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Thread: Recurve tuning

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Wasilla, Ak

    Default Recurve tuning

    Looking for a shop to help tune a recurve bow. I've owned several recurves but never really tuned one. Thought since I just bought an older recurve I would give it a try. Any thoughts on where to begin? What shop would be the best? I live in the valley but work in Anchorage, so either local is acceptable. Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    I don't have a suggestion for shops to take it to, but tuning it yourself isnt that bad.. You will need a little time and having a second person watching your arrow doesnt hurt either, having a second set of eyes to tell you how your arrow is flying. If you go online there are all kinds of instructional videos on how to tune your bow and arrows. Good luck to you and straight arrows..

  3. #3


    Tuning a recurve or longbow is simple. The most difficult part will be drawing and releasing consistently. Proper form and release is essential. Practice drawing and releasing for a few weeks at about 3 yards just to get it burned into your muscle memory. Don't spend money on new arrows until after you've been shooting for a while. I recommend using a heavy carbon arrow like Traditional Carbon Express or Gold Tips or equivalent. You want an arrow about 9-12 grains per pound of draw weight. I like heavier but I limit my shots to shorter ranges. Once you have your form down and your anchor consistent then get a couple full length bare shafts from a local shop. Put a field point equal to the weight of the broadhead you plan to hunt with.

    Set you brace height (the distance from the string to the throat of the handle): twist the string (shortens) until it stop slapping your wrist but not too far that it gets noticeably twangy. This is usually somewhere between 7 1/2" - 8 1/2" depending on the bow. Put on the string silencers you want to use. Wool yarn works great.

    Put your nock on the string about 3/8" or maybe a little higher from 90 degrees of your arrow shelf to start with.

    Get 10 feet from your target and shoot your bare shafts. If the shafts stick into the target with the arrow nock end high then lower your string nock until it sticks in straight or level. If it bounces off you shelf then raise it up.

    (For a right handed shooter) If the shafts stick into the target nock end left then you need to cut some off the end of the shaft. Cut it in 1/4" increments and shoot it until the shaft sticks into the target straight. If the shaft stick into the target with the nock end pointing right then the shaft is too stiff. You can add weight to the point end of a stiff shaft until it shoot straight or get a lighter spine shaft.

    Once the bare shafts are consistently sticking into the target straight up, down, side to side, then step back to 15 yards or more and shoot your bare shafts. If they stick in straight then your bow is tuned. It's as simple as that. Buy your arrows to match and cut them all the same length with the same point weight and you're ready to go. Keep one bare shaft and use it as a shooting coach if your accuracy starts to wander.

  4. #4


    Bd has some great advice, I've been thinking on how to approach this for a little bit now.

    I will say this. Traditional archery IS simple....but its by far, FAR from easy! If it were easy there wouldnt be a need or desire for compounds releases rests etc. traditional gear in the right hands is extremely effective equipment, everything has its plus's and minus's as you're about to learn.

    Tuning is by far the hardest part. I definatly agree with his mindset here. Dont go to crazy with arrows until you've shot for a little bit. Dont worry about accuracy (the 3 yard shot) start working on form immediatly and building muscles. You can get close within a spine or two of what you need, and shot the living dickens out of them. By than you'll know what direction you need to head to get the right spine and likely be able to guess how much. Hopefully the rest of this will help you along the way.

    Braceheight varys significantly from bow to bow, or design I should say. I prefer somewhere in the low 7's or so it seems most of my bows are 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, I am a longbow guy by trade but have shot recurves for years and atleast the curves I have owned in the past are still not over that 7 1/4 mark. That said I've also shot bows approaching 8"es. I dont have anything radical enough in design to warrent a higher bh. Every bow has a sweet spot...spend some time finding it. Watch your bh often, strings stretch and recover being strung and unstrung. Depending on material the bh can change greatly. I prefer to start high here but either way works. Slowly work your way down till you get noise and vibration..Put a couple twists back in and viola you are there for that arrow. If you change arrows, you vary well may have to change the BH due to weight mostly. How long that string stays on the arrow and the weight of the string as you'll see below will also effect your BH setting.

