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  1. #1

    Super Tune Your Hunting Rig

    First off all let me start by saying I’m not an expert. In fact, I’m far from it! I’m constantly learning new things in this ever changing sport of archery, but over my last 18 years in the sport, I will admit that I have learnt a few things. I am writing this in the hope of helping people with setting up their hunting bow to achieve optimum accuracy.

    Tuning broadheads

    There has been a lot of articles written on tuning, but tuning broadheads can be a different and sometimes very frustrating thing, so I will try and stick to a few basic steps that I use to get my broadheads flying dead on. The following is a series of very important tips that will help you get your broadheads hitting right where you want them.

    A lot of people avoid fine tuning their bows because they don’t have a bow press. With the new bows and their beyond parallel limb design, a lot of the old faithful lap presses simply can’t cut the mustard. Investing in a quality bow press will pay big dividends, as it makes tuning your rig so much easier and it is and essential tool that should be a big part of your overall hunting arsenal.

    A trick for the bush

    Sometimes however, things don’t always go to plan when you are in the bush and you cannot always have your bow press on hand. This can make for a disastrous end to well planned and hard earned hunts and there is nothing worse than having your bow let you down when all else is in place. Ultimately, your bow is what you are out there for and having it go out of tune is a sickening feeling that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. There is a trick though that you can use to get you out of trouble if you are on the hunt of a lifetime, your bow is out of tune and you have no press.

    In no way would I recommend this as your sole way to take the tension off your strings for tuning, but if you are out there and desperate, this one has worked for me on a few occasions and saved the day when all else had failed. So, if find yourself in a situation where you need to change a string or just add a twist to it, draw the bow back 4/5 inches and use an allen key wrapped with electrical tape to put through the cam so that when the cam rotates back to rest, the allen key prevents this from happening and the tension is then taken off the limbs, allowing the string to be slack enough to do what you need to do.

    The same can be done for the cables. If you face the bow towards you, grip the cable and the riser close to the cam and pull the cable towards the riser. This will cause the closest cam to rotate and you can place the allen key through the cam as described earlier. If the cam on your bow is of light construction, do not try this because it will break your cam and no bow manufacturer will cover that with warranty. I try not to do this very often, but if you are stuck out bush with an out of tune bow, it’s a good way to get out of trouble. Please also note, that this can only work on bows with two cams and yokes, as the string will always slip over the idler wheel on a solo cam bow.

    Get bow in a comfortable upright position

    Grip the cable and the riser like this to rotate the cam

    Place the tape wrapped Allen Key through the cam like this

    Here you can see that the tension has been taken off the string and cable

    You can now take the yoke off to put your twists in the string

    Now, back to tuning and why it is important to have a press to take the tension off your strings and cables to allow you to work on them. First of all though, I must mention arrow spine. Please make it your priority to ensure that you have the correctly spined arrow for your hunting set up. If you start with an over or under spined shaft, you may never get your rig shooting right, no matter how perfectly tuned you have your bow. An incorrectly spined arrow will never leave your bow in perfect flight if it is not designed for the forces that your bow puts into it and it can also be downright dangerous.

    There are many arrow charts and specialist advice from shop owners to help you make sure that you have the correctly spined shaft for your intended use. Factors to take into account are bow weight, cam performance, arrow length, draw length, weight of fletches, insert weight, nock weight and ultimately broadhead weight. Know these factors before purchasing your chosen shaft to shoot with.

    Once you have the correct shaft, a good place to start is with your yoke cable. I’m a big fan of a bow with a yoke cable. In fact I will not by a bow that doesn’t have yoke cables because if you have left/right issues with a yokeless bow, it’s impossible to tune it out. This is due to not being able to tune out any limb twist without being able to put tension on either side of it.
    Basically, if you end up with twist in a limb on your bow and you do not have yokes, that bow will never be able to be tuned correctly without them. I sometimes see this and people try everything to get it right, but it simply cannot be done. I am also a fan of a dual cam due to their ability to be tuned with nock travel and better efficiency with heavier arrows.

