– Add 5# per inch to that for arrow lengths over 28″.
– Subtract 5# for each inch under 28″.
– Add 5# for use with FastFlight or other than B-50 Dacron strings.
– Add 5# for point weights over 125 grains.
– Subtract 5# for point weights under 125 grains.
– Add 5-10# for fully centershot arrow shelf.
– Subtract 5# for “no shelf”
– Subtract 10# for no shelf and handle widths over 1 1/4″ Whole lotta math there for you!
Traditional bow setup:
1. Shelf treatment.
If no shelf, proceed to (2.); otherwise, I prefer a 2-piece arrangement consisting of a “rug” shelf pad and either a calf hair, seal skin, or thin leather plate on the riser. It should be applied so that the rug is trimmed to the outside shape of the shelf, and cut back from the riser by about 1/8″. Then the plate is applied with good coverage (in a complimentary shape to the bow) likewise up from the shelf by about 1/8″ once again. This creates a “valley” for the lower feather to pass through for minimum impact & “paradox”. If the shelf OR the riser is totally flat with no radius, it is a good idea to insert something the size of a small piece of paper matchstick under the shelf or plate material, best positioned immediately above the deepest point of the grip if possible.
2. Brace height.
This will vary from bow to bow, and it’s good to know what the manufacturer recommends. If you don’t have any way of finding that out, then ask somebody! Standard pre-manufactured “AMO” strings do not really allow for brace adjustment. Brace adjustment is performed by adjusting the string length via twisting or untwisting it. Unfortunately, AMO strings can unravel the served ends if twisted the wrong way (or at all) and result in string failure. A good Flemish twisted string is best for traditional bows and tuning them for best performance. Never install a string of length other than specified in attempt to adjust the draw weight! Traditional bows don’t work that way and you can ruin a good bow by doing so and possibly invite injury in that event.
Here’s a quick broad range of usual brace heights (distance from string to throat of grip):
Modern recurve bows: 7 1/2″ – 8 1/2″
Old recurve bows: 7″ – 8″
Long classic recurve field bows: 8” – 9” Modern longbows: +/- 7″
Old longbows, selfbows, English longbows: 5 1/2″ – 6 1/2″ (Careful! – these can blow on you if over-braced)
Once you’re sure you have the right string and know the brace range for your bow, start with the brace at the high limit and lower it until you either see poor arrow flight or notice that the bow is unstable (increased hand shock & recoil), then, raise it back up just a little. The exception is old longbows, selfbows, and English longbows – start in the middle of range (about 6″) and make any brace adjustments very carefully.
If the brace is too high, you may notice excessive noise in the shot, and “fishtailing” (side-to-side tail swing). If the brace is too low, you’ll encounter instability (bow wobble), excessive hand shock, and possibly “spiraling” arrow tail in flight. When you’ve got it right, you should be at the best compromise in stability, noise, and handshock.
3. Nock point adjustment.
To my experience, I find the best position for the nock point is to have the brass point (or tie-on) centered at 5/8″ above 90 degrees to the shelf (top of the rug bristles or whatever material you’re padding the shelf with). This should end up with the under side of the nock about 1/4″ – 5/16″ above 90 degrees to the shelf. This added lift is to help the tail of the arrow clear the shelf with little or no impact. The more stabile and better your release, you may be able to lower that a little, but I find this adjustment to suit almost all archers.
If it’s too low, you will see the arrow leave the bow “tail high”; if it’s too high, you will see the arrow leave “tail low”. Either will result in what we call “porpoising” with the tail swinging high & low in flight. This is more noticeable when the nock point is too low and the arrow tail hits the shelf too hard.
4. String silencers.
See above (Compound #4 **) To add a little on this, there is an “optimum” position for the silencer installation on all bows. It can be found easily if the bow can be clamped securely at the grip in a padded vise. Simply lightly “pinch” the bowstring at one end just beyond the serving or finishing twists, and “pluck” the string at the nock point while slowly running the light pinch with the other hand up & down the string listening to the different “tones” as you pluck it. The best position for the silencers is where you hear no actual “tones” – just a gentle “thud”. There may be two points where this will happen. In that case, choose the point closer to the tip for best string speed.
“Otay Panky!” (To quote one of my early comedy heroes). With all this done, it’s time to shoot!
For you compound guys, practice should be a little easier with sights and all. It’s matter of simply holding steady with the sights lined up and a clean release. All I can say here is that if you have any problems holding the bow steady enough for good sight alignment with full arm extension, then consider having the draw shortened (if necessary) and hold the bow with a bent arm. This will allow more control over “bow arm wandering”.
For you traditional shooters, there is no substitute for practice, and lots of it! I’m sure you all know that this is truly a “kinship” with your bow that only comes from hours of repetition at varied distances. This ingrains the arrow’s trajectory in your mind so that you will hopefully be able to “see” the shot before you release it. This is true “instinctive” shooting, and the best way to eliminate guesswork at the critical moment.
For All bowhunters, when it comes down to “the shot” all likely factors will be against you and you have to be confident and consistent with your shooting to make it count. For target shooters, it’s all about concentration and the freedom of mind that your equipment is at its best with no concern in that direction – all focus on the mark. This is the bonding factor with all archers – whether filling the freezer or the scorecard.