A poorly tuned bow can be very frustrating, not to mention disappointing, especially if you are presented with the shot of a lifetime only to discover your bow is not shooting as you expected. Ethical bowhunters do everything in their power to make a clean kill, as they know to do so it takes work prior to the beginning of hunting season. Paper tuning is one of the easiest, most economically ways to tune your bow. To do so, start with a sheet of paper secured to some sort of shoot-thru frame that will allow the arrow to make a complete pass through the paper. A backdrop such as bales of straw placed several feet behind the paper target frame that will not interfere with the arrow flight is better for tuning. I like to use large freeze paper; it is cheap, easy to use and comes in a handy roll. Another cheap option, if you can find it, is newsprint. Check with your local newspaper company regarding their end rolls that typically hold 20 or more yards of unmarked paper, perfect for bow tuning.
Experts have different options on the distance you should start shooting. Many suggest you start shooting at a relatively close distance such as eight or ten feet. Personally, I like to start the tuning process at ten feet. For starters, it is easier to see where my arrow tip enters the paper and arrow retrieval is much quicker, therefore allowing more time to shoot.
Start with the paper and pull it taunt then securely staple it to your shoot through frame. An old large picture frame or a frame made from PVC pipe works well. Any type of shoot through frame works. The tip/point will pass through first, followed by shaft and then fletching. I like to begin with field tipped arrows and finish the fine-tuning using the same broadhead tips I plan to use in my hunt. If the paper is taut, you should see a hole in the center of three small slits that give the appearance of the letter “Y.” At this point do not worry about tight groups, instead focus on how each arrow flies and if it coming off the arrow rest properly. A hole in the center of the “Y” indicates the arrow is flying accurately. Typically, I mark each arrow on the fletching with a number or star to keep track of problem arrows.
Although the desired marking is a “Y” with a nice hole punched in the middle, you will no doubt encounter markings that are obviously off such as the “Y” offset to one side. This indicates your horizontal is slightly off. If the “Y” marking is slightly off, and is at an angle to the hole, this could indicate that both your horizontal and your vertical are both off. If a particular arrow is not flying properly, examine it carefully to make sure the fletching is in tact and the spin is straight. Also check to make sure you are using the correct arrow for your draw weight, draw length and cam size. Also double-check to confirm you are using the proper weighted tips and that the paper target is stretched tightly to the frame.
After you have paper tuned your bow, and you are confident your arrows are flying as you want them, it is time to start working on your consistency that only comes from much practice and by using a proper stance and a consistent anchor point.
You do not need a degree in engineering or fancy equipment to tune your bow, in fact; all you need is a little time, determination and a few sheets of paper.
How do you tune your bow? Share your tips with us in the comment section.