top shape for every target shooting session.

Related: How To Choose The Right Arrow Spine


How can I improve my recurve archery?

To improve your recurve archery, focus on consistent practice, proper form, and technique. Seek guidance from experienced archers or coaches, set specific goals, and analyze your shots to identify areas for improvement.

What poundage should a recurve bow be?

The appropriate poundage of a recurve bow depends on your physical strength and shooting experience. It’s best to start with a lower poundage and gradually increase as your skills develop.

Is it OK to keep a recurve bow strung?

It’s generally not recommended to keep a recurve bow strung for extended periods, as it can lead to bow deformation and loss of power. Ideally, unstring the bow when not in use to maintain its longevity.

Do you aim a recurve bow?

Yes, archers aim a recurve bow using various methods, such as using sights or traditional aiming techniques.


Setting up your target recurve bow like a pro is crucial for achieving optimal performance and accuracy.

By selecting the right equipment, setting up your bowstring, installing accessories, tuning your bow, and maintaining it properly, you can ensure that your recurve bow will help you hit the bullseye every time you shoot.

So take the time to learn about each step in setting up your bow properly – even if it takes a little extra effort at first – because the end result will be well worth it.