Recurve riser

Pic 1: Recurve riser with black sight bar on right, magnetic-type clicker attached to riser/sight-bar attachment point, stabilisers on the left, grip modified with putty to fit archers hand. The black arrow rest has a plunger button through it.

Recurve bows

Example of a Recurve Bow is shown in picture 1. Risers can be made from machined aluminium or carbon fibre (as in Pic. 1) to decrease weight and maintain accurate geometry. The limbs are accurately aligned in the attached limb pockets. The riser also has a built in pocket for a clicker and two pressure button locations. The grip is detachable and a variety of grip shapes are available. Many high-end modern limbs are made from laminations of ‘Syntactic Foam Core’ or maple wood and carbon fibre to give lightness and strength, as well as stability in varying weather conditions.

There are many brands and styles of recurves and accessories, as shown in picture 2.

As expected, all this new technology does come at a premium price. You won’t get much change out of $1,500 for a top of the range bow. (That does not include any accessories such as sight, stabilisers, etc.)

Line of recurves

Pic 2: All the colours of the rainbow


Compound bows

Compound bow risers (Pic. 3) are made from machined aluminium to decrease weight and maintain accurate geometry. The limbs are accurately aligned in the attached limb pockets. The grip is detachable and a variety of grip shapes are available. There are ‘Carbonite’ limbs available. These are laminated with ‘Syntactic Foam’ laminations and carbon fibre laminations to give lightness and strength, as well as, stability in varying weather conditions.

You may have noticed that the limbs are ‘split’. There are in fact two seperate limbs top and bottom, fitted into a machined pocket. The bow on the left has ‘Cam Wheels’ fitted which can give an 80% let-off. The bow on the right has ‘Energy Wheels’ fitted which can give an 60% let-off. There are a variety of wheel shapes available, ranging from a smooth draw ‘soft’ cam shape to a sharp draw ‘radical’ cam shape. The radical cam wheels will give greater arrow speed, but are harder to shoot, as they are less forgiving of any shooting form faults. The cables are made from ‘Fastflite’ material, the same as the bowstring. These cables also have a ‘yoke’ at the ends to balance the load on the limb tips.


Pic. 3: One big compound bow…

There are many different types, shapes and brands of compound bow. Each has its own feel, so try out as many as you can to get one that matches your style.

Crossbow, freestyle, recurve style. 2012 Archery ACT Championships.

Pic. 4: Crossbow, recurve style. 2012 Archery ACT Championships.

Cross bows

Picture 4 an example of a Target Crossbow (Freestyle Recurve Type). There are compound models available as well. There is two main divisions of crossbows :-
Production and Freestyle. The Production type are readily available from archery shops, while the Freestyle type are usually custom made. Draw weight can be 100 to 150 pounds (45 to 55kg). To draw the bowstring back to the trigger catch, use both hands on the string while standing with both feet on the front ‘foot prod’.

The trigger has a safety catch and the stock & grip are much like that used for a rifle. There is another hand grip under the ‘bolt rail’ to support the crossbow while aiming. There is a rear aperture and front sight for aiming. Crossbow arrows are called ‘bolts’ and are approx. 16-20 inches (410-510mm) long and have a flat rear insert instead of a nock. The rules for shooting Crossbows state that they must be shot from a standing position. The distances shot are the same as for recurve/compound target rounds, except that the size of the target face is half that as used for recurve/compound. Please Note: To purchase or own a Crossbow in Queensland, you will be required to have a weapons license under the new Act and to comply with the requirements of that Act. For further information go to Police Services – Weapons Licensing – Crossbows.

Plunger, arrow rest, clicker

Pic. 5: The silver plunger button on the right goes through the riser and pushes on the arrow on the rest (also silver in this picture). The clicker sits at the tip of the arrow when at full draw.

Pressure button

A ‘Pressure Button’ can be used when the bow riser has a threaded sleeve fitted. The arrow rest has to be adjusted so that the centre of the arrow and the centreline of the pressure button align. The pressure button has two purposes:-

The first is to adjust the horizontal position of the arrow as it sits on the arrow rest to achieve ‘centreshot’. The second is to absorb the initial bend of the arrow as it is released by adjusting the amount of spring pressure on the plunger button. These adjustments will achieve straighter arrow flight when the bow is ‘tuned’.

Arrow rests

The support arm of a recurve arrowe rest is spring loaded and will ‘flip’ out of the way of the arrow fletch. The arm also has a teflon cover to prolong wear.
A compound bow launcher rest has twin prongs to support the arrow and are spring loaded, so the amount of deflection can be adjusted. The vertical and horizontal position of the rest can be accurately adjusted by loosening the locknuts and turning the adjustment bolts.


