How to tune a compound bow

How to Tune a Compound Bow: A Comprehensive Tutorial

Tuning a compound bow is an essential process for any archer looking to improve their accuracy and get the best performance out of their equipment.

A finely tuned compound bow can tighten arrow groups, increase speed, and make your shooting more consistent and reliable. While proper tuning takes time and patience, the payoff in precision and confidence is well worth the effort. This comprehensive tutorial will guide how to tune a compound bow.

Why Tuning is Critical For Compound Bow?

Tuning adjusts every component of your compound bow system – the limbs, cams, strings, arrow rest, sights and more – so that everything works in perfect harmony for accurate shooting. Even minor inconsistencies can send your arrows off target.

Factory compound bow settings provide a starting point, but every archer’s form, draw length and accessories require personalized fine-tuning for peak accuracy. Don’t just rely on basic out-of-the-box setup; proper tuning will enable your equipment to perform up to its full potential.

Materials Needed For Tune a Compound Bow

Before starting the tuning process, make sure you have the necessary tools:

Bow press – safely draws the string to relax tension for adjustments

Allen wrenches – for tightening stabilizers, sights and rest hardware

Nocks and fletching jig – for re-fletching arrows

D-loop rope – for re-fitting the bowstring loop

Arrow rest – to replace and adjust position as needed

Paper tuning strips – check arrow flight and make adjustments

How to Tune a Compound Bow (Step-by-Step)

Step 1: Set the Brace Height

The brace height is the distance between the compound bow grip and the string. Adjusting this impacts the stored energy in the limbs and the bow’s power stroke. While manufacturers provide recommended specs, fine-tuning the brace height yourself can enhance performance. Here’s how:

Using a bow press, back the limb bolts out several turns. This allows the limbs to relax when you remove tension from the string. Situate the bow in the press and slowly draw the string back until pressure is off. Measure from the pivot point (grip) to the string using calipers, and compare to recommended brace height specs. Twist the string to shorten, lengthening the brace height. Add or remove twists until you reach the optimal setting.

Step 2: Inspect and Replace Strings & Cables

Worn or damaged strings and cables hinder tuning and impact arrow flight. Examine the condition of these parts regularly. Look for:

  • Fraying or broken strands
  • Serving separation
  • Peep rotation
  • Loose cams, end loops, knots
  • Creeping (changes in twists/length)

Replace strings and cables at least once per year, or immediately if you see excessive wear. Use a bow press for easy removal and safe re-installation of new string sets.

Step 3: Set the Nocking Point

The nocking point marks where the arrow gets nocked on the bowstring. This determines the release angle and initial arrow orientation, so its positioning is critical. Here’s how to set it:

Start by nocking an arrow and checking your anchor point alignment. Mark the string at the exact spot where the arrow is nocked. Take off the arrow and tie on a nocking point (usually a D-loop) to this mark.

Often, a second nocking point is added an inch or two below as a backup. Fine-tune the height: shoot several arrows and make micro-adjustments until arrow vertical impact is ideal.

Step 4: Adjust Arrow Rest Position

The arrow rest serves as a platform that supports the shaft through the shot cycle. A poorly positioned rest can send arrows askew. Here’s how to adjust it:

Use a draw board or have someone draw the bow. Look down the sight from the shooter’s vantage point. The arrow shaft should perfectly align with the sight housing and bowstring. If not, reposition the rest left, right, up or down until proper alignment is achieved. On drop-away rests, ensure the timing is right so the rest drops fully out of the way just as the arrow launches.

Step 5: Paper Tuning

Paper tuning involves shooting arrows through paper at short range to reveal flight patterns and make adjustments. Here’s how it works:

Hang a large paper target sheet several yards away. Fire a bare shaft with field points through the paper (no fletching allows for easier tear pattern diagnosis.) Ideal arrow flight will produce a perfect bullet hole. Otherwise:

  • No holes or high tears – increase NOC height
  • Low tears – decrease NOC height
  • Left tears – move rest right
  • Right tears – move rest left

Make incremental adjustments and continue shooting paper until you achieve a clean bullet tear. This aligns arrow flight and components for straight, true arrow trajectories.

