Parts of a Recurve Bow


Having a bow and practicing it for hunting or as a hobby is great. But there are many times that I have seen personally that not many people actually know of the different parts of the recurve bow. There are small components to a bow that actually make up a majority of the functionality of the recurve bow! And understanding them is vital to bringing out the best of your archery!

That is why I have considered explaining the different parts of a recurve bow so you fully understand how your bow actually works. It is important to understand them so you can learn how to best utilize them and bring out all the advantages of your archery for hunting!

Key Takeaways

  • The origin of the recurve dates back thousands of years and there are three main parts of the recurve bow: the riser, the limbs, and the bowstring.
  • The riser is where all the different parts and accessories of the recurve bow are attached. It is also where the bow is held and the arrow is placed.
  • The limbs of the recurve bow are where the power is stored when the arrow is drawn. The limbs bend to store the power before releasing it into the arrow through the bowstring.
  • The bowstring is where the arrow is placed and released from. They are made of many types of material that are served in material to help protect the bowstring.
  • There are many accessories that help to enhance the usage of the bow, namely the clicker, bow sight, bow stringer, stabilizer, plunger, and many more!

Origin and Overview of Recurve Bow

Origin and overview of recurve bow

Recurve bow might sound very modern because you are used to using target archers and competitive archers using recurve bows with high-quality materials. However, the actual origin of recurve bows can be traced all the way back to Ancient China and Ancient Egypt! They have a long history in battle and warfare because the recurve bows were made to be more powerful than normal bows and shot much faster.

However, this comes at a cost because recurve bows can be used only by those who are strong enough to actually wield them. Even though recurve bows are smaller, the limbs and risers of the recurve bow are made to shoot more powerful arrows without compromising the draw weight and the draw length. In equal draw length, a recurve bow will have a much higher draw weight because of its shape curving away from the archer or hunter when it is shot.

To understand the individual parts of the recurve bow, I feel it is best to first section off the different parts of the bow so it becomes easier to understand the smaller components that make up the whole. In the most basic of circumstances, a recurve bow has 3 major parts:

  • Recurve bow’s riser
  • Recurve bow limbs
  • Recurve bowstring

Starting from the bow riser, this is the middle part of the bow. This houses the many different components of the bow which are all responsible for holding the arrow and the accuracy of your shot. It can be made from wood, aluminum, or carbon fiber, but here is where you will be gripping your bow and arrow for the shot.

The bow limbs sound exactly like what they are: the extended parts from the riser that makes up the ends or limbs of the bow. They are flexible in nature and are mainly there for the power of the bow and to bridge the connection between the riser and bowstring.

And finally, the last component of the recurve bow is the bowstring. The most basic of answers for a bowstring is that it shoots the arrow through the riser. But even the string has different parts that are responsible for different things as well!

So let’s go into more detail about the parts of the recurve bow!

Bow’s Riser: The Ribcage of the Bow

Probably the most simplest layman’s term to describe the bow’s riser is to call it the house or the ribcage of the bow; where all the different components are attached. It is the middle part of the bow where you are holding the bow when you are shooting an arrow. So let’s see the many things that make up the riser in a recurve bow.

Bows riser the ribcage of the bow

Handle or riser grip

Since you have to take into account the archer’s paradox, the handle of the bow is made specifically for either a left-handed or a right-handing archer. The handle is where you will have your hands placed on the bow to hold it while you are shooting an arrow. It is made to have grooves so that you can grip your bow properly. Modern recurve bows are made specifically for either hand and are not ambidextrous.

Shelf and arrow rest

The shelf and arrow rest are two different parts that serve the same purpose for the bow; it is where you place the arrow on the bow as you are pulling it. It is right in the middle of the riser and houses the platform from where you will be shooting from. The main difference between a shelf and an ‘elevated’ arrow rest is the position. The shelf is mainly near the center string serving of the bowstring while the elevated arrow rest is right above it. Many archers typically shoot from the elevated rest because it gives a more accurate shot for the target, either in competitive or hunting scenarios.

