Bow Tuning – Advanced Tuning

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So far in this series, we started by discussing the basic Olympic recurve bow setup. We covered what tools you require for bow tuning and to basically setup your bow. This included limb alignment, how to measure, installing the arrow rest, nocking point and setting up your basic center shot.

Now that your bow is basically setup, you have been practicing with it and have a fairly consistent arrow group it is time to do some advanced tuning of your bow. Remember that basic step-up and tuning can be done quickly to get you started however advanced tuning is a time consuming task through trial and error.  Proper shooting technique is always the first thing every archer should focus on. If you are still struggling with the basics then get your bow basically setup and work on consistency.  To avoid massive amounts of frustration, it is very important to focus on changing and tuning one thing at a time. Read my earlier blog about Consistency and Change.

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Next we will focus on individual areas for you to tune such as nocking points, bowstring fit, centering, clearance, brace height, sight alignment, tiller, clicker and plunger adjustment. Since I already created several blogs about tuning specific components your bow, you should start by reviewing the following…

Sight : Following the arrow and adjusting your sights

Clicker : Adjusting and shooting with a Clicker.

Arrows and various tuning methods : Arrow Series – Part 8 – Fine Tuning and Numbering

Remember, bow tuning is an advanced technique and if you can I recommend you employ the knowledge and experience of a trained coach, since another pair of eyes can really help make the difference between a good tuning and perfection. In the next part of the series we will continue and take a deeper dive into the remaining areas of your bow that can be tuned. 

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Bow Tuning – Basic Setup

IMG_7304For a beginner, if you purchased your bow from an archery shop, hopefully they worked with you to “basically” setup and tune it for you. If you are in the unfortunate situation were you do not have a pro shop near by and/or purchased your bow online you will need to perform the basic setup yourself. This may be a difficult task if it is your first bow and you are a green horn to archery. Shooting form has the most impact on your performance and you need to be relatively consistent to see any major impact from bow tuning.

That said in the first couple of blogs, I will give a basic overview of how to setup your bow so you can begin shooting with it. Later in the series we will discuss the intricacies of tuning each area of the bow.

For any bow setup you should have a couple of basic bow tuning tools

IMG_7604Bow Square: T-shaped tool for measuring brace height, tiller and nock position.

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IMG_7606Nock Pliers:  Specially designed pliers for installing nock points.

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IMG_7608Bow Stringer: Provides a safe and convenient way to string recurve or long bows.

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You may also need an Allen Wrench Set (Hex Keys), Pliers, adjustable wrench, scissors and/or various screwdrivers depending on the composition of your equipment. Reference the manufacturer’s manuals for necessary tools. There are a ton of additional bow tuning tools such as a pressure button measuring tool, bow scale, electronic chronograph, bow press and leveling tools. These are optional and will not be used for the basic tuning.

Completely assemble your bow, for a quick and simple step-by-step guide check out my earlier post about Putting an Olympic Bow Together.

Make sure you gather all the pieces that you are going to use including the riser, limbs, stabilizer system, string, nock, arrow rest, sight, clicker and plunger. It is important to start with everything when tuning, since even one change can have you starting all over again.  Start by making sure that all the pieces fit together, and are correctly assembled so you have a tight fit.

In the first blog we will make sure your limb alignment is correct, the string and brace height are within specifications, and the tiller is properly set so the limbs are correctly set. Olympic bows are typically take-down bows with risers that have International Limb Fittings (ILF) so you can easily replace them. It is very important that limbs are aligned straight and that both limbs are aligned with the center of the grip. Some risers ILF slots can be adjusted side-to-side and you may need to make some adjustments to align the limbs.

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For good limb alignments the things to check are…

  • The limbs are correctly installed and the top limbs in the in top slot, and bottom in the bottom. (this may sound obvious but it would not be the first time someone got their limbs mixed up)
  • The string is lined up with the center of each limb and the center of the grip.
  • The limbs are not twisted – check out my earlier blog about Twisted Limbs.

brace-heightNext we need to make sure you are using the correct string for the bow. This is measured using the brace height or the distance between the center of the string and the grip when the bow is strung using a bow square. Each bow manufacturer provides the specific tolerances for the brace height however the following chart is a pretty good guide.

