How to Aim With a Bow

Last Updated on April 3, 2021 by Bruce

How do you aim with a recurve bow that is fitted with a sight?

It is confusing if you come from a rifle shooting background like me. With a target rifle, you have a front and rear aperture that are as the name implies – round. You simply line up the round target inside the front round aperture as you look through the back round aperture (there is no need to line up the back aperture as parallax is not an issue as it was once thought to be). Simple as pie. With a recurve bow you do not have a rear peep sight, so Parallax is an issue.

What is Parallax?

Parallax simply put is “point of view” if you look at something a telephone pole from one side of your yard and directly behind it is your neighbor’s garage door, and then you move to the other side of your house and look at the same telephone pole, you will notice that the garage door is no longer aligned behind the pole.
This happens in archery as well but in a smaller way. When you come to full draw you need to anchor (put your drawing hand in the same place on your face each time) or your eye that you are aiming with will see through the sight at a different angle (you will be standing on the other side of the yard, see metaphor above). This will make you think you are aiming at the target’s center but will actually make your sight out of alignment. The effect can make you miss in all planes.

How to aim in Archery:
1. Draw bow back to anchor
2. Align string with raiser in the same position for each shot
3. Center target in front sight aperture

This is how some people think the “sight picture” should look like.

I disagree, but I am not an expert at archery so what do I know!
I am a beginner, though, and I can tell you that this doesn’t work, or it works just ok. The biggest concern i have is that the sight aperture is way too small. you should see the entire target inside the front sight. If you don’t it’s too small and will cause shot stress and target panic (no need to tell you what target panic is, you should be able to figure that out)
Back to Parallax – so from the image above you can see that as long as you line up your string with something, I believe the current school of thought is that you align it to the inner edge of the raiser itself, so just right of where the picture above shows, you will avoid horizontal parallax.
If you always bring the string to the exact place on your face you will avoid vertical parallax. I know that sounds complicated, but Olympic archery is complicated so get used to it.

3 steps you should do to aim with a recurve bow:
1. Always drawback to the same place on your face
2. Align your string somewhere parallel on your bow, and;
3. Center your target in the front sight aperture.