How To Bare Shaft Tune Your Bow

Aug 30, 2021Bow Tuning and Repair

New archers often experience problems with arrow flight. Since every archer wants to shoot consistently accurately, one of the things they must learn is how to bare shaft tune their bow. Correcting flight issues by knowing how to tune is necessary, as the process helps match your bow choice with the right arrows.

As a new archer, you should understand what bare shaft tuning is, why you need to do it, how to do it properly, and how to make the proper adjustments to get things shooting correctly. Once you do, you’re on your way to becoming the best archer you can be.

Once you’ve perfected your shooting form you can start bare shaft tuning your bow for improved accuracy.

What Is A Bare Shaft Tune?

Bare shaft tuning examines how the arrow is flying out of your bow. It’s a method that allows you to see the actual true flight path of the arrow. Making these tuning adjustments allows you to fine-tune your bow in a way that supports true arrow flight. Just imagine how well your fletched arrows will fly once you’ve tuned your bow correctly!

After you decide which bow type and it’s been set up properly, you must focus on fine-tuning your bow. While you can expect your arrows to fly well following proper guidelines, you should bare shaft tune your bow to make sure it’s right. Choosing to bare shaft tune your bow will improve arrow flight and overall accuracy.

It may seem like a minor detail, but determining whether you have the right arrows for your setup is well worth your time and effort. Remember, your goal is to achieve consistency and great arrow flight will help you get there.

Even though there are many different ways to tune a bow – paper tuning, tiller tuning, line tuning, timing adjustments – bare shaft tuning is one of the most commonly used. In fact, many of the world’s best archers use this method to fine-tune their bows.

Choosing the right arrows requires you to use your draw length and draw weight numbers. If you need help with this, be sure to reference our other articles on how to measure draw length and how to determine your draw weight…or simply visit your local archery shop.

How To Bare Shaft Tune A Bow

Bare shaft tuning your bow is not that difficult to perform. It’s a straightforward process that allows you to use your bow to the best of its abilities. The procedure requires you to not only make adjustments to your arrows but also shoot at different distances to learn exactly how the arrow is flying.

Bare shaft tuning compares flight patterns between fletched and unfletched arrows of the same type. Unfletched arrow flight and target impact will provide key insights to the necessary adjustments. Ultimately, you want both fletched and unfletched arrows to fly and impact as similar as possible on the target. Here’s the process to get started…

1. Remove Fletching

To make a bare shaft you must first remove the fletching from at least 2 of your arrows. Using a sharp knife, simply shave off all the fletching, leaving only the arrow shaft. Once you remove the fletching you must weigh it so you can replace it with the same amount of painter’s tape, which needs to be wrapped around the shaft where the fletching was once attached. (Note: taping the arrow is not required, but is more precise)

2. Shoot Fletched & Non-Fletched arrows

Shoot your best using a minimum of 2 unfletched arrows and 3 fletched arrows at your target from a distance of around 10 yards. If your arrows land very similarly, feel free to move back to 20 yards or further.

3. Compare Arrow Impact

Now, pay special attention to the location of your unfletched arrows. Compare their angle and position to the fletched arrows. Do they perform differently?

Left/Right Impact

Impacting to the left or right of your fletched arrows indicates an issue with arrow spine. If you’re a right-handed archer and your arrow spine is too stiff, your unfletched arrows impact to the left of your fletched arrows. Impacting to the right means your arrow spine is too weak. If you’re a left-handed archer it’s the opposite.

High/Low Impact

If you happen to hit the target low using unfletched arrows, your nock point is too high. If you impact high, that means your nock point is too low.

4. Make Corrections

When making adjustments, it’s best to address your nocking point first. Make small adjustments to your nocking point and then shoot your arrows again to find out if the adjustment was enough to improve arrow flight/impact (*Note: you can move your rest up or down instead if you prefer). Once your unfletched arrows are on the same horizontal plane as your fletched arrows, you can begin working on arrow spine to correct any left or right issues.

