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How to Make a Recurve Bow

Kanika Khara Feb 20, 2020
A recurve bow is designed to curve away from the shooter when drawn, which results in faster arrows and forceful shots. Making a recurve bow is an art that requires patience and the right technique.
The recurve bow is well-known for its elegant curves at each end. It is commonly used in the Olympics and other sporting events. In a recurve bow, the bowstring is attached to the limbs of the bow, rather than the tips, like in other bows. The bow is made up of a riser with two limbs (the upper limb and the lower limb).
The riser is attached to the limbs with hinges at both ends. When the bowstring is drawn, the limbs curve back and when released, they snap back into position. This produces a tension that propels the arrow with a higher force than usual.
The tips of a recurve bow curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. It stores more energy than a straight-limbed bow, giving a greater amount of cast to the arrow.
A recurve gives more arrow energy to a shorter bow than a simple bow, due to which it is often preferred by archers in environment where long weapons are inconvenient. Recurve bows have limbs made of layers of carbon fiber, fiberglass and laminated wood cores.

Making a Recurve Bow

Parts of a Recurve Bow

Before you can make a recurve bow, you first need to know its different parts. This will help you in better understanding the method on making the bow.
  • Limbs - the length of the bow is known as the limb. It is further divided into upper limb and lower limb.
  • String Groove/Nock - the grooves which are made on the bow, to attach the bowstring are known as string grooves or nocks.
  • Grip - the area where the bow is held is called grip.
  • Bowstring - it is the string attached to the bow, which is usually made of flax twine.
  • Handle/Riser - riser is the central section of a bow.
  • Stave/Bow stave - the full length of the wood of the bow is called the bow stave.
  • Bow length - the entire length of the bow is called the bow length.
  • Belly - it is the rounded side of the bow.
  • Recurve - the portion of the bow that curves outwards is called the recurve.

Wood Used for Making Recurve Bows

Selecting the right wood is essential, as not all wood can be used for making a recurve bow. The wood for making a bow needs to be strong yet supple and flexible. There are many types of wood that can be used for making a bow. But, some of the best are Osage orange, elm, hickory, juniper, mulberry and yew. If you are looking for an inexpensive option, then you cannot go wrong with lemonwood.

Material Required

  • 5½ feet long by 3 inch wide board
  • Wood rasp
  • Mill file
  • Pencil hand saw
  • 2 feet by 4 feet large board
  • Heavy duty clamps


  • In the center of the 5½ feet long board, mark a horizontal line in such a way that it divides the board into two equal halves.
  • Now, measure 3 inches on either side of this horizontal center line. Mark this with a permanent marker. The area between these two lines denotes the grip of the bow. You can adjust the measurements as per your hand size.
  • Next, use the rasp to reshape the wood around the gripping area.
  • You will need to use the rasp until the thickness of the gripping area is around 5/8 inch.
  • Once you are done reshaping the gripping area, you need to reshape the rest of the stave. The thickness of the stave, excluding the gripping area should be around 3/8 inch.
  • The width of the recurve bow at the gripping area should be 2½ inches and ½ inch at the stave area. You need to make sure that both the ends of the limb are even in thickness and width. The width of both the limbs (upper limb and the lower limb) should be ½ inches along the length of the bow (excluding the gripping area).
  • With the help of the mill file, smoothen and even out the bow. File the gripping area so that it fits in your hand perfectly.
  • Now cut a curve into the 2 feet by 4 feet board with the hand saw. Try to make it as even as possible.
  • Now, boil some water in a big container. Immerse one end of the bow (up to 10 inches) in the water for three hours.
  • Remove the bow from the water and clamp it onto the curved board with heavy duty clamps.
  • Repeat this procedure for the other end also.
  • Cut 2-inch notches from the tip on the sides of the bow from the top and the bottom. These notches are used to hold the bowstring in place.
Making a recurve bow can be challenging for DIY enthusiast with limited woodworking skills. However, the excitement of accomplishment and the knowledge gained through it makes it worth the effort.