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Setting Up a Compound Bow: You Can Do This

Every bowhunter should be able to handle four key tasks in setting up a compound.

Setting Up a Compound Bow: You Can Do This

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I am very much a DIY guy. I would even go so far as to say I'm a bit of a DIY snob. Being able to fix things and making stuff last longer than it really should bring me a lot of satisfaction.

In a lot of situations, my DIY mentality stems from fiscal responsibility. Put another way, I'm cheap. I refuse to pay someone to handle a task that I should be able to do myself. I also find myself in situations where there is no option for help. That happens a fair bit while hunting. I don't like to hunt areas near high human populations, so when my truck breaks down or my bow goes off the rails, I need to solve the problem myself. Necessity, as it's been said, is a pretty good teacher.

Of course, I wasn't born with the knowledge to do the things I'm able to do now. No, I have a couple decades of trial-and-error (and YouTube … lots and lots of YouTube) to thank for that. I certainly don't know everything, and I suspect you don't either, but there are several tasks I think every bowhunter should be able to handle on their own.

Tie a D-Loop

If you shoot a compound, odds are extremely high that you have a D-loop attached to your string. Odds are just as high that you have encountered a situation where that D-loop had an issue. Whether you needed to move it up or down for tuning purposes, or had to replace it as part of routine maintenance or due to loop failure (very rare), you've likely needed a new loop. You didn't take your bow to a shop and pay $10 for one, did you?


Tying a D-loop is not that tough. There are a ton of online DIY guides and videos available. It can be a bit confusing at first, but once you've tied a few, you can almost do it with your eyes closed. Here's a tip: Use high-quality loop material. Cheaper material has a tendency to slip. It won't cinch down on the string the way top-quality material does. That can cause nock pinch and other annoying issues.


Perform Basic Paper-Tuning

You don't need any special tools or gadgets to paper-tune your bow. Understand I'm talking about a standard tune that will get your bow delivering straight arrows, which is a key step in getting broadheads to fly true and group well. There are a ton of different steps you can take to "super-tune" a bow. I'm not saying those are worthless … but they kind of are for the majority of bowhunters.

You can make your own paper-tuning setup with a cardboard box, some duct tape and a sheet of paper. Cut a square out of the box that's a couple inches smaller than the sheet of paper. Tape the paper over the opening. If necessary, place the box on something so it's level with your bow's riser at full draw; you can't have the arrow angling downward or upward as it passes through the paper. Shoot into the paper from a distance of about 6 feet (you can do this with or without fletching).

Now look at the tear in the paper. You want a perfect “bullet hole” tear where the nock and the point go through the paper in the same spot. If the nock is higher than the point, that's a nock-high tear. If the nock entered the paper below the point, it's nock-low. The tear could be nock-left or nock-right. Or a combination of left/right and high/low.

To correct, simply make small adjustments to the rest or nocking point (which is why you need to know how to tie a D-loop). Think of how the arrow passed through the paper, and adjust accordingly. If the nock was high, that means the point was low. Raise it by raising the height of the rest. If the nock was to the right, the point was to the left. Move the rest slightly to the right.


Again, there are abundant online resources available to help you correct tear issues. Many of them are easy to diagnose and fix, and you shouldn't be afraid to try.

Solve Semi-Major Tuning Issues

With today's bows, most paper-tuning issues are fairly mild. They almost always are caused by a nock point that's too high or low, or by a rest that isn't quite where it needs to be. But there will be issues that aren't as easy to solve with slight adjustments. Two bows I used in the past couple years come to mind. I simply could not tune out their right-tear issues with standard procedures.

Obviously, semi-major tuning issues like this should be discovered long before you're in the middle of nowhere on a hunt. This is pre-season/off-season work.


But regardless of when they occur, you should know how to handle them. For this, you will need one special tool: a bow press.

Left/right tears may not be solvable by just moving the rest left or right. This was the case with the two bows I mentioned. One required that I yoke-tune the bow.

This involved putting the bow in a press, and adding or removing a very small amount of twist from one side of the yoke string. On the other bow, I needed to install a shim system that moved the cams slightly to the right.

Neither task was particularly difficult—once I had researched the solution and understood what needed to be done. There's no shame in not knowing what you don't know, so do the research. Go to a trusted, reputable source and learn.

Major stuff such as cracked limbs, riser problems and cam issues are best left to experts. Those things can lead to catastrophic failure. Don't hesitate to ask for help when it's really needed.

Install and Adjust a Peep Sight

Here's a sad admission: I used to take my bow to a shop to have a peep sight installed. Yes, I feel shame.

Installing a peep is incredibly easy, unless you don't own a bow press. Then it's impossible.

If it sounds like I'm making a pitch for you to buy a bow press, well, I am. Some tasks just cannot be done without one. You don't have to own a deluxe model. There are a number of very good bench-mounted options available. You can also go the more affordable route of a portable press. These pocket-sized mechanical marvels are not a true replacement for a bench-mounted press, but they work just fine for small tasks like inserting a peep.

The process is simple. Put the bow in a press, and relieve tension from the string. Separate the strands of the string exactly in half, place the peep between the two groups of strands (make sure it's angled the correct way), and slowly put tension back on the string.

To properly align the peep, draw the bow with your eyes closed, fully anchor and relax, and then open your eyes. You should now be looking directly through the peep. If you're not, adjust the peep as needed and repeat the process. Once the peep is in the proper position, the final step is to wrap a couple lines of serving material (I actually use braided fishing line) on either side of the sight and tie a couple overhand knots to keep it in place.

That's it. You just installed a peep sight. Like the rest of these things, it's not a difficult procedure. You only have to take the time to learn.

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