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Target Recurve Archery

Without a doubt my target recurve archery has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few months but I am unsure whether it is due to natural progression of whether the technical changes I have made to my shooting style have kicked in.

recurve archery target shooting

I have made some small but significant changes to my shooting style and I think they have made a massive difference to my consistency. What I have realised is that rather than changing lots of things at the same time it is better that I change one thing and groove that into my style before moving onto the next.

The main thing that seems to have made the biggest difference is my follow through; whereas before it was shorter and quicker it now is longer and smoother. What I always try and achieve now are the following:

  1. after I release I try to remain relaxed and still until the arrow hits the target
  2. I shoot with one eye closed and I try to keep the this eye-closed until the arrow hits the target
  3. I really concentrate on having a relaxed grip so that the bow falls naturally and easily away from the hand after the shot

The Technical Stuff

A big problem within target recurve archery shooting, as with a lot of other sports, is that people get blinded by the tech. They get stuck in a mindset where better equipment, or ‘stuff’, is going to make them a better archer. NO! The only way to improve is through practice, buying the latest piece of tech is not going to make you any better, just a little poorer!

I am a golfer and I know for a fact that my £30 driver will get me as far as a £700 driver. Why, because I am not good enough to take advantage of what a £700 driver can really offer me. The only way this will happen is if I improve my game.

I know that £500 limbs on my bow would not significantly improve my recurve archery target shooting over my used £100 limbs. But what I do know is that when my archery improves enough the more expensive limbs will give me an advantage at the longer range.

The Point of This Article

If you don’t go down the route of buying more and more tech what can you do to improve your target recurve archery shooting? Well I have listed 11 simple tips that I think will have the most effect on your archery.

  1. Ensure you use a weight of limb that you are comfortable with. There is no point trying to draw a weight that you simply can’t handle. Yes you might be OK for a few shots but think how long you have to shoot for in a competition, are you going to be able to continue pulling that weight right to the end?
  2. If your riser grip is uncomfortable change it. Much the same with any sporting equipment, be it hand held or worn, if it doesn’t feel comfortable then it will only distract you when you need absolute concentration. Simply changing the riser probably wont affect your scoring but it certainly wont worsen it.recurve target archery riser
  3. Ensure your arrows are the right spine and length for your bow. Follow our Archery arrow charts carefully.
  4. Having a ‘quiet’ bow is very important. To achieve this you need to test your bracing height until you find the sweet spot where your bow is as quiet as possible. I recommend starting at the highest brace height range as suggested by your riser manual and work downwards. Bear in mind that some limbs are sensitive to bracing height whereas others are not.recurve target archery brace-height
  5. Make sure you follow the tuning guide in the order it specifies. In other words don’t do the bare shaft planing tests until you have checked limb alignment, found the best brace height, aligned the arrow rest properly, set the centre shot with your plunger, purchased the correct arrows and cut the arrows to the right length, etc.
  6. To be honest if you are a beginner do not spend too much time worrying about ‘tuning’. It is far easier to ask one of the more experienced club members to do basic tuning for you. Just ensure you get the correct arrows and bow weight. In your first year of target recurve archery your form will probably be too inconsistent to enable you to do tuning effectively.
  7. If you are anything like me you have a memory like a sieve so I make sure to make a written note of things that worked, or conversely, didn’t work for me during a particular session. I can work on these aspects when I practice. Try and get someone to video you as you are shooting, there is nothing like watching playback of yourself for highlighting mistakes and areas for improvement.
  8. With the advance in mobile technology scoring is dead easy these days, simply get an archery scoring app for your phone or tablet and away you go. Score for at least 30 arrows every session so that you can build up a statistical reference that will help you fine tune your recurve target archery skills.
  9. I mentioned this briefly above but it is worth repeating, get a fellow archer take some video clips of your form, shooting at least 3 arrows, from both sides and the upper rear. Videos are an excellent way to see where you can improve your form. Another great way to improve is through watching the top archers shoot, you can do this on Archery TV.recurve target archery world_champion
  10. As with all sports it is very easy to get sucked into buying the best of everything when you first start out. A word of caution though, buy good equipment and see how you get on. If you excel or feel that you will be doing archery for many years, are very keen on the sport and have the money I suggest you buy the best quality riser, sight, plunger button, clicker, arrow rest and stabilizers that you can afford. Then buy quality but less expensive limbs at the right weight for you and reasonable quality arrows. As you progress and your form gets more consistent and your strength improves you can buy higher weight more expensive limbs and better arrows. That way you have excellent basic equipment and you don’t have to keep upgrading anything but limbs and arrows. It also means there is less tuning and messing about with equipment and you can spend more time shooting.

Some Useful Exercises:

  • Shoot with your eyes closed: shooting with the eyes closed is great for getting over ‘clicker fright’ and ensuring a focused and smooth release. For the best results draw until the clicker is almost engaged then close your eyes but continue drawing smoothly until the clicker engages then make a slow and smooth release, visualising the shot as you do so.
  • Relaxed fingers for a smooth release: this exercise is a bit out there but if done correctly can help tremendously. Find a empty large paint tin (1 gallon size). Fill the it with gravel, pebbles or sand. The heavier the better. Make your self comfortable, you can sit down if you prefer. Find somewhere to place the tin on a soft surface, (you don’t want to wreck the can by dropping it repeatedly.) Pick up the paint tin with your the fingers on your draw hand in exactly the same way as you would draw your bow string. Lift it a couple of inches and then release slowly and smoothly. What this exercise does is to train your muscle memory and helps to ensure that you retain relaxed finger and hand muscles even when they are under tension.
  • One of the better aides you can get is a form master : This ingenious piece of kit is excellent for learning to draw properly with your trapezius muscles rather than arm or upper shoulder muscles.
  • Improving your strength: the cheapest way to improve your strength is to get hold of  a length of strong surgical tubing. Make sure that when it is doubled up as a loop it will produce more draw poundage than your bow (say at least 4 pounds more). Use this in exactly the same way as you would draw your bow, repeatedly, attempting to hold at full draw for 5 seconds or longer. Repeat this exercise every couple of days and it won’t be long until you notice an improvement in your draw strength and more importantly in your ability to hold the full draw. Do as many reps as you are able, and do this at least every second day. Another excellent way is the good old push-up.


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