Tuning your bow is an important step to ensure accuracy and confidence in your equipment. Properly tuning your bow is what ensures your arrows fly consistently and hit where you aim. It can be a time consuming process that many people find endlessly frustrating, but there are some ways to make it a bit more straightforward. At the end of the day, it will make shooting much more enjoyable and it’s a critical part of being an ethical hunter.
There are a variety of methods to tune your bow for shooting with field points, such as paper tuning and walk-back tuning, and you probably covered some of these when you purchased your bow. In the months leading up to hunting season, it’s important to spend some time practicing with the broadheads you intend to use in the field. Broadhead companies will boast that their products fly the same as field points and loyal customers will swear that if you use a certain broadhead, it all but eliminates the need for additional tuning; however, all bow and arrow combinations function slightly differently, so it’s crucial that you test your bow with the exact broadheads you will be using in the field. Here is a quick step-by-step to get your rig ready for season opener.
1. Purchase Practice Broadheads
Broadheads kill efficiently because they have razor sharp cutting edges and it’s important that your hunting broadheads are in perfect condition. Always purchase an additional set of your hunting broadheads for pre-season practice. Most broadheads will come with a practice broadhead for this exact purpose, but never use the ones you intend to use on your hunt.
2. Compare Broadhead and Field Point Flight
Select a distance you are comfortable and confident shooting. You don’t need to be 100 yards away for this – I recommend 20 or 30 yards. First, shoot a broadhead arrow at the target (be sure you are using a target specifically designed for broadheads). Next, shoot a field point arrow at the same spot on the target.
3. Correct Your Broadhead Flight
If your two arrows did not hit in the same spot, you are going to adjust the rest. To make the correct adjustments, “follow the field point” with your rest – move the rest in the direction of the field point arrow. Begin with the horizontal (left/right) adjustments. For example, if your broadhead hit left of the field point, adjust the rest to the right. These adjustments should be in very small increments. It will not take a lot of movement to affect the point of impact. Next, move on to the vertical adjustment until the two arrows are hitting in the same vertical position. Similarly, if your broadhead hit above your field point, move the rest down (or adjust the nock point up). If your arrow rest does not have vertical adjustments, you will need to adjust the nock height. In this case, you will move the nock in the opposite direction from where the field point hit. Continue to shoot one of each arrow until they are hitting together.
Some Extra Tips:
- It’s important that you treat this as a tuning issue, not a sighting issue. You want your broadheads and field points hitting in the same spot, and if you just adjust your sight to correct this difference, the broadhead may hit the target, but the gap between the arrows, and therefore the tuning problem, will not be corrected.
- When adjusting the rest, make very small adjustment, starting with only about 1/16” at a time.
- I recommend always shooting a broadhead arrow first, followed by a field point. As your arrows move closer together, this will avoid shaving off vanes with the broadhead every time you shoot.
- Continue to shoot at 20 yards until your arrows are hitting as close as you can get them before you move back to 30 yards or beyond.
- A common source of debate is whether or not you should align your broadhead blades to the arrow vanes. Some will tell you this is crucial for arrow flight. I have never done this and have been able to tune my bows just fine. I won’t say that people are wrong when they suggest you do this, but I will say that there isn’t really any scientific evidence to support the need to do this. Also, what about 2 or 4 blade broadheads? People achieve perfect tuning with those as well.
- Be patient with this process, making only small adjustments at a time. Remember that bows, arrows, and broadheads can all interact differently. I’ve seen paper tuned bows almost robin hood arrows on the first shot with a broadhead; I’ve also seen bows take a dozen adjustments before I was satisfied with the broadhead tuning. Be prepared to invest some time in this process and your hunting experience will be much better!