Tuning new arrows
Begin with only shooting at ten yards. The stiffness of the shaft has to be determined, and shooting at a further distance could cause you to totally miss the target and lose your shaft.
Before you even consider making a cut of any length to the shaft, shoot the shaft at least six to ten shots. What you are looking for is consistency. Don’t jump the gun and start trimming before finding out that everything is consistent. Normally, I use two shafts to do my tuning to make sure the results are uniform.
As you can see from the above picture, several shots have been made, and the shafts are impacting the paper to the right side of the line as well as having a fairly heavy tail-left impact. Being a right handed shooter, this picture shows that these shafts are shooting weak. If you are left handed, a weak shaft would impact the target on the left side of the line and would have a tail right kick.
At this point, I will now take the shafts to the cut off saw and start trimming the length from the rear of the shafts to increase the dynamic spine of the shafts. My first cut will be rather short. If I get carried away and cut off too much, I could end up with two of my shafts being too stiff to continue. When making the first few cuts, I also suggest you never make a cut over ¼”. If the first cut corrects the shaft quite a bit, the remaining cuts could be limited to 1/8” or less.
Let’s make the first cut and do a little more shooting.
As you can see from the above picture, the cut did make quite a bit of change to the shafts. The heavy tail-left kick has straightened, but the shafts are still impacting to the right side of the line. Again, be sure and take several shots. You can see I have most likely made 10 to 15 shots before taking this picture.
A little side note here:
If you are seeing a slight tail high impact on the shafts in the picture, remember, I am not the best photographer and I am trying to show the correction of the tail-left kick. Also, I am still shooting at ten yards which does cause a slight downhill shot angle.
If you are lucky enough to have a target that can be set up at chest height, you will not see this if the arrows are flying correctly off the nock on the string. If the target is at chest height and you are getting nock high impact, you will need to raise your nocking point on the string to level out the shafts.
The next thing to consider is how much to take off on the next cut. The first cut took out a lot of the tail-left kick but did not bring the shaft over to the line. If you are feeling like you would rather take the safe road over the speed run, I would suggest making the cuts from this point on at no more than 1/8”. As the old saying goes, “it is better to be safe than sorry”.
Compare this picture to the one prior, and you will see that my cut made some changes on the impact spot of the target. so I decided to make another ¼” cut. If you are more conservative with pushing the limits of your tuning skills and only cut 1/8” off, you may not see similar results. In either case, make sure of the out come of each cut with several shots, and continue cutting and shooting until your shaft starts to straighten.
Your results may differ from what I’m showing, but don’t give up. Tuning is not something that is easy to learn. Still, as you do it more and more, the process will become easier, and you will learn when to make the longer cuts.
As you can see from the picture, I am getting fairly close. However, remember I am still shooting at ten yards. We will get to the longer distance shot in a little while.
The cuts so far have made great improvements. From this point on, I will limit my cuts to no more than 1/8”. Even though this makes the process slower from here on, a little at a time will be all I need.
Another side note here:
If your results have not progressed as fast as what I am showing, don’t get bent out of shape. Making a little progress at a time and taking several shots before reaching for the cutoff saw will always yield a faster learning curve. Jumping the gun and heading to the cutoff saw after only taking a shot or two can cost your pocket more than you would like.
The arrow setup I am using here is the same one I’ve been through several times.
The cut I made on the shafts for the above picture shows that I am right where I want to be at this point. The shafts are sticking fairly straight into the target, and the tail-left kick is basically gone. Now, we can start moving back and increasing the distance of the shots. However, I am still not ready to jump way back and will only move back five more yards.
Now shooting at fifteen yards, I have made a switch from the paper with the line to a target which will allow me to see that I am shooting down the center and allows me to pick a spot.
From the picture above, you can see that the shafts are still impacting fairly straight and in line with my sight picture. I made several shots at this distance, and as far as impact, I am feeling good at this point.
