How To Aim A Recurve Bow – Step by Step Instructions

Wondering how to aim a recurve bow? You came to the right place. By the time you finish here, you will have a good understanding of how to aim with a recurve bow, with a sight, or without one.

And a few mistakes with aiming you should avoid.

So take a few minutes to read this and go out and practice as much as you can.

So, how do you aim a recurve bow? Here is the quick version:

With both of your eyes open you imagine a line connecting the tip of your arrow to just above the desired target, then you release the bowstring.

To put it into a few more words.

You aim with the recurve bow by pointing it towards the target and by focusing both of your eyes on the target, not your arrow. It is best to point your bow and arrow toward the target. While it’s pointed towards the target you focus your eyes on the target and you imagine a line connecting your arrow with the target. When the imaginary line is aligned with the center of the target or just above it you release the bowstring.

So what are some aiming mistakes you should avoid? We will get to those mistakes in a moment. For now, let’s cover the basics in a little more detail.

How Do You Aim A Recurve Bow?

Now we will look at how to aim a recurve bow with no sight and later how to aim correctly with a sight. Even with a sight, there are some procedures to follow to ensure tight groupings.

As with almost everything in archery the aiming of the recurve bow rests on the proper form of the archer.

Let’s break this down step by step.

Step 1: Stand On The Shooting Line

Stand on the shooting line. If you are right-handed that would mean your left shoulder and the left side of your left foot is pointing toward the target. Or putting it simply, you are perpendicular to the target.

Step 2: Get Into The Correct Posture

Get into the correct posture. This means a straight-back, relaxed posture with your head turned towards the target. Your left hand is holding the bow on the ground while your right arm is free and loose.

Step 3: Nock The Arrow

Take the arrow out of your quiver and nock it to the bowstring, while the front end of the arrow goes on the rest on the left side of your bow.

Step 4: Grip The Bowstring With Your Fingers

With your right hand, place your right index finger above the nocked arrow and your middle and ring fingers below the arrow. You will be using the Mediterranean draw. It’s the one you were most likely taught. If you want to check how to use the thumb draw then click here for detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use the thumb draw.

Step 5: Raise The Bow

While the three fingers of your right hand are gripping the bowstring, you raise the bow with your left hand and you extend your left arm (your bow arm) fully.

Step 6: Draw The Bowstring To Your Anchor Point

With your left arm fully extended and holding the bow, you pull the bowstring back with your three fingers from your right hand. You draw the bow right up to your anchor point. It can be just below your neck or right next to the corner of your mouth. If you wish, step 6 can be done simultaneously as step 5.

The main thing is, that your anchor point is always the same! This will ensure tight groupings and will aid in your accuracy.

Step 7: Aim And Release

Now you aim. Both of your eyes are focused on the target in front of you. You see the arrow with your peripheral vision and you mentally project a straight line from your arrow to the center of the target. And when the imaginary line connects your arrow to the center of the target … You release.

That’s it. The 7 steps on how to aim a recurve bow without a sight.

An important thing to keep in mind!

The One Thing You Should Keep In Mind While Aiming

Its distance. Obviously, as the arrow moves from the bow to the target it tends to lose altitude due to gravity. Meaning the longer the distance the more the arrow “sinks” during flight.

So, how do you compensate for that? You aim a little higher. On shorter distances up to 30 yards, the loss of altitude is negligible. But if you are shooting at larger distances up to 70 meters you will need to compensate for that by aiming a little higher.

How high? I would love to give you an exact equation like for every meter of distance you aim a millimeter higher but no such thing applies.

It comes down to trial and error when it comes to how high you aim. Assuming no winds you should quickly find out how much higher to aim after a few rounds of shooting simply by observing where your arrows land.

And you adjust if needed based on where your arrows have landed.

How To Aim A Recurve Bow Using A Sight

You can aim a recurve bow with a sight in two ways. The first way is active where you are trying to align the center of your sight with the center of the target. The second way is passive, where you are trying to align the shape of your sight with the shape of the target.

Here is how it looks.

Looking through an archery sight

In the active case, the focus is on the center of the target so everything else sort of blurs out. The other, passive way means the focus is on the shape of the target meaning the center blurs out.

So which one is better? In my opinion, both have their merits, it’s up to you to figure out which one is better for you by observing your result while firing actively or passively.

Mistakes To Avoid While Aiming With A Recurve Bow

Having One Eye Closed

This tends to be common among beginners. And it’s aiming with one eye. I would advise you against doing that. I see no benefit in doing that and it can only harm you, not benefit you.

One thing to keep in mind. The professionals in the Olympics, for example, shoot with both of their eyes open.

Archers shooting a recurve bow

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Having Sloppy Form

In archery, form comes first. So everything flows from that. So make sure your posture is correct and you have the same anchor point. If you miss something as basic as that your aim will suffer.


This is also a newbie move. It’s when an archer disregards the standard shooting procedure and raises his bow with the arrow knocked and tries aligning the arrow with the target and only then does he draw the bow.

The purpose here is to increase the accuracy. Which does not happen. When you align the bow with that target and only then do you draw the bowstring it becomes harder to keep the bow aligned with the target.

Avoid doing that and focus on the correct form. meaning you raise the bow and draw it at the same time and then you align it.

It’s easier that way.

What If Your Arrows Fly To The Right When Shooting With A Recurve Bow?

If your arrows are shooting to the right when firing with a recurve bow there are 2 common causes for that.

  1. Your arrows. Either they are too stiff. Consult your local archery shop with the matter and see if they can recommend arrows with a more suitable spine. Or, the vanes on your arrows are hitting the bow upon release, which alters the trajectory of the arrow.
  2. Your form. Meaning upon release your fingers dont release the bowstring correctly, thus making the bowstring oscillate left to right too much which in turn transfers that movement to the arrow which in turn affects its flight.

If you continually have this problem, check your arrows and your form. It’s most likely the arrow or your form.

In Conclusion

Aiming a recurve bow is generally easy to do as you practice. Follow the simple steps outlined here and with enough practice, you will be shooting tighter and tighter groupings and hitting some bullseye along the way.

If you want to take a look at some cool recurve Bows on Amazon then simply click here, it will take you to Amazon where you can take your pick. But if you want to continue reading, might I suggest a detailed breakdown of every part of the bow? Click here to get to that article and see what is the purpose behind every part of your bow.

Take care

Recent Posts