Bow Tuning for Better Scores

These days it seems like everyone has an opinion on how to set up your bow.  Information is everywhere online.  YouTube videos, articles, discussion boards, you name it, everyone is telling you the best way to do things, and then the next person contradicts them.  The differing views can make it challenging to know where to start or how to prepare your equipment for a shooting season.

Often the information available online fails to help because they cannot account for the fact that no one shoots a bow just like you.  It is so important to have your equipment humming in a way that suits you and your shooting style.  Achieve this, and your equipment will support you to achieve your shooting dreams.

Whenever you are about to start a new season consider these things.

  1. Is my bow setup for what I want to do?
  2. What do I want to achieve?
  3. Am I fit enough?
  4. What do I want to improve on?

Whether your goal is to get a podium place at your local club, or just beating your best friend, the principal should be the same.  The best results come from taking the time and making your bow set up unique to you.  The easier you make your setup for your shooting style, the better and easier it is going to be to meet your goals.  It is that simple.

I’m going to talk you through what I do to set up my bow and the tuning techniques I use to get bow humming for me and hope that you will be inspired to try some of these things for your set up.


A good season starts with taking the time to review your setup.  Many archers believe that their setup doesn’t change much over six months or so from when they last visited their pro shop, but it does change. You may need to review and consider changes to things such as arrows or poundage.  I highly recommend that you visit a pro shop at least every four months, or whenever you make changes.  Your Bow Technician may pick up on some wear and tear; this is sometimes your biggest enemy.   Remember if you are making changes yourself, do not do anything that is not recommended by your manufacturer.

There are three key things that you need to review

  1. Bow draw weight
  2. Draw length
  3. Arrow spine


For most modern compound bows, you want a stiffer arrow spine rather than a weaker, but the correct spine shaft for your set up will be determined by your bow poundage and draw length.  If you get this wrong, it doesn’t matter how good of a shooter you are, your arrows will not group.  All arrow manufacturers have charts online to help you to determine what is the best arrow spine for your set up.  Once you know what is the best arrow spine for you, I would again recommend talking to your Pro Shop as there are some other technical aspects that you may want to discuss with them.

One of the trickiest parts to consider is a choice between diameter size or a certain weight. In my set up, I don’t like heavy shafts because they make my bow shoot too slow, then I have to select something with a lighter shaft, and because I am shooting outdoors, I will then look at shooting a thinner shaft. Not everyone cares about how fast or how light or heavy their shafts are but I do recommend you think of this. Technology has made the big difference in the way we can set up our arrows these days. We are fortunate enough to have small diameter arrow shafts that weigh almost nothing which means I can have an extremely light shaft with a hunk of weight at the front to help and stabilise my arrow in all conditions. Remember the longer your arrow is in the air flying to the target the more could go wrong, however, if it goes too fast, consistency is lost.  The wind effects a lighter arrow more than a heavier arrow.

What about fletching?  The point should do more than the fletches, but the size of the fletches does matter.  The weight of the arrow point determines the size of the fletches. The heaver point, the smaller fletch.  The lighter the point, the bigger fletch.  This all depends too on the weight of the shaft, so another good discussion to have with your Pro Shop.

So, your bow has been set up by the pro shop, and they have the timing perfect, now it is time to start tuning to your shooting style.  If your pro shop told you they paper tuned your bow with an arrow that you gave them, I still strongly suggest you do your own tuning. No one can shoot the bow as you shoot it.  There are just way too many variances from person to person.  I prefer a paper tune, but you can do whatever tuning method you trust (if you do not know how to do a paper tune drop me a line at  For me, the paper tune gives me everything I need, and if you do it right, you do not need to do a walk back tune.

When tuning it is important to check for contact of your arrow on the rest or bow, especially if you are shooting a blade rest.  Go to your local pharmacy and buy some spray on foot powder, spray it on your bow and when you shoot, it will show any areas of arrow contact. If your arrow is contacting you may want to contact your pro shop for support.


After tuning the bow, if you are still struggling to get a nice bullet hole (see photo) and it keeps being to the left or right and sometimes high or low, this could well mean there is a spine issue going on. You have two options – playing with the bow poundage, or moving the rest to get it closer. If you find your bullet hole is close but not perfect, I recommend playing with your poundage.  If you have the luxury of having a point you can snip off ten grains at a time, go for it.  I shoot the gold tip accupoint system where you can screw weight in your points or take them out. This system helps me to experiment with different setups and fine tuning if I do not want to play around with my poundage.

One of the most important things when paper tuning is to do it with a bare shaft, and I do my tune with only the one arrow.  Once I get a perfect bullet hole, I move on to my next bare shaft.  Yup, I do not just fletch my arrows. I make sure every single one of those arrows achieves a perfect bullet hole.  If they do not give you a bullet hole, I will twist the nock about ¼ turn at a time until I get it sometimes it could even be 1/8 of a turn at a time. When I achieve my perfect bullet hole, I make a mark on my arrow shaft to indicate were my cock fletch should go. You then basically cloned that arrow over to all of your arrows. They should all be shooting the same now.  Now it is time for fletching.


So now your bow is perfect, your arrows are perfect, now you can train knowing that your setup is the best it can be.  When you have confidence in your equipment, you can work on the one thing that matters, YOU.

Riku Van Tonder

Caveman Professional Shooter.