Bow Tuning – Advanced Tuning part 2

IMG_7304In this last part of advanced bow tuning series, I will direct you to the expert documents that cover the fine tuning for a recurve bow.

For advanced tuning for plunger and tiller/brace height, I recommend checking out Tuning for Tuning for Tens by Rich Stonebraker and Bow Tuning by Ten Zone. Although both cover the same material both documents together create a great understanding of the tuning methods.

Lastly, is stabilization I recommend reading Going Steady by Andrew Smith. Andrew explains the principles behind using stabilizers, the various types available and how to set one up.

Remember changing one thing can affect the other components and the plunger is no exception. As an example, I changed to a new stabilizer long rod and ended up having to adjust my plunger to compensate.

Apply the simple rule of incremental changes all the while watching for reactions to the change.  That’s the best way to tune a bow, in small steps… Be patience and test each change.


Bow Tuning – Advanced Tuning


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.


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. 

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.


IMG_7606Nock Pliers:  Specially designed pliers for installing nock points.


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


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.


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.

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.

Arrows Series – Part 8: Fine Tuning and Numbering

Now that your center-shot is right, you’ll need to continue to fine-tune your bow periodically to change as you grow and develop as an archer. Start by labelling and numbering your arrows. Labelling your arrows with your name or initials is required for tournaments and sometimes is the only way you can distinguish your arrows from someone else’s; especially if they have the same nocks, shafts and fletchings.

Numbering is a good idea so you can track your arrows, if you have a single stray arrow. If the stray is consistent on every end and the number is the same, it may be that something is not right with that arrow.

Once you know your arrows and can track them, you can further tune your bow by adjusting various components such as the tiller, plunger, nock height etc… . You can perform some or all of these various tuning test to help tune your bow for maximum performance.

Paper Tuning Test: Tuning test involving setting up a piece of paper on a frame, stretching the paper taught, and shooting field-tipped arrows (not broadheads, which will affect the arrow flight) through it starting about 6 ft away.

Bare Shaft Planing Test : Tuning process were one shoots a bare arrow (shaft with no fletchings) for comparison with fletched arrows.

Walk-back Test: Tuning process where groups of arrows are shot at increasing distances to give a useful combined test of both centre-shot and button tension.

Check out these two very useful resources: Easton Tuning Guide and Tenzone’s Bow Tuning test documents: for instructions with these tests and many more.

As you develop as an archer you will need to make changes and tune your bow. Remember that making multiple adjustments at the same time can be hard to track and can be very confusing. It is important to only make one change at a time and test again.

This concludes the Arrow Series; Thanks and good shooting.