How to Set Your Bow Center Shot

Oct 24, 2022Bow Tuning and Repair

Whether you are using your bow for hunting or competition, it is important that it is properly adjusted and tuned to achieve maximum accuracy. An important aspect of this is finding and setting the bow center shot. By doing this, you can ensure that your bow is as accurate and efficient as possible!

What Is A Bow Center Shot?

First off, what is a bow center shot and why is it even important? The center shot is the alignment of your bow’s arrow rest and the bowstring’s nocking point. If your center shot is not properly aligned, the arrow could potentially fishtail and flail as it leaves the bowstring. This results in poor arrow flight and decreased accuracy.

Setting the center shot is a very simple process, and will only require a few basic tools. It does require carefully adjusting your arrow rest so that it is not too far or close to the riser of the bow. But the type of shooting will have a large impact on how to find and set your bow’s center shot. Shooting with your fingers or a release will determine which method you will use to find and set the center shot.

Setting Center Shot For Finger Shooters

One of the best ways of setting your center shot with a recurve or compound bow that you are shooting with your fingers is called the “walk back” method. This method is very simple and can quickly help you to find and set your bow’s center shot. It is especially useful in determining a bow’s center shot when shooting with fingers. In order to perform the walk-back method, you only need to follow five simple steps:

1. Find a Tall Target to Shoot

One of the only downsides of the walk-back method is that you will need a large target to shoot. The target should be reasonably tall to allow you to shoot at various ranges. Place a mark at the very top of the target. This will be your aiming point. This mark will be what you will aim at throughout the entire process. You will always want to start as high up on the target as possible (without risking missing the target entirely).

2. Stand 5 Yards From Target and Fire First Shot

Set your sights for 15 yards and do not mess with them again throughout the rest of this process. Standing around 5 yards from your target, fire an arrow at the mark at the top of your target. Take your time and try to execute the shot as well as possible.

3. Move Back 5 Yards, Shoot Again

After your first shot, move back another 5 yards and shoot again. Do not mess with your sights. Aim at the same point as you did before. Your arrow should hit lower than your first shot. Continue this process by moving back in 5-yard increments and firing an arrow each time. Stop when your arrows are beginning to hit around the bottom of the target.

4. Evaluate the Results

Your center shot is perfect if your arrows make a straight line down your target from your first arrow to the last. If your arrows form a straight line but are angled to the left or right, you could have a problem with the positioning of the arrow rest. If the line of arrows curves out to the right and slowly returns to the center, your arrow rest is most likely too far to the right. The same is true if your arrow line curves out to the left and returns to the center.

5. Adjust Arrow Rest and Repeat

If you do have problems with your center shot, you can make very small adjustments to your arrow rest. Move it slightly to the right or left (depending on the results of your first test). Perform the test again and repeat as necessary. Make extremely small adjustments to your arrow rest when you do this.

Setting Center Shot For Release Shooters

For archers using a release with their bow, the method for finding and setting the center shot is very similar to the walk-back method. While there are a few other methods that you can use, this is one of the easiest. These steps include:

1. Find a Tall Target or Place Yours On Top of a Hay Bale

Similar to the walk-back method, you will either need a tall target to shoot into or you can place your archery target on top of a hay bale. You will be shooting at various distances, so a larger target will allow your arrows the proper space to drop further your shoot. You will also need to aim at the same exact point every time you shoot.

2. Stand at 30 Yards and Set Your Sights For 20 Yards

Start the process by standing 30 yards from your target and setting the sights for 20 yards. If you are using multiple pins on your sight, simply use your 20-yard pin even though you are at 30 yards. Fire one arrow at your target. By doing this, your arrow should hit lower than where you are aiming.

3. Move Back 5 Yards and Shoot Again

Moving back in 5-yard increments, continue shooting arrows at each position. Ensure that you are using the same sight settings and aiming at the same exact point each time, regardless of the target distance. Similar to the walk-back method, your arrows should begin to make a line down your target. If your arrows are grouped too close together, you can increase your increments to every 10 yards if needed.

4. Evaluate Results and Make Adjustments

When your last arrow or group of arrows is near the bottom of the target or hay bale, stop shooting and evaluate the results. Ideally, your vertical line of arrows should be perfectly perpendicular and straight down. If the line of arrows slowly moves out to the left, you may need to slightly adjust your arrow rest to the right (if you are a right-handed shooter). If the line of arrows moves to the right, you can adjust your arrow rest to the left.

5. Repeat the Test As Needed

After making slight adjustments to your arrow rest, repeat the test. If you get the same results, try moving your arrow rest once again. Repeat this test as many times as necessary until your arrows form a straight line down from your first initial shots at a close distance.

Testing Your Center Shot

Even after using one of these methods to find and set your center shot, you may still need to test your center shot. This can be done with a paper tuning setup. Paper tuning can be done for both finger shooters and release shooters. Shoot your arrows through a suspended sheet of paper a short distance away. Five or six feet away is considered ideal. Observe the tear that comes with the arrow to see if you have a properly set center shot.

High or low tears could mean problems with other pieces of your equipment. Right or left tears, however, could mean your center shot is not properly set. To fix this you will need to change the position of your arrow rest. A combination of paper tuning and testing processes such as the walk-back method should allow you to get your center shot just right.

Final Thoughts

Bow center shot is an important aspect of archery that often goes overlooked. And while tuning a bow can be a long process, setting the center shot is well worth the time. By setting the center shot properly, you can ensure your bow gives you perfect arrow flight every time.

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