62” Bow            7 3/4″ – 8 1/4″              197 – 210 mm
64” Bow            8” – 8 1/2”                    203 – 216 mm
66” Bow            8 1/4” – 8 3/4”              210 – 223 mm
68” Bow            8 1/2” – 9”                    216 – 229 mm
70” Bow            8 3/4” – 9 1/2”              223 – 242 mm

If your brace height is just slightly out of range you can try to add a couple of string twists to adjust within the specific tolerance however never put more that 20 twists in a string.

tiller-measureNext we need to make sure the correct amount of draw weight is shared between the limbs. The difference between the top tiller and the bottom tiller will effect the bow reaction on release and your ability to hold steady at full draw and aim. Your hand on the grip is centered in the bow however your arrow is actually above center, the bottom limbs needs to be slightly heavier to compensate. This is accomplished on an Olympic bow using the adjustable tiller. Most risers are shipped with the tillers adjusted to the correct depth. Adjusting the tiller is an extremely advanced bow tuning technique, and should ONLY be adjusted by a someone with experience. The thing for you to check is to make sure that top tiller is about 1/8” to 1/4″ (3-8 mm) greater than the bottom tiller, if not take your bow to a professional pro-shop or coach to help you adjust it.

In the next post, we will cover installing the arrow rest, nocking point and setting up your center shot.

Getting Started in Archery

Archery is one of the best sports because it can be social, competitive, fun, and casual, you just need to decide what you want to get out of it.  Recently the interest in archery has sky-rocketed since the movies the Hunger Games, Brave and the Avengers.

Archery is so popular that Britain right now, with London Olympics finishing recently,  MPs are demanding its return and politicians have participated in training sessions with current and future Olympians.

This is not a local phenomenon either, there are tons of articles throughout North America about the increased interest in Archery. I am sure there are even more throughout the world since I have seen a lot of blogs about people who have or want to give it a try and I have also seen a lot of questions and comments about how to get started.

Well, here is a quick simple step-by-step guide.

  1. Find a archery club : Archery clubs exist everywhere; your school may even have an archery club. You can also contact your provincial, state or national archery organization. Most Provincal Sports Organization (PSO) or National Sports Organization (NSO) are now online and they will either have a listing of clubs or you can contact them directly for one
  2. Setup a take a beginner class or a private lesson : Most clubs offer regular lessons for both beginner and advanced archers. Alternatively you can contact a private coach, like myself, and setup a private session.

It’s that simple and once you have tried archery; you’ll be hooked.

Since, the hardest part about getting started in archery is finding information. Check out my links page for links to Ontario, Canada, USA, and International organizations to help you find an archery club close to you.  Once started, you can talk with your club or coach and they can provide some insight on how you can get the most out of archery.

Magnification: Zoom in on the Target

If you have ever competed outdoors in a field, 3D or target tournament you can understand the importance of being able to zoom in on the target to see how you are shooting. Although using a telephoto scope on your bow is not allowed in competition, you can use some after-the-shot magnification with binoculars or a spotting scope which can be extremely valuable.

For field and 3D, most archers use binoculars, since they are portable and much easier and quicker to align with the target and can be positioned quickly, which is important since you are changing targets often. The use of a spotting scope would be cumbersome to carry and setup from target to target.  Although binoculars are allowed in field and 3D tournament, range finders are usually prohibited.

For target, most archers use a spotting scope (also known as a sport telescope, fieldscope or minocular) because once setup the spotting scope does not need to be changed very often. Although you can use binoculars, the value of a spotting scope over binoculars is the magnification and the angled eye-piece which reduces the need to reposition your shooting stance to check the location of each arrow. The rules allow you to set-up a spotting scope within your shooting line space of 80cm. The challenge is making sure it is set up so it does not interfere with your or your opponent.

If you are new to outdoor competitions, consider investing in some type of magnification, since no matter how good your eyes are, the distances become farther and farther as you get older. Understanding how you are doing during each end, instead of after it can be the difference between standing on the podium or admiring it from a distance.