Bowtune, arrow tune, paper tune, timing adjustments, tiller, fiscmile, brace height, knock point, rest clearance, cam rollover timing, cable guard, front of the wall, back of the wall, peak valley, draw weight, arrow spine, balance, forward of center percentage, arrow oscillation, perimeter weighted cam, helical fletch, peep sight, anchor, feet per second, trajectory, kinetic energy, archers paradox. I wonder if Geronimo worried about such stuff with his circle of bowhunting friends. I know in 1955, my dad and brothers never talked about any of this, and we sure had the time of our lives flinging arrows every weekend. I’ve got about fifty animals on my wall that did not have a chronograph in their pockets as my cedar arrows came blazing out of my Bear, Wing and Pearson recurves and stickbows at a blistering 170 fps back then. We merely eyeballed our nocking position and arrow straightness. Sometimes we used twine for bowstrings. An arrowhead could be adjusted with a hammer. Our sights were matchsticks glued to the back of the bow. Our arrow rest was a calloused knuckle. Break a bowtip, whittle a new one. Break an arrow! No problem. Just whittle a new tip and don’t draw quite so long. Ahh, to have it so simple again!
Well, listen up, techno breath, I’m here to tell you this ol guitar abusing, bow and arrow addicted dog is still living the simple, pure, FUN FUN FUN archery life, even more so today in my second fifty years. Sure, I know more now than when I was a punk kid, then just baptized by that ever lovin mystical flight of the natural wood, turkey feather fletched arrow. But quite honestly, it can be, and should be, the same archery now as it was then.
Having my share of technical complications afield in nearly 50 years of archery, to test my patience and near nonexistent technical skills, I am nonetheless confidant in my simple minded approach to high-tech compound bows and all the assorted accessories and considerations thereof. Hell, I shot the great Oneida bow for years, and still to this day, archers look at that mechanical wonder and recoil in fear of the cabled beast. Fear not my projectile addicted BloodBrothers, if ol uncle Ted can handle em, anybody can.
In actual practice, the unique looking Onieda, like all the other cabled bows on the market, is very simple to adjust, maintain, and customize to any shooters style or form. Like all manufacturers, the engineers at Onieda Labs are masters at their craft, and the brochure supplied with every bow by every company is detailed and easy to understand and follow. Me? I just had to knuckle down and admit that READING the damn brochure was the first and most important step! Clever of me, dontchya think! Like most males, we would rather guess at stuff and spend days and days making idiotic mistakes and fools of ourselves, versus simply READING the instructions and learning most of what we need to know in a matter of minutes, or at the most, a few hours. Old dog, new tricks, maybe. I have even learned to ask directions when I don’t know how to get somewhere. Truly amazing. Don’t wait till you’re fifty, kids!
So I get my new bow home. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Browning, Martin, Bear, Jennings, Onieda, Darton, McPherson, PSE, Hoyt, Golden Eagle, Mathews, High Country, Pearson, Alpine, Diamond, Forge Flight, Fred Bear Bowhunting Equipment Company, Reflex or whichever. First I read the accompanying paperwork and examine my bow thoroughly, familiarizing myself with the components lick for lick, referencing the diagrams in the owner’s manual for quick and easy understanding. There is very little difference in all the bows out there on the market these days. There are no bad bows, just some that are better than others for each of us individually. Be sure you try enough various makes and models, with recommendations by proshop experts you feel good about, to find the exact one that fits your style and form. Everybody’s a little different, and like guns, trucks, cars, women, guitars and golfclubs, your weapon of choice must FIT. Did I say golfclubs! OUCH! Sorry.
Over the years, I have accumulated an array of sporting goods and equipment that is almost obscene. Go to any sporting event, double what is on display, and that is what I carry in my truck on any given day! I am disgusting. Just ask my wife. But I DO love hardware, and you can find me fondling it at anytime of the year. It is during these forever heavenly fondling sessions that I get to know my gear backwards and forwards, and I study it all with a passion. I take it apart and put it back together, almost properly most of the time. That has taught me a lot!
My approach to bow tuning is real simple. I can do it all without a bowpress, but I do have a good professional unit at my homeshop and a couple of portable rigs for my far away safaris, if needed. First off, I shoot in my new bow’s string with a few hundred arrows, then I remove that string, coil it up and tie the ends to keep it from untwisting, and put it in my spare parts pack that will go with me everywhere I hunt. I then break in my new string and I am in business. I do the same thing with my complete cable harness system, just in case!
