If you’re just getting started in archery, it can be hard to keep up with all of the rules, tools, and methods for properly enjoying this sport. Even something as simple as a standard recurve bow can seem foreign, at least until you take the time to do a little studying. In this guide, we’ll cover the parts of a recurve bow, including how they work and why they matter.
We’ll start with the basics, making sure to cover all of the different elements and provide helpful tools and tips along the way. Plus, we’ll also dig into the details and help you understand how to find the perfect recurve bow for your shooting needs. First up, let’s take a look at the major parts of the bow.
Table of Contents
What Are the Parts of a Recurve Bow?
On a recurve bow, you’ve got about a dozen parts to learn. We’ll discuss them all here, and you can check out this handy graphic from Bow Judge that provides an easy-to-read diagram of a standard recurve bow.
- Limbs: The limbs are the pieces of wood, carbon fiber, or fiberglass that are attached to the top and bottom of the riser. The limbs are responsible for storing the energy when the bowstring is pulled back and then releasing the energy and directing the arrow when the string is released. There are different methods for fitting limbs and creating the right stiffness, but most people choose international limb fittings, or ILFs, to ensure universal compatibility.
- Riser: This is the part of the bow where almost all the components are located. It also is where you’ll find the riser grip, which we’ll discuss next. The riser is generally made from aluminum or high-quality carbon fiber to prevent damage or issues caused by humidity that come from using wood in this part.
- Riser Grip: This is the handle, or where you hold the bow while you are shooting. The grip needs to be comfortable for archers to have the best chances of pulling off the shot. You can find aftermarket grips to offer a better hold, but you’ll want to test them before purchase.
- Bowstring: This is the cord that attaches to each of the limbs and helps transfer the energy from the bow into the arrow as it is fired. This string can be composed of several different materials and have a variety of thicknesses.
- Serving: This is a cord that is wrapped around the bowstring near the middle to create a place to nock the arrow using the prongs or plastic ends of the arrow.
- Plunger: This is the pressure button that is capable of adjusting the horizontal spin of the arrow to help improve its precision as it moved towards the target.
- Clicker: The clicker is a piece of steel, usually in the form of a strip or spring, that makes an audible “click” noise when the arrow is drawn back before the bow is fired. The noise indicates that the draw length is accurate and the archer can release the arrow.
- Stabilizer System: Every good bow includes a stabilizer system that helps provide smooth balance both during and after each shot. This system absorbs the vibrations and reduces noise, and can come with or without a dampener. It’s important to choose a good stabilizer system, but not to overdo it. The technique is still more important.
- V-Bar: The v-bar is part of the stabilizer system that helps connect the main rod to the side rods to secure the entire unit to the riser.
- Sight: The sight is a device that can be attached to the riser to help offer more consistency in your shots. It offers an adjustable pin to help improve your accuracy and give you better aim when firing off a lot of shots in a row.
- Arrows Rest: This is the plastic or metal piece that is attached to the riser that is where the arrow rests while the string is drawn back by the archer.
Why This Matters
Of course, you might be wondering why you need to know all of the different components of a recurve bow. If you’re just getting started, you might buy a stock model that doesn’t require modification, saving you the effort. However, you should still know your equipment so that you can become the best possible archer and have the right bow for every occasion.
Every part of the bow plays an important role, which is why choosing the right parts matters. It will determine the accuracy and power of your shots, and it will give you the right equipment to perfect your own skills. If you are shooting with the wrong bow, or even have the wrong combination of parts on a recurve bow, you could face several different issues.
The most basic issue, of course, is the fact that you will lose power and accuracy without the right components. However, you could also cause damage to the bow or cause it to wear out sooner if you aren’t using the right parts.
Is It Okay to Keep a Recurve Bow Strung?
So, given all the parts of this bow, you may be wondering if it’s okay to keep it strung when it isn’t in use. Depending on the type of bow that you have, you should be able to keep the bow strung at least throughout the day for shooting. In the long-term, recurve bows should be unstrung for long-term storage.
What Is a Recurve Bow?
This is probably one of the most familiar bows in the world of modern archery, identified by the curved ends and the fact that they’re the only type of bow allowed to be used in the Olympic games. This bow is also used in field archery, bowhunting, and 3D archery.
The original design was a single, solid piece. Today, the design has evolved and there are now models that come in three parts, known as “takedown” bows. They are better-suited for adaptability and easy transportation and offer more versatility than the standard selection.
The other important innovation with recurve bows is that models are available specifically for right- and left-handed shooters. Traditional bows were designed to be held in either hand but modern bows and risers have designs to improve accuracy and skill-based on handedness for even better precision.
Fortunately, for new archers, modern bows typically come with a string and all of the parts that you need already attached. So, you can buy a setup that doesn’t require a lot of thought until you get the hang of things. However, if you want to set yourself up for success, it’s best to learn on the bow you’re going to be using in the long term. Speaking of which, let’s discuss a little bit about how to choose the right bow.
Choosing Your Recurve Bow
Now that you have a better understanding of what these bows are and what the different parts involve, it should be easier for you to shop for your own. Of course, you might still be unsure about the various factors and how to choose. Here are some tips to help.
- Draw Length: This is a critical element. You have to choose a draw length that works for you and that fits the bow at the same time.
- Height: Your recurve bow should be the draw length plus an extra 40 inches. Most recurve bows measure between 66 and 72 inches for adults.
- Riser: Choose a riser that has the features that you want. Check out different materials, as well as the features of the riser and how it fits in your hand. The grip is one of the most integral parts of your shot, after all. Wood and carbon risers are lighter, which may require additional stabilization, while aluminum is more durable.
- Try It Out: One of the biggest things that you can do is to test a bow in your hands. Sure, online shopping is great, but if you’ve got the opportunity to head to a store and hold a recurve bow, do it. This will give you the chance to get an exact feel for what you are choosing, helping you to make a better buying decision. No matter how good a bow looks, it may not feel right in your hands. Archery takes a lot of precision and hands-on skill and that starts with using your hands to select the right recurve bow.
Classic Goes Modern, If You Want
The larger reason that recurve bows remain popular is because they are simple and traditional. However, the advances in technology and modern designs are changing the way that people see and use these bows. Taking the time to get to know them will make it easier for you to find what you need. Remember to consider all of the parts, and especially the grip and size of the bow, so that you can develop the best form and skill possible.