The ‘Clicker’ is a strip of spring steel attached to the riser. The arrow is placed under the clicker so that at full draw, the arrow point will be pulled from under the clicker. It will then snap back against the bow making an audible ‘click’ noise. At this sound the archer will release the arrow. The clicker is used as a draw length check. Each arrow can then be shot from the exact same draw length. Before an archer can use a clicker, their draw length must be consistent, otherwise it will be more of a hinderance than a help. To set the clicker in the correct position, no more than half the length of the arrow point must be left under the clicker at full draw. If too much length is left under the clicker, it will take too much effort to pull that extra amount while keeping the sight steady.

Recurve sight.

Pic. 6: Recurve sight.

Compound sight with scope.

Pic. 7: Compound sight with scope.


Bow sights are used for both recurve (Pic. 6) and compound bows (Pic. 7). The sight bolts onto the side of the riser. The horizontal extension arm allows the sight to be adjusted in and out from the bow. The vertical arm is usually graduated with a scale for height adjustment. The ‘Sight Block’ slides along the vertical bar and holds the ‘Sight Pin’ which is adjustable horizontally for windage.


Scope Sight attachment can be used only on Compound Bows. The example in Pic. 7 has a magnifying lens with a central aiming dot. The lens can be 2X, 4X, 6X or 8X magnification. The level is used to check that the bow is being held vertical.


Stabilisers are added to the bow to give it more stability when aiming and delay any reaction movement after the arrow is released. Most stabilisers are hollow tapered aluminium rods fitted with threads at each end. The thicker base end is threaded into the bow and the thinner tip end has weights that can be added as required. The number of, and orientation of the stabiliser rods and the number of weights used is up to the archer’s own preference. The other purpose of adding stabilisers is to balance the bow so it will sit comfortably in the archer’s hand while drawing and aiming. The rear facing rods shown in the picture are used to balance the amount of weight on the front rod and to provide additional balance side to side. Additional stabilisation can be gained by using dampeners, known as ‘Torque Flight Compensators’ (TFC’s). These are fitted between the bow and the base of the rods. Their purpose is to absorb the vibrations in the bow after the release by means of stiff rubber collars. This reduces the stresses in the rods.

Kisser button

A ‘Kisser Button’ is a small plastic disc, (approx. 10mm diameter), attached to the bowstring. It is positioned on the bowstring, so that at full draw, it will touch the the archer’s lips. It can be located to touch the nose instead, if the archer chooses to use this position. The purpose of the Kisser Button is to provide another point of reference for the anchor position. Mainly it is used on recurve bows. On compound bows, it is usually not required, as a ‘Peep Sight’ is allowed to be attached to the bowstring.

Nocking point locators.

Pic. 8: Two tied on nocking point locators on either side of the arrow’s nock.

Peep sight

A Peep Sight can only be fitted into the bowstring of a Compound Bow. It is used as a rear sight in conjunction with the front Scope Sight. It must be inserted into the bowstring so that at full draw, it will align with the archers eye. This may take a few attempts to achieve as the bowstring can twist slightly while being pulled back to full draw. Once in the correct location, it is secured by tying serving around the bowstring above and below the peep sight.

Nocking point locators

Nocking point locators can be brass and clipped on, or made from string (serving string, bowstring) and tied on (Pic. 8). The brass kind have a plastic inside lining to grip and protect the bowstring. They are placed onto the bowstring in the required location, then clamped with a set of pliers to secure. Whether brass or string, usually two are used, one either side of the arrow nock. Take care when securing in place to allow enough clearance to the arrow nock at full draw.

Finger tabs

Finger tabs protect the fingers from the abrasiveness and force of the string at full draw. They can be used with a shelf to help locate anchor point, and/or with a finger spacer block fitted to help keep the index and middle fingers away from the arrow nock at full draw. The shelf is also adjustable up and down to suit the size of the fingers. The shelf also provides a more positive contact to the jaw for a consistent anchor position. Multiple layers of material provide greater protection to the fingers.

Release aids

There are several type of release aids including finger and back release mechanisms. In a finger release aid the centre lever is depressed to set the trigger, then the rope is looped around the bowstring and locked into the jaw. Some models have two triggers, one for the thumb and one for the little finger. These can be adjusted so that one or both will release the bowstring.

Author: Graeme Jeffrey

Photographs were taken by Andy MacDonald.

Last updated: 2013-04-09