When bowhunting, the difference between filling your tag, or going home empty-handed often comes down to a matter of a few inches. When precision is key, most hunters strive to leave nothing to chance, instead of doing their best to eliminate all possible variables.
This relentless pursuit of perfection has led many archers to purchase their own compound bow tuning equipment, thereby alleviating any reliance upon others to ensure that their bow is operating at its full potential.
Essential Bow Tuning Tools
- Bow Press
- Allen Wrenches
- Grain Scale
- Bow Vise
- Bow Scale
- Serving Tool
- D-Loop Pliers
- Bow Square
- Arrow Prep Tools
- Paper Tuner
If you are going to get hands-on with all matters of bow maintenance and tuning, you will quickly find that a bow press is an essential purchase. A bow press allows you to situate your bow as desired, compress the bow’s limbs to relieve string tension and perform any manner of work that you desire (read.. how much does it cost to restring a compound bow).
The use of a bow press allows you to complete tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible without it. Such tasks include making adjustments to cam timing, addressing cam lean issues, and installing string accessories such as peep sights and vibration dampeners.
One of the simplest, yet most valuable tools for all means of bow tuning and maintenance is a set of Allen wrenches. These wrenches feature a hex-shaped head that fits the majority of fasteners found on modern compound bows.
Without a set of Allen wrenches, you will quickly find yourself unable to complete even the most basic tuning related tasks. Items such as sights, arrow rests, quiver mounts, and modular cams commonly feature Allen screws within their designs and mounting hardware. In fact, it never hurts to have more than one set on hand.
When attempting to perfectly tune your bow, arrow flight is everything. In order to achieve precise arrow flight on a consistent basis, your arrows must be uniform in weight. In this case, simply guessing at your arrow’s weight will not be enough.
An accurate weight must be taken and recorded for each individual arrow to identify any inconsistencies. This is accomplished through the use of a grain scale. A grain scale is capable of measuring and identifying even the most minute of discrepancies in weight, thereby tipping you off to any accuracy robbing discrepancies.
When working on a bow, it is important to have both hands free in order to complete any necessary tasks in the most efficient manner possible. Short of the use of a bow press when limbs are to be compressed, a bow vise will be your go-to tool.
Without the use of a bow vise, it can be nearly impossible to steady your bow in a way that allows for precise adjustments to be made. The use of a quality bow vise allows you to situate your bow in an upright position, where its cams, cables, accessories, and string can easily be accessed.
This eliminates the constant aggravation that comes with attempting to make adjustments in a freehanded fashion.
While you might be able to get away without owning a bow scale, it is quite helpful to have one on hand. A bow scale allows you to take the guesswork out of figuring draw weight. This is important to know, as draw weight can affect everything from overall kinetic energy figures to the proper choice of arrow shafts.
A bow scale is very easy to use. Simply place the hook end of the scale through your bow’s D-Loop, draw your bow to peak draw weight, and record the highest draw weight that is observed.
Servings protect high wear segments of your bowstring, increasing its longevity, and saving you time and effort in the long run. However, servings themselves eventually wear and fray. This is where the use of a serving tool comes in handy. A serving tool makes re-serving your bowstring into an effortless task that can be completed quickly and efficiently.
Read more about the best bowstring serving tool here
Most serving tools come as a complete kit, which typically includes a string separator, cable spreader, serving tool, and thread. This puts everything you need to re-serve your bowstring at arm’s reach.
Your bowstring’s D-Loop is yet another item that is prone to wear. Upon every shot, a certain amount of friction is produced between your release aid and D-Loop.
With time, replacement of your D-Loop becomes necessary, and the use of a purpose-specific set of pliers can streamline this process. Tying a D-Loop with a set of specialty pliers is as easy as lightly knotting each end of the loop, cutting off excessive string length, and cinching down the loop with the pliers themselves. This process can be completed in a matter of minutes, and also pre-stretches your D-Loop, eliminating any break-in period.
Another item that is always handy to have at your disposal when performing any degree of bow tuning is a bow square. A bow square can be attached to your bowstring, allowing you to take a number of helpful measurements, thereby giving you exact figures to aid in the process of tuning your bow to optimum performance.
Some of the most significant advantages offered to compound archers by the use of a bow square are the ability to accurately set nocking points and to properly locate kisser buttons. Both of these functions come with their own benefits, as both directly affect accuracy!
Arrow Prep Tools (Saw, Fletching Jig and Spin Tester)
The quality and consistency of your arrows play just as significant of a role in achieving notable compound bow accuracy as the tuning of the bow itself. In order to get the most out of your arrows, just as much attention to detail must be applied when building a dozen arrows, as when setting up our bow.
However, all of this attention to detail will be for nothing without the proper equipment to complete the job. When building arrows, several tools are a necessity. You must first own a dedicated saw to cut your arrows to length. Next, you will need a fletching jig to glue and fletch your arrows.
Finally, it is quite helpful to have an arrow spin tester at your disposal. While not absolutely necessary, a spin tester will assist in discovering any shaft defects, such as out of round carbon shafts, or bent aluminum shafts.
A chronograph is another piece of equipment that might not be considered an absolute necessity for tuning your bow. However, it definitely comes with its fair share of advantages. Perhaps the most significant advantage of chronograph use is the ability to judge whether or not any adjustments that you have made to your bow, have increased its performance.
To use a chronograph, an archer simply shoots an arrow from their bow through the unit, directly upon release. The chronograph logs your arrow’s speed, and provides instant feedback, allowing you to decide which direction to proceed with your tuning efforts.
Another item that is of immense value when tuning your bow is a paper tuner. A paper tuner is a custom bracket that holds a sheet of paper in front of your position, which is to be fired through with an arrow.
Doing so is the industry standard when attempting to locate any deficiencies in arrow flight. The use of a paper tuner allows you to identify issues in relation to your bow’s nocking point and arrow rest location. Upon discovery, these issues can be remedied, and paper tuning can be repeated in order to verify that all adjustments are satisfactory.
The Tools Of The Trade
By equipping yourself with the right tools for the job, you will be well on your way to DIY bow tuning success. Not only will this make you a more efficient archer, but also you will be able to take satisfaction in the fact that you have taken your mastery of archery as a whole to the next level.
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