Preseason Checklist: How to Quick Tune Your Hunting Bow

Gear Quick Tune
Five things to check before hunting with your new package bow.

Illustrations by Robert L. Prince

Many off-the-shelf bow packages that include the bow, sight, rest, and quiver are billed as hunt ready. Just add arrows and you're good to go, right? Well, not so fast. First you need to check these five adjustments to make sure your new setup is a straight shooter.

Draw Timing

Ask a friend to draw the bow. Lines or dots on most cams can help you check the timing. Watch closely when the top and bottom cams turn over. They should roll off peak weight and into the valley at the exact same time. If they don't, take it back to where you bought it and tell them the timing is off.

Cam Lean

Take a straight arrow and lay it flat against the top cam. Your cams are straight if the arrow runs parallel to the string. If the arrow crosses the string, then there's lean. Some lean isn't the end of the world—the bow may still be true—but if your groups are wonky and there's lean, take it to a good pro shop.

String Stop

A rubber suppressor that touches the string will decrease hand shock and help quiet the bow, but at the cost of a few feet per second of arrow speed. So move the stop into the string a few millimeters for a heavier dampening effect, or back it off for more speed. Careful: too much contact will prematurely wear your string.

Sight Level

Clamp your bow in a vise and hold a torpedo level ($1.50; to the riser, adjusting the bow until the level's bubble is center. When the bow is square, your sight bubble should be, too. If the bow is leveled but the sight bubble isn't, break out the sight's manual and adjust the first and second axis. Double-check it after you dial in your pins.

Center Shot

Check arrow-rest alignment by nocking an arrow and measuring the distance between the arrow at the front and back of the riser. If the measurements are slightly off—like a few millimeters—don't sweat it. If they're way off, loosen the rest and set it true. If your arrows aren't grouping consistently, talk with a reputable pro shop about a walk-back or paper tune.