    My nocks are also about 3/8"es. A little higher here is good advice....feather clearance. split finger vs 3 under will take different nock sets.....I dont shoot 3 under, if you do you may need a lower nock point. If you find you have an arrow acting goofy once you're tuned, check your nocks...usually you have a feather thats trying to mash its way around the riser. I prefer tying my own nocks with number 4 nylon in a bright color. Its easy to do and adjustable. Once you find THE spot, glue it down with some superglue or duco and your done! Make sure you leave the tag ends long before you burn them. I like to about 1/4" and burn them down, than twist the nock to break it loose till you're done tuning. I also mark my serving with a magic marker....its a super quick and easy reference point if your nock happens to end up moving or comes unwound, you can sit in a stand and fix it and still be spot on.

    Arrows, again great choice. I have shot woods for 21 years now and I likely will never change. But I dont advocate someone new to shooting trad to pick them up. Keep things as easy as you can in the beginning. The nice thing is when you find some alums that fly, some shops or some of us can convert you to wood easy enough. Carbons are a hole different ball of wax so the tuning process will start all over again.

    I'm also a bareshaft guy. I like to bareshaft slightly weak. Once you add feathers (and paint like I do if you go that route, or a wrap), you add weight to the nock end, which increases the dynamic spine slightly (how the arrow acts). How tight or loose your arrow is on your string will also play with how it acts. If its tight on the string your arrow is going to act stiffer than it would if it was looser...too loose and it will be inconsitent and may cause a dryfire situation...had that happen on a black bear a couple years ago....a good laugh for a campfire sometime .

    I also like to have my shafts cut so a BH hits my finger at full draw. Its a good draw check, just another way to work on consistency. Most people are smart enough even in the 'moment' to not pull a razor sharp head up on their hands, if you turn it right its not impossible but highly unlikely. Its hard to explain but easy to set it up right. My 2 blade zwickey eskimos are not horizontal or perpendicular but set at a 45 for two reasons, the draw check is one..the other is when I cant my bow I dont want to see my BH at all...I know its there, but it doesnt grab my attention away from my target. When tuning leave your arrows long unless you have a bunch to play with. I'd still go long and work your way down in 1/4" incremants till you hit the right spine and braceheight so she shoots great.

    there are some fine tuning things I recommend, you'll find all of them in fergusons 'become the arrow' book and some in asbells books.

    First, put a pressure point at the deepest point of the grip. A 'bump' under the rest material on the AND site window. it helps to minimize contact with the arrow and the shelf and minimizes torque. You dont need much. I usually shave down a square tooth pick. Taper it to the corner of the site window and leave a gap here for the corrisponding hen feather to run through. It helps with clearnace. I may not be nessicary, feathers will mash down, but why make it harder, its simple enough to do and on my large profile sheild cuts, I have noticed it can cause a bounce if it hits too hard. its a simple step that may or may not help you..but if it in advertnatly does, it will save you a bunch of headahces when you start seeing a goofy bounce on some arrows after they are fletched. Spend a long time on a few shafts trying to find this one over the years...and for some reason its always the last thing I end up doing it seems lol.

    You can also adjust the pressure points in or out and it will effectively adjust dynamic spine stiffer (if you move it closer to the string or belly of the bow) or weaker (by moving it towards the back of the bow closest to you target). If you're close in spine its one way to fine tune without having to go to a hole new shaft or adding unnessicary weights or different heads.

    by adjusting your braceheight you are also playing with dynamic spine. Lower bh makes your arrow ACT weaker. Higher bh makes it ACT depending on how the arrow shoots bareshaft or group testings (OL Adcocks site has this method gone over very well), you can tweak it here...and is where I would start before moving your pressure points around...its the easiest of the two methods. If its NOT enough but very closer, move that pressure point than try playing with BH again.

    You can also move your silencers up and slows or speeds up the string. Its really splitting hares, but when you're close, it can be the ticket. Different silencer materials depending on weight, will effect your dynamic spine differently. I use very petite beaver balls and it takes a LOt of movement for me to see it down range. It can however make the difference and has for me in the past. THough I do like to have them on the 1/4 or 1/3rd string length marks (harmonics of a string, ie frets on a guitar are 1/4 and 1/3rd, hit these spots to reduce bow noise IF you have any, do BOTH if neither works).