Sight mount

But one thing that won’t make much sound and increase the accuracy of hunters is bow sights. Or at least, the riser has a place where you can attach the bow sight called the sight mount because not everyone uses a sight to hunt. That is a whole other topic to discuss but the bow sight can actually help you a lot! It is basically a circle with dots or a sight pin on the inside that you can adjust with a knob to gauge where your arrow will be going after shooting it. They can be helpful because the dots or sight pins don’t move so you can gauge exactly where your shot is going and readjust accordingly.

Stabilizer pocket

Think of recurve bow stabilizer as a contraption that stabilizes the arrow when held before it is released and after it is released. The stabilizer pocket of the bow’s riser is exactly where this will be placed. Some recurve bow has two stabilizer pockets: one at the top and one at the bottom. Others have one stabilizer pocket where a v-bar is attached to the stabilizer pocket where the actual stabilizer will be on the v-bar. There are many different ways to add a stabilizer to your bow but they will all be placed in the stabilizer pocket of the recurve bow.

Limb pocket

And finally, the limb pockets. They are exactly what they sound like; the place where the limbs of the recurve will be attached to complete the bow. They are nothing special really, just a place for the limbs to attach to the riser. However, this part has to be sturdy because the limbs of a recurve bow hold great importance for the whole bow!

Now you have to remember, the riser is the house so it will have the parts where different accessories will be added to it. That is why I am not discussing the different accessories here (but will in a later section). However, the limb pocket is a nice way to segue to the next part of the bow: the recurve bow limbs!

Recurve Bow Limbs: The Energy Store of the Bow

Recurve bow limbs the energy store of the bow

To be quite honest with you, the recurve bow limbs don’t have that many parts to them. They are quite simple in nature; they store the energy of the arrow when you are drawing it, and then release the stored energy from the limbs to the string to shoot the arrow! They are made with flexible material because the limbs have to bend to be able to store energy without breaking apart.

While the two limbs of the bow are of identical weight, that is not necessarily true. The bottom limb is a bit heavier to help correct the draw weight of the archer. But the way they are manufactured is what is so good about recurve bows. They are made with the ‘international limb fitting’ or ILF risers so they are compatible with any recurve bow with ILF risers. That way you can interchange the limbs to your liking.

Why change the limbs of the bow you may ask? Since they are the most flexed part of the bow, you can imagine how bending and contorting the ends of the bow means that it might need replacing every now and then. But the other reason why you can change the limb of your bow is to customize and add more draw weight to your bow! It is probably the easiest way to add more draw weight without compromising the riser and helps to give you more power once you are used to a certain draw weight! These types of limbs are known as takedown limbs and they can be either screw-on takedown limbs or clipped into the riser.

Finally, where the bowstring is added to the limbs of the recurve bow is called the string notch; the part that holds together and connects the riser to the strings!

Recurve Bow String: The Powerhouse of Bow

Recurve bow string the powerhouse of bow

The bow string of a recurve bow can be made of many different things. In ancient times, the bow string could be made of a variety of materials: hemp, plant fibers, hair, silk, sinew, and many more natural materials! Today, these are replaced with materials like fiberglass which are used mainly for competitive archers but not for hunting. Hunting requires the material to be made with more resistive material so it can hold up against the weather. Nowadays, materials like Kevlar and polyester are used to be more durable.

All the different sections of the bowstring are not visibly seen (some are while others are not), but you can divide the bowstring into different parts.

  • String loops: these are what hold the bowstring to the limbs in the string notch. While some loops are made in equal size, it will be dependent on the limbs themselves where it might require loops according to the size of the limbs.
  • Bowstring serving: what you actually place the arrow on is not the bowstring but rather the bowstring serving. It is a material that wraps around the bowstring itself. This is to both protect the bowstring and the users of the bow. It also allows a better grip on the bowstring and placement of the arrow with the nock.
  • Knocking point: the knocking point of the bowstring is the indication of where you are supposed to place the nock of the arrow. Usually, the manufacturer places two points where the nock of the arrow is supposed to be placed.
  • Shelf window: not a typical part of the bowstring but more of an ‘implied’ section of the bowstring. It is the area of the string that aligns itself with the riser shelf so that you are able to see where you are shooting. I placed it here instead of a part of the riser because your eye level should be at this implied section of the bowstring.

