April 26, 2021
One of the coolest things about bowhunting — at least to me — is that as you grow as a bowhunter, you also grow in your understanding of archery and archery equipment. The vast majority of new bowhunters, along with many veterans, rely on the services of local pro shops to keep their bows tuned and in good working order. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t seek the expertise of pro-shop technicians from time to time.
However, I do take pride in doing the vast majority of my bow setup and tuning myself, and as the years have gone by, I’ve learned more and more about how to customize my bows to my liking. Tuning and maintaining my own bows has not only been convenient (no need to drive to a pro shop every time there’s a problem) but has also boosted my confidence in my equipment and my ability to use it effectively in the field.
Now, if you are serious about working on your own bows, there are two main tools you’ll need to tackle the task. One is a bow press (used to compress the bow’s limbs to relax the string and cables) and the other is a bow vice (used to hold the bow securely in place as you work on it). In this review, I’ll take a closer look at what I believe is the best bow vice on the market today — the all-new Versa-Cradle Micro-Tune Bow Vice from October Mountain Products.
First and foremost, the Versa-Cradle Micro-Tune is built like a tank. October Mountain calls this made-in-the-USA product “heavy duty,” but I’d call it nearly bombproof. Featuring stout, powder-coated, steel construction, you should fully expect a lifetime of service from it.
Second, as the name implies, the Versa-Cradle Micro-Tune has built-in micro-adjustment dials that allow you to precisely level your bow in both the vertical and horizontal planes. With the original Versa-Cradle, you secure your bow in the vice and then use the 360-degree, macro-adjust ball joint to rotate the bow to the desired position. Although the ball design provides infinite adjustability, it can be difficult to tighten the ball head down with the cam-lock lever exactly where you want it while holding your bow in position at the same time. Adding the micro-tune knobs takes the precision to a whole new level, because you can use the ball joint to get close, tighten the cam-lock and then simply turn the dials until the bubbles on both your vertical and horizontal levels are perfectly aligned.
Another upgrade worth mentioning is a new, 3.5-inch-wide bow interface designed to accommodate even the widest of today’s split-limb bows and crossbows.
The Versa-Cradle can be mounted to any flat surface or used with the optional Versa-Cradle Stand. Featuring a 17x17-inch base and 19.5 inches of height adjustment, the heavy-duty steel stand allows you to move the vice anywhere in your shop or range and adjust the height of the bow to a comfortable working level.
I use the Versa-Cradle Micro-Tune whenever I’m setting up a new bow. After getting the bow perfectly leveled in the vice, it’s easy for me to install my arrow rest, find my center shot arrow position and tie a nocking loop on the string. I also put the bow in the rest while installing my sight and other accessories, making draw-length and draw stop adjustments or checking cam lean and alignment. Because the ball joint allows the bow to be held horizontally as well as vertically, the vice is also really handy for tasks such as replacing your center serving or serving in a peep sight.
Considering the price we pay nowadays for new bows, arrows, hunting apparel and more, the price of a quality bow vice really isn’t that much, and it’s certainly a worthwhile investment for those bowhunters who want to take their tuning game to the next level. — Editor Christian Berg