Tuning Bows and Your Arrows is Crucial!


Tuning bows and arrows is an absolute necessity if you want to be a successful bow hunter or archer. If you do not believe it or do not do it, you are destined to be in the "I hunted" and or the "I participated" list instead of the "I tagged out" and or "I placed" list.

The absolute best way to tune your bow is to follow the instructions of the manufacturer if you have them available.If you do not have the instructions, then we suggest getting one or more books on the subject. Rather than rehashing what has already been done, we recommend seeing our page on making arrows and our page on arrow length to help you with tuning bows.

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While you are waiting for the books to download or arrive, we would like to give you some ideas of what to expect and how arrow flight and arrow grouping can be affected by tuning bows and by tuning your arrows.

There are so many bow types (compound bows, long bows, recurve bows, stick bows, etc.) and sub types ( different cam types, one cam, 2 cam, wood, fiberglass, carbon, composites, laminated, etc.) that tuning each one is beyond the scope of this article.

We notice that there is a lot of talk on some of the archery forums lately about the accuracy of one bow over another and one brand over another. We would like to take a few minutes of your time to show how any bow in good condition, can be made to shoot as good as the shooters ability will allow.

Poor accuracy is almost always a sign of one or two things. Improper bow tuning and or improper arrow tuning.

If you shoot a compound and these things are not near correct, then your accuracy is going to suffer a great deal. The only solution is to get clear instructions on tuning bows or take it to a qualified technician.

We must assume that your bow if a compound, is tuned within reason. That means the cam(s) is set correctly, the tiller is correct, the string is correct for the bow, the rest is aligned with the center line of the string, and the nock point is above the top of the arrow shaft. Tuning bows involve all of these things.

If your bow is a long bow or recurve, we will assume that one of the limbs is not twisted or weak, that the string is of the correct material and strength, and that the nock is above the top of the arrow shaft. These are about the only things involved in tuning bows of this type.

The reason to start with the nock point known to be high is that it is easy to fix the porpoise action of the shaft after getting the fish tail problem solved. If the nock point is too low, the arrow may bounce off the shelf or rest, giving the impression that the nock point is high.

Starting with the nock point a little high is a good idea when tuning bows.

OK, with the above being said, on to some examples of what we are looking for and what to do to tune arrows.

This is and example of 3 arrow shafts. One bare (a point, a nock, but no fletching), one broken, and one complete. You should bare shaft test your arrows to determine the proper length and point weight for your bow.

I am using wood arrows. You can also bare shaft test aluminum and carbons. Never shoot bare shafts without a point!

Simply looking at the arrow chart and cutting the shaft to your pull length and installing your favorite point will not give you the correct length or help you in tuning bows. If you did not go to the arrow length when recommended above, maybe you should.

When tuning bows by bare shaft testing, you should always start with the shaft full length and of a spine strong enough for your bow. Do not use a full length shaft rated at 60 pounds in your bow set for 60 to 70 pounds. The shafts are rated for normal or average shaft length of 28 inches and average point weight of 125 grains.

Look closely at the broken shaft. It broke on impact, not on release. If you use a shaft that is too light of spine, you could have a shaft break on release.

This is a dangerous situation and could result in serious injury or death is an artery is severed. Tuning bows to use wooden shafts takes a little more thought.

The reason we are showing you the broken shaft is to impress in your mind the reason to properly orientate your wood shafts so that the riffs (the >>>>) in the grain point to the point of the arrow and are on the top of the shaft when the arrow is on the bow and ready to shoot.

Wooden arrows usually break along these riff lines, so that is why you should have the riffs pointing toward the arrow point and on top of the shaft when the arrow is on the bow. As you can see, tuning bows and arrows can be a little techie.

With the shaft in this position and something should cause the shaft to break on release, hopefully, the shaft will continue over your hand and wrist area and not penetrate. This may give some splinters, but that is better than having a shaft stick in your hand.

Some shafts will have the riffs pointing to both ends. We usually cull these shafts or only use them in an over spined situation to prevent problems. Over spined could mean that the shaft is too short for the point weight or the point is too light. Over spined could also mean that the shaft is used in a bow with a pull weight that is much lower than the shaft rating.

This is a full length bare shaft (point and nock, but no fletching). You should bare shaft test at a short distance. When tuning bows this way I shoot at 12 to 15 feet.

Again, never shoot a shaft without a point! Tuning bows by shooting arrows without points is a dangerous endeavor.

The field point is 125 grains in weight, just as the broadhead that I will use. It is of no use to test with a point weight different from the broadhead weight.

Notice how the shaft is leaning to the left. This tells you that the shaft is light in the spine for a right handed shooter. This is what is expected since the shaft is full length and it was rated for a 28 inch pull.

I want to tune the arrow for the actual pull length that will be used. In this case, my anchor point is going to be the same each shot, so I will tune the shaft for that length, whatever it is. Tuning bows and arrows can take a little of your time, but the results will be worth the investment.

To make the shaft match the spine that I need, I simply cut 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch off the point end, replace the point, and test again. If the shaft still sticks the target leaning to the left (for a right handed shooter), then the shaft need to again be shortened. Keep doing this until you get a shaft sticking in the target like the one below.

Now I realize that this shaft has feathers (fletching), but the bare shaft did hit the target straight so I knew the length was correct. I just added the feathers and the shaft flies well at my hunting range. Once the bare shaft flies straight at the close range, then add the fletching for practice at hunting ranges for the final step in tuning bows.

I should also point out that if the nock point on your string is too high, the shaft will fly and land nock high. You should always start with the nock point too high, then after the shaft hits fairly straight as far as left and right goes, start lowering the nock point until the shaft is landing straight.

If you start with the nock low, the shaft flies nock low and hits nock low. If the nock point is too low, the shaft will bounce off the shelf of rest and give the impression that the nock is high. Therefore, always start with the nock too high.

This is a shaft that I made a long time ago. This was before I knew what I am sharing with you now. Notice that it is leaning to the right. For a right handed shooter, that is an indication that the shaft is over spined. That means that the shaft is too stiff for the bow, the shaft length is too short, or the point weight is too light, or a combination of these.

If you screw up and cut the shaft too short, this is how the shaft will impact the target. Your only recourse here is to either use a heavier point or shoot it in a heavier bow. Refer to the arrow length to see how to deal with this situation.

If the bare shaft method does not result in the shaft hitting the target straight on, then most probably your tuning bows session did not include checking the bow itself as explained in the beginning of this article. If your bow is set up correctly and you followed the bare shaft testing procedure, then you will want to get someone (an experienced archer) to watch you shoot a few arrows. They can probably spot a form problem that needs to be addressed.

Since I will hunt with a 4 arrow quiver attached to my long bow, bow tuning and arrow tuning is done with the quiver on the bow and 3 arrows in it.

This gives me the exact scenario that I will be in while hunting.

Walking with 4 arrows in the quiver and making the first and most important shot with 3 arrows in the quiver.

Tuning bows and your arrows is a simple process after you have done a few. The bare shaft method of tuning arrows will work on the other shafts as well as the wooden ones that I use.

Want Shafts or Complete Arrows? See the,

You may need a few speciality tools to tune your arrows. There is -

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