How to Properly Tune a Recurve Bow Like a Pro



Welcome to the world of archery! If you’re an aspiring archer or an experienced enthusiast, understanding how to properly tune a recurve bow is essential for achieving accuracy and consistency in your shots. Tuning a recurve bow involves making adjustments to various components, such as the limb alignment, brace height, and arrow rest position, to ensure that the bow performs optimally and delivers arrows with precision. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of tuning your recurve bow like a pro. From understanding the fundamentals to fine-tuning the smallest details, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed to optimize your bow’s performance and take your archery game to new heights. So, let’s delve into the world of recurve bow tuning and unlock the secrets to achieving the perfect shot every time.

What is Bow Tuning?

Bow tuning refers to the process of adjusting and optimizing the various components of a recurve bow to achieve optimal performance and accuracy. It involves fine-tuning elements such as draw weight, brace height, arrow selection, tiller, nock point positioning, and center shot alignment. Bow tuning is crucial for recurve bows because it ensures consistent arrow flight, maximizes energy transfer and improves overall shooting precision. By properly tuning a recurve bow, archers can minimize factors that negatively impact arrow trajectory, such as fishtailing or porpoising, and enhance their shooting experience. It allows archers to achieve tighter groupings, increased arrow speed, and a more comfortable and efficient shooting form. Ultimately, bow tuning is essential for archers who aspire to shoot like professionals, as it helps unlock the full potential of a recurve bow and elevates their skill level.

Tuning a Recurve Bow:

There was a time not too many years ago when Bowyers was like Blacksmiths in that they were all individual, master, craftsmen working in small shops and who may or may not have had an apprentice or two who were studying the craft under them.

Consequently, a traditional bow made by one of these master bowyers is somewhat akin to a Stradivarius in that they are both functional works of art, and each one has its minor, but individual, differences.

However, to those who are not master craftsmen, the need to tune such a simple instrument as a Recurve Bow with so few moving parts may seem like an oxymoron.

The truth of the matter is that all Recurve Bows, regardless of who makes them, have a “sweet spot” where they shoot most accurately, generate the least amount of recoil, and generate the least amount of noise.

Fortunately, finding that sweet spot is a relatively simple process, provided that your arrows have the correct spine for your draw weight at your draw length combined with the broadhead weight that you have chosen. Plus, tuning is also fun to do because you get to shoot your bow!

Choosing the correct spine to tune recurve bow:

So, because you first have to have arrows with the correct spine before you can properly tune your recurve bow, let’s start with how to choose the correct arrow spine. But, what is arrow spine, you may ask?

Well, the formal answer to that question is: “arrow spine is a measurement of static deflection” which simply means that it is a measure of how much an arrow’s shaft bends under a given amount of pressure.

Thus, an arrow with greater spine deflection (smaller diameter) will bend more than an arrow shaft with less spine deflection (larger diameter).

However, the reason that this is important is that as the arrow is released from your fingers, it immediately experiences pressure from the bowstring, which is partially absorbed by the arrow’s shaft flexing as it starts to travel forward.

But, if the spine is not stiff enough, the arrow could break and thus cause a serious injury to the archer; if it is too stiff, then it will not absorb enough of the initial energy from the bow’s limbs, and thus, the excess force could damage them.

In addition, it should be noted that the greater the draw weight of the bow, the greater the weight of the broadhead, or the longer the arrows are, the more the arrow shaft will flex and, thus, the greater the spine will need to be, and vice versa.

Therefore, in order to choose the correct arrow spine, you can start by using an arrow spine chart which will require you to know your draw length, your draw weight, and the weight of your target point or broadhead.

Best way to buy arrow spine:

But, the best way is to purchase an arrow spine test kit which usually consists of a set of three arrows with different spines.

Once you have determined the correct arrow spine for your bow, you will be ready to tune it. However, before doing so, it is best to pre-mount all of the accessories you are going to be using on the bow because doing so will change the way it shoots.

So, once you have all of the accessories mounted, actually tuning the bow comprises setting the nock point at the correct height and gradually changing the Brace Height, and then making a few test shots.

Therefore, to set the nock point at the correct height, you will first need a device called a Bow Square which resembles the letter T with clips on top to attach it to the bow string.

Using a Bow Square:

To use a Bow Square, the archer clips it onto the bowstring with the pillar of the T positioned above the arrow rest and then slides it down onto the rest to a point where the arrow’s shaft would contact the rest.

Then, the Nock Point is positioned on the string somewhere between level and one-quarter inch above level depending on that particular bow’s preference.

Then, the next step is to adjust the “brace height” but, for those of you who are not familiar with this term, brace height is the distance from the deepest part of the bow’s grip to the string when the bow is strung and, to adjust it on a recurve bow.

From here, all you have to do is remove the string and either twist it or untwist it to either shorten or lengthen it a bit. Therefore, to tune your recurve bow, start by removing the string and then twisting it four to five times.

Then, reattach it to the limb and make a few test shots while noting if the bow is smoother, quieter, and/or more accurate or less so.

Then, continue the process until you have increased the Brace Height by one-half inch or more, and somewhere within that range, you should notice a significant improvement in the bow’s performance.

How Often Should a Recurve Bow Be Tuned?

The frequency of tuning a recurve bow and the maintenance practices required to maintain optimal performance depending on several factors, including how frequently the bow is used, environmental conditions, and personal shooting preferences. As a general guideline, it is recommended to tune a recurve bow at least once a year or whenever any significant changes are made to its setup. This ensures that the bow remains in top form and continues to deliver consistent and accurate shots.

In terms of maintenance practices, regular inspection of the bow’s components is crucial. This includes checking for any signs of wear or damage, such as frayed bowstrings, worn arrow rests, or loose limb bolts. It is essential to keep the bow clean and dry, as moisture and dirt can affect its performance. Regularly waxing the bowstring helps prevent it from drying out and losing its elasticity. Additionally, storing the bow in a cool and dry place, away from extreme temperatures, is advisable. By following these maintenance practices and addressing any issues promptly, archers can ensure that their recurve bow maintains optimal performance and longevity.

Wrap Up:

So, while it may seem like an arduous task to have to repeatedly remove your bowstring, twist it a few times, reattach it, and then make a few shots to see if there is any noticeable improvement in performance, once you have actually gone through the process, you will likely find that that it was well worth the effort.

In addition, while it is true that it is a pain in the butt to have to stop every few shots to remove, twist, and reattach your bowstring, you only have to do it once. So, instead, try thinking of it as just another target shooting session, and it will be done before you know it!


You have now learned the art of properly tuning a recurve bow like a pro. By understanding the fundamentals, selecting the correct arrow spine, setting the nock point, and adjusting the brace height, you have unlocked the secrets to maximizing your bow’s performance. Remember, tuning is a process that requires patience, practice, and attention to detail. As you fine-tune your recurve bow, you will experience improved accuracy, reduced recoil, and enhanced shooting consistency. So go ahead, hit the range, and put your newfound knowledge into action. Embrace the challenge of tuning and enjoy the rewards of achieving the perfect shot every time. Happy shooting!


The Out sider

See Also

Related Reads

Recent Posts