Olympic Recurve Archery Bow

Project ARO is an Olympic class recurve archery bow created for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and designed for team USA. The bow was designed to bend several Olympic rules, without breaking them to produce winning results.

The Problem: In the 2012 Olympics, Team USA lost Gold by a single point. Within the sport of archery the difference between Silver and Gold could be as small as the diameter of a single the arrow. With such high demands placed on the Olympians it was determined that if each individual shot could be even marginally improved the combined result would be significant.

Olympic Regulations:
No electronic devices
No arrow release mechanisms
No grip aids contacting the wrist
No magnification, lenses or prisms on sights

Design Criteria: In order to adhere to the regulations while still creating a competitive advantage for the archer, the following features were incorporated into project ARO.

ARO’s features:
Integrated forarm brace
Speed Groove string guides
3D printed carbon fiber shoot-through limbs
Mirrored optical sighting and draw length indication system
90° rotated grip for improved bio-mechanics
Shortened stabilizer due to aided stability from forearm brace


The goal of Project ARO was to bend the rules without breaking them.
To create competitive advantage while following the regulations.

Concept Ideation

Shape and form was one of the core elements of Project ARO. From the beginning of the project the concept was to approach the bow as if it were a combination of sculpture incorporating organic and mechanical elements. The transitions between shapes and the way the surfaces catch light were a primary focus during the development process. Several different concepts were explored during the ideation process before arriving at the final concept. Ideation included everything from minimal designs, asymmetrical rigs and Y-tailed bow limbs. While these concepts were explored the final design was selected due to its performance and aesthetic characteristics.
The form was approached as sculptural and natural beauty.


ARO means “ring” in Portuguese and it was chosen for the project both to symbolize the Olympic rings as well as the shoot through limb design that is the heart of the bow. The nature of the Olympics required unique branding to be created solely for the project. The final logo type was designed to represent the flight of the arrow towards the target.

Initial logo explorations were done in graphite to explore the shape and form before transitioning to digital media.

Functional Prototyping

Functional prototypes were created to test some of the individual concepts and features encapsulated within project ARO. These photos show the shoot through limbs and the mirrored visual draw length indicator. The slotted limbs were also tested on several different prototypes to verify their overall performance characteristics.
Later mockups modified an existing bow and integrated the Speed Groove and forarm brace to test functionality and performance with more powerful shots.

Modeling Process

Several prototypes were constructed out of materials such as MDF and light urethane foam to explore functionality and form. The final model was constructed out of heavy urethane form and hand shaped to preserve subtle surface transitions and fine details.