August 01, 2016
By Tony J. Peterson
When it comes to archery accuracy, most of us are happy with some level of good enough. This is especially true when it comes to whitetail hunting where average shot distances are under 30 yards.
While you could certainly make an argument that there is no reason to go overboard when it comes to tuning modern hunting bows, there is also a compelling argument at the other end of the spectrum.
Having a bow with perfect vertical and horizontal nock travel is always a plus, even if you never spend your time shooting beyond 30 yards. This goes for target practice, of course, but it really matters when its time for the blades to meet the bone (or hopefully, the lungs).
When it comes to shooting animals as well as possible, there is no such thing as a bow that is "too tuned." And often, "good enough", is anything but. This is because it's about more than being able to hit what you're aiming at.
If you have good form and the right hunting rig, you should be able to hit fairly close to where you're aiming. However, you also need your arrows to enter your target the way they are designed, which means they shouldn't whip or corkscrew in the slightest.
Now, I know that arrows flex in flight, which is evident in slow-motion videos and is something to witness. Any extra movement (beyond the natural oscillation of your shafts) and you're looking at poor flight and poorer penetration, both of which are avoidable.
When most of us think of tuning, we tend to think of paper-tuning, or maybe bare-shaft tuning. There's a lot more to it than that, but first, it pays to understand what exactly you're doing when you start tuning a bow.
Essentially, you're seeking the Holy Grail, which is perfect nock travel. Where your arrow connects to your string and eventually is pushed downrange is where the magic happens. If your nock point moves vertically and horizontally exactly as it is designed, your arrow will come out of your bow exactly as it should.
Introduce one tiny element that throws that nock travel off somehow, and your arrow will not leave the bow as it should. When that happens, your arrow may recover some while in flight, but it'll never be as accurate or as fast as it could be. This only becomes more amplified when you start tinkering with broadhead flight, so it's best to start with a perfectly tuned bow, which can seem intimidating.
Tuning Made Easier
The reason that super-tuning is a scary topic for most of us is that it tends to require expensive bow shop tools. It's simply too costly for most bowhunters to get serious about tuning their bows at home. This is why I was so curious when I heard about the Micro Sync Dial on BOWTECH's BT-X 31. What this technology does is offer the opportunity to perfectly tweak cam timing through 10 settings - all without the need for a bow press.
It might seem strange for a company to tout the benefits of their OVERDRIVE BINARY CAM as featuring near-perfect symmetry, synchronization, and stability, and then add an extra feature that addresses timing issues, but here is the thing — your bow is unique and depending on your set up you might need a timing adjustment. This means now you can set it up and make sure it is timed perfectly at home on your own.
Where the Micro Sync Dial becomes really important, however, is after you've fired hundreds of shots through your bow and carried it into the woods and up mountainsides for a season or two.
That's when it is a good idea to re-tune your bow if necessary, or at the very least, check your tune. Strings and cables stretch over time so if your cams need a timing adjustment it might be as simple as pulling out the Allen wrench, adjusting the Micro Sync Dial, and re-setting your timing to perfection again. The benefits of being able to do that on your own can't be overstated. This is especially true if you realize your timing is off but are already in your fall deer or elk camp. That's when a trip to the nearest pro shop might set you back a day or two of hunting.
There is a tremendous amount of torque built into high-end compound bows, and this results in your cams leaning to one side or another. All compound bows have this but the key is tuning the cams to keep that bowstring in the right place on the horizontal plane. Too much improper lean will throw the system out of perfect alignment and can result in tuning headaches.
On a lot of bows, tuning cam lean is either a pain or outright not possible because of the design of the cams, or due to how the cables are yoked, if they are yoked at all. Take a look at BOWTECH's bows and you'll see that this isn't the case. Their Split Buss Cable System attaches to the outer edges of the cam axles on both top and bottom cams.
This not only provides more symmetry (always a good thing in a bow), but also allows you the opportunity to easily add a twist or two to one side or the other so that you can fine tune and match your cam lean. This system ensures that the bowstring is tuned perfectly and not moving left to right as you fire the bow. It's simple, but so important to nailing down true, perfect flight.
Achieving the correct tune on a bow involves addressing a litany of simple issues that might arise. They all involve the overall symmetry and timing of your bow, and they can all throw off your accuracy game. Bows that allow for easy assessment - and remedies - of these common issues simply put super tuning in the hands of the masses, which is something bowhunters have requested for years.
And now we have it.