For those who are considering what to buy first here is guide: What to buy
The Riser is the part of the bow that your hand is pushed against as you hold the bow at full draw. All other parts of the bow are normally attached to this fundamental part and there are many styles and colours to choose from. Novices are given wooden training bows and these are the simplest bows you can buy/use. Metal risers, which you will find most Seniors and all Olympic level archers use, have a lot more customizability and are more reliable than the wooden ones.
If you are thinking of buying your own riser, ask around the club and try out some people’s risers. When possible, it is very useful to try out risers before you buy one.
Limbs are the two curved pieces of wood that lock into place at each end of the riser. The strength/power of your bow is determined mainly by the strength of the limbs, novices will start at 18 lbs, but as you get stronger you will be able to draw back more and this will improve your accuracy. Different limbs provide other aspects such as smoothness and stackability, some limbs are easier to draw than others due to the quality of them; simply put you pay for what you get.
Strings are obviously important! They span from the top of each limb, and can be made at the club. The string has other important features as it will also have serving and nocking points. We usually make strings for all the bows we hand out, so no need to worry about buying one of them! If you want to know technical specs, then we use BCY 8125 and BCY 3D serving for novice and senior strings, and Dacron with BCY Soft Twist for the beginner ones.
To change the bracing height in your bow, you must adjust the number of turns in the string, and this bracing height is very important to keep the same every time you shoot! For extra help, see the section on Tuning your bow.
These go on your release hand and put a nice piece of leather between you and the string to improve loose form and make it more comfortable for you to shoot! There are several designs and an important difference between recurve and barebow tabs!
This little gadget allows you to adjust how the riser reacts to the bending of the arrow as it is shot. This is vital to ‘tuning’ arrows to the bow, and means a wider range of stiffness of arrows may be used with the same setup.
This helpful little device is only fitted after you have a good technique anchoring on your nose and chin frequently. It is used as a draw length check as it clicks when you draw the arrow to a certain point (hence the name). As you hear the click, you’re meant to loose the arrow so they do take some getting used to!
The rest is the part of the bow that the shaft of the arrow sits on. Simple rests are made of plastic and are static structures, the more expensive ones are normally metal and have customizable arms and orientations. The height at which the arm of the rest is at affects you centre shot and your nocking points (most rests are never altered, as they are annoyingly small and hard to adjust). Metal rests also have a feature which allows the arrow as it is loosed to push the rest into the bow so that the fletches will not catch on it.
The sight is the part of most modern bows that are the main technological improvement to them from traditional bows. Old style bows (bare bows are also included in this generalisation), normally made out of wood, never had plastic or metal sights as the archers used experience and skill to guess where the arrow would land. Sights allow modern day archers to change where they are shooting to account for different distances and weather conditions. More expensive sights allow higher precision, less vibration and a more robust addition to many metal risers.
The long rod is the simplest and first stabilization that a recurve archer gets to use to help their shooting. They come in many different lengths and different constructions, some are designed to provide as little resistance to the wind as possible by having an aero-foil formation.
The long rod’s main job as part of your whole bow set up is to move the center of mass away from the bow, thus when an arrow is loosed and the bow falls, it will fall faster and more controlled. End weights will make the movement faster and even more stable. You can go into the physics of it all, but simply put a long rod makes the bow fall forward and not towards you.
Short rods are about a third the length of a long rod normally, thus they are “short”. Their main function is to provide more weight on the bow, the reason for this is to make it harder for the archer to move/twitch the bow whilst holding it at full draw. The extra weight should increase the inertia of the bow and make it harder to move however it sometimes exacerbates unwanted movement. Doinkers (layered plastic balls) are used to dampen the movement by using the end weights to counter the movement by providing an opposed movement to the archer’s twitching, and thus stabilizing the whole bow.
As short rods have weight on them they move the center of mass back towards the bow, and thus making the bow not fall away as fast. To counter this you either put more weight on the end of the long rod, but not too much so the bow is horrendously heavy. Or you have a longer long rod, which will mean you don’t need as much weight, you can also use an extender which fits into the riser and then the long rod fits into this with the v-bars between the LR and extender.
An extender is designed to move the center of mass back away from the bow after short rods are part of the stabilization set-up.
V-bars are used to attach short rods to the long rod which is attached to the riser through the v-bars. The v-bars come in several varieties: 0°(ie flat), 17°(angled) or adjustable, normally at least. The 17° version means that the short rods are angled downwards (as well as out) so that the centre of mass is now not along the axis of the long rod but below it, where it is depends on the length of the rods and the weights on them.
End weights are used to provide more weight on the end of the rods on your bow. Barebow archers don’t have the luxury of all these rods and so often add large, compact weights to the front of their risers to try and emulate a long rod. Also specific barebow risers often contain integrated weights to try and lower the centre of mass of the bow. The addition of weights to a barebow tries to make the bow fall forward after the arrow is fired (rather than falling backward, causing the archer to be hit in the head by their limb).