by E. Donnall Thomas Jr.


To make a kill with a recurve or longbow, I must do everything perfectly. When I get the animal I’m after, the sense of satisfaction is unequaled. More hunters are discovering the same. While switching from a compound bow may seem intimidating, it’s a matter of learning a few basic skills and practicing.

1.) Bow Arm: Keep it lightly flexed to avoid string interference.

2.) Stance: Stand with your feet perpendicular to the arrow’s path.

3.) Grip: This should be stable but relaxed. Keep the bow hand high on the riser, bringing your eye, arrow hand, and arrow into alignment.

4.) Fingers on the String: I shoot with one finger above the arrow and two below. It provides good control of the arrow.

5.) Draw: I use the push-pull method, pushing out with my bow arm and pulling back on the string as I raise the bow so I arrive at full draw just as my bow reaches shooting position.

6.) Anchor: Consistency is key. The string hand must be in the same position with every shot. I anchor the knuckle of my thumb at the corner of my jaw.

7.) Release: This should be light and effortless. Maintain your anchor position to avoid plucking the string.

8.) Follow-through: Keep your bow arm motionless until the arrow hits the target.

From the July 2012 issue of Field & Stream magazine.

Illustration by Mike Sudal