    Back to tuning it in. Draw back your bow and run your eye over how straight your cam is sitting in correlation with your string (at full draw). Straight is a good place to start. Don’t be too concerned if your cam isn’t sitting straight at rest, a lot of bows tune with some cam lean, but as stated, starting with no lean at all is the best place to kick things off and this is done by adding or subtracting twists to either side of the cam until you level it up.

    Check cam and string correlation by looking at it when at full draw

    Next is to set the timing. Timing on a twin cam bow is when you get both cams to roll over and come to full draw at exactly the same point. This is a very important point, as a bow that does not have well timed cams will never shoot consistently. It’s a good idea to have your top cam just in front of your bottom cam, but only just. The reason for this is because the top cable will have a little more flex in it, giving you a solid back wall to hold into. This will also cause the nock end of the arrow to cast slightly high as it leaves the bow, giving you better fletch clearance.

    Most people usually get a friend to look at their cams as they roll over to tell them whether or not they are in time or not. A trick I employ is to sit down and place the riser of my bow on the soles of my feet. I then pull the string, using my feet as leverage on the riser, and take it to full draw. In doing this I get a perfect view of the cams as they roll over. Being in this position also allows me to gain power needed to draw the bow slower than I would in a normal stance, which then gives me more time to see the point where the draw stops come into contact with the cables, or the limb, depending on what model bow you shoot.

    After putting your rest on and lining it up by eye as best you can, you need to shoot a bare shaft through paper using a target point at about six feet or so. Use some electrical tape at the back of the arrow to make up the weight for the missing fletching.

    Tape the end of your arrow for paper tuning to mimic the weight of your vanes

    This is where a lot of people start having trouble, get frustrated, end up pulling their hair out and give up on paper tuning. It can be a painstaking process at times, but the results are well worth it.

    Place bow like to draw back to check the timing of the cams

    This is where to look for timing. Needs to be done on both ends obviously, to see if come to full draw at the same time

    The perfect rip through paper can sometimes be hard to achieve, but sometimes it happens first shot. To shoot well through paper, you will need consistent form or you will be chasing your tail for hours with little result.

    Once you have had half a dozen shots through paper and established a consistent rip, for example you have a nock high left rip (that’s a pretty common rip for a right handed release aid shooter), it’s best to work on the up and down first.

    For nock high you can move your rest up small increments, being careful not to go too high. You basically should want your arrow to be level with you ‘Berger button’ hole, as this is the basically the centre point of the bow and where the sweet spot should be located for maximum bow performance.

    Though Berger button is covered here, you still see the alignment in the slot in the rest to get the same result

    Good level arrow travel is very important, so your rest and nocking point need to be spot on

    If your rest is getting too high, you will need to move your nocking point down and start again. Generally you can fix up and down rips very easily like this. If you can’t get rid of a high/low rip, or you can, but your arrow looks to be sitting as though it’s not square with the string on the bow, you can change your timing slightly by adding or subtracting twists from your cables.
    A nock high rip that can’t be fixed with rest or knocking point adjustment will mean that your top cam is rotating too much in front of your bottom cam. For a nock low rip it is simply the opposite. Nock low rips can be very troublesome, with fletch contact sometimes showing a high rip as the arrow deflects up after striking the rest. This is the reason for shooting a bare shaft.
    Once you have your up and down rips sorted, it is now time to sort out the sideways movement in your arrows and get them shooting true. Make sure you lock in the height of your rest at this point and do not touch it again if your high and low rip issues are sorted.

    Left/right rips can be tricky too. Depending on whether you are left or right handed, the spine of your arrow and whether you are shooting a drop away or prong type styled rest. These factors will all effect how the arrow leaves the bow.

    The best way to deal with them is to place a small mark, for left and right movement, on your rest as it is to start with. Move small increments one way looking for improvement through paper. Once you are confident it’s not improving, go back to your starting point and move it the opposite way. It’s a good idea to write on the holes in the paper so you know what the best rest position was, as you may go past the point where it was good enough as you searched for a possibly even more perfect spot. Sometimes you can get a perfect bullet hole with just rest movement, but other times you simply can’t and this is when yoke tuning comes in, so finding the ‘best’ spot is very important.

