Pre-Season Bow Set Up

It’s time to get your bow ready for September! Whether you have a new bow, or are just checking the bow that has set stagnant during the off season, it is time to get it ready! The earlier you start, the better off you will be. Bow set up and initial tuning is more than just slapping some accessories on and grabbing some arrows. Proper bow set up and initial tuning can take some time and patience, but in the long run, will make secondary tuning (true center shot, sighting in, etc.) much easier. Proper bow set up and initial tuning is the first step into turning your bow into a fine tuned elk killing machine.

Let’s get started! With your bow properly sized, properly spined arrows with chosen point weight, and chosen accessories, here are the steps I take to set up and initially tuning my bow each year. Some of them are slightly summarized but I think you will get the point.

Step 1: Limb Tiller Setting

Crank the limbs down as far as they will go, then back them out equally 2-4 full turns. (If you shoot your bow cranked down all the way, I recommend backing each limb bolt out ½ turn. This will give you some limb tiller adjustment later on in initial or secondary tuning). Check the Tiller with a bow square and adjust the limbs until the tiller of each limb is equal.

Step 2: Strings and Cables

I recommend replacing factory or frayed strings and cables with Winners Choice Custom Bowstrings. Once I have placed my new strings and cables on, I will attach a D-Loop and temporarily slap on an old TM hunter style rest.

Quality, pre-stretched strings and cables actually shrink a very slight amount during packaging and shipping. Due to the slight shrinkage I will shoot the bow at close range 10-20 times in order to re-stretch the new strings and cables. Because, I am not concerned with arrow and vain clearance at this point, I typically use the TM hunter style rest.

Step 3: Cam Timing or Synchronizing

Even though you probably shoot a Single Cam or Cam & 1/2 style bow, you still need to time or synchronize the cam or cams.

On a Cam & 1/2 style set up, you need to synchronize both cam’s and verify they are rotating and stopping at the same points. If they are not rotating at the same speed and/or stopping at the same time, you will need to adjust the Buss Cable and The Control cable. You can determine the timing by having someone watch the cams or by using a draw board. When the bow is fully drawn, the bottom cam’s draw stop should be touching the buss cable at the same time the control cable is laying flat in the groove of the top cam. If the cam is under-rotated, you can add or remove a twist or half-twist in the buss or the control cable. Continue to adjust until both cams hit their stopping points at the same time. After every modification to the Buss or Control cable length it is important to shoot a few arrows and then recheck the timing. Remember that shortening the buss cable will lengthen the draw and increase the draw weight, and shortening the control cable will decrease the draw length and decrease the draw weight.

Single Cam bows do not need to be synchronized as there is only one cam. However, the cam’s rotation does have to be timed in order for the cam to perform as it was designed to. Most quality single cam manufactures have placed Timing Windows or Marks on their cams to make timing/tuning the cam easier. By twisting or un-twisting the buss cable, you will be able to align the buss cable into the timing window. Once the cable is viewable in the window or within the cam marks, verify the string is at the manufacturers recommended distance from the mark or window. It is also necessary to shoot a few shots and then recheck the timing.

(If you have never done or seen cam timing performed, I highly recommend having your local pro shop assist you with it, as improper use of drawing board can potentially cause your bows string and cables to derail. For a first-timer it can also be a very frustrating process).

Step 4: Adding the Rest

It is now time to remove the TM rest and add the permanent rest of your choice. I recommend a quality fall-away rest like Rip Cord or Trophy taker. Once the rest is attached to the bow, adjust the rest to the height that puts the arrow in the middle of the rest bolt hole when the rest is in the up position. Position the arrow nock so it is level, or better yet, 1/8-inch or so high (see below). It is at this point that I adjust my D-loop to the desired nock height.

When using either of the above rests I typically use the included down cable attachment versus tying the rest string into the down cable. This allows for super fine tuning of the rest. A fall-away should fall out of the way within the first 1/3 of the arrow. I personally like mine to fall within the first 2-3 inches of arrow movement. At this point you should also move the rest left or right until the arrow is in the middle of the bow shelf. This is roughed in and will usually change once paper tuning is performed. By following the included directions or having a Pro Shop assist you is by far the easiest way to set up a fall away rest. They can take time to dial in, but once they are set, offer superb arrow/vain clearance.

(Note that the Nock height shown is 1/4-inch high. It may seem a bit high, but that is where it ended up shooting the best and with the most accuracy after I was done with secondary tuning.)

Step 5: Adding and adjusting a Peep

If you have never added a peep sight to your string I recommend having a Pro Shop help you with it the first time. A slight nick in the string fiber can cause damage that requires string re-placement. A bow press also makes the process easier and less likely to cause string damage. The bow press is also necessary to adjust the peep. At this point you should also twist the D-Loop to be in the correct rear-facing position.

Now that the peep is in the middle of the string, you will need to adjust the peep height. Having someone help you at this point will also make the process quicker. With arrow loaded and standing in front of a target, draw the bow and anchor as you normally would. Once you are anchored have your helper move the peep up or down until the center of the peep is at the appropriate height for your eye. At this point, don’t worry about proper rotation or if you can see through the peep. With the height of the peep now correct, you will usually need to either flip the peep (if it is off by 180 degrees) or twist the string (if it is off by 90 degrees). Sometimes you get lucky! With each change you should also shoot a few shots in between to assure the string fibers are back to the desired location.

Step 6: Paper Tuning

There is a ton of information on the internet in regards to Paper Tuning. The one thing I think most of the info on the internet fails to mention is that paper tuning is just a starting point in proper bow tuning. Sure, a “bullet hole” through paper indicates good arrow flight and vane clearance at a short distance. Once you get into “True Center Shot” tuning with your rest and sight, however, you may find that a very slight high left tear gives you the best arrow flight, clearance, and down range accuracy. For more descriptive paper tuning instructions, visit the site, but remember that a “Bullet Hole” isn’t always what you should shoot for.

Step 7: Sighting in

I could just cut and paste the article I wrote last year on sighting in, but heck, I learned how to add a “hyperlink” so here goes… “Love at first Sight”…..

Step 8: Adding Marks

Marking certain areas of your bow can give you instant information. For example, by marking my cams on my Hoyt Element with “white pen paint” I can immediately tell if my cable, buss, or string has stretched even a very slight amount. I also mark my Peep, D-Loop, Rest, Sight, and Limb Bolts. Not only do these marks give me a quick reference point they also give me a piece of mind that nothing has moved.

Knowing that your bow is properly set up and tuned will make the adrenalin rush of a bugling bull that much easier to deal with! Enjoy, and be patient. If you have questions, feel free to post them in the Forums and I will do my best to answer them!