My string set up is the same as it’s been for years. I like a heavy, 20 strand string made of state of the art ballistic material for long life and minimum stretch. I reinforce the serving with dental floss at each end and also where my release connects. One weird item that I like, unlike any other archer I have ever seen, is that I add 3 or 4 eliminator buttons, those small rubber bushings that go between the arrow’s nock and the release’s jaws. What that does, for this old instinctive archer, is bring the ear of the arrow closer to my eye, thereby elevating the tail end in these 1/4 inch increments, based upon whether I am shooting low or high. That, coupled with my third, lower plunger threaded rest hole optimizes my natural hand-eye coordination, as if I am actually shooting off my knuckle or the shelf of the bow as I did as a child with my original longbows. It is like pointing my finger.
I also customize the grip of my bows by building up the left side of the grip with soft, stretchy athletic wrap. This is to force my hand higher towards the shelf, because I still cant my bow on an angle like you see Fred Bear and so many old fashioned bare (no sights) bow shooters do. This canting of the bow turns the bow away from the eye and the arrow, effectively opening up the sight picture to the animal. All this adjusting comes naturally for my anchor point to remain solid, with the body of my trigger release firmly wedged into the corner of my mouth, exactly where my fingers go when I shoot fingers. It certainly is weird, but it works great for me. Since I don’t use sights the vast majority of the time, I am able to still shoot instinctively, which I love. And I don’t buy chicken!
Also, on each end of my bowstring, right up close to the end where it meets the cams or wheels of my compound, I add 6 to 8 more eliminator buttons, as these seem to quiet down my bow and add a bit of speed by adding a little weight to the end of the string travel upon release of the arrow. All you trained physical engineers out there may be laughing out of your seat right now claiming I’m out of my mind. But, hell, it IS my mind, aint it! Maybe this is all goofy, but there is no doubt it works for me.
Of course I install string silencers too. I like the cat whisker rubber jobs or tarantula felt strips placed about halfway between the serving and the ends.
For more silencing considerations, I either put on my EPS hearing protector/amplifiers, or I have someone who can hear real good, listen to my bow up close as I shoot, to help detect any squeaks, rubs, scrapes, rattles or any noise whatsoever. Then I go to town lubing, tightening, greasing, shimming, gasketing, or reinforcing to whatever degree I must to completely silence my bow. Us whitetail hunters know we cannot get away with ANY noise at all.
I take measurements and record them for future reference. I measure the tiller between the string and the limb face where it meets the riser, making sure the top and bottom are within a hair of each other. The brace height, or fiscmile, measured between the grip and the string, is noted and referenced with the manufacturers recommendation. And very important, keep the poundage down to a practical comfort level. Too many bowhunters overbow themselves. 50# is plenty. Make it smooth and graceful.
I visually examine the bow’s cams in motion while drawing, either in a mirror, or while someone else is drawing, to be certain they roll over identically. Though most manufacturers have markings on their eccentric wheels or cams that are readily used for referencing, I add lines or dabs of white or silver to assist in identifying equal timing. It helps.
It helps immensely to be able to spend time with professional bowtechs to learn the ins and outs and various subtleties that only experience can teach. Bruce Cull and Scott Asse at Dakota Archery and Sports in Yankton, South Dakota, (800-658-3094) have taught me a lot. Get to know the pros in your home region. It is worth every penny to have them tune you up, and show you a few of the ropes along the way. I also study the writings of the best pros out there like Fred Bear, Jim Dougherty, Dave Holt, Bill Winke, Norb Mullaney, Emery Loiselle, Chuck Adams and many others that have answered my questions over the years. Seek out their magazine articles and books. Larry Wise’s trio of self tune educational books, “TUNING & SILENCING YOUR BOWHUNTING SHOOTING SYSTEM” “TUNING YOUR COMPOUND BOW” 3rd edition, “TUNING AND SHOOTING YOUR 3-D BOW”, (800-324-3337) are superb sources for information. You will learn it all. Then get to playing archery mechanic. It is mucho fun and actually increases the archery experience. An ounce of prevention… Knowledge is power… Practice makes perfect… When in doubt, whip it out.