However, now that I am back far enough to see some of the flight of the shafts, I am starting to pick up a tail-left kick during the flight. For some of you, this type tail kick may very well look like a big sweeping motion, as though the shaft is shooting around a curve. This is nothing more than your eyes playing tricks on you. In fact, the point is going straight and the tail of the shaft is kicking left. This is a real a mind blower if you are not expecting it.
I will make another 1/8” cut and shoot several more shots before moving further back. What I am looking for at this point is as close to the same results as I was getting at ten yards — Straight flight and straight impact.
Again, if your results differ, take the time to make several shots and decide whether or not you need to make another cut or more before moving on.
You will also want to watch out for a shifting of the tail kick to the right or impacting the target to the left side of the line on every shot. This can happen when you just cannot stand to being held back and feel you need to cut and run too soon just to be able to get things finished.
After making another 1/8” cut, the shafts are now flying fairly straight and still impacting on the spots. I did not post a picture of this because it would not look much different in a new picture compared to the last one.
In the picture above, I have now moved back to twenty yards. The shafts are still impacting fairly straight and impacting right in my sight picture. However, every time I increase the shot distance, the tail-left kick/sweep seems to creep back in. As you can see in the picture, the shafts have different impact angles. The one on the top is impacting a tad bit straighter than the one on the bottom. This is another reason I suggest using two shafts over one when tuning. The slight difference in the two will start to show at the longer distances. Had I only used one shaft and not seem the tail-left kick/sweep and had it been the one on the bottom, I would have made a tiny cut to bring it back into straight flight not knowing the other shafts could very well be different.
However, I am still seeing a tiny tail-left kick/sweep in flight with both shafts and will make a tiny cut and carry on shooting.
At this point, the shafts may be good enough for some shooters, but not for me. I want to see clean flight and impact.
With impact holding true, I am now concerned with flight, so making another tiny 1/16” cut will most likely be all I need. If you are still seeing a heavy tail kick or sweep, you may want to make a 1/16” cut and shoot several more shots before making another cut. Small cuts will not show progress as fast, but will allow you to see the changes without pushing the shaft to the stiff side before you understand how tuning works.
After making the 1/16” cut, I moved the targets around and shot one arrow at a time to see if I could tell which shaft was which. As you can see in the pictures above, both shafts are now impacting straight in, and the flight at twenty yards is flawless.
The main thing to remember at this point is the dynamic spine has now reached the intended goal and is correct. Any further trimming of the shaft will start to push the dynamic spine to the stiff side. Adding the fletching will slightly increase the dynamic spine of the shaft as the feathers drag on the tail.
If this is your first try at bareshaft tuning, I would suggest that you leave the shafts a tad bit on the weak side. You can always go back and resume the tuning process after you have started shooting the fletched arrows, if you feel they are still on the weak side. Once you see the results of a well tuned shaft, shooting everyday becomes a hard habit to break. In addition, leaving the spine a tad bit weak helps if you find yourself in a position where you can’t get to full draw like you would standing in the back yard or on the shooting line.
With everything in correct dynamic spine, the time has come to fletch one of the shafts for a comparison shot. What you will be looking for at this point will be to see if both the fletched arrow and the bareshaft are flying the same.
To check the comparison shot, I fletched one of the shafts with three 3” feathers. You may want to use longer feathers to start. The further forward the balance point, the longer the rear steering arm will be on the shaft. The longer the rear steering arm, the less fletching it requires to correct any possible bad flight normally caused by a bad release.
As shown in the above picture, the fletched arrow flies the same as the bareshaft. Here again, I normally start shooting back over at ten yards and will work my way back to as much as 25 yards. This was the ten yard shot.
Like before, remember you will want to take several shots to ensure you have everything correct. Shooting only once or twice can lead you to the wrong impression. Also, most shooters take several shots to warm up and to achieve a smooth release.
In the above picture, the shot was taken from twenty yards. You can see both the shaft and the arrow are still impacting with the same straightness. If you have followed these suggestions, your results should be fairly similar.
If you have any doubts to the results shown in this tuning workup, I encourage you to give it a try. There is nothing like seeing a well-tuned arrow fly.