    String material and number of strands also effect tuning greatly. I just switched to a skinny dyanflight 97 string and had to completely retune by bow. I need a arrow almost 15lbs heavier in spine to shoot by going from a 15 strand 2 ply flemish, down to an 8 strand with a thin serving over all and a double serve at the nock area. I dont know how much it overall reduced my string weight but it had to be quite a bit. My bow is also super quite, if it wasnt already, now its a whisper. Making them is a booger with d97, I have heard d10 is much easier to pull it off with, but have no first hand knowledge.

    Tip weights also effect your dynamic spine....changing tip weights will change how your arrow acts...heavier tips make the arrow fly weaker, weaker tips make it fly heavier.

    You might try some grizzly stiks. The guys that shoot them lovem. (alaska bowhunting supply, Ed's in south anchorage, up the hill right before you head down into the flats going to seward on the left. Great guy to chat with also!) There's no need to weight them. I thinkyou can go TOO Heavy and get diminishing returns, but what that is will depend on a mulitude of bow weight, your draw length, your brace height being the 3 big ones.... You'll have to figure out what shoe fits you and your set up over time. Most trad guys error, like to error on the heavy side and if you follow the ashby studies you'll understand a heavier arrow with a higher foc will outpenetrate all else. When shooting a limited weapon, taking advantage of things where one can on big game is a good recommendation to chase. They are all good whatever shaft you decide to shoot.

    I should say this, static spine is the spine of the shaft as it sits on a spine tester....a 2116, a 55-70 and a wood arrow say 60lb spine on the testor all have a static spine....though the numbers on the alum and carbons dont represent this. And on wood they are not for what bow to shoot, they are nothing more than a refernce so you can go out and buy more. DYNAMIC spine is how the arrow ACTS. You can adjust this with the methods stated above. If you didnt gather, the dynamic spine is what you are trying to fine tune to get perfect arrow flight. Dont let anyone tell you you cant bullet hole a non centershot longbow. I'll prove every one of them wrong and thats with a less than steller release! The arrow is forced to bend. That doesnt mean it has to fly end over end because of it. Get familiar with these things and how they affect dyanmic spine and you'll learn to tune a bow pretty quick.

    Good luck, holler if you need a hand along the way. Its simple...yup, but its FAR from easy!!!

  5. #5
    Member WaterWolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Or ya can check out Bear Paw Archery up off of Lucas (I think).

    Ron will help ya and if he's busy there seems to be a ton of those guys (Oops and Judy) in there more then willing to help.
    I'm Pro-Pike.

  6. #6


    I forgot a tip...seems simple.

    When you get tuned. Write ALL of it down on the edge of your bow, under the wrap, in the takedown pocket, somewhere. Makes life much easier!

    I write it on my bow square on a piece of tape. Either way find some place you wont loose it and write it down. If you have a bunch of bows and decide to go back to one it will save a TON of time!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    north pole


    Tradbow....... what a write up great info, my hates off to you it took me longer to read it then it did for me to tune my recurve hahahaha. I just watched the Blackwidow guy talking about tuning and bareshafting worked for me and yeah the 2nd set of eyes are extremely helpful. its alot simplier then my recurve.

  8. #8


    I need to hang out with your eyes must be getting old . Glad it worked for ya....there is no wrong way to get to the end (tuned)...that's definatly one great thing about stickbow shooting. I can be a 3 legged hobbit and still do ok hehe.

    I'm also a bareshaft guy, it works great, but has a tendancy to break a few woodies in the process if you're not careful...doug fir really explodes when it goes too, kinda fun and slightly aggrevating lol.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    I'll second the write it down tip! If you don't, after a time, string replacement, etc..., you will find yourself adjusting your nock pt, brace ht, all over again. Or asking yourself, which arrows did I use with that bow last?

    I have a little book that I write all the stats down for each bow, makes it alot easier when I pick one up I haven't shot in awhile.


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