A bow can’t just be aesthetically pleasing. It needs to be fast, true and feel good in your hands. If your bow is launching arrows that don’t fly straight, it’s not the end of the world. It can be tweaked and tuned to let those arrows fly exactly where you intended. A good bow-shop pro is always good to have on speed dial, but most adjustments you can do yourself using the techniques described below. The skills you need to tune your bow aren’t complicated, and everyone who owns a bow should have a few in their skill set.
Breaking Out Your Bow The Best Way
Each time you remove your bow from its long-term storage space, the first order of business is to evaluate the strings and cables, which tend to stretch out and weaken over a relatively short amount of time. New strings will last a little under 5 years, according to experts at Archery Talk.
Ensure Your Bow is To Spec
First you’ll want to check your axle to axle (ATA) measurements as well as the brace height measurement. To measure your axle to axle, go from the center of the top cam to the center of the bottom cam’s axle pin. Check the bow manufacturer’s suggested ATA measurement. If you are within 1/8 of an inch or less, your bow should be fine.
How to Know If Your ATA is Too Short or Too Long
If your bow’s ATA is more than 1/8 of an inch you will need to adjust your cables and bow string to get to the proper axle to axle. If it is too short, you can untwist the cables and bow string. Make sure to do this equally, just one twist at a time.
Attach the Best Rest for Your Bow
After choosing your rest, either a fixed-position or drop-away, you’ll need to determine the choice for the position. Carbon shafts definitely need a drop-away rest. This will also give you a small-diameter for contact. Larger-diameter aluminum shafts may also be used if it is more comfortable.
Move the rest so that it is in line with the string. This will put the arrow in the center of the cushion plunger.
A stabilizer can also be used to assist in the correct placement of the shaft. This can ensure that it is placed in the perfect parallel position. And remember, a drop-away rest requires that you adjust the rise and fall of the rest.
Install the Peep Sight with Precision
A peep sight easily assists your aim when you shoot. A good size peep sight is often affordable and a welcome addition to beginner archers. Find one that works well for your bow and needs by testing a few out before purchasing a peep sight.
To set up the peep sight, find the center of the string. To do that, press your bow and evenly separate the strands where you have determined to put your peep sight. Then un-press your bow and check its alignment and location. If you have two color strings you do not need to divided them to finish this task.
Once your peep sight is oriented properly you should install stop knots. A peep sight with knots placed above and below it can be realigned easily by simply pressing the cables.
Good Limb Health Equals Solid String Health
The limbs should work in harmony. To do this, check your tiller, which is the measurement from where the limbs are attached to the riser and the string on a strung bow. The tiller measurement on the bottom limb should be 3/8 of an inch less than the top limb.
A Bow Square Is a Good Buy
Invest in a bow square in order to center your arrow rest with the nocking point on your bowstring. Other tools are available, but a good bow square is always helpful. The point you are looking for should be about one arrow in diameter square from the string just above the bottom of the arrow rest.
Set Up Your Practice Target Properly
A large piece of paper is best for this, about 2 feet square for accurate target practice. The paper you choose should be thin enough for the force of the fletching to tear through it and leave a precise mark. Frame the paper with an old box or wood frame. Place the paper at least 5 feet in front of your intended target.
What Your Paper Targets Can Tell You
If your bow needs major adjustments, you’ll need to have a few of these paper frames available. Shoot your chosen arrow through the paper framed target. Stand at least 5 to 10 feet back. Shoot a few arrows to get a feel for the bow’s tuning.
Get a Good Sight In with Field Points
Once you have your target secure at 10 yards, being your sight-in session at 20 yards. After shooting 3 to 5 arrows and hitting the target, take it back 10 yards up to 40. This will ensure your bow is set up for practice.
Check Out Your Progress
Your paper frame can tell a lot about your bow. Examine the hole or holes you’ve made in the paper. If there is a neat tear with three vane marks perfectly centered then you have done an excellent job of tuning your bow. If you see a vane mark that is thicker or a bit off than the other marks, you’ll need to continue to play with your bow.
