July 06, 2011
By Tony J. Peterson
Obtaining all of the necessary tools you need for a home bow shop is not cheap. Many people find it easier simply to pay a pro shop to do the work, and in some cases nothing beats the work of a quality pro shop. But nothing says you can't splurge on a couple of tools a year to gradually build up your own version of a bow shop.
Mechanically minded individuals take to bow tuning and testing with ease, while mechanically challenged folks might be better off leaving the work to the professionals.
For beginners, simple steps like learning how to tie a D-loop or serve in a peep sight are worthy and easily mastered goals. More advanced bow work will follow. In its entirety, taking a bare bow and adding all of the essential accessories to it and then tweaking it to shoot perfectly is no easy task, but it is fun and rewarding — with the right tools.
Fortunately, many manufacturers make the right tools you need for a home bow shop, and information abounds. Everything from the intricacies of paper tuning to identifying and treating ailments such as cam lean are a quick Internet search away. The availability of quality information coupled with the newest wave of tools provides the perfect stepping-stone to mastery of bow setup and tuning.
The design of today's bench bow presses must be advanced given the wide range of axle-to-axle lengths, limb designs, and cam positioning of modern compounds.
Finding a press that can handle all of the new bows is not easy, but Apple Archery's Eliminator ($950) accomplishes the feat handily. The easy-to-set-up Eliminator, with limb tip and limb post compression, features perfectly synched arm movement to ensure even compression.
After using this press on a few new bows, I concluded that the simplicity, adjustability, and safety features easily justify the investment. You will notice one side effect from installing an Eliminator in your workshop — your list of friends in need of bow work will grow exponentially.
Another top-range option is the X-Press ($809) from Sure-Loc Archery Products.
The X-Press is designed to press bow limbs in a natural arc and minimize riser stress. Transitioning
among various bow designs is a cinch, and operation of the X-Press is simple with the forward-facing crank control.
If you're looking for a simple press that will last for years but not break the bank, check out the new EZ Green ($399) from Last Chance Archery.
The EZ Green is a compact bench-mount vise designed for individuals looking to take care of their bow work at home. A power model is also available for $479.
One of the coolest bow presses on the market comes from Buckeye Archery Solutions. The Bow-A-Constrictor ($488) offers everything you need in a full bench press (handles all bow models), but new for this year is a Quick Draw & Tune Accessory ($210).
Essentially, the Quick Draw & Tune Accessory is an onboard drawing board that safely allows you to take the bow to full draw while it's loaded and compressed. This feature is perfect for checking cam timing and for installing drop-away rests and peeps.
Portable bow presses can be lifesavers in hunting camp and at 3-D shoots, and one of the best options on the market is the Ratchet-Loc Bow Press ($80) from RAM Products.
Weighing only 2.5 lbs. and small enough to stow in a daypack, the Ratchet-Loc Bow Press is truly portable.
CNC-machined from aircraft-grade aluminum, it is a tough little unit.
- Nite Hawk Archery Bow Press
Nite Hawk Archery makes a ridiculously simple and effective portable Bow Press ($110).
This unit compresses bows near the limb tips and down the center of the limbs without the use of adapters, which is very convenient.
One of the most popular portable bow presses on the market is the ¾-lb. Bowmaster ($50) from Prototech Industries, Inc.
I've carried a Bowmaster on hunting trips for years, and it has saved me and my hunting buddies from disaster more than a few times.
Depending on what bow you'll be pressing, you may need to employ Split Limb Adapters or Split Limb Brackets.
No shop is complete without a quality bow vise. The R.S. Bow-Vise ($110) and the R.S. Parallel Limb Bow-Vise H-D ($120) from R.S. Archery Products are great options.
Both securely hold your bow in an upright or horizontal position and allow for easy setup and bow tuning as well as installation of accessories.
You can't tune bows efficiently without string and arrow levels either, and R.S. Archery Products offers both these valuable aids.
Setting up a bow without proper tuning tools is a waste of time. The evolution of these products has gone from simple T-square styles to more advanced laser options. One company that covers the gamut from basic tuners to highly advanced models is DoubleTake Archery.
This company's BowPlane ($100) is a neat tuning device that nocks onto the bowstring, sits on the arrow rest, and then projects a reference plane of laser light 360 degrees around the bow.
This is one of the easiest products to use for nailing down centershot. DoubleTake also offers the SmartSquare ($8), a compact tuning square that screws onto an arrow.
- Spot-Hogg Laser Alingner
Spot-Hogg's Laser Aligner ($142) uses a laser to instantly identify accuracy-robbing cam and wheel tilt on any compound bow.
The effects of even a slightly misaligned or tilted cam can cause major tuning issues, and the Laser Aligner helps you quickly diagnose problems.
A great way to maintain your finely tuned bow is to use Scorpion Venom's Cam and Serving Lube ($11). A few drops of this product applied to the serving that contacts cams or wheels will reduce noise, eliminate peep rotation, and increase arrow speed.
Cam and Serving Lube is extremely handy, odor free, and waterproof.
If you're ready to take your home bow shop to a higher level, look into Easton's Mapping System ($650).
Included in the Mapping System is the Bow Force Mapper that measures peak weight and holding weight, calculates stored energy and the power stroke of a bow, and measures and records the complete draw force curve of your bow.
The Mapping System also includes an Arrow Chronograph and Shaft Selector that calculates downrange kinetic energy, gives pin-gapping suggestions, calculates arrow speeds, and includes many other features.
A few other, simpler tools will help complete your home bow shop.
The first is the Archer's Allen Wrench Set XL ($13.60) from Pine Ridge Archery Products.
I have two of these sets, one for my home and one for my truck, that keeps me covered all year round when I'm on the road.
This set will handle Allen screws from 5„64" up to ¼".
Cabela's Bow Scale ($30) measures the exact peak draw weight of your bow as well as the poundage at full draw.
A perfect addition to any home bow shop, this scale provides a quick method for checking the draw weight of your bow at any time.
Sportsman's Bench Products from Vibra-TITE can top off any home bow shop.
From VC-3 Threadmate, a nontraditional threadlocker perfect for securing everything from fieldpoints to accessory screws, to Instant Super Glue, each product costs only $5 and covers multiple situations you're likely to encounter in your shop or in a hunting camp.
The list for filling up your basement or workshop with quality tools may seem daunting, but taken piece-by-piece it's pretty manageable.
Big-ticket items like presses might warrant enlisting the help (and wallets) of a few hunting buddies to split the cost. But the investment is worthwhile because it adds a new element to your bowhunting and a sense of do-it-yourself satisfaction.