How to Aim a Recurve Bow (Detailed Guide For Noobs)

I’ve got to admit, archery is an excellent sport, and shooting an arrow is a marvelous feeling, even though you completely miss the target.

That might sound like a bit of hyperbole to newcomers, but that’s the truth, as passionate archers know well.

However, it should go without saying that one ought never to begin working with bows and arrows until they know how to aim properly.

You see, from seasonal veterans to neophytes, learning how to aim can take some time.

And your aim is vital, whether you are hunting or shooting, or perhaps practicing target shooting.

Since you’ll be dealing with Recurve bows most of the time, I have mentioned all about aiming with a recurve bow in this article.

That said, I am anticipating that you’ve selected a proper bow with correct measurements and necessary accessories.

So once you are ready with your materials and your target it up, let’s do some aiming.

Let’s Talk a Bit About Aiming

Let’s Talk a Bit About Aiming

Archery, in most cases, primarily consists of Aimed Shooting and Instinctive Shooting.

That is generally deciphered as shooting with sights and shooting without sights.

You can use either method, but it mostly depends on how you are comfortable with the forms.

With that in mind, sights are more famous than ever, but there are a lot of guys like me who are intrigued with the challenge of aiming instinctively and shooting.

So I’ll go over both.

Aiming with Sights

Aiming with Sights

One of the easiest and straightforward ways to aim is none other than with sight.

Having said that, aiming with sight still requires the same consistency and proclivity to the training as aiming without sight.

The only difference here will be the aid of sights, and you’ll be able to aim correctly and shoot precisely.

Using a sight is pretty natural. All you have to do is find your target, focus on the target using your dominant eye, orient the bow in such a manner that when you look through the sight, the line of sight target meets with the pin.

That’s it! You’re good to go if you consistently do that.

To quickly give an overview about aiming with sights, here are some steps that you need to follow.

  • Get your bow and arrow ready.
  • Scope from the center of the pin of the sight, and ensure that you aim with your dominant eye.
  • Next, draw the arrow, and release it on the target.
  • Once the arrow hits the target, check where it landed! See how close your arrow was to the center.
  • If you want to adjust to the sight, remember this phrase, “Follow the Arrow” or “Chase the Arrow.” (more on this in a bit)
  • Keep practicing.

Follow the Arrow

In many instances, you’ll find that sight is not very accurate. Sometimes your arrows will be going left, right, above, or below the bull’s eye or whatever target, you are shooting at.

Therefore, you will need to readjust how your sight gets aligned with your target.

For that, you’ll have to follow your arrow. By this, I mean, if your arrow is landing to the left of your target, you should adjust your sight to the left.

Similarly, if your arrow is hitting above the target, raise your scope, and they’ll land lower the next time you shoot.

This method is imperative to understand how to tune your scope, especially if you’ve just gotten into archery.

Some Additional Details to Keep in Mind

  • You’ll find a ton of different bow sights on the market, and many of which are very sophisticated. If you’ve just stepped foot into the domain of archery, don’t go for the fancy products — they’ll drain your pocket. A simple bow sight will work wonders.
  • You’ll find multiple pin sights that are useful for shooting different targets at varying ranges. However, these sights are suitable for compound bow users that want to get into hunting. For recurve archers, it’s not much of use since you’ll be shooting at steady targets.

Aiming Without Sights

Aiming Without Sights

Though this might sound perplexing to tyros, it’s an easy and simple method.

You don’t have to aim with sights, instead shoot with the naked eye.

This method requires you to get very well acclimatized with your stance, form, position, and style.

That said since most beginner archers have not developed a sight to aim at the centre, this type of practising is primarily ideal for them.

  • All you have to do is get ready with your bow and arrows, form your target, and shoot.
  • Next, check your arrow to see how close you were to the centre.
  • Now, adjust your anchor point and try shooting again.
  • If it hits lower, you’ll have to position your arrow slightly higher the next time and vice versa.
  • Keep repeating till you get used to the positions.

When I talk about aiming without sight, the term Instinctive Archery makes sense.

Generally, instinctive are well versed with the experience, let alone their subconscious. Therefore, they can easily connect their arrow with the target without a hitch.

Yeah, some may say some sort of mystical art, or others opine that it has a scientific approach.

