The other thread about shooting traditional bows got me thinking that those of you that might be considering shooting one should know about how to tune them.
There are some differences between tuning a compound bow as opposed to a stickbow, the least of which is that because of the high tech nature of a compound, most all the tuning issues are equipment oriented, with very little human influence other than basic archery form. This, I believe, is why compound shooters tend to go to their equipment FIRST when they are having shooting problems, and not themselves.
So.......To make it simple, let me first state that if you are shooting a stickbow instinctively, and off the shelf, then there are only TWO things that you can tune. The nock height, and the brace height.
You will need a bowsquare, and a nocking pliers.
After you have the right arrows matched to your bow, and your shelf rug and strikeplate set, you can start with the first part, which is setting the brace height. You will want to temporarily set the nock point (DON'T crimp it down too hard, because you will most likely be moving it later) using the bowsquare, about an 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the level point.
Brace height is the distance between the bowstring (while the bow's strung), and either the backside (string side) of the bow handle, or the back of the bow window. Most bow makers will tell you what the brace height range should be. This you use as a starting point.
To get the bow string the length that you want it (which will be shorter), you unstring the bow....and PLEASE use a real bowstringing device, and NOT the old "wrap the bow around your leg and step through it while bending it" routine, as that WILL eventually twist a limb and ruin the bow...take the string loop off one side, and then TWIST it to shorten it. You then restring the bow, and then remeasure it with the bowsquare, making note of what the measurement is.
This is a trial and error type thing, and you will be stringing and unstringing the bow many times.
Once you get to where you want it, then you go to the nock point adjustment.
This is very much a personal thing, due to the fact that you are shooting with your fingers, and measurements will vary from person to person, even with the same bow. The nock height is what determines for the most part arrow flight. Like with any bow, you will need to shoot into a good firm target that can catch the arrows before the go in too far, so that you may see whether the arrow is hitting tail up, or tail down. The nock point needs to be moved until the arrows are hitting the target level.
At this point, the nock point should still NOT be set too tightly.
Next, go back to your brace height, and get it to the point where the string has the least "slap", thus quieting the bow. This again is a trial and error thing, and sometimes it can help to have someone else there to listen for you.
I will add here that you will want to check you brace height frequently to make sure that it's still accutate, as bowstrings, especially newer ones, tend to stretch over time until they are broken in. I always have in my quiver or fanny pack another broken in bowstring with the nock set on it, the brace height fixed (I connect the two end loops with a small cable tie so that I don't lose the "twist"), and the string silencers on it (I use Muskox wool).
My Bear Super Kodiak seems to shoot best with a brace height between 8 1/4" and 8 1/2".
Once your at this point, then go back to the nock height, and either crimp it down firm, or you can also play with it to "fine tune" the bow.
Obviously due to the nature of shooting with fingers, the human factor plays a BIG part here, and having good, solid, consistant form is vital. You may even find that if you are learning, that you may have to re-adjust slightly as your form gets (hopefully) better.
The above should explain why traditional archers tend to look at THEMSELVES when their shooting goes awry, and not their equipment.
I hope that I haven't made this sound too complicated because it's NOT. In fact, from a technical standpoint it's easy, and what I would even consider fun, because I'm shooting my bow!
Please feel free to ask any questions, if I can't answer them, I'll either find out, or I'll refer you to where you can find the answer.
Offer No Apologies.....
NRA Endowment Life Member