Other Accessories of Recurve Bow

The accessories of the recurve bow are fascinating because the actual bow riser is the skeleton of the recurve bow to which all different accessories are attached. So here are some of the accessories you might come across for your recurve bow


While most hunters would not be using a clicker due to it making too much sound during a hunt, a clicker is basically a little mechanical part attached to the stabilizer to tell you when you have reached the correct draw length. At that point, the clicker will produce a ‘click’ sound to tell you that is how far you should be drawing your bow for an accurate shot. As you can imagine, this is mostly for professionals and not for hunters because the sound it produces can easily scare away animals with sensitive ears like deer.



The stabilizer is there to reduce the inertia of the bow while aiming it and reduce the vibration of the arrow when it is traveling through the air. This can be a bar that is placed on the top and bottom of the riser or just one stabilizer at the bottom that is connected to a v-bar for overall stabilization of the recurve bow. Getting the right stabilizer for you will be difficult at first because it is mostly dependent on the rest of the bow and the draw weight so be sure to experiment with the stabilizer to find out the perfect one for yourself.


Plunger and plunger button

The plunger might be the smallest part of a recurve bow but it plays an equally vital part in the overall shooting of the arrow! It is right placed right above the arrow rest and its job is to make the slightest of adjustments as the arrow is flying out the bow. Think of it as a sponge absorbing the unnecessary movement of the arrow and making sure it is traveling as straight as possible when the arrow is released. The plunger button is there to make small adjustments according to how you want the arrow to leave the bow.

Plunger and plunger button

Bow sight

Probably one of, if not the most important accessory for a recurve bow is the bow sight! It is a small circle that is placed in the sight mount of the riser and helps for a more accurate shot. There are dots and pins inside the circle and you are going to see them as you are looking through the shelf window section. The dots and pins are there to see where the arrow falls and how you should be making adjustments to make the arrow land where you want it to.

Bow sight

Bow stringer

The bowstring is made so it can be opened, but how do you actually attach the bowstring to the string notches of the recurve bow? Enter the bow stringer! It is made with materials that help to reduce the distance between the top and bottom string notches of the top and bottom limbs so you can safely attach the bowstring while also keeping the bow limbs protected. It is quite a handy accessory to have to easily replace damaged or broken bowstrings!


There are many more advanced customization accessories that you can add to your bow as well! From weight mods to dampers to reduce the vibration of the bow. But I feel like it is best to leave that topic for another time and explain the most important accessories here first before jumping into more advanced customization for your arrows, be it for hunting or as a hobby (most customization mods have limitations in competitive archer due to the rules and regulation of the sports).


1. Why is it called a recurve bow?

It is called a recurve bow because the limbs on the tips of the bow on the top and bottom are ‘curving’ away from the archer; hence the name recurve bow.

2. Are recurve bows stronger?

Recurve bows are stronger than typical longbows because of their shape. However, the compound bow might have more power due to the addition of cam wheels on the compound bow.

3. How much does a recurve bow weigh?

The actual bow weighs around 4 pounds. The other weight that you might hear about bows is the draw weight which is around 40 pounds at the minimum.

4. How much draw weight do you need for hunting?

For small game hunting, having a draw weight of around 30 to 40 is fine but you will need a larger draw weight for big game hunting because of the tougher hides of the animals.

5. What is a takedown recurve bow?

This is when the limbs of the recurve bow can be detached from the riser. This is for those that want to change and customize their recurve bow limbs to have more draw weight or less weight overall.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to recurve bows, they are small but more powerful and efficient bows than the regular bows that you might be used to. They are made for either competitive sports or hunting and are a great type of bow to learn. They might be difficult at first because your strength matters a lot when dealing with the bow but it is worthwhile. Even with the steep initial learning curve, understanding the different parts of a recurve bow is not only good for your bow learning but it will help you understand how the whole bow works together! Having more knowledge will only improve your hunting and that is why I am happy to put out this piece to help you expand your knowledge further about overall hunting!

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