How to Set Up a Drop Away Arrow Rest

Nov 14, 2022Archery Equipment

Of all the components on a compound bow, the arrow rest is one of the most important. This simple part is pivotal for an accurate and consistent shot, which is why drop-away arrow rests are one of the most popular options. These arrow rests can improve arrow flight and accuracy but must be installed and set up properly. Here is everything you need to know when it comes to setting up a drop-away arrow rest!

What Is A Drop Away Arrow Rest?

Drop away arrow rests are a type of rest that holds your arrow upright during the draw cycle but then “drops away” upon release. As it falls, the arrow clears the rest without any interference. With nothing to make contact with the arrow, there is nothing to impact the flight path and accuracy negatively. A launcher arm holds the arrow and is able to move up and down. Once the bow is fired, it drops down out of the way to execute the shot.

Benefits Of A Drop Away Arrow Rest

Drop away arrow rests are used by competition shooters, bowhunters, and target archers. They are so widely used because of the various advantages they provide. Because of their design, they are inherently more accurate than most other arrow rests. The arrow can leave the bow unobstructed. In addition to more speed, this also means nothing can deflect the arrow during its flight.

Another big advantage to drop away arrow rests is the full-containment system that many models provide. This means that once an arrow is nocked and placed inside of the rest, it cannot fall off the bow or out of the arrow rest. This is a big reason that hunters are particularly fond of drop away rests, as the arrow will stay in place as they are stalking an animal.

Types Of Drop Away Arrow Rests

Many archers may be unaware that there are actually two different types of drop away arrow rests. The main difference between the two main types is in how they both connect to the bow. Every drop away rest will have a small draw cord. This draw cord is how each type of drop away rest connects to the bow and actuates the “drop away” function.

Cable-Driven Drop Away Rest

A cable-driven drop away rest connects its draw cord to a bow’s pull-down cable in order to work the drop away function. As the bow is drawn, the pull-down cable places pull on the rest’s draw cord. This tension is then placed on the arrow-rest arm and raises it. As the bow is fired, the tension is released and the arrow rest is able to fall down and out of the way of the arrow.

Limb-Driven Drop Away Rest

Limb-driven rests work similarly to cable-driven rests with the exception of where they connect on the bow. As the name suggests, these drop away rests connect to the bow’s limbs with a cable. As the bow is drawn, the limbs move inwards. This releases tension on the cord and raises the launcher arm. Once the bow is fired, the limbs bounce outward and drop the launcher arm. It does all of this in the blink of an eye and drops out of the way before the arrow’s vanes even clear the rest.

How To Set Up A Cable-Driven Drop Away Arrow Rest

1. Attach the arrow rest to the riser of the bow.

The first step is to mount the drop away rest to the riser. Use the provided screws and washers that the rest comes with. Ensure that once you have put the rest on the riser you can still move the horizontal and vertical blocks for further adjustments.

2. Find and set the center shot

Next, you will want to find and set the center shot. This is done by nocking an arrow on the bowstring and putting the shaft on the arrow rest in the raised position. Make the necessary left or right adjustments on the horizontal block. Once the center shot is right, tighten down the head screw and lock it into place.

3. Level the arrow and nocking point

Next, set the nock or D-loop at your desired height. With the arrow nocked onto the bowstring, set the arrow rest arm upright and in a full draw position. Using an arrow level, make slight adjustments to the vertical block on the rest to ensure the arrow is level from the nock to the rest. Smaller adjustments (if needed) can be made later during the tuning process.

4. Attach the rest’s draw cord to the bow’s cable

It is now time to attach the draw cord from the arrow rest to the cable of the bow. There are a few ways to do this. Most arrow rests come with small pieces at the end of the draw cord that clamp together with a small screw. This is intended to clamp around the bow cable in the desired location and is often shaped like a football.

Another method involves tying the draw cord to the cable. Do this with a double-half hitch knot. This knot tightens with tension but still allows the cord to rotate. After tying the knot, you can tie in serving above and below it to keep it from moving. The last method involves putting the draw cord through the cable, but this involves using a bow press to relieve the tension in the bow.

No matter which attachment method you choose, place the draw cord roughly an inch or so below the bottom of the rest. Leave around two inches of slack in the draw cord to allow for adjustments in the next step.

5. Time the rest and make adjustments

The next step is to draw the bow and ensure that the arrow rest functions properly. The draw cord should not be pulling against the down cable at full draw. There should be no strain or bulge in the down cable where the draw cord is connected. As you let the bowstring down, the arm on the arrow rest should also begin to drop. It is sometimes helpful to have a friend or family member help with this step. They can watch the bow and the arrow rest’s timing as you draw or let down. If adjustments are necessary, adjust the slack in the draw cord. Once you’re satisfied with the placement, tighten down the draw cord completely or tie it in.

