Recurve Archery Basics


Good recurve archery technique is about repeating the basics well. Before you dive in, let us be clear. There is more than one way to shoot and there is no such thing as ‘perfect technique’. Everyone’s technique is slightly different because everyone has a different body. 

Importantly, there is not one exact technique which suits everyone. You can not copy someone’s form to allow you to achieve your goals and magically improve your scores overnight. Most of the technique is demonstrated on this website using pictures or videos of my shooting. However, like everyone, not every part of my technique is perfect and you shouldn’t simply try to copy this technique down to every detail.

Success in recurve archery comes from mastering the basics, and continually striving to improve your personal technique. This technique must be based on the correct recurve shooting principles which you use in a way suited to your body.

You should be aware, good technique is impossible if your bow weight is too heavy for you. This is by far the most common roadblock to the majority of archers. Take a look at our recommendations about this on our training introduction page, How To Train for Archery. We also have extensive libraries of archery exercises and bow training exercises

These principles are shown within the stages of the shot which all top archers have in common. We have tried to highlight these key stages throughout, as well as provide you with all the finer details. These stages form the basic structure for the shot, which is known as The Shot Cycle.

If you do not follow these stages, it will be much less likely you will perform to your potential. These stages all serve one ultimate purpose:


Release execution is not only the release of the fingers from the string. It does include this, but we are talking about what happens in the whole body at the moment of release.

A great coach understands the principles of good basic technique and will know how to improve your technique in a way suited to you, following key principles.


Throughout this website there is a lot of information. It is likely you won’t be able to take in everything at once. Developing the feeling of some of the finer aspects of archery technique takes years. Be realistic with what you are working on and your expectations of progress.

Work on the basics of each part of the recurve archery shot cycle before worrying about the fine details of technique. Also, work in a logical order. For example, make sure you are clear on how to achieve and maintain good posture consistently, before you spend weeks trying to improve your set position. You wouldn’t try to build a skyscraper without solid foundations, would you?

We’ve tried to provide everything you need to improve your archery on this website, but there are always questions. If you don’t know whether you are performing something correctly, start by reviewing the 6 key stages of the shot cycle. Use these as your guide. Feel free to contact us with any questions too.

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The recurve shot sequence consists of key stages as we’ve mentioned. It’s extremely important to make sure to blend these into one smooth shot. There should be no stop in your movement through the shot. If you master the basics first, it will be much easier to maintain a smooth recurve technique.

Sometimes this can be confusing, with terms like “Set Position” and “Anchor”. Even when you hear terms like these, remember that you never stop movement through the shot. You should think about these stages as checkpoints where motion slows down slightly. You never pause or stop.

This is easier said than done. Sometimes, you can be trying so hard to position your body correctly that you lose movement and direction. It is important to remember, recurve archery is not about the position you can obtain. It is about dynamic movement. The reason we try to get a certain position is to make this movement easier and more consistent.

When working on new technique for the first time, use a band or light bow with drills before using your normal bow. This will allow you to maintain the fluid movement in your shot more easily. This is crucial if you are working on a large structural change, like shoulder alignment. Because there is less weight to pull, you will find it easier to develop the correct feeling and muscle memory. The risk of injury is much lower too.