This article will cover all the essential recurve accessories you need.
If you have watched any archery competitions, you’ve probably noticed that recurve bows can have A LOT of accessories. Some recurve bows look more like a big science project that might take flight than something to use for accurate shooting.
If you are new to archery, it is best not to get caught up in accessories. You don’t need all the latest bow add-ons to learn the fundamentals of archery, and it will be more than enough to just concentrate on shooting a bow by itself.
Plus, the more accessories you integrate into your set up, the more things there are that can mess up. Bow accessories can be helpful once you have been shooting for awhile. It’s good to wait until you are comfortable with your bow and feel like your technique is consistent.
If you are like me, you enjoy gadgets and accessories. I like to study them, compare, try them out, etc. The problem is that that you can get too focused on accessories and not enough on just practicing. The best bows and all the accessories available don’t make you a good archer.
But once you have become comfortable with your bow and have put in some good practice, then there are many accessories available for archery that can be helpful to you. The interesting thing is that every archer you ask will give you a different answer on which accessories are indispensable.
While it’s great to get recommendations, take your time and review items when you can. Ask questions and talk with archers at your archery pro shop and remember that you will have to decide what works best for you and your setup.
If you are new to recurve bows, be sure and check out my beginner’s guide to shooting a recurve bow.
# Arrow Rests
Arrow Rests are one of the most used recurve bow accessories. The goal of the arrow rest is to hold your arrow above the shelf on your bow. While it is possible to shoot without a rest if you are a traditional archer, most archers shooting recurve bows use some form of arrow rest. Some bows come with a rest, especially beginner bows, but you will need to buy one if yours does not have one.
There are many different varieties of arrow rest. Some rests are very simple plastic pieces that have an adhesive on the back to stick to your bow. Others rests are more complex magnetic metal with a metal arm. The stick on rest is helpful because it correctly positions your arrow for a straight shot and allows it to clear the riser. Because it keeps the arrow away from the riser, it also absorbs shock with the arrow is shot.
There are many different rests used for competition, and they have various designs. The functions are the same in that they position the arrow correctly and keep it off the riser. Some of the more complex rests can hold up the arrow in the correct position and then fall away as it is released.
These rest utilize either a magnet or mechanical arm. You will have to try out different styles to figure out what works best for you. Some of the rest are made for specific bow types and draw weights so make sure you read the manufacturer’s specifications.
# Arm Guards
If you have ever spent time shooting a bow with no arm guard, you understand why they are one of the necessary recurve bow accessories. Most recurve archers and many compound archers wear arm guards to avoid injury from the bowstring while shooting.
If you have good form, this is less likely to happen, but every archer gets snapped by the string once in a while, and it does not feel good. Arm guards are also a good to wear when you have on long sleeves. They keep your sleeve from coming into contact with the bowstring. Even the slightest contact while shooting can interfere with your shot.
There are a variety of arm guard designs and materials, such as plastic or leather, and there are many different ways of attaching them. There are hooks, clips, and elastic bands. Some tie on and others are one piece that you slide over your arm. Arm guards used for competitive shooting are considerably less wide than recreational ones.
# Finger Tabs
Finger tabs are used to keep your fingers from getting blisters when you are holding the bow-string. These are also very useful for keeping your fingers in the correct position while you are shooting. Like most accessories, there is a variety of styles to choose from.
The most simple design is notched piece of leather with a hole cut out. The notch creates an upper tab for your top finger which will hold the string above the arrow nock and this helps you use the correct hook and avoid getting pinched. The bottom tab is usually wider to accommodate two fingers below the nock. Your middle finger slides through the hole help you hold it.
The finger tabs used for competition often have a metal plate to help it fit better in your hand. This type is usually adjustable and has a top ledge to use under your jaw as an anchor point. If you use a leather finger tab, remember that it will take time to break in. They often require several weeks of use to get it molded to your hand.
There are two main types of quivers that you can choose from. One types attach to your bow, and the other attaches to you. Bowhunters primarily use quivers that attach to their bow. Since they are often in the woods, the bow quiver keeps spare arrows in a fixed position against the bow and helps keep them from getting caught in limbs and brush.
