How to Bare Shaft Tune a Compound Bow

Tuning is the essence of the bow set up. It’s the art of matching your bow with the arrow.

If you do an excellent job of tuning your bow correctly, you have achieved at least half what it takes to become a good archer. The other half is a perfect shooting form that would come from years of practice.

There are many different methods to tune a compound bow: paper tuning, tiller tuning, bare shaft tuning, line tuning, and high camera tuning.

In this post, we will learn the correct way to bare shaft tune a compound bow.

How to Bare Shaft Tune a Compound Bow

The goal of bare shaft tuning a compound bow is to help you determine whether you have the correct arrows set that flies straight and stick straight in.

To start bare shaft tuning your compound bow, you’ll need to prepare the following:

  1. Your compound bow.
  2. Two unfletched and four fletched arrows. The arrows that you’re going to use must have the exact same spine, length, weight and nocks, and fletchings (for the fletched arrows).
  3. Bag target or bag foam.

Once you have prepared all the items that you need, you may start by shooting four fletched arrows then followed by two unfletched arrows at the bag target at 20 yards.

It’s recommended to use a bag target when doing bare shaft tuning to avoid the arrow from getting bent during contact.

After shooting, take a look at the arrows, if you’re right-handed, the bare shaft arrows should hit in the top side of the fletched arrows. If you’re left-handed, you want to see the opposite.

If the arrows didn’t hit the target straight then, the arrows might have a porpoising or fishtailing problem.

Porpoising Explained

Porpoising is the problem when the bare shaft arrows that you shoot move up and down as they fly toward the target. Remember previously, the goal of bare shaft tuning is to make the arrows fly straight.

The Solution to Porpoising Problem

Porpoising happens because you set the nocking point wrong—either it’s too high or too low. Therefore to deal with the porpoising problem, you need to adjust the nocking point of the bow.

If the unfletched arrows hit the target above the fletched arrows, you can adjust the nocking point by moving it up. Conversely, if the unfletched arrows hit the target below the fletched arrows, you can move the nocking point down.

Keep adjusting until both the fletched and unfletched arrows hit the target at the same height.

Fishtailing Explained

Fishtailing is the problem when the arrows move left and right as they fly toward the target.

Take a look at where the arrows are landed. If the unfletched arrows hit the target to the left of the fletched group, this shows that the arrows are too stiff. To fix this, you can increase the bow draw weight or the point weight of the arrow.

On the other hand, if the arrows hit the target to the right of the fletched group, then this shows that the arrows are weak. To correct this problem, you can decrease the bow draw weight or the arrow point weight.

How to Adjust a Compound Bow Draw Weight

You can increase or decrease a compound bow draw weight by tightening or loosening the limb bolts using an Allen Wrench.

To increase the bow draw weight, turn the wrench clockwise. To decrease, turn the wrench counterclockwise. One rotation equals roughly to a pound and a half of weight.

You can find limb bolts in the area near the center of the compound bow. They are located in large circular knobs that connect the bow’s limbs to the riser.

Other Ways to Tune a Compound Bow

Aside from bare shaft tuning, there are other ways you can tune your compound bow. There are paper tuning, tiller tuning, line tuning, and camera tuning.

I’ll write in separate posts about tiller tuning and line tuning. In the following paragraphs, you’ll learn about paper tuning and camera tuning.

Camera Tuning

Ask your friend to take a few videos as you shoot. Use the video to check the arrow whether the arrow is hitting anything on its flight leaving the bow.

To do a camera tuning, you need to use at least a 240fps camera to capture slow-motion video. If you have a low fps camera, you can use software to slow things down.

If you don’t have a high-speed camera, you can use your cell phone and use a free program such as kinovea that will help you examine the video one frame at a time.

Paper Tuning

Paper tuning provides another great way to tune your compound bow. To use this method, you need to make a paper tuning stand first.

It’s fun and cheap to make your own DIY paper tuning stand. You just need to buy PVC, a roll of painter’s paper and clamp. You can get all of those from a local improvement store for under $10.

Check out the following video for step-by-step instruction on how to build DIY paper tuning stand:

Once your paper tuning ready, the next step is to place your target directly behind the paper tuner. Take a distance at about 3 meters, shoot your bow and examine the result.

If you see a good bullet-hole, congrats, your bow is well-tuned, and you don’t need to do anything else.

However, if you see a tear that looks like a rounded-end where the point strikes through the paper followed by three or four-slotted hole made by the vane, it means you need to adjust your compound bow.

If the arrow hole is down and the fletched hole is above it, this means your arrow is a little weak. To fix this, move your arrow rest down. Keep adjusting the arrow rest until you get an excellent bullet-hole tear.

If the arrow hole is up and the fletched hole is down, this means your arrow is a little stiff. To correct this, move your nocking point up.

If you get a left or right tear, this means the bow center shot is off.

If you get a right tear, move your rest to the left, or increase the poundage, or use an arrow one size down. If you get a left crack, move your arrow rest to the right, or decrease the bow draw weight, or pick an arrow one size up.