6. Shoot and test the bow

The last step is to test-fire the bow. It is a good idea to shoot it through paper in order to paper-tune the bow. If you observe any problems in the tears of the paper or believe that the arrow is making contact with the rest as it leaves the bow, you can make small adjustments to the draw cord. A simple way to tell if your arrow is hitting the rest or any other parts of the bow is to use athlete’s foot spray. Spray a healthy amount to turn everything white. After firing the arrow, look at the fletching on the arrow for any places it made contact.

If adjustments need to be made, it can easily be done by loosening the screw on the football and moving it slightly higher. If you tied the draw cord, loosen the knot and reposition it. Make small adjustments at first and always ensure that the draw cord does not pull on the bow’s cable.

How To Set Up A Limb-Driven Drop Away Arrow Rest

1. Attach the arrow rest to the bow

Many of the same steps used to install a cable-driven arrow rest will apply to a limb-driven rest. Start by attaching the drop away rest to the bow with the provided hardware. Keep the horizontal and vertical adjustments open for later tuning.

2. Find and set the center shot

The next step is to set your center shot. Nock an arrow on the bowstring and place it on the arm of the arrow rest. The arm should be in the raised position as if you are about to shoot. Make small adjustments on the horizontal block to find and set the proper center shot. Once finished, tighten down the head screw to keep it in place.

3. Level the arrow

Set your nocking point or D-loop at your desired location. With an arrow nocked, place it on the arrow rest’s arm. Use a level to make slight adjustments to the vertical block of the rest to get a leveled arrow. You may need to make small adjustments later on, but a general rule of thumb is to have a level arrow from the nock to the rest.

4. Attach the draw cord to the top or bottom limb

Depending on the model of rest that you are using, attach the draw cord to either the top or bottom limb of the bow. With the rest in the right position, tighten this cord until the launcher on the rest lightly touches the shelf on the riser or the bottom of the arrow rest. The draw cord should not be too tight or too loose. Secure the cord with a double-half-hitch knot.

5. Time the arrow rest and make any necessary adjustments

Draw the bow and test out the drop away rest. While at full draw, the launcher arm should raise up and securely hold the arrow. As you let down on the bowstring, it should immediately begin to drop. If you need to make any changes, you can tighten or loosen the draw cord that connects to the limb. This will change the timing

6. Shoot the bow and test the arrow rest

The final step is to actually shoot the bow and test your arrow rest. If your arrow makes contact with the rest before leaving the bow, you have a timing issue and need to make adjustments. Again, this can easily be done by adjusting the tension in the draw cord that connects to the bow limb. With a little trial and error, you can get the perfect settings.

Best Drop Away Arrow Rests

Q.A.D. Ultra Rest Hunter Arrow Rest

Q.A.D. Ultra Rest Hunter Arrow Rest

The Q.A.D. arrow rest was one of the first drop away rests that hit the market, and it has been a popular option ever since. This cable-driven drop away is very economical and won’t break your budget, while still providing a high-quality piece of gear that will last you for years to come.

Ripcord Drive Cage Drop Away Arrow Rest

Ripcord Drive Cage Drop Away Arrow Rest

For those wanting one of the best limb-driven drop away rests out there, look no further than the Ripcord Drive Cage. Its simple design makes it very reliable. It offers full containment, so it is very popular amongst bowhunters who want to keep their arrows on their bow while stalking an animal.

Vaportrail Limbdriver Pro Drop Away Rest

Vaportrail Limbdriver Pro Drop Away Rest

Another popular limb-driven rest, the Vaportrail Limbdriver gives you great accuracy and an elegant design. It can be used from either the top or bottom limb, depending on your preferences. This rest is not a full containment model like many others out on the market for those that prefer this style.

Trophy Ridge Sync MD Drop Away Rest

Trophy Ridge Sync MD Drop Away Rest

For those wanting the most amount of tuning and adjustments, the Sync MD from Trophy Ridge is the ticket. It features micro-adjustment windage and elevation to give you the most amount of accuracy from your rest. This drop away is cable driven, with a removable containment arm to give you even more options.

Final Thoughts

Drop away arrow rests are the most popular type of rest in most archery situations, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to install. With a little bit of practice and knowledge, you can quickly install your next drop away rest and enjoy all of the features and benefits that these arrow rests come with!

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