How to Adjust axle to axle on compound bow

5 Methods to Adjusting Axle to Axle Length on Your Compound Bow

When it comes to archery and bowhunting, accuracy is the name of the game. The axle-to-axle length of your bow is a crucial element that significantly influences its performance. This dimension, often abbreviated as ATA, represents the distance between the axles of the bow’s two cams.

If this distance isn’t set correctly, you could experience a myriad of problems, from decreased accuracy to reduced speed and even premature wear on your bow. Learning how to adjust axle-to-axle on a compound bow is a skill that can significantly improve your archery or hunting experience.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to set up your first compound bow or an experienced archer aiming for precision, understanding the nitty-gritty of axle-to-axle adjustment can make all the difference. This article will explain the essentials of how to axle-to-axle length on your compound bow, ensuring that you get the most out of every shot.

Read on to discover actionable tips and expert advice on optimizing your bow’s performance through correct axle-to-axle settings.

What is Axle-To-Axle Length?

The term “Axle-to-Axle Length,” commonly abbreviated as ATA, refers to the distance between the axles of the two cams on a compound bow. This assessment is crucial as it impacts various aspects of the bow’s performance, encompassing its stability, maneuverability, and accuracy in shooting.

Typically expressed in inches, the ATA length can vary from one bow model to another, ranging from as short as around 28 inches for compact hunting bows to as long as 40 inches or more for bows designed for target shooting.

The ATA length is often one of the first specifications archers look at when choosing a bow because it helps them understand how the bow will handle in different scenarios.

For example, longer ATA lengths are generally favored for target archery due to their increased stability, while shorter ATA lengths are preferred for hunting, where quick movements and tight spaces are more common.

Understanding and choosing the right ATA length for your needs is a fundamental step in optimizing your archery or hunting experience.

Why Proper Axle-To-Axle Adjustment Is Important?

Proper axle-to-axle (ATA) adjustment on a compound bow is an often-overlooked but crucial aspect of archery and bowhunting. First and foremost, the ATA length directly influences the bow’s accuracy. If the ATA length is off, even by a small margin, it can result in shots that are inconsistent and off-target. This could pose a significant problem, whether you’re participating in an archery competition or pursuing game in the wild.

Additionally, the correct ATA length affects the bow’s speed and power. If the cams are not aligned properly due to incorrect ATA settings, the energy transfer during the shot may not be optimal, reducing the arrow speed and diminishing the impact force.

Long-term, improper ATA adjustment can also lead to premature wear and tear on the bow’s components. Cams, limbs, and strings are finely calibrated pieces of equipment. If they’re not set up correctly, it places undue stress on these parts, which can lead to failure or reduced lifespan.

5 Methods To Adjust Axle To Axle On Compound Bow

Understanding Axle-to-Axle Length

axle-to-axle length

The distance between the axles of the two cams on a compound bow, commonly shortened as ATA length, holds importance beyond mere numerical value. It holds a substantial influence on the overall performance of the bow.

A longer ATA length typically offers more stability, especially during the aiming process. This stability can be particularly beneficial for target archery, where the slightest movement can mean the difference between hitting or missing the bullseye. However, the trade-off is that a bow with a longer ATA can be more challenging to maneuver, especially in confined spaces like tree stands or when stalking game.

On the other hand, a shorter ATA length provides more maneuverability, making it a favorite choice for bowhunters navigating dense woods. But this comes at the cost of reduced stability, which might affect long-range shots.

In essence, understanding the ATA length is crucial because it helps archers choose a bow that aligns with their specific needs, whether it’s target shooting or hunting.

Measuring the Current Axle-to-Axle Length


Before you can adjust axle to axle on a compound bow, you need to know your starting point. Measuring the current ATA length is a straightforward process but requires precision. You’ll need a tape measure and possibly a second pair of hands to ensure accuracy. Extend the tape measure from the center of one axle to the center of the other, making sure the tape is taut and straight. Record this measurement as it will serve as your baseline for any adjustments.

It’s advisable to measure the ATA length multiple times to confirm the measurement. Any discrepancies could lead to imbalances that may affect your shooting accuracy. Once you have a reliable measurement, you can proceed to make adjustments.

Checking and Fine-tuning

Checking and Fine-tuning

After obtaining your baseline ATA length, the next step is to fine-tune it according to your needs. This usually involves adjusting the limb bolts located at each end of the bow. By loosening or tightening these bolts, you can either increase or decrease the ATA length. It’s crucial to adjust both limb bolts equally to maintain the bow’s balance.