Step 6: Walk-Back Tuning

For ultra-precise compound bow tuning, the walk-back method really dials it in by synchronizing your sights at varied distances. Here’s how to do it:

Start by shooting a group of arrows at 20 yards. Without adjusting your sights, step back to 30 yards and shoot another group. Then move to 40 yards and shoot again. Compare the vertical impact points of your arrow groups:

  • Low impact points – Raise your rest
  • High impact points – Lower your rest

Adjust the rest slightly and repeat the entire walk-back tuning process. Fine-tune until arrows impact consistently at the same vertical point from 20 to 40 yards. This synchronizes the relationship between your arrow flight path and sight pins for long-range precision.

Advanced Tuning Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basics, a few advanced techniques will take your compound bow tuning to the next level:

Bare shaft tuning – Shooting un-fletched shafts reveals spine inconsistencies. Make small rest adjustments to achieve same-hole groups.

Speed tuning – Use a chronograph and tweak the nocks’ height to find the fastest speed without sacrificing accuracy.

Creep tuning – Adjust the control cable to eliminate “creep” where the bow drifts out of tune from string and cable stretch.

Cam timing – For hybrid cams, verify the roller spacing matches specs so the cams rotate in perfect sync.

With attention to detail and regular practice, you’ll gain experience making all of these subtle tuning tweaks. Your accuracy will tighten as your equipment functions flawlessly.


A properly tuned compound bow requires maintenance to stay in top form. As strings age and stretch, cables wear, and parts get stressed, periodic retuning will be needed. Keep a log of your bow’s specs and performance.

If groups open up or velocity changes, it’s time for a tune-up. Avoid drastic weather swings that can knock things out of sync. With consistent upkeep, your bow will deliver reliable precision season after season.

Troubleshooting Issues

Tuning difficulties occasionally arise. Here are some common compound bow tuning problems and solutions:



High/low arrow impact

Adjust nocking point and rest elevation


Stiffen spine with heavier tips or shorter arrow length

Inconsistent grouping

Check for loose parts/accessories; re-paper tune

Rest issues

Replace worn launcher blades; re-set rest location

Noisy bow

Check string condition and look for vibrating accessories

Don’t get frustrated. Proper troubleshooting can remedy most tuning issues. Retrace your steps, confirm specifications, and make careful adjustments until everything works in harmony again.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is it important to tune your compound bow?

Proper tuning is critical for accuracy, consistency, and getting optimal performance from your compound bow. Even minor inconsistencies in the tuning can send your arrows off target. Tuning ensures every component – the limbs, cams, strings, arrow rest, sights – are working together perfectly.

2. How often should you tune your compound bow?

Plan to tune your compound bow at least once per year. Also re-tune immediately if you change any equipment like the strings, arrow rest, release or sights. Tuning is needed whenever you notice changes in accuracy or arrow flight that can’t be remedied by adjustments to your form or shooting execution.

3. What tools do you need to tune a compound bow?

Basic tuning requires a bow press, allen wrenches, new strings/cables, D-loop rope, arrow rest, nocks, paper tuning sheets, draw board and a target. For advanced tuning, add a bow vise, levels, precision measuring tools, arrow square, and a chronograph.

4. What are the signs that your compound bow needs re-tuning?

Indications your compound bow may require tuning include: arrow groups opening up, loss of speed, changes to brace height, excessive vibration or noise, poor arrow flight, fishtailing arrows, uneven string wear, and peep rotation. Don’t ignore these signs – a re-tune will get you back on target.

5. Can you tune a compound bow at home by yourself?

While a professional bow shop can provide expert tuning, it is possible to tune your compound bow accurately at home. Follow each step carefully in the correct order. Use quality tools and don’t take shortcuts. Seek advice if you have any doubts before making adjustments or replacements on your own.


Tuning a compound bow takes patience, attention to detail, and methodical adjustment of all the components. But this comprehensive process is essential to get the utmost accuracy, speed, and reliability from your equipment. Follow these steps to tune your compound bow like a pro:

  • Set and fine-tune brace height
  • Inspect and replace worn strings/cables
  • Position and adjust the arrow rest
  • Set nocking point height
  • Paper tune for proper arrow flight
  • Use walk-back tuning for long-distance precision

Apply advanced techniques for further refinements. With regular maintenance and prompt issue troubleshooting, your finely tuned compound bow will deliver consistently high performance and tight arrow groupings shot after shot.

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