July 26, 2022
By Jace Bauserman
The season is right around the corner, and it won't be long before you're hanging 20-feet up a hardwood, nestled in a ground blind, or taking the fight to a monster buck by way of spot and stalk. First, though, we need to make sure your compound is spitting carbon perfectly.
Few things are more important to consistent accuracy than paper tuning. Don't worry; the process is painless, and you can create a make-shift paper tuner from almost anything. I use an old window frame, typing paper and a staple gun. You can also visit your local pro shop, and for a bit of coin, use theirs.
Stand or kneel at a distance of 4 to 6 feet from the paper. The next step is critical. One archer can take a bow and punch a perfect hole through the paper, and another can take the same bow and create an unfavorable tear. Why? Different grips. You will want to use the exact grip you use while slinging arrows on the range. If you feel your grip needs some work and you're placing too much torque on the riser, remember that the grip should sit on the thumb-side of your hand's lifeline. Keep the grip light and airy.
Upon getting into your grip, go through your draw process and crawl into anchor. Like the grip, the anchor should be repeatable, and the goal should be for the tip of the nose to lightly touch the end of the string. Unnecessary face contact on the string will negatively affect arrow flight. Your second repeatable anchor point should be the position of your release hand against your face. These positions will vary slightly based on what style of release you use. The key is to make sure the position is repeatable.
With the string back, focus on the paper — push and pull — and let the release fire the bow. Before inspecting the tear, fire two more arrows. This will give you more than one tear to analyze, and if you're doing things right, each tear should match up perfectly.
Use a paper-tune chart, which can be found on almost every arrow manufacturer's website, to diagnose your tear. Unless the point and nock enter through the same hole, you have some work to do.
Start by addressing any high or low tear. When dealing with a high tear, meaning the nock is tearing the paper above the hole created by the point, you will need to move your knocking point down by dropping the position of the D-loop on the string or by moving your rest up. If the tear is low, meaning the nock tear is below the point tear, you will need to move your nocking point up the string. When dealing with high and low tears, take your time, and make small adjustments.
With your high and low fixed, now address any left or right tear issues. When a left tear is present, the nock hole is left of the point hole, and you’ll move the rest towards the riser (right-handed shooter). With today's modern rest marvels, about 90 percent of all tuning can be accomplished by simply moving the rest. However, a left tear can also indicate left cam lean, which will push the string left of center. Left cam lean on most bows can be remedied by shortening the left side cable on both the top and bottom cam. If a right tear occurs, which will put the nock hole to the right of the point hole, move the rest away from the riser or adjust cam lean by shortening the right cable on the top and bottom cam.
Once you achieve that perfect tear, you'll be filled with confidence, but your job is far from over. Repeat this process with each of your arrows. You may discover a shaft or two that doesn't tune the same. This can often be fixed by simply indexing (rotating) the nock to different positions.
Now that you're paper-tuned, it's time for some walk-back tuning. Before doing this, however, I recommend sighting in precisely at 20 yards. Next, run a piece of colored tape vertically across your target and another horizontally. This will create a cross pattern with a center point. Stand at a distance of 20 yards from the target and fire a single arrow at that center point. If the shot breaks perfectly and your bubble was centered, inspect the arrow. The goal is to be dead-center perfect at 20 yards both up and down and left and right.
Now, back up to 30 yards and repeat this process with your 30-yard pin. You can shoot more than one arrow if a group makes you feel more comfortable. Repeat this process at distances of 40 and 50 yards and inspect each group. It's not uncommon as you move back from the target for an arrow to drift a tad left or right, and that's what walk-back tuning will show. If you experience left-arrow drift, move your rest slightly to the right. If you experience right-arrow drift, move the rest left. Remember, go micro. A little bit goes a long way.
There you have it, you're paper and walk-backed tuned. Your bow is performing perfectly. All you need to do now is keep practicing from a variety of different ranges, and if possible, practice shots from positions that your hunt will likely call for.