But honestly, I think it’s all about practice and getting familiarised with the style and flow. Remember, proper practice makes the man perfect.

So should you Ditch Sights and Practice Shooting Instinctively?

Well, that depends; instinctive archery has been part of the world for hundreds and thousands of years.

It has been practised the most and is mostly the traditional type of archery as the scope is always missing.

You’ll find longbows, recurve bows, and wood bows used for practising instinctive shooting.

I’ll deviate a bit; allow me some digression.

You see, instinctive shooting is like playing basketball. When you are shooting the hoops, you don’t actually spend time gauging the distance and the speed.

All you do is simply pick the ball and shoot.

Therefore, an instinctive shooter will not gauge the distance and gap. They’ll just simply draw their bows and fix it on the target and shoot.

However, an instinctive shot will not be as consistent as a meticulously planned shot, but it works wonders for many casual shooters and hunters.

A good instinctive archer can land their arrow on the target from 50 yards — without even peeping a sight. Now, that’s purely a skill that far outweighs the archers who use sight instruments.

Generally, in instinctive aiming, there are two types of methods: Gap Shooting and Instinctive Shooting.

Both of which, I’ll explain shortly, but first understand the basics of aiming and archery.

How to Aim with a Recurve Bow

Now that you are acquainted with the aims, let’s understand the fundamental way of aiming with a recurve bow.


One of the most vital parts of your aiming is your Stance. You should stand perpendicular to the target.

So if you are left-handed, your right hip should be pointed towards the target and vice versa.

Now, you should ensure that you’re not leaning in any way possible — always keep your body and position straight.

On either side of the shooting line, make sure your feet are shoulder-wide apart.

Keep your shoulder relaxed.

Next, turn your head towards the target — ensure that you are not turning the rest of your body with you.

Bow Gripping

Now it’s time to hold the bow. Ensure that you are holding it in your dominant hand.

Since you’ll be using a recurve bow, they offer a handle where you can firmly grip the bow.

There is no need to clutch the bow; by holding tightly, you are just increasing the chances of inaccurate shooting.

However, keep in mind your knuckles should be around a 45-degrees angle on the bow when you are holding the grip.

Make sure to stay relaxed and calm; this way, all your movements will be smooth and fluid.

Arrow Loading

Okay, let’s load the arrow; all you have to do is fit the notch to the arrow’s end on the string.

You can also do this before even lifting the bow and drawing the string.

Bow Drawing

Now get ready with your dominant hand, lock the elbow and keep it straight while lifting the bow.

As you are locking your elbow, drawing the bow will be naturally more effortless for you.

Next, pull the string back and ensure that you are drawing it far enough till your hand is under your jaws and the string is touching your face.

Now you are ready with your anchor point.

Once you keep shooting and get used to it, you may use your back muscles rather than arm muscles.


You’ve drawn your bow, and you are perfect with your stance. Your body is opposite or at 90 degrees to the target, and your face is turned towards the target and not your body.

Well, let’s aim then, shall we?

Now you have to adjust your aim towards the target.

In case you are using sights, look through the scope and try to position the pinpoint at the center of your target.

On the other hand, if you are not using sights, try to look down the arrow and adjust the arrowhead toward the target.

Either way, make sure that you are using your dominant eye.

Though while reading this may sound sluggish, but it should happen very fast.

And you better make sure not to take too long just to aim as your arm can start to shake, and your stance might wrap.


Now’s the time you and I’ve been waiting for.

Once everything is ready and good to go, release your arrow gently by releasing your fingers.

The motion should be very gentle, like the way you are relaxing from the strings.

Ensure not to change your position till you see your arrow landing on the target.

Keep track of where your arrows are landing, and try to improve your accuracy by following the appropriate steps.

So if your arrows are not in the center and say — are consistently landing on the right.

Then you may need to cross-check your stance and try to correct it.

Once you are ready, shoot again.

Keep repeating till you get acclimatized with your stance and overall feel.

Basics of Archery

Now that you are aware of aiming to get better at any sports, you’ll need to master the fundamentals.

These fundamentals are essential if you’re new to sports and want to learn any type of archery.


Until now, you should know how crucial stance is; however, let me run it for you.

If you want to be a great archer and want to master archery, the stance is the first and right thing you’ll need to understand and learn.

So for stance, you’ll need to stand perpendicular or 90 degrees towards your target.

