Q&A How Do I know My Equipment is Set Up Right?


An anonymous question came in regarding how you can tell if bow and arrow are set up correctly. Since not much more information was provided I am going to assume we are talking about at least an intermediate archer because until one has one’s own equipment, this question doesn’t make sense.

The key thing is that three things have to match: bow, arrows, and the archer’s skill. Here are some clues that can tell you if they do.

If your archer is shooting without a sight, then the “giveaway” is where the archer’s points of aim (POAs) are. If the arrow is properly spined for the archer and bow, the POAs should be directly above or below the spot they want to hit. On ordinary circular targets that means on a 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock line through the middle of the target (see diagram). If the POAs are to the left of this line, the archer is compensating for the arrows curving over to the right, meaning the arrows are too weak (right-handed archer, if archer is left-handed, switch all “lefts” and “rights”). If the POAs are to the right of this line, the archer is compensating for the arrows curving over to the left, meaning the arrows are too stiff (right-handed archer, if archer is left-handed, switch all “lefts” and “rights”).

For archers with sights, you can just look at the position of the sights aperture (or pins) vis-à-vis the centerline of the bow. Either hold the bow or prop it on a chair or tree so you can see the string against the background of the bow. Line the image of the string up with the center of the riser. (Often there are screws in the back of the riser that help make this alignment.) Then check to see if the aperture is to the left of this plane or to the right. If the aperture/pins are to the left of this line, the archer is compensating for the arrows curving over to the left, meaning the arrows are too stiff (again for a right-handed archer, if archer is left-handed, switch all “lefts” and “rights”). If the aperture/pins are to the right of this line, the archer is compensating for the arrows curving over to the right, meaning the arrows are too weak (again for a right-handed archer, if archer is left-handed, switch all “lefts” and “rights”). Note that these directions are exactly the opposite from when your archer is aiming off of the point.

These are checks that can be made quickly. Obviously a simple bare shaft test can also tell whether arrows match bow and archer, too. (For a right-handed archer, if bare shafts land to the left of fletched shafts, the bow’s arrow rest is too far away from the bow or the arrow is too stiff. If bare shafts land to the right of fletched shafts, the bow’s arrow rest is too close in to the bow or the arrow is too weak.

There are many things else that could be wrong, the above assumes the bow and arrows and archer are relatively close to what they should be before checking.

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