How to Tune a Recurve Bow for Accuracy

If your recurve bow is not tuned or poorly tuned, it ensures two things: Your bow and arrow shots will not be accurate and your will have considerable difficulty repeating the same types of shots with any kind of consistency. To ensure the greatest amount of accuracy when bow shooting, you will have to tune the bow correctly. The accuracy of your shot is highly dependent on three factors: bow tuning, biomechanics, and shooter’s attitude at a percentage of 10%, 20%, and 70% respectively. Even when assigned the smallest percentage in terms of importance, it does not lessen the need for bow tuning to ensure the greatest possible shot accuracy.

Tuning a Recurve Bow in Brief

Bow tuning requires several steps. First, the archer has to adjust the string height from the bow’s riser, which should measure between 7 to 9 inches from the riser to the area where the bow’s grip is located. Once the string height is located, the archer then takes a number of test shots with arrows that are fletched and not fletched. How the arrows hit the target gives the archer considerable insight into how the bow is functioning and what kinds of adjustments must be made to improve the overall accuracy of the shot. The nock height also has to be perfected with you are tuning a recurve bow as it lends to the ease of arrow release and the accuracy of the shot.

Establishing Your Brace Height

The brace height is the distance between the middle of the bow string and the throat or grip area of your bow. Often times the bow manufacturer will supply you with information on how to establish the ideal brace height for your needs. To adjust the brace height and to make it longer, you will have to take off the bow string by removing it from one of the bowstring nock and twist the string to shorten it. Once you’ve twisted the string, you then replace the end of the bowstring in the nock on the bow. After establishing the initial brace height, you have to take a few shots with an arrow to see how it feels.

If the height is set too low, you will feel a vibration in your bow’s limbs and the bow string may slap your forearm after you fire off a shot. The bow can also prove to be a noisy shot if the brace height is not established with accuracy. You will have to continue to make adjustments to the height until all the latter mentioned issues are resolved. Three to five twists of the bowstring in an effort to shorten it with each attempt is sufficient. You will be looking for what expert archers call “the sweet spot,” where the noise vanishes, and the limb vibration and hand shock also disappear. Once you achieve this brace height adjustment, you’ve tuned the brace height correctly.

Setting the Bow’s Nock Set & Bare Shaft Tuning

To set a bow’s nock set you must begin by holding the bow facing the ground. An arrow is fitted in the nock and is also pointed toward the earth. Tap the bowstring. When you do, the arrow should drop clean away from the bowstring with ease. If the nock does not free from the string that quickly, you can use a small piece of sandpaper of 150 or 220 grid, you can sand the nock a bit to loosen the connection. Other options include taking plastic nocks and placing them on the shaft of the arrow and putting them in boiling water all the way you to the base of the arrow groove: Do this for the count of ten and remove them from the water. Put them onto the bowstring and allow the over tight nock to sit for a half minute: This will loosen the nocks so they fit just right.

Expert archers sometimes use a T square to set the nock set and positioning of the arrow. To do this, you will have to take a number of shots with the bow and arrow to see what shot and position get you the greatest amount of accuracy. You will have to shoot fletch and unfletch arrows for comparison. The shots you make can tell you much about the condition of your bow set up.

You will be taking practice shots at about 10 meters from the target. If your fletched arrows are higher than your unfletched arrows when they hit your target, it suggests your nock is too high. If this is the case, adjust your setup about 1/32 of an inch and try your shots again. You will continue to repeat this process until you get the shot accuracy you desire. If you are right handed and your unfletched arrows are coming up to the left of your fletched arrows, it suggests the arrows you are using are excessively stiff. If the unfletched arrows are below the fletch arrows, it suggests you have to adjust the nocking point by lowering it. If the unfletch arrows are to the right of your fletched arrows, it means the arrows are not hard or stiff enough.

To adjust arrow stiffness, you can try shooting with different arrow weights. To weaken the arrow spine you can add a heavier point to your arrow. If the arrow is too stiff, you can use a lighter point. You also have the option of shortening your arrow by 1.5 inches at a time to get the fletch arrows to align correctly.

You can repeat this process at 20 meters for the newbie archer, and 30 feet for the more experienced. The repetitious testing and adjusting leads to a finer tuning of your bow. Once completed, your bow will be tuned to ensure the best arrow flight for every shot you take.

Bow Stabilizers

For additional stability and balance, archers will use a stabilizer on their bow. The stabilizer helps in diminishing the effects of vibration caused by movement, which is capable of causing deviations in the direction of your arrow when it is in motion. Archers can use a v-bar stabilizer to add additional weight in the region of the riser and grip. The stabilizer must be away from the bow’s handle however in order to supply the desired balance and stability it is capable of providing. If the stabilizer is positioned behind the bow’s grip, it makes for more mass being added to the bow’s structure and, in turn, ends up neutralizing the stable elements the archer is trying to achieve. The stabilizer needs to add the least amount of mass possible as a lighter bow mass lends to greater control when it’s windy outdoors.

Some archers also opt for upper limb stabilizers to diminish bow vibration once the shot is fired. The upper limb stabilizers are really optional because a bow that has been tuned accurately does not demand the use of an additional stabilizing element.

Bow Tillering

When you are making a tillering adjustment to your bow, you are establishing a balance between the bow hand pressure and the string finger pressure or the difference between the center of the bow an above the bow’s center. Getting the tillering right ensures the bow noise is reduced, that the limbs work in unison, and that aim has greater accuracy overall.

You are adjusting the area where the arrow leaves the bow by moving the nock point. Your hand will sit at the center of the bow so the arrow is positioned above the same center. The nock point on the arrow string is also above center position. When you shoot the recurve bow, you will most likely use a Mediterranean grip where you end up pulling the bow string away and off the center point of the bow. The creator of the bow often makes the lower limb of the unit stronger for this reason, and when you are tillering the bow, you are adjusting for this difference.

To adjust a bow’s tillering, you will stand roughly five meters from a target with your bow in full draw. Close your eyes for a period of five seconds. When you reopen your eyes, your bow should still be aimed at the same location it was aimed at when you closed them. If you discover your aim is off and you have shifted up away from the target, the uppermost limb is excessively strong; you will have to lower the weight by a quarter turn and repeat the test. If your aim moves below your initial aim, the bottom most limb is too strong and you should lower the weight by a quarter turn and retry once more.


Archery Australia’s “Recurve Bow Tuning.” PDF File/Booklet. URL:

Archery Forum’s “Tuning a Recurve Bow.” Website forum. URL:

Archery Talk: Archers Helping Archers. Website forum. URL:

Wendouree Archery Club Inc. “Bow Tuning FAQs.” Website. URL:

THQ’s, “How to Tune a Recurve Bow.” Website. URL: