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Tuning Longbows and Recurves ~ Reproduced with Permission of OL Adock

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One of the reasons many folks enjoy shooting traditional equipment is the simplicity. A bow with no mechanical parts. No set screws, no micro adjustments, fiber optic sights – not much there to go wrong.  

But you still have to “tune” your equipment if you want to get the best accuracy and performance potential. The methods and techniques for tuning traditional bows is the same as it is with compounds. The same laws of physics apply. The big difference is that you don’t have the easy adjustments that are built into compounds so other remedies have to be used.  

The closer to center shot a bow is, the easier it is to tune and the wider range of spines it can shoot well. Just because a bow can shoot arrows at the low or high end of the spectrum, doesn’t mean we should accept adequate arrow flight around the edges. Somewhere in the middle of that range is going to be the best arrow spine combination that will be more forgiving of human errors and conditions you are likely to encounter in the field.   

Taking the time to tune your equipment is time well spent. We hope the following lessons will get you started.

Getting Ready to Tune

Understanding the Bell Curve
For any given bow, arrow, archer combination, there will be a “best” arrow that will give the best flight characteristics. This is the bell curve and you should understand it before you begin the tuning process.  Read More…

The Shot
Many factors affect the bow each time you draw it. All of these must be in “tune” or harmony with each other or bad things start to happen.  Read More…

Arrow Spine
How much the arrow bends during the shot is determined by how much force the bow applies to the back end of the arrow, how far off center the arrow shelf is, how stiff the arrow is (spine), and how clean your release is. Read More…

Draw Weight and Length
Most bows draw weight is measured at 28″ unless marked otherwise. The amount of force applied to your arrow that is going to make it bend is determined by the draw weight of the bow at your draw length. Read More…

Choosing Arrows
Before we can start tuning, you got to have arrows to shoot. Wood, aluminum, or carbon arrows will shoot well and is personal choice. Read More…

Initial Bow Setup
First it must be understood that ANYTHING you do to the bow effects tuning so it is important to set the bow up EXACTLY the way you intend to use it. Read More…

Tuning Your Bow 

Choosing the Method
There are several tuning methods out there, however, in my opinion, the bare shaft “Planing” method or the broadhead planing method is the best and here is why… Read More…

Bare Shaft Planing
Somehow, bad information has been passed down from archer to archer for many years on the correct method to bare shaft tune. Read on to learn the correct way to implement this tuning technique. Read More…

Fine Tuning Broadheads
For the hunter, this is the bottom line, broadheads that fly true and straight where you look every time! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to shoot your broadheads and correct any flight problems BEFORE YOU GO HUNTING WITH THEM!
Read More…

Now what do I do?

First, measure your brace height and nock point height, write them down somewhere. This will save you tremendous time later on. It’s also not a bad idea to take that string off and use it as a spare. Get another identical string, set it up, go through the tuning process again. Next, practice, practice, practice, sharpen those broadheads and go hunt something!

Tuning is essential to get the best accuracy and performance out of your bow. Most of this is science and the better you understand the relationships and the cause and effects of all the variables, the easier it is. I hope this information will help you enjoy archery even more and remove any doubts in your equipment, putting the excuses for missing where they should be, on the shooter!