What Does Tiller Mean In Archery?


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When you undertake any new sport or hobby, there will be loads of technical terms that you will need to come to terms with. Archery is no different.

You will come across lots of terms, lingo, and jargon that may initially confuse you. However, over time, you will become more versed in the terminology of archery.

This guide will explain what the tiller is and what function it performs in archery. Hopefully, this will allow you to better understand this bow feature.

What Is The Tiller?

The term “tiller” refers to the horizontal distance between the bow’s string and the limb of the bow. Usually, both the upper and lower limbs are measured when referring to the tiller.

Beginner archers won’t be that bothered by the tiller, but experienced archers will need to work out the tiller.

How Is The Tiller Measured?

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the tiller is right by merely looking at it. Instead, you will have to measure it.

This will require you to use a measuring tape or ruler to find the distance between the limbs (both upper and lower) and the string of the bow. To calculate the tiller, you will need to utilize this formula:

Upper limb tiller measurement – Lower limb tiller measurement = overall tiller

Once you have used this formula, you will get an accurate tiller reading. This reading will fall into one of three categories, either positive, neutral, or negative. 

A positive tiller means that the upper limb tiller is more than that of the lower limb tiller.

Meanwhile, a negative tiller is the exact opposite, with the upper limb tiller being less than that of the lower limb’s tiller. In comparison, a neutral tiller means that they are both roughly the same.

What Is The Best Tiller?

Ideally, you should have either a positive or neutral tiller. Most archers with a negative tiller will have their performance negatively affected by it.

Among skilled archers a slightly positive tiller is preferable. On the other hand, some archers maintain that a neutral tiller is ideal.

However, it can be difficult to get a neutral tiller, so you shouldn’t worry too much about achieving this. Generally, there aren’t any benefits to having a negative tiller.

Why Does The Tiller Matter?

It is important that your tiller is set correctly. If the tiller is not even between the upper and lower limbs, then one side of the bow will be put under more strain than the other.

This can make your shots unbalanced, thus negatively impacting your archery.

You may also be able to detect an inaccurate tiller because it will cause the bow to vibrate after you have fired an arrow. Moreover, you might hear it emitting a noise.

Additionally, one might notice that the flight of your arrow has been adversely affected by a negative tiller. This means that it may have less power or distance than it normally would.

Can The Tiller Be Altered?

Does Changing Your Tiller Affect Accuracy?

Yes, you can adjust the tiller if you believe that it isn’t correct. In fact, this is a very straightforward process. However, it is complicated by the fact that every bow requires a slightly different adjustment method

Recurve Bows

As the most commonly used bows on the market, recurve bows are quite simple to reconfigure. All you need to do is:

  1. Using the aforementioned formula, measure the current tiller of your bow. This will involve measuring the tiller at both the upper and lower limbs.
  2. Research what the recommended tiller height is for your specific bow. Most tillers are set at around 4mm. However, you should research the measurement that the manufacturer recommends so that you can get the most out of the bow. This should be listed in a product’s online description or instructions.
  3. Locate the locking bolt on your bow. Once you’ve found it, unscrew it. This can be achieved with a hex wrench.
  4. Using the wrench, twist the lock in a clockwise direction if you want the tiller to be reduced. However, if you wish to increase the tiller, twist the lock in an anti-clockwise direction. 
  5. Lock the bolts once you are satisfied with your tiller configuration. You should bear in mind that you may need to attempt to adjust it a few times, as it can be tough to make it sufficiently tight. Be sure to measure the tiller to ensure that it is satisfactory. 

Top Tiller Tips

To ensure that you are on top of your tiller, simply follow these terrific tips:

  • Check your tiller regularly. Routine adjustments will prevent your tiller from becoming overwhelmingly negative.
  • Keep details of your tiller measurements so that you can adjust them whenever necessary. 
  • Be sure to read specific instructions given by the manufacturer of the bow. This is because every bow is different and so will need to be altered differently depending on the brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is A Neutral Tiller Preferable?

Loads of archers prefer a neutral tiller because it can improve arrow flight. You can also opt for a positive tiller, though you might want to experiment to see what works best for you.

Do I Need To Worry About The Tiller?

No, the tiller is not something that you need to worry about. Particularly if you are a beginner tiller, you will not need to pay too much attention to the tiller.

On the other hand, if you believe that the tiller has been impacting your performance, then you should definitely look into getting it adjusted. It is of particular importance to do this if you are an experienced archer. 

Final Thoughts

While the tiller may just sound like technical jargon, it can have an impact on the quality of your bow’s performance.

Therefore, we recommend working out the tiller of your bow so that you can adjust it if necessary.

With any luck, this guide will have allowed you to understand the function of the tiller and how to reconfigure it, thus allowing you to be the best archer possible.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

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