In science, research is the most highly regarded way to capture evidence about a topic. However, research reveals information about something at a certain point in time, or among a specific sample. Many times, these testing variables change, for whatever reason, and past research can often be refuted by future testing. So, research can't always be taken as bottom-line truth.
This same principle also applies to archery. A so-called "truth" tossed around two decades ago may not apply today, based on specific shooting equipment and advances in technology. The "overdraw" arrow rest is one of those past omens that was touted as bad medicine for shooting accuracy, based on previous laboratory testing. However, the advent of "torque tuning" defies this prior assessment. In fact, moving the arrow rest farther out from the bow's grip may in fact enhance accuracy, not hurt it. Here's how it works.
Countering Torque & Sight Movement
I first heard of torque tuning from Kevin Wilkey, a pro shooter and past pro-staff manager for Hoyt. My friend Nick Fisher at Arizona Archery also explained the technique to me a few years ago. Both guys are outstanding archers who thrive on refining their long-range proficiency, so I knew I had to explore this method further.
Torque tuning revolves around positioning the arrow so that it points in the same direction of the sight, even when the bow is subjected to mild amounts of torque. This torque can occur due to inherent bow-system loading — which is influenced by the bow's powerstroke, the side load of the bow's cables, and/or cam lean — or due to a shooter's improper grip position.
Regardless of how bow torque occurs, if the sight and arrow rest are positioned in harmony with one another, then the arrow will strike as close to the middle as possible. Torque tuning is hard to describe in words. However, the procedure for doing it is relatively straightforward.
Moving the Arrow Rest or Sight
To begin, make sure your bow is well tuned, adjusted for proper draw length and weight, and sighted in at 20, 30 and 40 yards. Also, as a target face, use a strip of tape or a plumb string line.
Next, start by test shooting at 20 yards, making sure your normal-shot arrows hit in line with the tape or string. Now, on the next shot, press in on the bow's handle by pivoting at the wrist, causing the bow to torque to the left. Align the sight so it's dead center with the vertical target, then shoot.
Remember, you are intentionally twisting the grip (to mimic a bad shot) and realigning your sight on each shot. Finally, shoot another arrow, only this time, torque the bow to the right by tugging the handle with your thumb, then note the arrow's impact.
You can begin tuning by either moving your arrow rest rearward or forward, depending on the level of adjustability it has, or move the bow's sight housing closer to the riser or away from it, given it has a dovetail mounting system and extension bar. Or you can move both the arrow rest and sight in tandem in small increments until you see all arrows come closer together.
Making the Right Adjustments
Here are some steps to follow: If the arrows consistently strike in the same direction you applied the torque (i.e., left torque, left miss), then move the arrow rest farther out from the grip, or extend the sight closer to the target. If the arrows hit opposite of the direction you applied the torque (i.e., left torque, right miss), then move the arrow rest closer to the shelf, or the sight closer to the riser. Continue in this fashion, recording the results at each shooting juncture and then moving the sight and/or rest position.
Do this until you run out of arrow rest or bowsight travel. Eventually, you'll notice a smaller spread in the torqued shots.
If, for some reason, you don't see a significant difference in your group size, try shooting from 30 or 40 yards. You can even fine-tune your adjustments by moving back to 50 or 60 yards, but only after attempting to tune at closer distances and while maintaining a high level of shooting control.
Once a bow is properly torque tuned, you should be able to torque the grip in either direction without affecting a dead-center shot. The whole idea behind torque tuning is to duplicate a bad shot, due to shooting excitement, fatigue, or when shooting in the wind or at extreme angles, and then trying to find that sweet spot location for your arrow rest and sight to enhance accuracy.
One more thing, it's important to double-check your bow's paper tune once the torque-tuning process is finalized, particularly if you moved the arrow rest far out from its original position. This is especially crucial for drop-away rests that use a limb or cable cord.
Choosing Between the Arrow Rest or Sight
Many bowhunters don't like a bowsight that mounts too far out from the bow. Such a setup makes the sight more vulnerable to damage, especially when hunting rugged mountain country. For this reason, choosing an arrow rest that allows for a wide range of adjustability is the preferred method for many of these archers. However, not all arrow rests come with an extra-long mounting bar, which makes this option more difficult to employ. The Hamskea Versa Overdraw is one accessory to consider, since it works with many arrow rests and allows for increased adjustability. In most cases, bowhunters will find that moving both the arrow rest and the bowsight allows for enough adjustability when torque tuning.
There are many ways to tune a bow, and some methods are considered mandatory for ensuring straight arrow flight or to achieve consistency when sighting in. Paper tuning and walk-back tuning are two prime examples. However, additional tuning methods, such as torque tuning, can deliver increased accuracy results. If you're the type of bowhunter who wants to achieve maximum performance from your setup, then give this tuning method a try. It just might give you that competitive edge you're looking for.