February 15, 2023
By Brian K. Strickland
The off-season is a great time to tune your rig — no matter its age. I’ll be the first to admit that my time is valuable, and it’s often easier for me to just spend some coin at my local pro shop for them to do the “dirty work” for me as a result. However, the satisfaction I feel when making the tweaks myself is hard to beat.
A good example of my efforts at the bow press was on a memorable antelope hunt in my home state of Colorado. I’d spent hours that season tuning and tweaking my rig and dropped countless arrows in the target developing my accuracy.
With only hours left in the hunt, I saw a lonely goat bedded in a large cholla cactus patch across the pasture. Staying out of sight while crawling into bow range, I finally hit the 70-yard mark. Watching my arrow blow through that pronghorn’s heart when he stood to feed, knowing I had put my own “personal touch” to this intimate pursuit we call bowhunting, only made my smile even wider as I posed for photos.
Setting up and tuning your bow requires some additional equipment. Although there is a little upfront expense to get started, you’ll earn it back over time.
So, let’s get this tuning process started with a good “gripper” like the Micro Bow Vise ($235.99) from Ram Products. It features three dimensions of movement, plus a built-in leveling system to lend you that steady “third hand” often needed when working on your rig. It also allows your bow to be adjusted 360 degrees for easy tweaking, no matter the angle.
Another solid option is the Versa Cradle Wide-Limb Vise ($309.99) from October Mountain Products. Accommodating and protecting both split and solid limbs, its locking ball-head design offers simple, 360-degree adjustments. It bolts to your workbench, and will even hold your bow horizontally.
A bow press would be the next must-have for any home shop, and a solid performer is the bench-style EZ Green Bow Press ($425) from Last Chance Archery. It works with most of today’s compound bows, and its patented finger system with a hand crank presses the limbs as if you were drawing the bow. It accepts the company’s Archery Draw Board ($230) for more precise tuning of timing, draw length, and cam lean.
Can’t fit a bench press into your budget, then consider the portable Bowmaster Bow Press G2 ($44) from Prototech Industries. This cable-style press comes in at less than a pound and coils up to fit in your pack, making it a great in-field tool for making adjustments on the fly. It offers a wide adjustment range and works with both solid and split-limb bows (adapters sold separately for the latter).
Hamskea raises the bar once again with their GEN2PRO Third Axis Level ($79.99). Constructed from lightweight aluminum, it’s both durable and accurate and features a built-in string groove and circular turret for leveling your bow in a vise. Users can mount it to virtually any sight for 1st and 2nd-axis leveling. The alignment rod allows for 3rd-axis leveling while at full draw, so users can adjust based on their natural torque.
Increase arrow speed while also dampening string noise with Pine Ridge Archery’s popular Nitro Buttons ($5–$10). Available in several models, Nitro Buttons are designed to slip over your string to align with your top and bottom cams. They come in an array of color options, so you can trick out your bow.
Although a peep sight is the cheapest accessory on your rig, it’s perhaps the most impactful, and Radical Archery offers a complete line to pick from. Perhaps their most innovative is their anodized Glowpeep ($15.99), which is coated with a photoluminescent material that provides a slight glow for up to 12 hours when fully charged. The faint glow is ideal when your eyes haven’t fully adjusted in lowlight situations.
Another lowlight peep is the TruGlo GloBrite Peep ($14.99). Its adjustable green inserts have three different brightness settings. A tube guarantees it’s always in line with your sight, and the aperture diameter is 3/16".
Providing six tools in one is Easton’s Elite Nock and D-Loop Pliers ($38.99). Its dual jaws lock D-loops in tight without damaging the serving, while also assisting in installing nock points. Pair this with their L Bow Square ($13.99), which features a precision laser-etched ruler, and you have a great set of necessary tuning tools.
Paper-tuning is an essential step in the tuning process, and although you can easily make your own paper-tuning setup, .30-06 Outdoors makes it foolproof with their Paper Tune-In System ($15). The colored targets are helpful in seeing tears, and each target comes with the recommended arrow rest and nock-point adjustments needed based on the tear results to achieve perfect arrow flight.
Fine-tuned arrows are just as important as a finely tuned bow. G5’s A.S.D. Flip ($39.95) is an essential if you want your arrow/broadhead setup to be as accurate as possible. The Flip “de-burrs” shafts for perfect insert and broadhead alignment to help eliminate broadhead wobble. It’s designed to work with all carbon and aluminum arrow sizes.
Another arrow-squaring option is the Lumenok F.A.S.T. ($40.90). Crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, it comes with several self-adhesive sanding discs made to hone dozens of arrows. Use it freestyle, or mount it to your bench.
Simplified setup and repeatability should be the mantra of the Bohning Cauldron Jig ($109). This 3-vane advanced fletching system is compatible with any size shaft. The complete kit includes snap-in inserts that enable you to fletch arrows in configurations of straight or 2 and 3-degree right or left helical, while also providing the right amount of pressure for excellent adhesion to all three vanes at once. A vane stop gives users the ability to place vanes where they want them, while also leaving the nock in place for perfect indexing.