Your foot should be in line with the target when you are standing.

Ensure that your less dominant foot should be aligned, meaning if you are right-handed, your left foot, and left-handed, your right foot.

You will figure out how correct your stance is when you get good at archery.

Shot Sequence

Basically, shot sequence means each step taken after the end of your shot.

To get good at archery, you should practice your shot sequence. You should make sure you’re shot sequence is constant all the time.

Maintaining your shot sequence after each shot is imperative in archery. After some time and practice, you’ll be able to achieve it automatically.

How to Hold Your Bow Properly

You should never hold your bow tightly; instead, it should rest on your hand till you shoot.

When you start practicing, you should really keep this in mind as a lot of fledglings make such a common mistake.

And you should practice and master this before you shoot your arrow.

How to Properly Shoot Your Arrow

There are many ways you can draw your arrow, and it is an art itself.

Generally, while drawing the arrow, most use three fingers: Index, Ring, and Middle finger.

These three fingers are held in different styles for different shots.

When you use these three fingers, the draw is typically called the “Mediterranean” draw.

Moreover, there are two types of Mediterranean draws.

  • Three Under:- In this style, you are drawing the arrow with three fingers under the arrow, just as the term suggests.
  • Split Shooting:- As the name implies, you are splitting your fingers and using the index finger on the top of the arrow. At the same time, the middle and ring fingers are under or at the bottom of your arrow.

Anchor Point

Anchor Point is the state of your body or posture when you pull the strings to make a shot. To reach the anchor point before shooting, you’ll generally fully draw or stretch the string.

Gap Shooting

With the rest sorted out, let’s look at what Gap Shooting is.

Gap shooting is the method where you point the arrow to where you want it to go and compensate for any deviation that might come.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Let me develop it further.

When you shoot an arrow, one force acting on your arrow is gravity if you are ignoring the air dragging over it. Thus your arrow becomes a parabolic trajectory.

Therefore, a parabolic shot means that your arrow will land below when you shoot it if you move a step backward from the target. Similarly, if you move forwards, your arrow will land above the target.

An archer needs to rehearse commonly to comprehend his shooting range.

If you keep practicing, you’ll slowly develop a better idea and automatically feel where to stand so your arrow can land on the target.

There is a term called “Point on” in gap shooting.

When you are standing at the point on, it means that you are standing precisely at the point to land your arrow on the target. So your arrow will go up and land directly on the target.

Likewise, if you are standing away from it, your arrow will plunge before landing on the target.

Similarly, if you are closer, your arrow will fly above the target.

And that’s how gap shooting works. An important thing to note is different bows will have a different point on.

Therefore, to master archery, you’ll need to practice with your bow and find out its point on. Once you get a different bow, it will be hard for you to land shots since the point on will be different for other bows.

Instinctive Shooting

I don’t feel the need to explicitly explain to you what exactly instinctive shooting is as you’ve read it till here.

Still, I will shed some light again.

Consider instinctive shooting as look at your target, get your bow and arrow, and shoot.

Meaning simply see and shoot, there is no aiming involved.

Once you keep practicing, it will be in your instinct, and you will not have to aim to hit your target.

Eventually, by getting a good hold of shooting like this, you’ll be a great archer.

It’s like throwing a ball to hit a target; after intense practice, you’ll automatically learn it.

Your body and you will automatically pick up and figure out with consequent practice.

That’s what happens in instinctive archery; your body adapts to the movements that will ensure you land your shot on the target.

However, as a fact, you cannot aim while you are competing, don’t even look at it; it should come from your instincts.

You see, there’s a reason for such a name.

Closing Thoughts

Archery is a fantastic sport — there is a ton of fun involved, let alone health benefits. The best part is, the sport is for anyone.

You can practice it indoors or outdoors, hone your skill, and master your shooting skills.

Plus, archery is not bound to any place or season; you can practice it anywhere in the world, given that you are ensuring the safety of yourself and others.

Archery comes with many benefits, and trust me, it is one of the best sports to practice.

And now that you know how to aim with a recurve bow, with some possible insights on different aiming styles. I am sure that you are ready to go and practice.

Personally, I am addicted to instinctive shooting style, comment down which one you love and why along with any qualms that you have.

Till then, take care, stay safe, and keep hitting the bull’s eye.