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What are Arrows Shot from Untuned Bows likely to do?

archery target three arrows in it

Accuracy. You need consistent accuracy if you want to have any success bowhunting. You want your arrows to fly true.

You must ensure that your bow is tuned correctly and that your arrows perfectly match your setup. You don’t want an untuned bow messing up your arrow flight! 

Arrows shot from untuned bows will likely be porpoising and fishtailing “all over” the place. 

How Does a Poorly Tuned Bow Affect Your Arrow Flight?

Your arrows won’t fly straight and consistently if you shoot with an un-tuned bow.

Also, arrows from untuned bows will lose energy quicker, penetrate less, and will fly erratically. You will have a more challenging time hitting your target with an untuned bow. 

Arrow Porpoising

Porpoising is a condition characterized by the rising and diving of an arrow in flight.  


Arrow Fishtailing

Left to right deviation in arrow flight from what would typically be anticipated is how fishtailing is observed.


Everyone should aim for a bow that is as much in tune as possible. A bow tuned to (near) perfection will give you more accuracy, repeatability, speed, and thus more arrow kinetic energy. 

If you are not sure how to tune your bow, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or professional for help. There is a learning curve involved, and especially if you are a beginner, you can expect to have many missteps. 

An out-of-tune bow will affect bow hunters more than indoor target shooters because a poorly tuned bow can impede penetration.

Make sure your bow is tuned right if you want the best performance.

A paper tune is only one way to do it. Usually, done as a first step and followed up with bare-shaft tuning and/or walk-back tuning.

Things to Tune

Assuming that draw weight and draw length, as well as let-off, are already set correctly:

  • nocking point
  • rest location
  • loop 
  • cam/cam timing
  • yokes
  • cable guard 
  • (your form)

How do Poorly Tuned Arrows Affect your Arrow Flight?

An untuned bow will affect your accuracy and arrow flight – The same goes for arrows that do not match your setup—picking the wrong spine, missing out on nock tuning, arrow straightness, etc. 

How do you Define a Well-Tuned Bow? 

A well-tuned bow is a bow that represents the best compromise between forgivingness and accuracy! Hitting the exact spot you intend to, with the arrow entering with as much KE and straight as possible.  

How Much does Bow Tuning Cost? 

Typically a general bow tuning costs around $35 to $75. I am not talking about installing new strings and cables. 


Arrows shot from untuned bows will lose energy quicker, penetrate less, and will erratically. Arrow proposing and fishtailing are commonly seen when shooting from an untuned bow. Arrows that are not matching your bow setup will also not fly true.

If you are new to archery and haven’t yet tuned a bow by yourself, ask someone who knows about this stuff for advice on how to get started.

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