Skip to main content

Create the Ultimate Bowhunting Rig

A killer setup can give you unbridled shooting confidence. Here's how to put one together.

Create the Ultimate Bowhunting Rig
Photo Credit: Becca McDougal

Nothing instills confidence like a bow setup that shoots lights-out accurate every single time you pick it up. I know this well because several years ago while serving as an equipment editor for a magazine, I shot multiple bows during a two-and-a-half-year period. Of them, I shot only a few consistently well out to 80 yards. Sure, that’s a high standard and I don’t shoot that far while bowhunting, but my point is that I was deadly and confident with very few of the many bows I tested. None of the others were bad bows; they just simply weren’t the best fits for me.

Folks often say you can’t go wrong buying any of the latest bows. From a technology perspective, that’s mostly true. But from an individual perspective, it isn’t. In other words, what feels comfortable to you won’t necessarily feel comfortable to me. And what works for your hunting style might not work for mine.

That same concept also applies to bow accessories. You shouldn’t use a sight or rest merely because it’s popular or some other shallow reason. Personal preference and your individual hunting style must determine the accessories with which you outfit your bow.

To that end, let’s consider the guiding factors in creating your own ultimate bow rig so you can be confident every time you step into the woods.


The Bow

Fit and feel outweigh all other factors when choosing between multiple bows from reputable manufacturers. It all begins with the grip. Most manufacturers have downsized their grips to accommodate modern gripping styles, but each brand has its own unique feel. You can easily eliminate brands of interest down to one or two based on grip comfort.


Tight arrow group in deer target

Next, consider the balance and maneuverability. When you pick up a bow, does it feel like it was meant to be, or is it awkward and cumbersome? Let comfort guide your decision.

Lastly, consider your hunting style. Do you hunt Roosevelt elk in the dense Pacific Northwest timber where close shots are common, or do you hunt muleys on the wide-open prairies where average shot distances are beyond 40 yards? In the first case, a shorter bow maneuvers easily through brush and will perform admirably at all shot distances you’ll likely encounter. In the second case, the additional stability of a longer axle-to-axle bow may help you steady your pin for that 50-yard shot. Plus, negotiating dense brush isn’t a concern.

If more than one bow option remains after you’ve addressed these points, then you likely can’t go wrong.

The Rest

Let’s address the next most important component of your setup: the arrow rest. The vast majority of bowhunters who shoot well at longer distances use drop away rests because they’re more forgiving and provide maximum vane clearance. Personally, I don’t use anything else.




The market has countless options — some good, some OK, some poor. I suggest purchasing an all-metal rest that fits solidly on the bow and locks tight with a set screw. Since I hunt elk annually, a rock-solid rest that can withstand back-country abuse is a must. I generally move toward elk rather than try to call them in, so arrow containment is another attribute I value highly. The market has others, but the rest that meets these criteria for me is Trophy Taker’s X-Treme Pro Click.

Many folks like limb-driven drop away rests because they guide the arrow longer and maximize vane clearance. However, I prefer a buss-cable-driven rest that falls freely. The rest cord remains slack when not in use, where a limb-driven rest’s cord is tight. It’s a small concern, but I imagine that the tight cord is more susceptible to fraying/breakage should it accidentally contact a broadhead blade or other sharp/abrasive objects.

The Sight

Don’t settle for a sight that your best friend recommends. Consider your hunting style and what you’re comfortable with.


If you struggle to think clearly during a hunting shot opportunity, perhaps choosing the correct pin on a 5-pin sight will be too confusing. In this case, a single-pin slider could be your ticket. On the contrary, if most of your hunting shots unfold quickly, maybe you won’t have enough time to adjust the slider. A multi-pin sight solves the dilemma. Really consider your average shot distance and how you handle yourself in the moment. What type of pin configuration will help you make the most ethical shot possible?

Other important things to consider are axis adjustments. If you don’t know what they are, this video will help. Axis adjustments are crucial for every bowhunter, but especially those hunting in varied terrain where inclined and declined shot angles are common.

Beyond that, choose an all-metal sight with rock-solid locking systems for the various adjustments. Once you’ve sighted in your bow and locked everything down, the last thing you want is for something to rattle lose.

Anchor-Point References

In my opinion, a peep sight is a must. When you center your sight housing in the peep, it forces you to use the same anchor point every time. It isn’t a bad idea to use a second reference like a nose or kisser button, too.

Arrows

I could elaborate for an hour on arrows, but the most important attribute an arrow can have is straightness. Average bowhunters often think carbon arrows are either straight or broken. Not so. A Pine Ridge Arrow Inspector will debunk that theory.

