Olympic Recurve Tuning (for Newbies)

I have a correspondent who is trying Olympic Recurve after having some experience as a traditional archer. He wrote in to say (amongst other things):

I bought a Galaxy Tourch riser and Galaxy limbs. They seem very good. Since I shoot a long draw and have a longbow that is 45# @ 30˝ I went with 32# long limbs. I can draw and hold this weight comfortably and it should be enough weight to reach out to long distance.

I’m grouping fairly well and holding the 4-ring on the NFAA target face at 20 yds, but a bit to the left. I have not explored enough yet if this is due to a slight torque in the bow hand as the grip does not seem quite right or a tuning issue that I can correct with the plunger.

I commented on this part of his message as follows.

* * *

The key to getting a good tune is starting from a good setup. I have worked with students who claim they have a good tune but one glance at their bows says otherwise.

It is imperative that all elements of your bow be arranged around the central plane of the riser. The limbs need to be bisected by that plane, the long rod stabilizer, the bowstring, the sight’s aperture. The only exception (I assume you are right-handed, if not switch left and right hereafter) is the arrow. Since the bowstring is in plane, the nock is in plane, but the arrow’s point is not. Instead of sitting right behind the string when viewed from the rear (always in plane—visually line up the string with the two screws that lock the limb bolts down to get your eye in the right place) the arrow point just peeks out from behind the string (right edge of the point lines up with the left edge of the string. (This compensates for the string sliding forward and in toward you during the release of the string.) Only from this setup can you then tune things in correctly.

Left arrows can be caused by the aperture being right of the plane. They can be caused by the arrow rest having the arrow pointing too far left, etc.

If you don’t start from this neutral setup position, you can pit these things against one another and end up with a “false tune” (one that is relatively less forgiving of the normal variations in your shot). So, if your rest places your arrow too far in toward your bow, all other things being correct, you will shoot to the right. You might tune those right arrows out by moving your aperture to the right, or stiffening your plunger button etc. But if you do, you are correcting for one mistake by making another and building a less than best possible tune.

Have fun getting set up and tuning so you can “live in the center” as they say!


PS The best exposition I have seen on setting up and tuning an OR bow is Archery in Action by Simon Needham. It is a DVD companion to his book The Art of Repetition. If you prefer books, there are a number of books available, such as Richard Cockrell’s Modern Recurve Tuning: Start to Finish (Second Ed.).


Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

4 responses to “Olympic Recurve Tuning (for Newbies)

  1. Coach Krish Rama

    Dear Mr. Ruiz,
    as a coach, I have found that, tha majority of my students, do not grip the riser handle, in a consistent fashion.
    I address this issue as, I believe that sight and plunger buttons can be incorrectly set, due to insonsistent grip. I am not a follower of the belief that the riser grip is correctly made for all.
    As much as manufactures provide a variety of grip shapes (low/high/long/short etc), they are (in my opinion) not right.
    Hand morphology is one of my favourite studies and I constantly have had in the past, to have my students readjust their grip.
    Just recently, I found a cure. It is a reference point for placement of the palm on the grip. I purchased a thick rubber tape, more commonly used for winding around badminton racket grips.
    I cut it into a strip of roughly 10cm length, stick it on the inside of the bow grip and have them sit the edge of the strip along the ‘life line’ of the Palm.
    Being able to consistently position the palm via a tactile contact line, has allowed me to properly adjust the buttons and sights.
    Shots are now more accurate and consistency has increased.
    I am not one to go against the manufacturers methods, rather, make it easier for my students to develop grip consistency.
    Sometimes, it is not about bow setup or settings, it can just be about hand morphology and the ability to repeat a hand grip position.


    • I agree with you, Coach Rama! I spend more time adjusting the grips on my own bows than any other activity. At one point I bought a stationary belt sander to be able to adjust the surfaces and angles on my plastic and wood grips.

      Good to hear from you, my friend!


  2. David Beeton

    “Tuning for Tens” is worth a look at as well. We use that in our club over here in UK. We oftenn set up a tuning/retuning session on a club night so that any new equipment is sorted out asap, and before we get people on the tournament shooting line


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