Always re-measure the ATA length after each adjustment to ensure you’ve achieved your desired measurement. It’s advisable to fire off a few arrows to evaluate how well the bow performs. If you notice any inconsistencies or imbalances, you may need to re-adjust the limb bolts and re-check the ATA length.

Increasing the ATA length

How To Adjust Axle To Axle On Compound Bow

If you find that you need to increase the ATA length for greater stability, especially for long-distance shooting, you’ll need to loosen the limb bolts. However, it’s essential to do this incrementally, usually no more than one full turn at a time. After each adjustment, test the bow’s performance by shooting a few arrows. This will help you gauge whether the increased ATA length has improved stability and accuracy.

Remember, increasing the ATA length too much can make the bow difficult to handle in confined spaces. Hence, the key lies in achieving the perfect equilibrium between stability and maneuverability. Once you’ve achieved your desired ATA length, make sure to tighten all the bolts securely to lock in your adjustments.

Tools Needed for ATA Adjustment

bow press

When it comes to fine-tuning your compound bow for peak performance, understanding how to adjust the axle-to-axle (ATA) length is crucial. But before you get started, you’ll need the right tools for ATA adjustment to ensure precision and safety. Without the proper tools, you risk damaging your bow and compromising your shooting accuracy. So, what are these must-have items for ATA adjustments?

1 – Bow Press

A high-quality bow press is non-negotiable. It allows you to safely compress the bow’s limbs, relieving tension from the bowstring and cables. This enables you to make adjustments to the cams or limb bolts without risking damage to the bow or injury to yourself.

2 – Allen Wrench Set

An Allen wrench set is essential for tightening or loosening limb bolts, cam modules, and other bow components. A complete set will provide you with the versatility to adjust different parts of your bow.

3 – Tape Measure

A reliable tape measure is critical for taking accurate readings of your bow’s ATA length before and after adjustments. A digital caliper can offer even more precision if required.

4 – Leveling Tools

These tools, often in the form of small bubble levels, help ensure that your bow is perfectly vertical during adjustments. This aids in accurate measurements and adjustments.

5 – Lubricant

A specialized archery lubricant can help ease the moving parts during adjustment and reduce wear and tear over time.

6 – Shims and Spacers

Depending on your bow’s design, you may need shims or spacers to fine-tune your ATA length. These small but critical components can help you achieve the exact adjustments you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does axle to axle length affect a bow?

The axle-to-axle length of a bow has a significant impact on its overall performance, stability, and handling. Longer axle-to-axle bows generally offer more stability, especially at full draw, making them ideal for target shooting. They can also be more forgiving of minor form errors. On the other hand, shorter axle-to-axle bows are often lighter and more maneuverable, which is advantageous in tight spaces like hunting blinds or when stalking game.

How do you shorten an axle shaft?

Shortening an axle shaft is a complex task that typically requires specialized tools and expertise. It involves removing the axle shaft from the vehicle, cutting it down to the desired length, and then properly machining the ends. This often includes re-splining the shaft and ensuring it is balanced. It’s not a task recommended for amateurs, and it’s usually best left to professionals to avoid compromising the structural integrity of the axle.

What is the shortest axle to axle compound bow?

The industry has produced compound bows with axle-to-axle lengths as short as around 28 inches.These highly compact bows are primarily engineered for hunting, where agility in tight spaces is crucial. Since brands and models differ, consulting with manufacturers for their most recent products is advisable.

How do you shorten an axle to axle on a bow?

Adjusting the axle-to-axle length on a compound bow is generally not something that can be done at home. This length is usually a fixed specification determined by the bow’s design. If you find that your bow’s axle-to-axle length is not suitable for your needs, the best course of action is usually to purchase a bow with the desired dimensions. However, some bows do offer limited adjustability, which should be done by a qualified professional to ensure that the bow’s performance and safety are not compromised.

How do you measure axle shaft length?

Measuring an axle shaft length requires precision. The axle shaft should be removed from the vehicle for an accurate measurement. Typically, the length is measured from the end of the splines to the end of the flange. Make sure to use precise measuring tools like calipers or a tape measure and refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the most accurate results. Always double-check your measurements to ensure accuracy.


Adjusting the axle-to-axle length on a compound bow is an intricate process that requires a good understanding of what axle-to-axle length is, how to measure it, and how to fine-tune or increase it. While it may seem daunting, taking the time to make these adjustments can significantly improve your archery experience. Whether you’re a seasoned archer or a beginner, understanding how to adjust axle to axle on a compound bow is a skill that will serve you well in your archery endeavors.

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