    I’ve never seen much written about yoke tuning, so I only know what I’ve learnt myself through trial and error. For a right handed shooter, getting a left rip that can’t be fixed by rest movement will mean that you will need to add twist to the left hand yoke when looking at the back of the bow.

    Only add half a twist at a time because a little does a lot. Be careful not to add too many twists. If it starts to look like you have too much cam lean, stop because you are in danger of running the string off the cam. The same goes for a right hand rip, as you will need to add twists to the right hand yoke to achieve the same. With each twist, shoot the bow and you should be shooting bullet holes in no time at all.

    Do not fret if there is a little cam lean when all the tuning is done and you have perfect holes. Finding the sweet spot that has your bow shooting perfectly is the ultimate goal you should be striving for. For some people it may be a necessity to have a little lean, as your form just may be suited to a having it, where as someone else shooting your bow may not be able to achieve the same results with your personal set up. The same goes for the bow itself, as it just may be that it requires that little bit of lean for it to be spitting arrows out through the same hole time after time.

    Please note though, if you can’t tune out a left or right hand rip after getting your rest right and then doing all you can with yoke tuning, you are basically in trouble. This is sometimes the case with very short ATA bows, due to the high torque placed on them by their cables leaving them with very little margin for error. In this case all you can do is train yourself to grip the bow differently or get another bow.

    After all that, you should have a perfect bullet hole through paper, but you’re not finished yet. The next step is group tuning. This will involve shooting several shafts at the same point in a target in order to get them hitting the same spot. The tuning here is exactly the same, as far as the sequence and the changes you need to make to your set up goes, but it allows for finer adjustment. You will also now be shooting with fletched shafts and it is very important to have them all matched evenly in weight. Group tuning can be hard on arrows, so it might be a good idea to draw 3 separate dots on your target.

    I personally like to do this at 30 meters and this is how I go about it. Get 3 arrows with broadheads and 3 with target points, of the same weight of course. Shoot a broadhead and a target point at each dot. Hopefully they will be hitting spot on together, but generally they won’t be at first, so you will need to make some fine adjustment.

    Once again start with your up and down first. With rest movement you are trying to bring the broadheads to your target points. The reason for this is that target points are self correcting and the broadhead acts as a wing, steering the arrow until the fletching takes over and the arrow stabilises.

    If your broadhead is going low you will need to move you rest up. If your broadhead is going high move your rest down. If you can’t get their heights together with rest movement and you are confident your cams are in time, you can try another trick, which is tiller tuning. I don’t know much about this, but it seems to work well. If your broadheads are going low and you can’t get it with the rest or cam timing, you can back off the top limb bolt of a turn at a time until they come together. If your broadheads are going high, do the same with you bottom limb. I personally wouldn’t go more than a full turn difference. Tiller tuning is a funny thing but it’s worth mucking around with when all else fails, as it can do wonderful things for your groups.

    High and low shots can require some fine rest tuning, though tiller tuning can help also

    If your broadheads are going left or right, do not move the rest in this late stage of tuning, as bare shaft tuning will most certainly have your rest dead centre if it was done right. At this stage, fine tune with the yoke cable. Just remember now that if your broadhead is going left, then that is the same as a nock right rip, so you can add half a twist at a time to your right yoke until they come together. A broadhead going right is the same as a left rip, so add twists to your left yoke.

    Left and right shots can be corrected by adding twists to your yoke cable as above

    A result like this will require both up and down and left and right tuning. Start with the up and down first

    If you are having trouble getting broadheads to group at all, even with your other broadheads, but your target points go fine, chances are that your arrow isn’t stabilising. There are several things you can do to fix this. You can increase the weight forward of centre (FOC) by using a heavier broadhead or insert (I find 15% or more is good) or use higher profile fletches with more helical.

