Setting up and tuning a recurve or a longbow is really quite simple. As with anything though, there are certain things you need to know and understand. In this “chapter” I will do my best to cover the bases and help you get your bow shooting better than ever!
1. The first thing I do when setting up the bow is put on some type of shelf and plate material or a flipper type rest if the set up dictates it. On recurves, I generally use a simple rug rest and rug plate. On longbows, I use a one-piece, stick-on a leather plate that runs down onto the shelf. Both these setups are quick, easy and most of all very functional.
Determine The Correct Brace Height.
2. The next set is to determine the correct brace height. Brace height is typically measured from the string to the deepest part of the grip. Brace height is adjusted by shortening and lengthening the string. The shorter the string the higher the brace height and vice-versa. To shorten or lengthen the string,
unstring the bow and slide the upper loop down the upper limb leaving it on the bow.(If you don’t have a string with upper loops large enough to do this get one.)
Take the lower loop out of the limb tip and twist the string to shorten it or untwist the string to lengthen it.
NOTE: there is a limit to how much you can change the length of a string. You can almost always shorten a string but sometimes you will not be able to lengthen a string because of it’s physical limits or design.
Most bow manufacturers supply a recommended brace height but generally these are not exact.
Most of time it will be between two numbers, ie 7 1/4?-7 3/4?.
It is up to you to find the “sweet spot” of the bow. The sweet spot is the point where the bow shoots it’s quietest and has the least amount of hand shock. Both of these characteristics go hand in hand, get rid of one and generally you will get rid of the other. One important thing to remember is that you will always have some amount of noise and some amount of handshock you are looking for the spot that has the least amount of these characteristics.
I like to shoot a bow braced as low as possible while still allowing the bow to shot well in hunting situations. I have found that if the brace height gets below 6 1/2″ it is hard for me to shoot it under hunting situations.
At that level the bowstring is very prone to coming in contact with your clothing (even if you have on an armguard) because of the extra clothes and awkward shooting positions you will encounter.
When the string comes in contact with your clothes a broadheaded arrow cannot fly well. Because of this over the years all the bows I have hunted with have had brace heights of 6 3/4″ to 7 3/4″.
This is not to say that you cannot hunt with bows braced lower it is just something to keep in mind.
How To find the correct brace height
To find the correct brace height I start by letting the brace height down to a level that is too low.
At this level the bow will have alot of handshock and will be really noisy. I also like to have a bowstring that does not have the silencers on it yet which will magnify the noise and handshock.
I then shoot the bow, raising the brace height 1/4″ at a time until the bow “smooths” out or I find the spot where the bow shoots the smoothest.
It is a really good idea at that point to write down that brace height and the bowstring length (while the bow is strung).
You can write these figures either on the bow or somewhere it will be easy to find.
Unless something drastic happens this will always be the sweet spot on the bow and this will always be the bowstring length you need.
4. If you had to twist the bowstring a lot to get the length you needed it is a good idea to get another bowstring that is that length already. It has been my experience that if a string has been twisted a lot the bow’s performance will suffer and the bow will also be noisier. When getting a new bowstring be sure to get one that has the correct amount of strands for your bow poundage this will also help the bow perform the way it should. If you get a new string you will need to let it stretch some.
What I normally do is string the bow then find a nice cool spot that is out of sunlight.
I hang the bow there for a few days to let the string stretch shooting the bow each day to help the stretch process.
After shooting the bow each day I will measure the brace height and adjust it accordingly.
After the string has completely stretched out you can put the nock and silencers on it.
Bow Tuning Process
Now you are ready to complete the bow tuning process by “doctoring” the bowstring.
I like to first put on a brass string nock because it is easily adjusted.
After I have discovered the best nocking spot I will make a nocking point out of dental floss which is easier on my shooting fingers.
I generally will not discover the best nocking spot until I tune the arrows to the bow which is a subject I will cover sometime in the future.
A good place to start the nocking point on a stick bow is to place the bottom edge of the nock 3/16″ below the top mark on a bow square.
The last sentence is a little hard to understand if you just read it. If you will, however get out your bow and the things it takes to put on a brass nocking point you will probably understand it fine.
The last thing is to put some type of silencers on the string to quieten down the bow.
All types of silencers work each having good points and bad points. I have found that most people choose silencers because of the way they look on the bow, which is fine.
After picking the type you like put one on each end of the string.
Place each one about two thirds the distance from the middle of the string out to the end of the string.
You are now ready to tune arrows to the bow which I will discuss at a later time.