September 29, 2022
Installing a peep sight on a bow is not rocket science. You simply split the bowstring, plop the peep inside, then serve it in place. Simple, right? However, don’t be fooled. This seemingly simple chore can sometimes be a nightmare, particularly if you don’t have the right tools, know-how and system for positioning the peep in the perfect spot to enhance proper shooting form. Here’s the best way to handle this archery task in five simple steps.
Step 1: Identify the Best Location for the Peep
Perhaps the most challenging part of installing a peep sight, particularly on a new bow, is making sure it goes in the right place. To do this, choose one of the following steps:
1. On your old bow, measure the distance from the top of the string loop or nocking point to the center of the peep sight. Then, take this measurement and transfer it over to the new bow. Use a Sharpie pen to mark where the peep should go, based on this measurement. Use a light tick mark on the string, since this is still a rough measurement. Why? Because every bow is different and exhibits a unique string angle at full draw, based on axle-to-axle length, cam design, and brace height. This string angle ultimately determines where the peep should be located based on anchor position and the center of the shooter’s eye.
2. Draw the bow back, close your eyes, then find the most comfortable draw-anchor position. Then have a friend make a small tick mark, using the Sharpie pen, along the bowstring directly across from your eye. This is a great starting point position to place the peep.
Step 2: Compress the Bow’s Limbs
To install a peep, you must compress the bow’s limbs using a high-quality bow press. With today’s extreme pre-loaded bow limbs, I prefer to use a press that absolutely minimizes stress on the bow’s limbs and riser. The EZ-Press by Last Chance Archery is my preferred choice.
Once the bowstring is relaxed, you can install the peep correctly by splitting the bowstring fibers and then inserting the peep, so it bisects your marker’s tick mark. Be sure the fibers are nestled within the notches on the peep’s body, placing it at a slight angle. One critical part in this step is splitting the fibers. Most bowstrings today are two-colored and come complete with a small tag that divides the fiber bundles evenly. This makes inserting the peep super simple. However, if the string isn’t two-colored and doesn’t have a tag string in place, you’ll have to count how many fibers are in the entire string, divide it by two, then put the peep in between the bundles.
It’s also important to find the natural “split” in the string. Every bowstring made is looped together using two sets of fibers. The peep should be sandwiched between these bundles. If not, the bowstring won’t rotate naturally, eventually causing issues with the peep’s alignment. To find the natural split, you may have to untwist the bowstring quite a bit in order to see the separation in the bundles.
Step 3: Serve It In!
There are several ways to tie in a peep sight. However, I prefer to serve using two separate serving bundles. This method works best for three reasons: (1) When served correctly, two bundles secure the peep nicely, without fear of it dislodging. (2) If the peep needs to be moved, the bundles can be separated, then the peep can be nudged up or down the string to optimize alignment with the shooter’s eye. (3) Two serving bundles prevent excessive “pinching” of the peep sight against the string fibers, which can cause undue wear and torque on the fibers. Each bundle has the ability to creep imperceptibly away from the bowstring’s “V” located above and below the peep’s location. This will maintain a solid squeeze on the peep without excessive string friction against the peep’s body.
To serve the peep, you’ll need some serving material, scissors, and a cigarette lighter. For serving, I favor BCY’s 3D End Serving, which is .016-inch diameter. This fiber is strong and lays down super smooth.
To begin, take about two feet of serving material, then create a “mini” center serving on the string, just above the peep. Insert the tag end of the serving above the peep, so it slides in between the two bundles. Notch it in place so it stays put. Next, begin serving down the string and across the tag end for about 10 wraps, then take the tag end and bring it back up or cut it off. Serve for 5 wraps below the tag. Now, you’ll form a loop by wrapping the very end of the serving thread around the area below the peep. Then begin serving across the bowstring below the peep – in the same direction of the other wraps – so you are serving inside the loop up. Make 8 to 10 rotations.
Once this is complete, take the end of the string serving and lay it along the top of the loop, then begin wrapping over the serving end with the bottom string wraps. Once the bottom serving is completely unraveled, pull the serving end tight with longnose pliers. The serving is now complete. Repeat the process to create the serving bundle below the peep. The two bundles squeeze the peep so it can’t move out of position.
Although the bundles will be very tight on the bowstring, you should still be able to move each one up or down. To do this, use a small piece of leather to grasp the bundle while firmly applying forward or backward pressure with your fingers. You can also use a piece of D-loop to form a loop around the string and then use sliding pressure to move the bundle to the desired position.
Step 4: Shoot Several Arrows, Then Align the Peep
Now, draw the bow back several times. Recheck its position on the string. If the peep is off-center with your eye at full draw, simply put the bow back in the press, undue the end-loop on the bottom cam, then make the necessary twists on the bowstring to correct the peep’s alignment. I usually make one full twist to the end loop at a time. This rotates the string about 1/8 turn each time, whereas two turns to the end loop moves it about 1/4 turn, or 90 degrees from its original position. I usually rotate the string by “twisting it up,” rather than untwisting, until its alignment is perfect. Twisting the string further tightens the peep in place.
Be sure the loop section of the D-loop is oriented straight out from the bowstring, so it doesn’t “counter” the peep’s alignment too much. Ideally, you want the bowstring to be balanced, so it doesn’t twist too much as you draw straight back.
Step 5: Dial in Peep Alignment
After 30 shots or so, the string should be close to settling in all the way. Continue to micro-tune the peep’s position by twisting (or untwisting) the bowstring 1/8-turn at a time until the peep centers the eye consistently. You can also “walk the string loop” ever so slightly so it’s slightly left or right of center to further optimize the peep’s alignment.
Once the string is settled in and the sight-in process is going well, it’s a good idea to use your Sharpie pen again to indicate the peep’s exact position. I like to trace the outer area of the peep as it bisects the string. This way, if it ever moves, I’ll know immediately based on whether the peep sits slightly above or below this outline. I can then place the bow back in the press, nudge the peep back in place and then reset each bundle to secure the peep. Nudging the peep without placing it in the bow press can cause damage to the bowstring, so be very careful if you decide to do it this way.
As a final step, you can wrap a separate piece of serving around the peep’s outer circumference. This will act as a fail-safe in case the bow is dry fired, making it nearly impossible for the peep to dislodge. To do this, simply tie serving around the peep, form one overhand knot on the bottom of the peep’s outer groove, then another overhand knot on the top. Finish the top knot with a square knot, then burn the two ends with a lighter, melting them together.
Few things will impact your accuracy more than a poorly positioned, off-center peep sight. Be sure to do it right by following these simple steps.