For beginning archers, it’s easy to achieve mediocre accuracy with only a few minor rest and sight adjustments. In no time, the rookie bowhunter is grouping arrows in a pie plate sized circle just in time for hunting season. While I don’t blame them, I can’t help but wonder if they’re seriously prepared.
For those of us with better tuned bows and more polished shooting form, softball sized groups become routine, even when shooting long distances. Granted, some people simply have more natural ability than others. However, many accomplished bowhunters and expert bow technicians know great benefits can be gleaned from paying attention to small details.
Simply by spending a little more time on the range, shooting and tuning for a straight flying arrow, archers will find it doesn’t take much to get an erratic arrow on track, broadhead leading the way, nock following the same path for a full transfer of energy to the target. A minor, and I mean minor, rest adjustment of 1⁄64-inch horizontally or vertically could be all that’s required — a slide so slight you can’t even tell the rest has moved.
Tinkering with your setup and understanding exactly how arrows are affected after adjustments are made is a great confidence booster. Before you know it, hitting where you aim becomes automatic.
When installing an arrow rest on your bow, nock height and centershot position are critical for good arrow flight. It’s crucial that nock height be determined properly, because this is the base for centershot and rest height tuning that follows.
Nock height is the location where your arrow nocks to the bowstring. Centershot is where the arrow is held and guided as it’s released and shot through the rest. Once you’ve measured nock height with a bow square (or by eyeballing it) and installed a nock set or D-loop on the string, half the vertical adjustment process is completed.
I also like to make sure that when at full draw, the nock end of my arrow is just a tad higher than the supported front end — 1⁄16-1⁄8-inch higher for release aid shooters and even higher for finger shooters. This helps keep my arrow on the rest while at full draw and ensures arrows receive proper guidance upon release.
If you use a string loop, it’s OK to keep your nock level with the front of the arrow as long as the string loop doesn’t pinch your nock (usually not a problem when using nock sets between).
It’s now time to tune your rest. First, mount the rest on the riser and adjust the launcher horizontally so it straddles the bowstring. You need to hold the bow straight in front of you while eying down the nocked arrow while doing this. You want the middle of the rest launcher, bowstring and bowstring groove on cam(s) and/or idler wheel to align vertically.
Next, adjust rest height. No matter which rest model you choose, the arrow launcher or support arms/brushes need to be in the shooting position during setup. If it’s a drop-away rest, on some models you’ll have to hold the launcher up as if the bow was at full draw. Ideally, you want the bottom of the arrow shaft to pass by the bottom of the rest-mounting (berger) hole on your riser.
This will be a great starting point for your range practice, though minor adjustments to the rest, both horizontally and possibly vertically, could be required to achieve good arrow flight.
Advice for Drop-Aways
In addition, if you have chosen to use a drop-away rest, the drop-away tether will normally have to be secured to either the downward or upward moving buss cable. Rests utilizing the upward cable are becoming extremely popular, as you’ll see in some of the new rests featured in this article. If you’re not familiar with specific ways to attach a drop-away tether, I strongly recommend visiting a pro shop to see how it’s done properly.
Some people serve the tether directly on the cable, while others split the cable in half and thread it through the middle, serving it tight. Some manufacturers include a cable mount that uses a screw and clamp system. While they are very easy to install and require no bowpress, they should be checked regularly to ensure tightness.
Adjusting tether length is also critical to drop-away performance, because an improper tether length will produce faulty launcher performance. Fortunately, this process isn’t all that complicated.
When using a drop-away activated by the downward cable, it’s best when the launcher comes to the full upright position during the last couple inches of the draw cycle. I like to thread the tether through the split cable, which is best done with a bowpress, and pull all the slack to about a 45-degree angle. Then, I draw the bow back. The tension on the tether created from the cable’s movement raises the launcher and eats up the slack. After letting down, pull the tether just a tad, maybe 1⁄8-inch at the most, and burn the end into a mushroom. Draw the bow again and confirm the rest is rising at the proper time. If not, some models permit additional tether length adjustments to be made on the rest body, which makes tuning and setup extremely easy. Other models require cutting the tether and playing around a bit to find the exact length for proper function.
