How to Tune a Compound Bow

Hunting or target shooting with compound bows is incredibly rewarding, but only if you take measures to maintain your equipment. Poor performance can be discouraging, but you can do something about it.

Remember that bad accuracy or wild shots may not be entirely your fault. The problem could be in the equipment. Your bow is likely to need tuning if your arrows fly wildly or fail to meet your expectations on the practice range or in the field.

Tuning your bow is a fundamental diagnostic and maintenance measure.

A Fair And Square Bow

The key to tuning your compound bow is to make sure everything is square. A square bow, with arms, strings, and riser aligned as they should be, is fundamental to good accuracy in your bow.

If you plan on regularly tuning your own compound bow, you may want to invest in a bow vice. A vice keeps the bow rock-steady, freeing your hands so you can inspect the bow, make adjustments, and keep everything as square as possible.

Your string should be aligned with the riser and the sight also. Most compound bows come with arrow markings engraved on the riser that allow you to eye-ball the square. Make sure that the arrow is level and precise on the etched markings.

Is Something In The Way?

Fletch clearance is also crucial to good performance. If the fletch is glancing off the riser or any part of the bow on its way to the target, it can make all the difference. With your bow firmly viced, check that the bow, arrow, and string line up perfectly with the etched markings on the riser.

Your sight will sit a little to the left of the arrow if you're right-handed. Don't worry about this; in fact, it's ideal.

If you're not making any progress with the naked eye, try the powder test. This involves lightly coating some of the components with talcum or foot powder. Be sure you cover:

  • arrow rest
  • sight window
  • cables
  • cable guard
  • eight inches of the back-end of the arrow

Mount the bow on a vice and shoot an arrow into a foam target. If the fletch is catching on any of the components you can see it indicated by where the powder is smeared. This shows you where it's making contact so you can adjust accordingly.

Check carefully for damaged components all over. Never take the condition of your bow for granted, particularly when it comes to your cable gaurds and arrow rest support arms.

Timing Is Everything with Tuning

Don't forget about keeping the pulleys in time. There are timing marks on some bows to help with this adjustment, but you may need the help of someone at your local pro-shop for this.

Once it's in tune, keep it in tune. If you change the poundage on your bow, make sure that you turn the bolts evenly on both the upper and lower limbs. This will prevent timing problems and keep your arrows accurate.

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