The Myths Of Tuning

Author: Alec Potts   Date Posted:8 September 2017 


Tuning is one of the big “myths” of archery. You don’t have to have been in archery long, to have heard mention of this aspect of the sport. It confuses and sometimes even deters new archers, from entering into our sport. Just look at the Easton tuning guide, there are 30 pages in there! Further, we must have every single part of our bow exactly set up like that, right? Well my experience thus far has taught me otherwise. So how important is it? Many archers will tell you it’s one of the most important parts of archery! But what actually happens if our bow is not “tuned”.


Firstly, let’s differentiate between tuning and the basic set-up of equipment. A properly set-up recurve bow assumes the following;


  1. The arrow spine is in an acceptable range for the given weight/poundage
  2. Center shot and nocking point are reasonable
  3. Brace Height/Tiller are within the middle of the range specified by the manufacturer
  4. The pressure button has a medium level of tension
  5. Appropriate nock fit and fletching selection


A compound bow would assume the following;

  1. Correct cam timing
  2. A reasonable nocking point and center shot
  3. The arrow spine is acceptable (even less critical than recurve)
  4. Appropriate nock fit and fletching selection


All of the above demonstrate correct set-up of a bow, this is NOT tuning. If you have done what is listed above, your bow will be set-up with the potential to break world records. But what if we’re not breaking records? The simple answer is, train often and train hard! Tuning of a bow is done to forgive human error, if we place a bow into a shooting machine that has undergone the steps above during set-up, then we can correctly assume it will shoot much better than any human can.

So why do we group tune, creep tune, bare shaft tune and take all these extra steps to ensure that “perfect” tune? Simply, because we are not perfect. Taking these extra steps, helps correct the errors that we place on the bow during our own shooting. An untuned bow can still shoot a near perfect score. But if that same archer is having an off day, they may experience a 50-point drop in scores. Whilst their competitor may only drop 30 points on the same day.

But when should an archer start tuning? Only when they are good enough. An old FITA manual, recommended that a recurve archer should only begin tuning their bow, once they have reached 1200 level on the 90m round, or 1300 with a compound. Only then is the level of the archer suitable enough, to be able to consistently execute shots and measure performance over adequate distance.

Imagine if you’re a recurve archer, whose average 720 score is 570 and you’re trying to group tune at 70m, with end scores that fluctuate from 42-52. There is no way that you will be shooting consistently enough to attain significant results. Now, let’s look at an archer who can shoot 650, with end scores between 53-56. Obviously it will be much easier for them to determine which arrows group better, or which nocking point position is the most forgiving and so on

Now from a compound perspective, if you have a bit of tape set at 30m and you’re trying to creep tune, but can’t even hold your dot on or close to the tape, is this going to be advantageous?

In conclusion, it is much more beneficial to the vast majority of archers out there to spend less time worrying about tuning and spend more time practicing their shot process and their technique. Purchase a bow, spend 30 minutes setting it up, then go out and have fun!


- Alec Potts

Comments (7)


16 September 2018
Thats it .. very good mr alec ..

Bow tune

18 September 2017
Bang on mate I hear it so many times on the line, a bad shot is due to a poorly tuned bow and then the badmouthing because the shop pro stuffed it up. So i put down my bow walk over ask to look at their bow nock an arrow shoot the 10 ring hand the bow back. 10 percent of bad shots can be accredited to bow tune issues but the other 90 percent is all in ones head.


8 September 2017
Alex, great article. Do you mind if I reproduce it to share with my students?


8 September 2017
Thanks Alec. Like any equipment based sport there is so much voodoo. An excellent article.


8 September 2017
As long your spine is correct for the poundage and is not smashing the bow on the way out

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