You've done your research and decided on the perfect bow. You drive to the store and pick out the one that was made just for you. If you're like me, you take it home and plan exactly how you'd like it to look. So, what's your first move? Where do you begin and which steps do you take to make sure your new bow is set up to maximize its potential and look great. Well, you've come to the right place.
Before you begin, there are some things you'll need to complete this tutorial:
2) Arrow rest
3) Bow sight
9) Any necessary tools to adjust your bow's rest and sight
The first thing to understand about this process is that it's designed to tune YOUR bow to the way YOU shoot. Each of the adjustments you will make to your bow may not be the same as someone else's with a different bow. That's normal. It's about setting your bow to your shooting style to get the best results.
What we are going to look at with this tutorial is how to set the center alignment (left and right position A.K.A. windage) of your arrow rest and bow sight based on the way your bow performs, not the center line of the bow. The first step of completing this process is to attach both your bow sight and arrow rest to your bow. The best way to set the nocking point of your arrow on your bow string is to first affix the arrow rest to your bow, roughly where you want it based on the vane or feather clearance of your riser. In other words, don't set the rest too low so the vanes will hit anything - including cable slide/roller, arrow rest and bow riser. When your rest is locked into position, the use of a bow square will help you identify the position your nocking point will be on your bow string. I personally recommend the use of a D loop to minimize stress on the string and nock, but it's not needed. Next, attach your bow sight to the bow riser. I would recommend setting your sight to align with your eye and the target when you are comfortably at full draw. If you are having to hold your bow uncomfortably to see the target through your sight window, it is probably in the wrong position. A good rule of thumb is to line up your eye, bow string, bow sight and target at full draw with your nose slightly touching the bow string.
Now that your rest and sight have been attached, you're almost ready to begin the walk-back tuning of your bow. To ensure the success of the process, you will need to give yourself some room to miss the point of aim. You do this by putting a sticker on your target near the top center with extra room on all sides. Below, the heart represents the sticker placement on your target. The heart shot is where you want to aim.
The next step is to tie a nut to the end of a string and hang it on your target so the string splits the heart. Now you're ready to begin.
Step back to 20 yards. Fire three arrows at the heart with the 20 yard pin on your sight. Don't be worried if your arrows don't hit where you're aiming. We will go over this later on.
Next, step back to 30 yards and fire three more arrows at the heart using the same 20 yard pin you used to aim with at 20 yards. This group will hit lower on the target because of the added distance and could be to the left or right of the first group.
The final step of this first shooting set is to fire three more arrows at the heart from 40 yards, again using the same 20 yard pin from the first two groups. Your arrows at 40 yards will be lower than both of the previous groups of arrows from 20 and 30 yards.
In this situation, your three groups of arrows are shown moving to the left of the point of aim while dropping on the target. This means that your REST needs to be moved to the right of where it currently is. Move the rest roughly 1/16" to the right and repeat the previous three steps. The desired result is shown below, with the three groups of arrows shot from distances of 20, 30 and 40 yards in a vertical pattern, parallel with the string. Adjust your REST and repeat the shooting process until you have achieved a vertical pattern of arrows. Don't worry if the arrows aren't hitting directly over the string at this point, this will be adjusted with your sight later on. Below is what this vertical pattern should look like.
Once you have achieved the vertical arrow pattern, you can now make the necessary adjustments with your SIGHT to align the arrows in line with the heart. Don't touch your rest after this point! Your rest is where it needs to be. In this situation, we have achieved the solid vertical pattern, but the arrows are hitting to the left of the heart and string. To solve this problem, we need to adjust the SIGHT to the left. Move the SIGHT roughly 1/16" to the left and repeat the shooting steps until you achieve the vertical pattern on top of the heart and string.
If you can consistently shoot this pattern, you are now ready to make the necessary adjustments to the INDIVIDUAL SIGHT PINS to align the groups up or down with the point of aim. At this point you can use the 20 yard pin from 20 yards to shoot your point of aim, the 30 yard pin from 30 yards, the 40 yard pin from 40 yards and so on. Make the necessary adjustments to each yardage pin until your groups are hitting around the center of your point of aim. Below is what your groups should look like once your pins are properly sighted in. The top left bullseye was shot at 20 yards using the 20 yard pin. The bottom right bullseye was shot at 30 yards using the 30 yard pin and finally, the top right bullseye was shot using the 40 yard pin at 40 yards. All of the groups are now "sighted in."
Congratulations, you have successfully walk-back tuned your bow. The placement of your rest and sight should now maximize the potential of your bow's performance. Always remember, you're only as good as your worst shot - so practice, practice, practice!