Hitting the Range
It’s time now to take some shots. Have an experienced archer watch your arrow in flight. This will help determine whether your arrows are leaving the bow crooked, indicating a need to adjust the nock height and/or position of the rest’s launcher.
Many experienced bowhunters paper tune their setups. Some of you might ask, “What’s paper tuning?” Stand a couple yards from a big sheet of paper with a target placed safely behind that. Shoot through the paper and note the tears caused by your fletching. The direction of the tear illustrates exactly what your arrow is doing in flight and how it’s reacting as it leaves the bow. For compound bow shooters, it basically determines if your nock height is too low or high and if your rest is too high or low or too far right or left.
Because the performance of archery gear has improved dramatically in recent years, paper tuning isn’t nearly as popular as it once was. However, if you are having ongoing problems getting your arrows to fly straight, paper tuning could reveal the problem. For advice on how to interpret the paper tears your arrows make, refer to the chart on p. 78.
Now, lets take a look at the 2010 rest l
ineup. Depending on your experience tuning bows, game hunted and terrain, there’s a rest perfectly suited for every bowhunter. Following are a sample of the best rests made to hunt. From models designed for easy tuning to innovative drop-aways, this year has it all.
Beginning archers, treestand hunters and those who regularly beat through thick brush, might find the following rests perfect for their setup. Requiring no bowpress to install, these rests are ideal for young and budding archers, and also for those dealing with buck fever. With the exception of Bodoodle’s Pro Lite II, they all are full-capture rests — providing 100-percent arrow support and confidence when shooting at odd angles or stalking through brush with a nocked arrow.
Trophy Ridge’s Whisker Biscuit is one of the most bowhunter-friendly accessories ever invented. Available in a number of models with various features, the Sure Shot Pro ($84.99 black, $89.99 camo; www.trophyridge.com) uses a brush disc with thicker bristles on the bottom to provide support and guidance to the shaft and lighter bristles on top so fletching can pass through without being damaged.
Fuse Archery has its own Whisker Biscuit ($79.99; www.fusearchery.com) that features Shock Rods and Shock Rod Technology, which help dampen noise. Plus, it has a stylish, arrowhead shaped riser mount.
Utilizing a three-point guidance system, New Archery Products’ QuikTune 360° Capture Rest ($39.99, black/tan, $49.99 camo; www.newarchery.com) is now available in tan and Realtree APG camo. The 360° is easy to adjust and includes a set of brushes at about two o’clock and 10 o’clock, and an adjustable vertical arrow support post at six o’clock. This post acts similar to a springboard for optimal energy transfer and proper support.
Also using a three-point support system are Octane’s Hostage rests ($49.99 Hostage XL, $79.99 Hostage Pro; www.fuelthehunt.com). Available in two models, the Hostage PRO and Hostage XL, both have been improved for 2010. The PRO added a rubber padding around the open circuit to help reduce noise, while the XL now features a larger ring to accommodate popular high-profile vanes such as Bohning’s Blazers. The PRO model features 6061 aluminum construction, while the Hostage XL is constructed from a polycarbonate.
Mid-Atlantic Archery, which introduced its Tri-Van full-containment drop-away rest last year, introduces a similar full-capture model without the drop-away feature. Less expensive and easy to tune, the new Tri-Van Contour ($49.99; www.midatlanticarchery.com) features windage and elevation adjustments, shock absorbing arms, Vibra-Shield Damping Technology, all-metal launcher arms and adjusts to fit any size arrow.
A redesign of the original Pro Lite, Bodoodle is back with the Pro Lite II ($89; www.specialtyarch.com), which offers more than an inch of laser-etched windage and elevation adjustments. Compatible with all arrow sizes, the Pro Lite II has a pivoting, spring-loaded housing that holds two adjustable, stainless steel, .015-inch Speed Fins (for heavier arrows) or Hunter Fins. This system provides superior guidance throughout the shot. Smoke Quiet fin tape is included, which silences the draw cycle and arrow during launch.
Drop-away rests were designed to eliminate fletching contact with the launcher, which can easily throw a well-aimed arrow off course. The popularity of plastic vanes and high-profile designs really drove home the necessity for fletching clearance.
