Setting up a Recurve Bow for Hunting

Setting up any bow can be an intimidating task for anyone who has never done it before. But with the right tools and a bit of knowledge, setting up a recurve bow for hunting can be quite easy!

Before you even think about going out hunting, you need to take a critical look at your archery and how you shoot. The last thing you want to do is to shoot an animal and injure it. This is not only bad for the animal, it makes you feel awful and give archery hunting a bad name.

Make sure that you have a solid shot routine and a bow powerful enough to “drop” whatever you are hunting for, be it fish, turkey, deer, or larger game.

Setting up a Recurve Bow for Hunting

Before you even start to set up our Recurve hunting bow, you need to decide what type of recurve bow you want. Will it be a single-piece bow at a set poundage, or are you going for a takedown recurve where you have a handle (Riser) that different poundage limbs can fit it. For both you also need to decide how long do you want the bow to be.

Olympic recurve bows range from 64” to 72” from Limb tip to limb tip. Even though these bows can be powerful, they would be out of place in a hunting scenario due to their length. Hunting bows need to be short enough to be maneuvered around in tight spaces. When purchasing your hunting recurve you may also need to think about color. Most hunting bows are black, green, or camouflage. You would not want a brightly colored bow when stalking that prized deer.

Recurve bow color
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The Right String for the Hunt

We have decided on our bow and now we need to set it up. Where to start? Does the bow come with a string? If not we need to get one or make one to fit the bow. The string can be made from different materials, but the most common today are Dacron, fast flight, and 8125 from BCY.

These are hard-wearing and will not stretch too much. You may go for a Flemish twist-style string or endless loop. Both will work, but for a hunting situation, add some bow silencers as when shot, the string can sound like a whip cracking. These silencers will also reduce the noise of the bow overall, and if you add some silencers to the limbs, the bow should become quieter.

One thing to remember is that by adding silencers to the bow, yes it will become quieter but will also reduce the speed at which it shoots the arrows, so a compromise or “sweet spot” needs to be found.

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Your hunting recurve bow will come unstrung and will need to be strung. The “heavier” (draw weight) the bow, the harder it will be to string. To string a bow you will need a bow stringer to ensure that the bow is strung correctly and you don’t damage the bow or yourself. Bow stringers are cheap and easy to use, so don’t take shortcuts and always use one.

Stringing recurve bow

Optimal Arrow Rests for Hunting

The bow is now strung. The next thing for setting up a recurve bow for hunting is where is the arrow going to sit? It all depends on what type of recurve bow you have. Will you be shooting off the shelf or do you need an arrow rest? If you are shooting off the shelf, most archers will pad the shelf with either felt or fur.

This is to cushion the arrow and allow it to slide against the bow without causing any damage to the bow or arrow. This padding can be man-made or real animal fur and it is stuck to the riser using tape or glue. Traditional shooters usually use this method and it means there is less to go wrong with the bow. 

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The other form of rest used by hunters is usually a stick on plastic rest that holds the arrow and can also act as a form of a plunger, and for those that want to be able to tune their bow for the greatest accuracy; they may use a stick on metal rest and use an actual plunger button. The easiest would be the plastic stick-on that does both as they are cheap and easy to replace if damaged. 

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Recurve Bow Hunting Bow Sight

Now we have a bow that can shoot an arrow. Next, we need to decide whether will we use a hunting sight or shoot barebow/traditional style. If you are going to shoot without a sight then the best thing to do is practice shooting at different distances to know where you need to aim. However, if you are going to use a sight, you will need to think about what type of sight you are going to use.

A normal recurve target sight would be great if you were shooting a single distance all the time, or if you had time to reset your sight for every shot. With hunting using a recurve bow, you need to think about what distance is good for hitting the target and having enough power in the arrow to drop the animal.

Most experts say that distances between 10 yards to about 50 yards is what you will shoot when hunting with a recurve bow. What we need is a sight that can cover all these ranges, which you do not need to move. That sight is a pin sight. 

4 pin bow sight

A pin sight has a number of pins and you can set them at different ranges. So when hunting whatever the range, you can swap pins to hit the target. Don’t forget that again you will need to practice and sight in your bow before you head out into the wilderness.

Choosing the Right Arrows

So far we have set up our bow, and have possibly added some items to it. Others will have kept their bows as traditional as possible. Either way, we need to think about what we are going to shoot from the bow. Arrows are the things that are going to actually hit the animal, so we need to ensure that we are using the correct arrows for the job.

Really traditional hunters may want to use wooden arrows, and these are usually made by the archer. These arrows are quite heavy and require a heavy poundage bow to shoot correctly. The other choices are Aluminium or Carbon. Both work well, but the newer carbon arrows are extremely light and travel very fast, which can provide more “hitting power” when needed. 

Also, carbon arrows are resistant to bending, unlike aluminum, which if hit incorrectly can bend.

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At the pointy end of the arrow, hunters mainly use a thing called “Broadheads”. These are screw-in points that can be fixed or have a mechanical action and increase in size when they hit the animal to cause as much damage as possible.

They are very sharp and can be quite heavy. With this being the case, a lot of archers that hunt will train with normal screw-in field points, which are the same weight as the broad heads, but change to the broad heads when hunting.

You need to be careful when using broad heads due to their sharpness. If the blades get anywhere near your string, it could end up with a snapped string.

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hunting broadhead
mechanical broadhead

Hunting Bow Brace Height and Nocking Point

The last couple of things when setting up our bow for hunting is a form of tuning. We need to ensure the brace height of the bow is correct. Each bow manufacturer will detail what the best brace height range should be. Brace height is the distance from the throat of the grip to the string.

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The brace height can have a few effects. Too low and the arrow could hit the riser and the string could also hit the archer’s wrist. Too high and the arrow will fly erratically. The sound of the bow will change with brace height and it is normal to try the bow over the brace height range to find the “sweet spot”.  

The final thing to set up on the bow is the nocking points for the arrow. The arrow should sit on the rest and be 90 degrees to the string. Again the bow manufacturer will give a rough estimate of where the nocking points should be. Nocking point can be either squeezed on metal (Brass) rings or tied on using thin material like serving or even dental floss. 

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Our recurve bow hunting setup is now complete. We have our bow and arrows which are tuned and fly well. What you need to ensure now is that you as an archer is set up and ready to go hunting.

Know your limitations, make sure you know your distances, and train to make sure you can hit a target the size of the animal you are hunting and you will enjoy the hunt.

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