5. Check For Accuracy

Repeat this process again, starting with step #2 above. Are both arrow types grouping together better? If yes, shoot again at a distance of 20 yards. Continue the shooting and tuning process until you reach a distance in which your unfletched arrows are no longer hitting their target with consistency. Also know that the further out you bare shaft tune, the more sensitive adjustments become.

Tuning Your Bow

Correctly tuning your bow depends on arrow flight and impact. Once you’ve determined what needs to be changed, you can start dialing things in.

Adjusting Nock Point

Both your fletched arrows and bare shafts should impact on the same horizontal plane. Depending on how your bare shafts impact determines whether you need to move your nock point or not. The main reason for a nock point adjustment is due to porpoising.

Porpoising is an archery term used to describe an arrow that doesn’t fly straight but instead oscillates up and down as it flies towards its target. This means your nock point is not in the correct position and may be too high or too low. To address this issue keep adjusting your nock point until both fletched and unfletched arrows impact on the same horizontal plane.

Bare Shaft Tuning Nock Low: If your unfletched arrows landed above your fletched arrows, move your nock point up.
Bare Shaft Tuning Nock High: If your unfletched arrows landed below your fletched arrows, move your nock point down.

Adjusting your nock point corrects these flight issues. Keep making any necessary adjustments until both fletched and unfletched arrows impact vertically the same way.

Adjusting Arrow Spine

Next, we’ll make adjustments based on your arrow spine. Remember, arrow spine is how stiff/weak your arrow is depending on your setup. Shooting an incorrect spine will result in something called fishtailing.

Fishtailing is an archery term used to describe an arrow that doesn’t fly straight but instead oscillates left and right as it flies towards its target. This means your arrow spine is incorrect for your setup. If you’re right handed, unfletched arrows impacting to the left of your fletched arrows means the arrows are too stiff. Unfletched arrows hitting to the right means the arrows are too weak. To address this issue, follow the guidelines below so your fletched and unfletched arrows impact the same way.

Bare Shaft Tuning Nock Left: If your arrows impact to the left, it means your spine is too weak. Correct this by decreasing point weight, shortening the arrow shaft, or decreasing your draw weight.
Bare Shaft Tuning Nock Right: If your arrows impact to the right, it means your spine is too stiff. Correct this by increasing point weight, shooting longer arrows, or increasing your draw weight.

Finding the correct nock point and arrow spine for your setup should help align your bare shafts with your fletched arrows. You should have great arrow flight and the satisfaction of knowing that your arrows perfectly match your setup.

Tuning A Recurve vs Tuning A Compound Bow

When learning to bare shaft tune, it’s important to understand the the different release aids available. When shooting with fingers, your arrow will flex back and forth on the horizontal plane once released. This means the arrow needs to bend around the riser when shooting with fingers. Shooting with a mechanical release causes the arrow to flex up and down during flight. This means the arrow doesn’t need to bend around the riser as much as it needs to clear your arrow rest.

When an arrow hits the riser or the rest, it causes erratic arrow flight. This is why finding your correct arrow spine is so important! The reason this is so crucial for you to understand is that sometimes, an archery shop may accidently point you in the wrong direction.

For example, I recently picked up a dozen arrows at my local archery shop for a recurve bow. I didn’t reference an arrow spine chart and went with what the sales representative recommended for my draw length and draw weight. It turns out his recommendation was an arrow that is way too stiff and tends to rip the fletching right off of the arrows. This is happening because the arrow is too stiff and hitting the rest/riser upon release. So, the moral of the story is, make sure you understand what you’re buying and how to make adjustments so your arrows fly perfectly straight.


Bare shaft tuning is ideal when it comes to matching your bow with the right arrows. The method of doing so isn’t difficult to do and doesn’t take long to perform, making this a must-do process for all archers. Be sure to carefully follow all of the above guidelines and take notes if necessary. Once you’ve properly tuned your bow, you can expect your consistency and accuracy to improve drastically.


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