Today’s recurve bow comes in many shapes, sizes and are made from various types of material. The one thing they have the same is that the end of their limbs curves away from the archer.
For the beginning archer, one of the first things to learn is the essential parts of a recurve bow. Many modern takedowns recurve that made with metal risers often have additional features but knowing the vital components that make up your bow lets you understand what people mean when they talk about a particular part and also lets you see how the entire bow works. This helps a lot when it comes time to tune your bow.
The riser is the middle portion of the bow. It is where the archer holds the bow and it provides the center mass to which the limbs are connected. It is also where the archer is able to attach any accessories like a bow sight, quiver or stabilizer to the bow.
Main Parts of a Recurve Bow
On the left side, we have the bow that shows the major parts of the recurve bow. These are:
1. Riser / Handle
3. Bow String
4. Bow Tips
5. String Nocks
6. Brace Height
7. Center Serving
8. Bow Grip
The riser is the main portion of the bow. It is where the archer holds the bow, and it provides the center mass to which the limbs are connected. It is also where the archer can attach any accessories like a bow sight, quiver or stabilizer to the bow.
The bow itself. Primarily made of the riser (the middle portion where you hold the bow), the limbs and the string. The riser and the legs are put together to complete the bow. Most bows used to come as one piece and made from wood. It meant that the parts were put together and glued in the factory before being shipped out.
Many of today’s modern recurve bows, however, are of the takedown variety. It means that the riser can be detached from the limbs by the bow’s owner, using tools or just your hands. Takedown bows are often referred to as three-piece bows because when split apart, the riser and the two limbs make three smaller parts. It is in contrast to the one piece bow which cannot be taken apart by the archer.
The way the riser made makes a big difference in how your bow behaves. Many new bows made from metal usually lightweight aluminum and magnesium. These developed because the string technologies got faster and the wooden risers would not be able to hold up to the tension from the newer, more rapid strings. It is why you’ll notice that competition bows made of metal. Traditionalists, however, prefer the wooden bow. These have much better-looking design and are more classic in look.
The riser’s length, design, and material all affect whether or not your bow is quiet, shoots with more speed, transfers more energy, and is more forgiving of the archer’s flaws.
Upper and Lower Limbs
Attached to the riser are the bow’s limbs. These are like the legs of the riser and is where the bow bends to accommodate the archer’s drawing motion. The arms are where the energy needed to propel the arrow to its target is stored. It is also on the end of the limbs where the string placed on the bow.
Limbs are made from different materials with today’s bows mostly being laminated. You’ll often find arms made from wood and fiberglass.
While the riser is significant, the limbs are responsible for letting the archer makes most of the adjustments to the bow. Two fundamental aspects of choosing a bow, which is the archer’s draw weight and the draw length are directly related to the bow’s limbs.
When attaching the upper and lower limbs of the bow, make sure you put them on in the correct way. The two are different with one being longer than the other, so they’re not interchangeable. They also bend differently to accommodate their distance from the center of the bow.
As mentioned earlier, some recurves are takedown bows, while others come in a single piece. One of the significant advantages of takedown bows, aside from being more portable, is that the archer can move up in terms of the weight of the limbs without buying a new bow. Using the same riser, they can buy more massive arms as their skill and muscles build.
The bowstring is what the archer inserts the arrows into and then draw to shoot. While a string may sound simple, the bowstring is far from being so. Lines are made from twisted strands using different types of materials. Each type of bow material has its characteristics, which affects the draw as well as the shot. Two of the most common types of strings available today are Dacron and DynaFLIGHT 97.
The difference in material amounts to variations in terms of price, quality of the string, how long it’s, and whether or not it will stretch over time. While the discussion on bow strings can get very complicated, we’ll cover the basics here.
Dacron is very commonly packaged with entry level bows because they are inexpensive and work well. They are also quiet. The one issue they have is over time and use, they have the tendency to creep, which is to stretch. As an archer, you don’t want your bow string to reach as this relieves some of the tension, making it lose power.
DynaFLIGHT 97 is a type of high-quality Fast Flight string that often found in higher end hunting bows. They are more expensive, but also let you shoot faster using the same bow with the same specifications. If you have a bow and are thinking of upgrading to higher quality Fast Flight strings like the D97, you have to check first whether or not the limbs of your bow can support such string types. Not all bows are built to use Fast Flight strings.
The end of the limbs is called bow tips — the length of the bow measure from tip to tip. In general, the longer the bow, the more comfortable and smoother it is to shoot. It is the reason beginners are often told to get bows that are 60 inches or longer. There is a limit, though, as you can get too long. Too long a bow makes it unwieldy to hold and balance with your off hand which can affect accuracy as you aren’t able to keep it steady enough.
Close to the ends of each limb are small grooves on both sides of the leg. These grooves are called string nocks. They are shaped as such because this is where you insert the end loops of your string into the bow.
When not bent, you won’t be able to fit the string into the nocks. You’ll need a bow stringer, which is a longer string you’ll use to bend the limbs enough to get the strings loops into the grooves.
At the center portion of the bow’s string is the center serving. The center serving is the portion where the archer’s fingers draw the line back when taking a shot. The area in the center serving is thicker than the bowstring as there are extra threads wrapped around the series at this area to make it more comfortable for the archer’s fingers to draw the string.
The nock point is an area in the center service where a small metal clip is attached to the bowstring. It is where the arrow’s nock inserted so it holds onto the string and won’t slide out of position as you draw and aim.
The nock point is a fixed point that is set there (or removed) when you tune or set up your bow. It lets you make sure that you set your arrow in the same position on the string every time.
Finally, the bow grip is the portion of the handle where the archer’s palm will position. Each bow has a different type of grip and design. Some come with padded grips others are bare grips, so how comfortable the hold depends on the bow and the archer’s preference.
It wraps up our discussion on the essential parts of a recurve bow. While the bows have more components to them that those that we discussed, these are the main parts anyone is starting should be familiar.