The Benefits of Bare-Shaft Tuning

The Benefits of Bare-Shaft Tuning

The popularity of "paper tuning" bows has grown over the last few years. There is more and more information out there about tuning bows, which is a good thing.

Paper tuning, especially with a bare shaft, will help you determine if you have the proper bow setup for ultimate accuracy. Ideally, you should be able to get perfect tears at 20 yards with or without vanes.


When I was growing up, paper tuning was pretty much nonexistent. For those who don't know what this is, it is simply shooting an arrow through a piece of paper to see if it is traveling straight or kicking sideways as it comes off the bowstring. The only problem with this is that sometimes the vanes can contact the riser or rest and you can never get a perfect tear (bullet hole) no matter what you do. On top of that, the vanes can act as a Band-Aid, covering up or slightly correcting the actual tune of the bow. I take paper tuning a step further now. I shoot an arrow through paper that is the same length and weight as my others, but this one will have no vanes. In the archery world, it's called bare-shaft tuning.



You can either leave one shaft unfletched when building your arrows, or you can take a razor blade and scrape off the vanes on one of your current arrows. The main thing is to make sure it has the same specs (length, weight and spine). Obviously, when you take the vanes off, it will weigh less, so I like to take electrical tape and wrap the arrow exactly where the vanes were until it matches the weight of my other arrows. Don't wrap the tape anywhere else on the shaft, because it's important that the arrow spine (flex) remains the same.

Then, walk up to about two yards from the paper and shoot through. I like to shoot very close because I want the initial reaction right out of the bow. Depending on the tear, you can adjust your rest slightly. Sometimes, tears that are high can mean the spine is too weak, and low tears would be the opposite. If you get a bullet hole at two yards, then you know from the start the arrow is coming out perfectly. When you shoot a fletched arrow through, it should also be a bullet hole. If not, then you have a clearance issue. Your vanes must be contacting either the riser, cables or rest, causing them to fly off plane. I won't get into that here, but spray some powder such as athlete's foot spray all over that area, and it will show you exactly where the vanes are hitting.


Bare-shaft tuning is the best way to see if, when uninfluenced by the vanes, your bow is properly tuned. Ideally, when a bow is properly tuned, you can take an arrow with vanes and shoot an X at 20 yards and then take an arrow with no vanes and do the same. It will show you if your setup is perfect or if you still have some work to do. I'm not saying you can't shoot well with a bow that doesn't shoot a bullet hole, because that's false. I've won national championships with bows that weren't tuned perfectly. That being said, as a right-hander, the only tear I'm OK with is slightly high left, which means the back end of the arrow is getting away from the riser so there will be no clearance issue. The opposite would apply to left-handers. Having a paper-tuned setup isn't the magical answer to making you a great archer, but it will most certainly be a step in the right direction.


Recommended for You

Treestands & Blinds

Where Do I Put My Feet When Tree Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

Sit, stand or lean - this is what you'll need!

Bows

Bow Review: Bowtech Realm SR6

Jon E. Silks

Bowtech's 2019 flagship has it all. Let us break it down for you!

How-To

BOWHUNTING's Guide to Tree Saddle Hunting

Greg Staggs

Embrace the lightweight comfort and versatility of tree saddles.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bill Winke's Bowhunting Treestand Set-Up Tips

Field Editor Bill Winke provides bowhunting treestand set-up tips that'll help make life easier when it's go time in the fall.

Bill Winke's Top Five Bow Shooting Tips

Petersen's Bowhunting Field Editor Bill Winke give us his top five bow shooting tips

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

ATA Show

Top New Arrows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show!

ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top...

How-To

Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

See More Stories

More How-To

How-To

Expert's Guide to Treestand Placement

Eddie Claypool

Here's how Eddie Claypool identifies the best areas for an ambush.

How-To

Become a Better Bowhunter by Choosing the Right Bow Sight

Tony Peterson - July 16, 2018

If you want to be the best bowhunter you can be, you need to concentrate on choosing the right...

How-To

Common Bowhunting Equipment and Execution Errors

Bill Winke - September 22, 2018

Follow Bill Winke's tips for avoiding some of the most common problems that could ruin your...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×