Bow Tuning – A Simplified Series for Beginners

IMG_7304Your bow is  very personal to you and should be tuned specifically to you and your shooting style. Since there are tons of in-depth, technical articles about bow tuning produced by many organizations and manufacturers, my goal is to simplify the concepts for beginner archers. Although, my primarily focus will be an Olympic recurve bow, some or most, if not all, the principals can be applied to other disciplines.

In this series we will discuss, but not limit to, nocking points, bowstring fit, centering, clearance, brace height, sight alignment, tiller, clicker, plunger adjustment and discuss various tuning methods. 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 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. From there, a well tuned bow can help compensate for personal idiosyncrasies and help you achieve the maximum performance.

So, in preparation for this series, review and ensure you have the correct equipment for you. You need to have equipment you can use. If the bow is too small or light, or alternatively too heavy, in-depth tuning is not going to provide many advantages. Alternatively, if your equipment is just above or below were you need to be; advanced tuning can help rein a bow in. Also, make sure you have selected the correct arrows for your setup. Review my Arrow Series about arrow selection to make sure you have selected arrows that are best for you.

StudyingAlways remember that there are several steps to properly tune your bow for maximum performance. You should record every adjustment so you are able to retrace your steps should an adjustment provide negative results. Remember to adjust only one thing at a time and then test. Remember that even one piece of new equipment will require bow tuning and the amount will depend on the importance of that piece. For example, a new plunger a little bit of tuning and new limbs with higher poundage means you may be starting from square one.

Bow tuning is an advanced technique and should be only attempted by archers with at least a good understanding the bow mechanics. I recommend you employ the knowledge and experience of a trained coach. I still work with my coach to tune any new bow that I receive, since a second or third pair of eyes can really help make the difference between a good tuning and perfection.

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Putting an Olympic Bow Together

There are only five steps to putting an Olympic bow together, however if attention and caution are not used you can inadvertently damage your bow or potentially yourself.

Step 1: Determine Riser and Limb Position

It is important to make sure the limbs are properly installed in the riser. If the limbs backwards (top in the bottom and bottom in the top) your arrows will fly low and inconsistently. Most set of limbs are marked top and bottom and are usually marked near the poundage information.

Quick tip:  Usually lower limbs has the label on the inside (convex side) and top limbs has the label on the outside (concave).

Step 2: Attach the Limbs to riser

Start with the riser upright and attach the limbs.

For international limb fittings, insert each limb into their associated limb pockets (top on top, bottom in bottom) applying enough pressure for them to sit securely (usually you will hear a click noise).

For other “pro-style” limb fittings, slip the limbs over the bolts and into the limb pocket. Attach the bolts for the limbs and tighten until secure. (Be sure not to over-tighten).

Step 3: String the bow

Attach the string to the bow using a stringer. Start by comparing the loops on the ends of string and, using the largest loop, slide the loop over the top limb and down about halfway. Then, using the small loop of the string, slide it over the tip of the bottom limb.

Quick Tip: Refer to the manual for your stringer and adjust these instructions accordingly.

Although stringer styles and use can vary, here are some basic steps.

  • Place the stringer’s large pocket over the bottom limb tip and string, making sure the string is in the string grooves.
  • Next, attach the stringer’s small pocket over the top limb
  • Step on the stringer below the riser and lift the riser from the handle
  • Slide the string along the top limb until the top loop sits in the string grooves
  • Slowly, lower the riser to allow the limbs to apply tension to the string

Safety Tip: Before removing the stringer, proceed to the next step…

Step 4: Double check the string, limbs and bow

The most important step in my opinion is the bow double check, since you can damage your bow or worse yourself if not preformed.  First, check the string is in the string grooves on both limbs and then make sure the limbs are completely set into the limb pocket.

Safety Tip:  A safe way to verify the limbs are set correctly, place your arm along a limb, grab the tip and slowly bend the limb back. If you hear a click (or nothing) the limb is correctly set in the limb pocket. Repeat for the both limbs.

Step 5: Attach Sight and Accessories

Lastly, you can attach your sight and other accessories such as your stabilizer system. Now you are ready to start warming up and begin shooting.

If you do not have a stringer yet, Cartel Doosung has a couple of great options of stringers available for very reasonable prices.