Straightness is relatively unimportant if your average shot is 15-20 yards. But, pushing the accuracy envelope beyond 40 yards requires impeccable straightness. Arrow technology has advanced so far that I no longer shoot arrows with straightness tolerances greater than .0025-inch. Even then, I rely on the Arrow Inspector to identify the surgically-straight shafts prior to fletching.

Stabilizer

A stabilizer is a must-have accessory. Choose one based on your average shot distance, and then make sure it balances your bow well. Most western bowhunters gravitate toward something longer like a Trophy Taker Quivalizer or the Crossover Archery Stabilizer. These will help stabilize the bow for longer shots and can help anchor your bow in a crosswind.

In contrast, a treestand bowhunter shooting 25 yards and in will often do best to choose something fairly heavy, but more compact. I’m currently using the Stokerized Edge SS1 stabilizer for my elk, deer and turkey hunting.

The Release

Finally, let’s end this topic by discussing release aids. Releases are like old friends — once you find one, you keep it indefinitely, even when you change bows and other accessories. To find the magic one, you’ll simply have to try various styles and find one that is comfortable and very adjustable.

Spot-Hogg Wise Guy on turkey leg

There are thumb-trigger, index-finger and tension-activated options, as well as some hybrids. I started out bowhunting with a thumb-trigger T-handle release. I kept that same release for 15 years and shot dozens of animals with it. But I almost always punched it during hunting situations. I didn’t struggle with that on targets – only while hunting.

It was a hard decision to make, but I converted to an index-finger release to break the habit. I currently shoot a Spot-Hogg Wise Guy, and it makes me feel much more in control, plus I’ve taken numerous animals with well-executed surprise releases.

I have friends who’ve also struggled with punching and blowing would-be chip shots. One has switched to a back-tension release that he can’t punch. If that’s what you have to do in order to avoid executing poor shots, then go for it. Don’t be afraid to lay down a release that you punch and try something entirely different. It might be the best move you’ve ever made. It might bring your shooting confidence back.

Last Call

The 2019 bowhunting season is fast approaching, and if you’re planning to buy a new bow and accessories, now’s the time to do it. Let the considerations we’ve discussed here guide your equipment decisions, and you’ll create the ultimate bowhunting rig that will soar your confidence to new heights.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Saddle Options

Tree Saddle Hunting: Best Saddle Options

Most of these saddle options are offered in kit form with lineman and tree tether ropes plus carabiners, some with MOLLE-attached storage pouches for ropes, aider, drink and accessories.

Better Bow Accuracy: Release Arm Alignment

Better Bow Accuracy: Release Arm Alignment

On this edition of "Dead On," pro archer Randy Ulmer shows you how to properly align your release arm for better accuracy and bowhunting practice.

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Spot-and-Stalk Texas Hog Bowhunt

Bowhunter Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson spot-and-stalks hogs and whitetails in Texas.

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist sets up shop for a turkey hunt in Kansas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The public needs to understand the value of harvested and consumed wild game.Understanding the Value of a Wild Game Harvest Industry

Understanding the Value of a Wild Game Harvest

Dr. Dave Samuel

The public needs to understand the value of harvested and consumed wild game.

A recent study examines what does look for when choosing a mate.Does Antler Size Really Matter To Does? Whitetail

Does Antler Size Really Matter To Does?

C.J. Winand

A recent study examines what does look for when choosing a mate.

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe is sure to be a delicious party on your taste buds with every bite.Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe Recipes

Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Inspired by “Buzzwinkle,” a lit up moose in Anchorage, this Apple and Cheddar-Ale Moose Burger...

See More Trending Articles

More Bow Accessories

Stabilization can be a crucial factor in that moment of truth while bowhunting. Here are the best new stabilizer options from the 2019 ATA Show!New Bow Stabilizers for 2019 ATA Show

New Bow Stabilizers for 2019

Colton Bailey - January 10, 2019

Stabilization can be a crucial factor in that moment of truth while bowhunting. Here are the...

Minimizing pin movement while aiming is critical to success, whether you're punching paper or the vitals on a big buck.The Best Stabilizer Setups for Bowhunting Bow Accessories

The Best Stabilizer Setups for Bowhunting

Joe Bell

Minimizing pin movement while aiming is critical to success, whether you're punching paper or...

A killer setup can give you unbridled shooting confidence. Here's how to put one together. Create the Ultimate Bowhunting Rig Bow Accessories

Create the Ultimate Bowhunting Rig

Darron McDougal

A killer setup can give you unbridled shooting confidence. Here's how to put one together.

Arrow rests are a dime a dozen. Picking the right one is the foundation to consistent 10-ring accuracy.New Arrow Rests for 2021 ATA Show

New Arrow Rests for 2021

Brian K. Strickland - January 11, 2021

Arrow rests are a dime a dozen. Picking the right one is the foundation to consistent 10-ring...

See More Bow Accessories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now