Strings Are Often Overlooked
If you wax the strings they will last longer. If they appear fuzzy or worn, it’s definitely time for a new string or cable because they actually begin to deteriorate from the inside before you notice the breakdown with your naked eye.
Nock Tension Needs Attention
Set your nock tension to allow an arrow to hang off a strung bow while the string is held parallel to the ground. A quick, precise tap on your string should knock the arrow from its perch, according to Nicola Turner of Bow International, making your nock tension perfect.
If you have found your vanes are sloppy when they fly through your paper framed target, adjust the nocking point based on the vertical appearance of the paper target marks. Check the vertical wobbling in the arrow first. If the vertical tear is thick and long above the entry point, raise the nocking point just a little bit and try again. If that same thick and long tear is below the entry point, lower the nocking point.
Your Arrows Continue to Wobble
If the tail of the tear in your paper framed target is bigger on either the left or right, your arrow is more than likely wobbling horizontally as it flies from your bow. Your arrow may be too light or stiff for your bow.
Always check the minimum arrow weight that is recommended for your bow. An arrow selection chart is helpful to look up the correct arrow spine for your bow. If this doesn’t apply to you, go back to your arrow rest and adjust it to work better for your bow.
Time for Draw Length Check Up
Extra draw length does not necessarily equal increased speed, according to the Bow Experts. According to the Bow Experts, shooting a bow that is too long for you can mess up your form. It also makes your arrows work harder, causing problems with your supply as you continually draw on that over long bow. Double check the length of the arrows you plan to shoot to ensure that they are a good fit for your bow.
New Strings Always Need Tweaking
Even if your strings and cables are a year old, they may have stretched just enough to slightly rotate the cam. This will throw your aim and timing off distinctly. Add twists to create more tension on the cams and limbs to get your bow back to its out-of-the-box precision.
Test Your Timing Continually
Timing could be an issue if you are still having issues with your bow. Always use a bow when you draw back. Draw the bow fully back and have a friend watch the cam. The cams should hit the draw stop at the same time. Your friend, or if you record yourself drawing back your bow, should be able to help you see if your bow is out of sync when you draw.
Spines Are Important
There are two types of spines, static and dynamic. According to Tim Herald of Bow Site, understanding those two types is important to your shots. How much the shaft reacts at the thrust from the string when released is dynamic spine. Static Spine is the deflection at a 28” span that a shaft has with a weight of more than a pound hanging from its middle, Herald wrote. The Carbon Express Adjustable Weight Chart can assist in finding the correct bow for you.
Double check your arrow spine, or the stiffness of your chosen arrow. Blazers have rigid, short vanes that deliver superior arrow guidance. A bow with a low spine number is stiffer. Light draw weight arrows are ideal for slower bows. These types of arrows don’t require as a spine as rigid as those designed for faster bows.
Know Your FOC (Front of Center) Number
Find the Front of Center of your arrow by calculating the balancing point of the arrow by measuring it from the nock grove to the point of the arrow. Then locate the center of the arrow, which is the length from the nock grove to the end of the shaft divided by two. Subtract the center of the arrow number from the balancing point number and divide that by the overall length. Now multiply it by 100. If you are too light, use a heftier point.
Choose the Right Arrow
According to Compound Bow Source, many people choose an arrow that is too light and with the wrong spine. Using the correct arrow for your bow will keep your shots steady and your bow in tune over a longer period. Bottom line, don’t use an arrow less than 5 gran per pound of the draw weight in order to avoid damaging your bow.
A Yoke Can Improve Your Tune
After adjusting your rest as much as you can, pulling it in close, and you still are getting unsightly tears in your paper targets, try a yoke. A twist into the left part of the yoke can help to maintain the axle to axle length and proper timing of your bow.
If you have more questions, Archery Talk delivers a quick YouTube video on tuning your bow.
Try to test a bow before you buy to ensure you get the best bow for you. An archery trade show is an excellent way of testing new bows. The Archery Trade Association has an updated list of archery trade shows happening around the country annually. After tuning your bow, check out your strings, cables, arrows and grip on a regular basis to ensure a perfect hit every time. A modern bow should stay in tune for some time. If not, it’s more likely user error over your bow’s performance.