Walking into hunting season with a well tuned and sighted bow not only increases your accuracy and confidence, it increases your odds of harvesting an animal. Tuning requires far more than simply practicing on a regular basis. You must check and service every component on the bow to make sure everything is functional and ready for the season.
A bow press is a handy tool for string replacements and major tuning requirements. Outside of a press, you can handle most tasks with a small toolkit. I manage to lose several pieces of my kit each year and finally made the smart decision to purchase a Leatherman Cam tool this season. The tool has everything you need outside of a press on a single platform and is easy to transport in the field. It has a nice belt pouch, but I just clip the carabiner to the inside of a small inner pocket on my pack. Knowing the tool is secure and easy to access gives me some peace of mind on backcountry hunts.
The Leatherman Cam Tool Includes:
- ¼" Hex Bit Driver with 7/32", 3/16", 5/32", 9/64", 3/32", 5/64", ⅛", 7/64" bits
- Broadhead Sharpener
- Broadhead Wrench
- Gut Hook
- Belt Pouch
Inspecting and Tuning the String/Cables
The average string lasts for 2-4 years but should be inspected each year. Some strings stretch and will alter your nock point and consistency as they lengthen. I like to replace my string and cables every other year to be on the safe side. Look for wear points and fraying as an indication that you need a new string. Wax your string every week or two as well.
If your string and cables are in good shape but you think there is any stretch, put the bow in a press and twist the string tighten it back down. Adding a few twists compensates for stretch and keeps adequate pressure on the peep sight and cams. This is an experienced maneuver best done or taught by a bow shop pro.
Checking Draw Length and Peep Sight Settings
String stretch and general usage can shift the peep and alter your draw length. When working on the string and cables, make sure your draw is adequate and the peep sight is located in a comfortable position. You should hit right on your nock point at full draw while having a clear view through the peep.
Adjusting the actual draw length on the cams varies by manufacturer. Some use a cam with a set length and you need to purchase a different cam. Others are adjustable and the hex driver on your Leatherman is used to loosen nuts to adjust the draw up or down as needed.
Do an Accessory Check
Your accessories get banged around in the woods. Take your hex driver and tighten down the sight and quiver screws. Make sure everything is tight and buttoned down before you move on to shooting. Just past finger tight is fine for accessories. Avoid pushing too hard and stripping the small hex screws.
Arrows and Broadheads
Do a fletching check on all your arrows. I like to separate mine between practice and hunting arrows. I use the same arrow types, lengths, and components for both but keep the hunting ones in perfect shape for the field. Set your fletching with adhesives and sharpen broadheads with the sharpener on your Leatherman. I sharpen my hunting broadheads and do not touch them until they enter the field. I keep a few in the same style exclusively for practice to ensure I’m shooting the same weight and style at home as in the field. Sharpening these is not necessary.
Get Sighted and Practice
Your bow is tuned and everything looks good. Keep your tool handy while practicing and sighting the bow. You will need hex drivers to make pin adjustments. Shoot 3-5 arrow groupings at 10 yards to set your top pin. Gradually work back in 10-15 yards increments and adjust each pin until the groupings are nice and tight. Practice several times each week through the summer with field points. Use the practice broadheads to really fine tune as the hunting season approaches.