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3 Important Bow Equipment Upgrades to Make

If you're not in the market for a new bow this year but want to push the accuracy envelope, consider these three improvements.

3 Important Bow Equipment Upgrades to Make

McDougal arrowed this buck’s lungs from 55 yards, and his confidence came from using the equipment outlined in the article. (Photo by Becca McDougal)

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the archery industry for 22 years. Of those, 10 were spent daily working with archery equipment in an archery pro shop, and the other 12 have entailed almost constant contact with archery equipment as a professional outdoor writer who regularly tests equipment. While I’m confident in what I use, I’ve never been the type to say, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” No, I’m always hunting for tweaks and products that will help me shoot even better and boost my confidence to the next level.

Often, I hear rumblings of bowhunters looking forward to buying a new bow because they think it will make them more accurate. In some cases, it’s true, but if you’ve purchased a new bow within the last few years, then you’re pretty current with bow technology. Rather than a new bow, maybe some new accessories could advance your accuracy and confidence.

There are a handful of accessories that contribute toward an arrow hitting where the bowhunter is aiming, but below are what I believe are the top three that can help you improve your accuracy. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

1. Straighter, More Consistent Arrows

There are dozens of different arrow makes and models on the market. Bowhunters who aren’t super technical might misconceive that all carbon arrows are either straight or broken. Allow me to be technical and quash that mindset. I’ve been cutting, fletching and inserting my own arrows for 22 years. For most of those, I’ve tested my arrows for straightness on an arrow spinner, and even name-brand arrows rated +/- .001 inch for straightness don’t always live up to their rating. Out of one dozen arrows, I’ve sometimes come up with as few as three arrows that didn’t wobble. In recent years, most brands have gotten exponentially better in that regard.

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Arrows that are consistent for straightness and grain-weight tolerances will boost accuracy, particularly at longer distances. (Photo by Darron McDougal)

Grain-weight tolerance is another under-discussed topic. Every shaft in a dozen weighs exactly the same, right? Not always. Often, there are discrepancies. Some slight, some substantial. The best performance, especially when shooting at longer ranges, happens when all arrows weigh within 1-2 grains of each other. I weigh my finished arrows to check for differences. Inexpensive arrows typically vary a decent amount, whereas high-end arrows typically all come out within 1-2 grains of each other.

My point is that high-end arrows are one of the most worthwhile upgrades you can make, especial-ly if you’re currently shooting cheap arrows or high-end arrows of yesteryear. Arrow technology has advanced so much over the last 10-15 years, and I’ve experienced substantial accuracy and consistency improvement — particularly when I shoot at longer distances — by shooting modern high-end arrows. Currently, I’m shooting Victory VAP SS 340 arrows fletched with Silent Knight vanes, and the accuracy and consistency are outstanding. They group very well at 100 yards and beyond, and because they’re so straight and consistent, broadheads fly surgically accurate.

2. High-End Release Aid

I’m always amazed by how many bowhunters shoot the newest and best bows but keep shooting the same mediocre release that they’ve been using for more than a decade. Although a release can become like an old friend, it could be restraining your shooting potential a little or even a lot. How can you decipher that? Here are some things to consider.

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A release with cheap internal mechanisms and components can restrain accuracy. If you’re shooting an older release or an inexpensive one, consider upgrading to a model with vast adjustability and a crisp trigger so that you can optimize shot execution. (Photo by Becca McDougal)

First, does the trigger have a lot of travel before the shot breaks? This can create a lot of shot anticipation as sight-pin movement increases while you pull and pull until the shot finally breaks. Another thing to look for is adjustability. Some release triggers can’t be adjusted sensitive enough and still hold the bow’s draw weight; adjust it too light, and you could smack yourself in the face as you draw back. You also might notice that your release’s trigger pull feels heavier when you’re shooting your bow than when you test it under minimal tension. All of these points have to do with the release’s internal mechanisms. Inexpensive releases have inexpensive internal components, therefore they lack the performance and adjustability of a high-end release.

For years, I shot a Carter thumb-trigger release because I could adjust it nice and sensitive, and the trigger was really crisp. I just couldn’t group with any of the index-finger releases I ever tried because I couldn’t execute a quality shot. However, the thumb release was cold to hold onto in cold weather. Eventually, I tried a Carter 2 Shot index-finger release, which was more expensive than the index-finger releases I’d previously tried. I also tried out Spot Hogg’s Wise Guy. Both releases produced all of the accuracy I could ask for, and that’s because they’re built with better components and mechanisms, allowing greater adjustability, zero travel and a clean-breaking shot. Regardless of your preferred release style, if you’re shooting an inexpensive or older release, try up-grading to a high-end release and see if your groups don’t shrink.

3. Slider Sight

When I started shooting at longer ranges, I chose a 7-pin sight so that I could have pins from 20-80 yards. The sight also had 2nd and 3rd axis adjustability, which improved my shooting on slopes and from treestands. I could shoot very well at exact distances, but estimating holdover on longer shots — let’s say 77 yards, for example — was pretty tricky. Further, 7 pins cluttered my view, and choosing the right one in the heat of the moment caused anxiety.

mcdougal-slider-sight
Tired of holding pins high or low for in-between yardages? Switch to a slider sight, which provides to-the-yard accuracy out to long distances. Aiming with a pin on the target or animal is far easier — and more accurate — than estimating how high or low to hold. (Photo by Becca McDougal)

I eventually switched over to a 5-pin sight with a slide feature, which made the bottom pin my floater. I had pins from 20-60 yards, but I could slide the scope and use my bottom pin for exact distances right down to the yard on shots beyond 60. My accuracy at distances far beyond 60 yards improved drastically.

Today, I’ve further simplified my pin setup. I have UltraView Archery’s UV Slider with the 3-pin configuration, giving me pins for 20-40 yards, which also correspond with exact distances on the sight tape when the sight has been slid because each pin has a yardage pointer. So, rather than one floater pin, my sight has three. There is actually a fourth static pin that doesn’t correspond with the sight tape. I found that it is dead on at 60 yards when the sight is in the home position, so I effectively have pins for 20, 30, 40 and 60, and I’ve practiced 50-yard shots by holding my target in between the 40- and 60-yard pins. That shot is totally doable. However, I have to-the-yard adjustability for shots beyond 20 yards if I have enough time to slide the sight.

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Another thing, the UV Slider’s 1st- 2nd- and 3rd-axis adjustability averts left and right impacts when I’m shooting downward or upward. Make sure the slider sight you buy has these adjustments. If you don’t understand how they work, have your local bow technician help you with set-ting up the sight.

Aiming dead on with a pin rather than holding high or low massively improves accuracy and consistency, especially at longer ranges where being off by a yard means a marginal hit. It has dramatically improved my long-range accuracy. If you want to improve your shooting, a high-quality slider sight will likely help your cause.

Upgrade and Shoot Better

Everyone thinks that this product or that one will help them to shoot better. Some will and some will not. Based on my archery and bowhunting experience and making these upgrades myself, I wholeheartedly believe that these three equipment upgrades will help you to shoot more accurately than you currently do. If they don’t, you probably have some shooting form or shot execution flaws to identify and improve upon.




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