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How to aim a recurve bow

Table of Contents

Beginner archers often wonder how to aim a recurve bow properly. It’s a common scenario to see archers starting out to think about the right way to aim.

Aiming a recurve bow is a challenging task since archery is a combination of multiple tasks at once. However, with the proper technique and practice, you can drastically improve your accuracy and notice a huge improvement.

In this guide, I will take you through the recurve aiming technique you need in order to be ahead of the competition. I know you are excited to learn more about aiming, so let’s get to the point.

If you’re new here you can learn about the basics of recurve archery in our Recurve Shot Cycle and Recurve Archery Basics guide. Then, you can learn How To Train for Archery and find specific archery drills and exercises in our Drills & Bow Training Library and Archery Exercises Library. You can also find loads of detailed videos on our Online Archery Academy YouTube Channel. And lastly, if you’re interested in private coaching you can read about our online recurve archery coaching.

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Understanding the recurve aiming technique

Recurve archers use a sight. This gives you a more precise aiming and in the end, will make your shot more consistent.

So what exactly are the recurve aiming techniques you need to learn?

Open both of your eyes and focus on the target

The majority of archers use both eyes when aiming and you should too. You need to open both of your eyes while looking at the target.

You should see the target clearly while the sight pin will look blurry. Doing the opposite will make you drift your arm away from the target.

Lock in your vision towards the target and you will see that the sight will form a faint outline of the target in front of you.

Moreover, shooting with both eyes open will give you a wider field of view. It will also increase your spatial awareness.

However, if you have an eye dominance issue (ex. You are right-handed but, left-eye dominant or vice-versa), then it might be necessary to close one of your eyes to aim clearly.

If you have an eye dominance problem and you are shooting with both your eyes, you will be off target.

Let your sight float around the target

There is an innate feeling for beginner archers to stabilize their bow arm and bring the sight pin to the gold as much as possible but, this is not ideal.

Trying hard to keep your sight on the gold circle introduces tension to your bow arm. It will also shift the focus on the target itself instead of you, taking care of your form.

A floating aim around the aiming spot is good for you since you are shooting in a more relaxed way. Doing so will relieve unnecessary tension in your body that will impact your shot. And you’ll be able to shoot with better timing and more fluid technique.

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Have a consistent string picture

The string picture is the term used to describe the blurry image of the string that is near you when you set your anchor. It can either go to the left of the riser body, besides the actual body, or a little bit to the right

However, the position of the string picture does not matter much. What matters most is that it falls in the same place every time you set your anchor.

Having an inconsistent string picture (either it goes to the left or right from time to time) will affect your shot. Your arrows will also end up to the left or right of the gold circle.

Now, you should not focus on the string picture that much since a solid anchor will give you a consistent string position.

Pre-aim as you set your shot

One mistake rookie archers do is to aim immediately while setting up the shot. Pre-aiming is where you position your sight at a different position, the setup position. You will then move your sight pin to the gold circle as you draw into your anchor.

The most common pre-aim position is at 2 o’clock of the red circle when you’re at setup. Then your sight will naturally go down to the gold as you pull the string and come into full draw.

Pre-aiming varies from one archer to another. Some might pre-aim higher while others work with very little movement. It’s very personal.

Just to add, check out these archery drills. One drill that you should be doing at home is the setup repeats drill. Doing this drill will help you understand how to aim a recurve bow properly by pre-aiming at your setup position.

This drill will let you replicate your shooting motion in a safe environment. Do this regularly and observe that your bow hand goes down from the upper right as you pull the bow.

Follow through with your aiming

Aiming happens until the arrow lands on the target. Yes, even if the arrow has left your bow, you still need to focus and look at the target and not allow your eye focus to wander around.

This part is essential as it ensures that your arrow direction is good. It is also done to make sure that there are no small movements made during the release that might affect your aim at the last minute.

Watch the video below of Ki Bo Bae, South Korean Olympic champion, to see what I mean. Notice how her eyes are fixed on target even long after the release.

Try different sight pins or try an open-sight ring

If you are having difficulty relaxing and you keep on over-aiming, try to use an open-sight ring. This type of sight has no pin in the middle.

Using an open sight lets you focus on the target more since there is no small pin to distract you. All you would see is a blurry round figure hovering over the gold circle.

Since you can see the circle clearly without any obstructions, you may then focus on your body and form as you shoot more easily. As you learn how to focus on your shot feeling more, you may be able to move back to a sight pin with a dot in the middle after some time. But again, there is some personal preference involved here.

The Bottomline: How to aim a recurve bow

The best recurve archery aiming technique is to let it come naturally and focus more on your movement than on your aiming. It may sound ridiculous but the more you force it, the harder it gets.

If you try to aim too much, your focus will be on the target instead of your form and your shot will be more rigid and tense. It’s better to just play it out naturally, focusing on form, and the setup, whilst using a strong eye focus on your aiming spot to allow your subconscious to aim for you.

It might be challenging at first, but in the end, it will be worth it. Recurve aiming will then be second nature to your archery technique.

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