Bowhunting success can be elusive. Most factors that determine the final outcome of any hunt are not under our direct control. So, we should strive to make everything we do control as close to perfect as possible — starting with our bows.
Nearly everything that makes a bow shoot fast and makes it easy to handle in the woods also compromises its accuracy. If extreme accuracy is your goal, it must take priority throughout the selection and setup of your new rig.
I get a new hunting bow every year. And with each new bow comes the challenge of trying to be just a little more accurate than I was the year before. No matter how good my last setup may have been, I always believe I can make the next one a little better. When choosing and setting up my hunting bow, I always seem to follow the same steps to make sure it is extremely accurate. I’ve written about each of these topics separately on these pages before, but I thought it would help you to see them all at once. Here’s what you need to do to make your bow as accurate as it can be:
The Deadly Dozen
1. Perfect Arrows: Arrows must be straight to fly accurately. They also must be consistent in both spine and weight. All nocks must be identical in all ways and aligned properly. The arrow needs to be small in diameter to minimize wind drift and maximize downrange penetration. The fletching should be as small as possible while still providing good steerage. The arrow should have enough weight in the front end to provide adequate front-of-center balance (more is
2. Low-Turbulence Broadheads, Aligned Perfectly: We all know the broadhead needs to be perfectly aligned with the shaft, but that is not the only thing that matters. Broadhead design has a great deal to do with accuracy. I can’t emphasize this point enough. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours experimenting with broadhead-tipped arrows. I shoot them out of my bow by hand as well as with a shooting machine. All broadheads are not accurate! That’s inversely proportional to the amount of turbulence they create in flight. Large blades and lots of “structure” translate into lots of turbulence and poor accuracy. Look for a head with a very low profile and no structure that interferes with smooth airflow.
3. Heavy Mass Weight: This is a tough one for me, because I do a lot of hunting in extreme terrain. I do not like to carry a heavy bow up and down mountains. My target bow weighs a full 3 pounds more than my lightest hunting bow. The reason is simple: the higher the mass weight, the harder it is to get the bow moving in another direction. So, a heavier bow will shake less and remain more stable as the arrow launches. You must determine the right compromise between weight and accuracy.
4. Reasonable Draw Weight: Simply put, most archers can shoot more accurately with a light draw weight than with a heavy draw weight. Find the maximum draw weight you can handle comfortably and stick with it.
5. Longer Axle-to-Axle Length: Bows have become very short over the last 10-15 years. These short bows are much more forgiving than before because of technological advances. However, you can’t completely escape the basic laws of physics; a longer bow is going to be more stable and provide additional advantages in terms of string angle and inertia. All else being equal, a longer bow is always more forgiving than a shorter bow.
6. Higher Brace Height: The advent of string stops has allowed us to shoot bows with extremely low brace heights. Here again, the basic laws of physics come into play. Everything else being equal, a higher brace height bow will always be more forgiving than one that has a short brace height.
7. Moderate Arrow Speed: With any modern hunting bow, you can choose to shoot a fast arrow or you can shoot a slower arrow. Speed is a function of arrow weight. There are some extremely lightweight arrows and broadheads out there. If you want the ultimate in accuracy and precision, you are better off easing up on the throttle a little. Any given bow will shoot more accurately and be more forgiving when shot at moderate speeds as opposed to extreme speeds. We know that many of the features that make a bow fast make it less accurate. However, here I am purely talking about arrow speed itself. I believe a there is a component of accuracy that is purely a function of arrow speed.
8. Small Peep Aperture: Most hunting peep sights have a huge aperture. This big hole will serve you well in snowy, rainy or low-light conditions. However, the bigger the peep aperture, the less likely you are to keep your pin perfectly centered. Extreme accuracy requires that you keep the pin exactly in the middle of the peep. A small peep also keeps both the pin and the target in better focus. If you are going to be hunting in a sunny area and extreme accuracy is your goal, I would advise using a peep with a small aperture.
9. Perfect Bow Balance: The bow should rest in your hand at full draw and after the shot without a predisposition to rock forward or back or to lean left or right. It should be a stable, unmoving platform as the arrow leaves. Bow balance is purely a function of weight distribution. You can achieve this perfect balance using a combination of stabilizers and weights attached to the bow in strategic locations.
10. Well-Made String: For me, this means a custom string. I use Winner’s Choice strings, though there are plenty of other good custom options available. A well-made string will not stretch or rotate, and the serving will not shift or separate. The string will remain unchanged for thousands of shots.
11. Precision Sight: Your sight must be rugged yet precise. It must never move unless you are adjusting it. It needs to be precisely adjustable. For the ultimate in precision, it needs to be moveable. This allows you to hold point-on at any distance.
12. Perfect Tune: Your bow’s cams must roll over smoothly, in perfect synchrony and they must not lean. The arrow must be pushed out of the bow in a straight line. It must leave the bow with as few gyrations as possible. Anything less will cause inconsistency downrange.