If you’re not adjusting your tackle to make it shoot “bullet holes,” then you’re not ready to hunt.
A hunting bow will shoot to its potential only if it is properly tuned,yet many bows taken to the woods never even come close. That’s a shame, because tuning is a relatively simple step by step process that most shooters can do themselves with a minimum of tools. Moreover, many bowhunters who will adjust cam timing and match arrows to the bow don’t perform the crucial final step, which is paper-tuning the bow. Following are the items you need and the steps you should take to ensure your bow is hitting where it should:
To make sure your bow is tuned properly, you must actually shoot it. Take your first shots from a very close distance until you have the sights aligned well enough to hit the target every time.
To see what the arrow is doing in flight, you must “paper tune” the bow, that is, shoot through a piece of paper stretched across a frame. While there are many commercial paper frames on the market, it is easy and inexpensive to make one. Cut two 2-by-2 boards to 24-inch lengths.. Drill two 1/2-inch holes in each, 21 1/2 inches apart center-to-center. Glue in 36-inch-long 1/2-inch wooden dowels to form a rectangle shaped frame. This is the correct size to accept a full sheet of newspaper. To hold the paper, use four large spring-loaded alligator clips. You’ll also need a 1/4-20 recessed nut. Drill a hole slightly smaller in the center-bottom of one of the 2-by-2s, coat the nut with epoxy glue, and drive it into the hole. This will allow you to mount the frame on a camera tripod, which can be adjusted for height.
Place the frame with a tightly stretched piece of newspaper installed four feet in front of a target. This ensures the arrow has cleared the paper before it hits the target. Now stand about 6 feet away and shoot through the paper. Be careful to have a good release and follow through. Shoot several arrows to establish a pattern before adjusting the bow.
You can determine the “nock” end of the tear by where the tear for the fletch is on the paper. If the nock is tearing high, then you have the nock point too high. If it is tearing low, the nock is too low. If the tear is nock left, you need to move the arrow rest right. If it’s tearing right, move the rest left. Make only one adjustment at a time and move in very small increments. Even if the tear is off in two directions, move only direction at a time until you have corrected that problem. Then adjust for the other.
If you get tired, stop shooting. You must be shooting perfectly, and if you are tired, your form and follow through will be sloppy. Start fresh another time. Continue with this process until you are shooting “bullet holes”—perfectly shaped tears showing only the fletch and arrow shaft.
After paper tuning with field tips, switch to broadheads and repeat the process. You may find a dramatic difference. I had a bow that shot well with field tips, but during paper tuning with broadheads it barely hit the target. By shooting through paper with the broadheads, it became evident that the nock was too low. The arrows were coming out of the bow so poorly that the broadhead was planing and “steering” the arrow. As the broadhead fought the fletching for control of the arrow, accuracy suffered. The nock was raised until the paper showed “bullet hole” tears, and the broadhead-equipped arrows then would group as well as the field tips had. If the bow is properly tuned and the arrow correctly matched to it, then broadheads and field tips should have the same point of impact. However, do not assume that without shooting to confirm it. Always tune and sight a hunting bow with broadheads. Use a target designed for broadheads to keep fletching damage caused by the arrow passing through the target to a minimum. American Whitetail has an excellent broadhead target that stops arrows well and lasts for lots of shooting. Most 3-D type targets will “shoot out” quickly with broadheads. But they are easily to repair them use Magic-Fix repair kits.
By following these simple steps you should find that the bow is shooting tight groups at any distance. If you have further problems, you may find the solution in a publication available from Easton called “Arrow Tuning and Maintenance Guide.” This book goes into detail of the subtle problems you might encounter. However, it is likely that you are simply missing something pretty basic. It would be a good idea at this point to seek the help of a pro-shop. A objective observer may well spot something you are missing.
With a well-tuned bow, accuracy is better, and arrow flight improves because there’s less arrow wobble stealing energy. Thus, arrow trajectory is flatter, and your straight-flying arrows will penetrate better on game.