The 2010 drop-away lineup includes some exciting new technologies. Although drop-away rests have traditionally been tethered to the downward moving buss cable or cable slide, a number of models introduced this year feature a reverse spring system and tether that connects to the upward moving cable. Makers say this system results in even faster drop times for surer fletching clearance while still providing adequate arrow guidance.
G5’s Expert PRO ($119.99 black, $129.99 camo; www.g5outdoors.com) looks similar to past Expert models. However, the new Expert PRO features an upward cable connection. I’ve shot the Expert II rest the last two years on my BowTech Guardian and Hoyt Alphamax 32, and these rests are among the quietest available. They’re also highly accurate. The unique arrow cradle holds an arrow even when the bow is canted. G5’s Expert PRO is lightweight and is available in Realtree AP camo finish.
Octane’s Tripwire ($109.99; www.fuelthehunt.com) has been improved for 2010 and features a new, wider launcher to better secure arrows during the draw process. The flashy Tripwire is one of the most innovative rests on the market and is perfect for hunters because the launcher can remain in the up position during the entire draw process and not fall away if you let down. Also, cable strain is eliminated at full draw because the tether isn’t taut to the cable. This makes for easy tuning and tight arrow groups.
Introduced last year, the Mathews DownForce ($119.99-$129.99; www.mathewsinc.com) is an innovative arrow rest that, like G5’s Expert PRO II, features an upward moving cable tether system. Designed for faster retraction times and maximum shaft guidance, the DownForce features a spring-loaded cradle that retracts as the bowstring is released. The cradle actually attaches to the lower half of the bowstring for the extra guidance. The unique rest holds a Harmonic Damper to absorb vibration and noise and has an easy tether length adjustment on the side of the housing to make tuning quick and easy.
Advertised to provide five-minute setup, Muzzy’s X-Celerator ($71.95; www.muzzy.com ) is different than every other drop-away model due to its rigid cable connector. Using this system, the connector actually drives the arrow launcher up during the draw and down upon release. No gravity, strings or springs are required. Plus, the large, hook-style arrow launcher cradles the arrow perfectly and provides a good amount of arrow containment.
The compact and unique Drop Slide from Trophy Ridge ($149.99; www.trophyridge.com) features an exclusive slide system different than any other drop-away model available. The Stainless Steel Recirculating Ball Bearing Slide is extremely fast and hush quiet. Large hex screws and a no-stretch cable help ease setup, while laser engraved horizontal and vertical hash marks help the tuning process.
An included optional launcher with shorter arrow guides provides increased tuning options and ensures compatibility and proper vane clearance on all bow models.
Fuse’s Acculaunch Fall-Away ($112.99; www.fusearchery.com ) is a simple, easy-to-tune model designed for top performance. Featuring heavy-duty construction and an adjustable tether system, the Acculaunch is designed to provide 100-percent fletching clearance.
Another tried and true model — and probably one of the most affordable drop-aways on the market — is Cobra Archery’s Diamondback ($60; www.cobraarchery.com). Packed with hunting features and durability, the Diamondback is made for consistent arrow flight.
Combining drop-away performance with the dependability of full-containment rests, hybrids offer the best of both worlds — accuracy and security. The number of full-containment drop-away rests has skyrocketed over the past two years. This is a welcome trend among bowhunters, since the benefits of both designs are extremely helpful in the field. Full-containment drop-away rests come in a variety of shapes and sizes but ultimately are designed so an archer can draw at just about every angle possible while still getting guaranteed fletching clearance.
New Archery Product’s Apache ($59.99; www.newarchery.com) is designed for bowhunters and includes all-metal construction, sound dampening material on the capture housing and pre-installed felt on the launcher for super quiet performance. The Apache requires no tools to tune thanks to vertical and horizontal toolless adjustment knobs. When setting up the Apache, NAP recommends the nocking point be set 1⁄8-inch above the bottom of the V-shaped launcher when in the fully upright position. Available in right-handed only.
Schaffer Archery introduces one of the most unique rests in the industry, the Opposition Rest ($139.99; www.schafferarchery.com ). The Opposition is designed to provide total arrow containment and fletching clearance upon release.
