Recurve (Freestyle) Technique

This page outlines the basic technique for recurve archery, followed by a more detailed explanation of some finer points. This is what you are aiming to perfect in your time at archery. Don’t worry about trying to do everything at once, it is a learning process that we will help you through.

This guide was not written by a coach or any sort of archery expert, and is really just a list of all the things we have been told by our coaches at some point.

There are some great videos on the ArcheryGB website outlining the main points below to give you a visual understanding of the shot.


Bow hand position

  • Riser grip should push in to the middle of your wrist, into the bone of your forearm
  • Don’t grip the bow with your fingers while shooting, it should be kept in your hand by the pulling force of your other hand. The finger sling stops you from dropping it after you’ve shot.

String hand position

  • Index finger above the arrow, two fingers below. Pinky out of the way. Thumb tucked away with the back of your thumb making a platform along the top of your hand. Flat palm.
  • The string should sit along the finger joints closest to the end of your fingers.


  • Stand side on to the target, then turn your head to look at the target.
  • Bow arm completely straight and pointing directly to your side.
  • Pull the string back with your back muscles, not arm, while keeping your head completely still and your wrist straight.
  • Pull the string back so that it touches your nose and chin, with your hand resting under your chin.

The release

  • Aim at the middle of the target with the eye on the same side as the string hand.
  • Let the string slip off your fingers.
  • String hand should move backwards along your face/neck in line with the shot.


Front hand
The riser has to push into the middle of your wrist: If it’s pushing against the big fleshy part of your palm connected to your thumb it won’t be as consistent. The wrist should be rotated towards the bow (so your wrist is oriented more as if you were going to high five someone rather than if you were going to shake their hand)
Some people like to curl their fingers and rest them on the outside edge of the grip. This way, it’s not even possible to grip the bow.

Front arm and shoulder
The front shoulder should be relaxed and ‘low’. If your shoulder is wrong, a coach will help you find the correct position. The front arm should rotate inwards and ‘extend’, pushing into the riser. You can practice this movement by pushing against a doorframe. If the string is hitting your arm, you may not be rotating properly.
Here is some extremely detailed, technical information about the bow arm

String arm
The back elbow should be in line with the direction of force.
Drawing with a slightly high elbow helps to activate your back muscles.
Here is some extremely detailed, technical information about the drawing arm

If you are having back problems or problems with the string hitting your arm, a coach may suggest you use an ‘open’ stance. That is, the back foot is placed further forward than the front foot.
Make sure your feet are in the same position on the floor each time. If your feet are in a different place, your whole body will be too.
Ensure you ‘reset’ your body position before you shoot each arrow. Make sure you start each shot from a definite known position of standing up completely straight, facing straight ahead.

Make sure your head turns to the same place each time and doesn’t move at all while drawing and aiming. If your head or eye is in a different position, you may notice that the string does not appear to be in the same place in your vision each time you look through the sight.

You must not draw the string past your anchor position and then rest back into it, you must continuously be pulling the string back in one smooth motion until you loose.
It is vital that you can feel your hand touching your face in a consistent way each time. Try to find some bones in your hand and finger that you can definitely put together every time.

The loose must be ‘controlled’ and in line with the rest of the shot. Your hand must not come away from your face, but move backwards in line with the shot. The string should slip easily off your fingers, rather than forcefully ‘pinging’ it.

Long distance
Bend at the hips. You must keep the line of your shoulders and everything above the waist exactly the same as if you were shooting closer distances. Instead of leaning backwards, try thrusting your front hip slightly forwards to tilt your upper body.

Don’t think about what’s going wrong, think about it going right. There is a technique called ‘visualisation’ in which you imagine the arrow hitting the gold before every shot.
Information about specific psychology techniques can be found here.


If you want to get stronger quicker then you have to hit the gym! But there are some things you can do with your body weight or a few weights. More detailed information can be found here.

In order to improve archery you must go into it with the right mindset. You should have a goal for what you are trying to improve, rather than just shooting arrows with no purpose. You should try to focus on one thing at a time, and don’t worry if other things fall behind when you do that. For example, if you are having problems with your loose, shoot a round with the aim of improving it. You shouldn’t care about what score you get or where the arrows go, only whether or not you managed to keep your loose under control.
Most importantly, listen to your coaches and do whatever they say. They know more about archery than you.