This type of quiver is not ideal for shooting when it is attached to the bow because it interferes with the balance. I use this type of quiver for bowhunting but only use it while I am walking through the woods. I take it off and set it next to me when I am in the blind or tree stand.
The side quiver usually hangs on a belt. This is the type of quiver you will see at a competition so archers can safely carry arrows to the different targets. Side quivers also help with safety on the shooting range because you can put your arrows inside after retrieving them from the target rather than carrying them in your hand. There are many different styles of side quiver to choose from, and they are often made from fabric or leather. Some also have additional pockets and storage for other accessories.
Bow sights are used as a reference point when you are aiming. Along with rests, these are the most used recurve bow accessories. The main types of sights are open ring sights, pin sights, and target sights. Many traditional archers who shoot longbows do not use sights but shoot by feel instead. This takes a great deal of practice. Almost all archers shooting both recurve and compound bows use sights.
Many bow sights often have some form of ring or aperture and a sight pin inside the ring which is used to aim. You focus on the sight pin which is lined up on target. When the sight is lined up correctly on target, it means that your bow is in the correct position to shoot. There are fixed sights that cannot be adjusted, but most are adjustable in every direction.
This allows for very precise shooting. Sights that are used for competition target shooting tend to be more expensive and highly adjustable. This means that a competitor can take some test shots, then easily adjust their sights because of wind or distance.
Compound bows that are used for competition archery can have scopes on the sight which magnify the target. They can also have a level on the sight which helps to balance the bow when shooting. Scopes are not allowed on recurve bows used competition, and they are required to aim with the sight alone.
As with most archery accessories, there are many different sight options and customizations you make. You will want to research the sight choices for your particular bow and shooting needs. It is also helpful to talk to an archery coach if you have one or stop by your local archery shop.
Some bows can use a plunger which screws into the riser. A plunger resembles a spark plug and essentially just an encased spring. Plungers screw into a hole in the riser and have a small piece that sits above the shelf. The plunger helps to keep the arrow in place when shooting, but its primary purpose is to absorb the shock of the arrow when shooting.
Arrows flex when shot which is one aspect of the archer’s paradox. When you release the bowstring with your fingers, the string is pushed slightly toward the tip of your fingers which causes left and right flex of the arrow. The spring in the plunger works to absorb that flex and keep the arrow straight as it leaves the riser.
Photo of plunger, clicker, and sight.
The adjustment for plungers is typically moving it in or out of the riser which helps center the arrow, and you can adjust the tension of the spring. Plungers vary in price, with the more expensive ones offering sturdier materials and micro adjustments.
Stabilizers are one of the most noticeable recurve bow accessories. If you have ever seen someone shooting a bow with a crazy long bar sticking out the front, then you have seen a stabilizer. There are many different lengths and makes of stabilizer, but they often have weighted ends to help stabilize the bow, and offer some shock absorption which also helps with accuracy.
Some archers use a single rod stabilizer which attaches to the front of the bow, or it can be a stabilizing balancing system. The two main balancing systems use either a single side rod or two v-bars.
The stabilizer attaches by screwing the threaded end into the bow underneath the grip. Using a stabilizer gives the bow better balance and adds a small amount of weight to the front end. This weight works to counterbalance the bow when you draw. Once the arrow is fired, the bow tips forward slightly.
Stabilizers come in several different materials, weights, and lengths. All of these factors affect vibrations absorbing ability. You will likely have to experiment with different stabilizers to figure out which one works best for your set up. If you are only interested in recreational archery, the stabilizer is not as big of a concern.
Clickers are used to indicate a certain draw length on a recurve bows. They are one of the least used recurve bow accessories, but still very helpful if you know how to use them. Drawing the same distance every time you shoot helps improve accuracy. The clicker itself is typically a flat piece of metal several inches long.
The end screws into your riser above the shelf and hangs down. Your arrow goes between the riser and the clicker, and when you draw the arrow back far enough, the device slides past the arrow tip and “clicks” against the riser. You may feel a small vibration in the bow and hear the sound which indicates a full draw and helps in your shooting consistency.
Properly positioning the clicker requires a partner to help measure your correct draw length. If you have a coach, they will