Featuring Glide Away technology and a tether that attaches to the downward cable, the innovative arrow-capture pylons actually move out of the arrow’s path horizontally upon release. This rest can be locked in the capture position for treestand hunting or stalking. For follow-up shots, the arrow can simply be placed between the pylons. When drawing back, the arrow automatically raises and locks into shooting position.
Like Schaffer’s original rest line, the Opposition will be offered with custom fit mounts for Mathews, Hoyt and PSE, as well as a universal mount.
Ripcord’s Code Red ($103.95 black, $108.95 camo; www.ripcordarrowrest.com ) drop-away has been reincarnated and includes a new DropDead internal brake system that eliminates bounce back, Slimline Launcher, two position arm and soft red overmolding that eliminates the need for moleskin. The Code Red is easy to install thanks to large hex screws, and the top containment bar is flexible for quick arrow loading. Laser engraved tuning marks and an included tether cable mount makes setup quick and easy.
Spot-Hogg’s spring-loaded Whammy ($102; www.spot-hogg.com) attaches to the upward moving cable and is under tension at rest. Once the bow is drawn the cord goes slack. Plus, the rest launchers are never rigid, providing extreme forgiveness.
Spot-Hogg says, “The rest doesn’t just fall out of the way but rather jerks itself out of the way with such speed it allows nine times more arrow support than competing rests while still guaranteeing full fletching clearance.”
Another key feature is the fact that the launchers are always in the up position. If, for some reason, you decide to or have to let down, the launchers will not drop and cause your arrow to bounce off. No locking or cocking is required for arrow loading. Not compatible with Hoyt’s Vectrix.
Designed for complete arrow clearance and a high degree of containment, PSE’s Phantom ($79.99; www.pse-archery.com) drop-away features oversized adjustment screws and is available in left- and right-handed models. Engraved tuning marks assist the tuning process.
With features similar to its static counterpart, the Contour, Mid-Atlantic Archery’s Tri-Van Multi-Adjust Pro ($139; www.midatlanticarchery.com) also includes independent windage and elevation adjustments. The highly innovative rest features Vanishing Arm Technology and a unique side loading lever that, when cocked, positions the support arms for the shot. Providing 100-percent containment during the entire draw cycle, the three launcher arms retract immediately into the housing upon release for total arrow clearance and friction-free arrow flight.
Completely new for 2010 is Arizona Archery Enterprises’ Kill Zone ($99.99; www.arizonaarchery.com) rest. Sporting a tall, V-shaped launcher, the Kill Zone includes a top bar designed to prevent arrows from falling off the rest. The drop-away features heavy-duty construction and a unique fall-away arm that provides guidance throughout the draw and up to three-quarters of the launch cycle before dropping out of the way. The tether activated drop-away also doesn’t activate when letting down from a draw.
Quality Archery Designs’ Ultra-Rest models are highly popular among bowhunters. The full-containment drop-away remains in the cocked position even on slow letdowns and will only drop when the bow is fired. New LD (Lock-Down) Technology eliminates arrow rest bounce back, assuring complete fletching clearance. Allowing shooters to shoot shorter arrows, which translates into more speed, the easy to tune Ultra-Rest series is offered in a number of models, including the new HD Bone Collector ($154.95; www.qadinc.com) and comes with an instructional setup DVD.
APA Archery’s Twister ($89.99; www.apaarchery.com) features a unique containment bar that makes it virtually impossible for an arrow to escape. For 2010, the Twister has been improved and is now easier to install. For quiet performance, it comes with high durability fleece. And for precise tuning, it is micro- adjustment equipped.
Similar to Mid Atlantic Archery’s retractable rest is Athens Archery’s Omega Elite ($110; www.athensarchery.com). The Omega Elite provides a three-point contact system that captures and guides arrows before moving out of the way to provide complete clearance. Weighing 4.6 ounces, the Omega requires no bowpress to install thanks to a handy cable clamp.
We rely on arrows impacting vitals, and with today’s high-tech rests, accuracy-enhancing bow technology and quality time invested, there’s no excuse for accepting mediocre accuracy. Get
your bow, new rest and hit the practice range today!