Shooting an Olympic style recurve bow is frustrating but rewarding. It takes years of practice to achieve the consistency of top archers, but success starts with a good foundation and sound basics.
When stepping to the shooting line, recurve archers usually position their feet for an even stance or open stance. The even stance is simpler. Archers align their feet so that if they drew a line across their toes it would point at the target.
In contrast, archers using an open stance move the foot nearest the target outward toward their back to open their torso to the target. This stance requires more attention aligning the shoulders because the body is open to the target instead of perpendicular (90 degrees) to it. Archers who choose the even stance align their feet, hips and shoulders in one plane. The open stance gives the feeling of more power because of the torso’s twisting motion.
Shooting is generally easier for archers if they can hold an upright and straight posture. Standing straight and rotating the head is a repeatable motion that creates little strain.
Archers who hunch their back and over-twist their shoulders in relation to their hips can cause back and shoulder problems if they’re not strong. Another common mistake is arching the lower back; this move can cause back pain and, after lots of shooting, might require treatment ranging from therapeutic massage to physical therapy.
Hooking and Releasing
“Hooking the string” means placing your fingers around the bowstring. This move can be done with a shallow hook or deep hook, but it must be consistently repeatable for every shot. Changing finger pressure above or below the nock affects where the arrow strikes and, in extreme cases, changes the bow’s tuning.
The arrow must be released with a relaxed hand and fingers while maintaining back tension for the follow-through. As with pretty much everything in archery, each release must be consistent to ensure accuracy.
Expansion Through the Clicker
Pulling through the clicker can be done several ways, but comes down to three methods: pulling, pushing, and push-pull expansion. In pulling, archers keep their bow arm static while most of the motion is a pull through the clicker.
In pushing, archers come to anchor, hold their anchor static, and push the riser toward the target to come through the clicker. The push-pull expansion combines the other methods: archers pull with the bowstring and push with the bow arm to expand the draw length in both directions. Archers usually experiment with each method to learn which one works best, and choose the one that’s most easily repeatable and highest scoring.
After the shot, archers should continue the motion that back tension generated to get through the clicker. It’s much like golf, tennis, and baseball players swinging through the ball. The drawing arm and bow arm should continue in the direction they pushed or pulled to finish the shot. Static shots and aborted follow-throughs transfer less energy to the arrow, which stifles consistency.
Those five steps are the basics for helping recurve archers get started. As archers evolve and shoot at higher levels, they slightly modify their basic form to accommodate their unique shooting styles. Archery does not dictate one, absolute way to shoot arrows. A quick survey of top recurve archers proves many shooting styles consistently score 10s. Ultimately, it means executing shots consistently.