    With FOC, the aim is to move the balance point of your arrow forward, therefore increasing the length between the balance point and the fletching, which then gives your fletching more leverage to be able to control the arrow better in flight. Think of a crow bar and using it by holding it half way along the bar whilst trying to pry open a crate. Then do this again by holding the bar at the very end and see how much the increase in leverage gives you a mechanical advantage.

    You can also increase the leverage a little more by fletching your vanes as far back on the shaft as possible. Though this will take a small amount away from your FOC, in terms of weight balance, the flight advantage is still gained, as the flight characteristics of the vanes far out weigh the weight difference. Moving your vanes an inch back on the shaft, would be close to the equivalent of adding 50 – 60 grains to the point weight of your shaft.

    Also remember that a two blade broadheads are superior for penetration, when encountering bone, and if you are shooting low poundage or after big game like buffalo, it’s best to stay with them. Although a three blade broadhead set in line with your fletching will give optimum accuracy, so if penetration isn’t an issue, such as when hunting thin skinned and lighter boned game, that’s an option you could also go with.

    Blades and vanes aligned for a three blade head

    A tip if you are shooting two blade broadheads and simply cannot get them to group, an option could be to try four fetches instead of three, remembering to line two of the four vanes with your two bladed head.

    One last tip when sighting your bow in. Make sure you do this with your bow set up as you would carry it in the bush i.e. arrow full minus one shaft that you are shooting. This will create real life practice as it would happen when you get yourself in front of your game. Remember that 4,5 or 6 500 odd grain shafts hanging off the side of your bow can make a difference to your impact point of you are practicing without them on your bow.

    After reading this back it sounds like a lot of work and to be honest, it sometimes is. Rest assured though, the rewards of knowing your arrow is flying truly straight, and the confidence that gives you, far outweighs the negative. For all those people who have taken the time to read this thank you, I hope I have helped in some way to you shooting your dream animal.

    Always mark your bow with a marker so you can see where everything is lined up. This way, if there are any issues when out on a hunt, you can quickly get it set to where it works best with minimal fuss. Can be a game changer in a rotten situation.

    The ultimate aim you should strive for. A broadhead fletched shaft smacking nocks with a field point bare shaft. A sure sign of a well tuned bow

    Happy hunting.
  2. #2
    awesome post , very helpful as i am only a couple of months in to shooting a bow

    thanks for the tips .
  3. Sheppard79's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Toowoomba, QLD
    Terrific article I'm sure will be referenced often. Thanks for taking the time to post.
  4. Ryan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    The Mountain Hideaway
    Awesome post mate, VERY informative. This should be a sticky I recon.
    Bear Venue @ 67#
    FullPoint Taipan arrows - 185grn Zwickey Broadheads - Howie's Varmint Busters

    "If you are not working to protect hunting, then you are working to destroy it." -Fred Bear
  5. #5
    *thumbsup* ! :)
  6. disco stu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Wollongong, NSW
    Plus one for sticky. I think we need a page with ask these really informative threads where we can reference them all

    Very good information. Must have taken a lot of effort to get t that all typed up. Information i will certainly use. Thanks for the effort you put in here
    eject, EJECT!!
  7. CMB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Parkwood, Gold Coast
    cracker mate, very informative.Gotta go now , gotta fine tune. Not that i am lazy or anything but where are you mate and do you help others who are "technically challenged" ?Cheers , Chris
  8. #8

    Great to see such a well thought out thread.

    One bit of advice I would offer is how to check your draw stop's. Many modern bows may derail if you use the method you use so if anyone plans to check their cam rotation, draw stops, bow pondage then making a simple draw board will elimiate the possibility of derailing the bow. I have repaired bows for people that have done just that, the bows I have fixed where Matthews, PSE's and Bowtechs.

    Once again nice thread.

    As Archers We Are One
  9. #9
    nice work mate ..cheers
    i need more free time
  10. #10
    Fantastic stuff Robbie. One of the best technical articles we have ever had on here. Will definitely make it a sticky. one to refer back to again and again. i am sure many people will have gained something from this.
    Not all deer make the record book, but they all make mine

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