10 Favorite Recurve’s Archery Common Questions
Having conducted tuning and equipment seminars in over 20 different countries over the past few decades, I have noticed that there are quite a few recurring questions, questions that seem to come up nearly every time. Whether I am lecturing some of the best coaches in the world, providing a World Archery seminar, or doing a tuning clinic for a Japanese high school club, all archers seem to ask the same questions.
Some of these are even asked about by Olympic Champions! Here are some of the more common recurve questions — and answers — that seem to pop up over and over again, from all levels of archers, just about everywhere!
10 Favorite Recurve’s Archery Common Questions
1. How do you find the optimal brace height for a recurve?
In most cases, the “best” brace height for a given recurve bow is where the bow shoots most quietly. This is usually in the middle of the manufacturer’s recommendation range. Once the best brace height has been determined, it’s time to experiment with small adjustments to see whether a higher brace height would improve grouping.
2. What is the ideal distance between the point and the plunger for a recurve shooter when drawn fully?
The “standard” answer is that at least two centimeters of shaft (not including the point) must extend past the plunger center at full draw. Within reasonable limits, more is fine- some archers run quite a bit more- but less should be avoided. There is a basis for this in how arrows vibrate, and how they interact with the plunger, at launch and when leaving the bow.
3. What is the recommended tab size for archers?
Tab sizes are usually similar to dress glove sizes. Generally, a small tab will do the trick if one is using a small glove. It is important to remember that the string should not strike the fingers on release- if it does, the tab leather is likely too short.
4. How thick should a leather tab be, or how many layers should an archer use?
For the most part, people are affected differently, but as a general guide, comfort is crucial and the tab layers should be thick enough to prevent finger pain. Some people find it more comfortable to wear fewer layers, for instance, two layers of Cordovan feel about as comfortable as two layers of Cordovan and one layer of thin rubber, followed by one layer of suede.
However, the Cordovan layers are thinner overall, last longer, and often behave better in wet weather than a solution incorporating a suede backing.
5. How long or how short should the leather on a tab be?
Most top shooters don’t trim their tabs at all, while others keep it to the bare minimum. In order to determine the minimum cut length for your (broken-in) tab, heavily dust it with talcum powder, shoot a few shots, and check where the talc has been scraped off by the string.
There is typically a ridge of powder built up past where it was wiped off by the string. The unused leather is typically about 3 mm beyond this. However, it’s questionable whether doing so is actually necessary in the case of a well-designed tab face like a Cavalier or Angel.
If you need proof, note that the legendary archer Park, Sung-hyun, 2004, set her incredible 1405 FITA World Record score using the tab she used at the Olympics – an untrimmed, unmodified, genuine Dick Tone Cavalier tab. If you need to cut anything, remember- cutting less is easier than replacing cut material!
6. How come so many archers seem to alter their grips?
There are a variety of reasons to consider it, including a specific size, shape, or pressure for each hand. Changing grips is a fun activity, and it has immediate effects (good or bad!). Therefore, it has become quite popular to adjust the grip. Many people don’t understand all of the issues that manifest themselves when they make big changes to their grip.
As an example, going from a neutral grip to a high grip affects much more than just wrist angle- you’ll notice changes in shot timing, bow dynamics, and more! Many archers use tennis wrap or other friction tapes for their grips to avoid slipping when the weather is wet or hot and humid.
7. How does the Easton X10 differ from the Easton A/C/E shaft? Does it have any disadvantages?
There are several advantages- the smaller diameter and greater ballistic density of the X10 shaft minimizes surface area, reduces cross section, and generates greater momentum, all of which can be important in windy and long range conditions.
The main disadvantage of a smaller diameter is that gluing components requires more care. Because of this, removing points requires a bit more time and care so as not to overheat.
Additionally, they’re harder to stop when they’re in the target. Better target materials, especially modern foam targets, help prevent pass-throughs.
In addition to its smaller diameter and better ballistic performance, the X10 is designed with a significantly less stiff tail section than the ACE. This improves finger release consistency compared to the slightly stiffer ACE tail section, and particularly compared to the much stiffer tail section of parallel shafts. The proven design of this product acts as a very forgiving “shock absorber” when the shooter releases the rifle in an inconsistent manner.
8. What is the effect of cutting an X10 from the rear / Why isn’t there a chart to tell us what this effect is / Why does Easton not recommend cutting X10 shafts from the back?
Cutting X10 (or ACE) barreled shafts from the rear of the shaft results in a stiffer arrow reaction that is disproportionate to cutting the same amount from the front. This is due to a long taper on the shaft, and how the arrow reacts to “loading” on release.
In the process of cutting the shaft from the rear, the “tail spine” of the shaft becomes stiffer. However, the precise amount of change for a specific shooter depends on a number of variables, the most significant of which is the relative string amplitude at release of the archer, something no chart can fully capture. Every archer’s release is nearly as individual to that archer as their fingerprint!
It is generally recommended, however, not to adjust the shaft rearward by more than one inch (2.54 cm), since this will shift the shaft halfway toward the next stiffer shaft size. However, this will reduce the shaft’s forgiveness, which is why it is generally not advised. It is better to reduce bow weight to stiffen arrow reaction, rather than increase it.
Please note that every Easton arrow has the point to the left, when you hold the arrow so you can read the label- this is a century-old Easton tradition!
9. What is the best centershot setting for the X10?
Many less experienced archers using X10 shafts make the mistake of applying “textbook” centershot settings to the X10- with half, or more, of the arrow point sitting outside the string when the bow is at brace height and viewed from behind.
The settings work for shafts weaker than 650, but for stiffer shafts, especially above .410, less centershot is needed. This is due to the barrel on the shaft. As they travel forward upon release, larger size X10’s tend to dynamically compensate for centershot, so they can generally be aligned closer to the center than conventional shafts.
A simple walkback test can be used to confirm the proper setting. Some top shooters tune their X10’s to sit “right down the middle” at brace height.
10. Why are there “weight codes” on top end Easton shafts? Is this relevant?
With aluminum alloy, the stiffness for any given mass of material is always exactly the same. A great thing about aluminum shafts is that you can order them in the exact same dimensions as the ones you had 20 years ago.
The case is not generally the same with carbon fiber, which exhibits significant stiffness variations between production runs, as opposed to aluminum.
To deal with this, Easton first carefully selects the carbon fiber, and then they do a few proprietary things to reduce variation to a minimum, and then they build shafts of the same spine (static stiffness).
Since there’s always some variation in the carbon from batch to batch, some shafts of the same spine may be a few grain lighter or heavier than others.
As a result, Easton goes to the trouble of sorting the shafts by weight (C1, C2, etc) in order to make sure you have not only a perfect spine (which is the most important consideration), but that the shaft weights are all uniform.
In addition, they make sure every shaft in a factory-packaged dozen is within 0.5 grains.
To be honest, Easton overdoes this a bit- they are quite obsessed with perfection. There is usually so little difference between a batch of category C3 shafts and a batch of category C4 shafts, that once cut, assembled, and fletched, they can be mixed with absolutely no problems.
But shaft manufacturers that do not do this have a lot more spine variation in their production than Easton- sometimes as much as a whole shaft size!