To begin with, let’s address what bareshaft tuning is. This is a tuning method that takes the corrective forces of an arrow vane out of the equation. When you do not have the vanes on the back of an arrow to correct flight, the arrow shaft will show imperfections in flight much easier. This allows us to adjust the bow to find the arrow rest positioning, and the positioning of the cams, needed to put the string’s path of travel down the center of the arrow shaft. When we achieve this, the arrow will leave the bow in a straight line and the arrow vanes will not have to work as hard to keep the arrows grouping in consistent patterns.
Now that we have established what bareshaft tuning is, let’s discuss a myth and explain what bareshaft tuning is not. Bareshaft tuning is not a method to be used to develop an archer’s draw length. It has been noted that point of impacts change with a bareshaft based on the archer’s draw length. This is in fact a true statment. However, this is because as you change your draw length, it will change the pressure points you have in your bow hand that touch the grip/riser of the bow. It is essentially rotating the hand around the grip of the bow because of different body positionings. So if you were to take a bow that isn’t tuned correctly and then use a bareshaft to adust yourself, all you’ll do is conform yourself to an improperly tuned bow. This isn’t what you want to do, because you will never reach your own true potential, or the potential of the bow either. Instead, you need to correctly develop your form and then use the bow and d loop to conform the bow to you. Now that we’ve discussed the what is and what isn’t, I’ll go over my process on how I like to use a bareshaft to get my bow shooting its best.
I’ve come to know my Hoyt’s pretty well with what baselines need to be set at to start tuning. I will start by setting the arrow rest in the center of the riser. I will line the arrow up with the middle of the limb bolts and stabilizer as a reference point. This is with a Podium X Elite 37, where the stabilizer is in the center of the riser. Next I will set the top cam lean so that when I lay an arrow across the flat side of the cam, it intersects at the d loop. This is usually a pretty good starting point and I usually only need one or two twists from here. Next I will take a bareshaft and shoot through paper. If I have a horizontal tear, I will use the yokes to straighten up the left and rights. For example, if I have a left tear, I will put one twist into the left yoke and take one out of the right yoke. This keeps my buss cable roughly the same length. If that over corrects, I’ll use a half twist instead. After getting down to half twist adjustments, if there is still a small tear, I will use my arrow rest to clean things up the rest of the way. Now I will use the arrow rest only to determine up and down location to clean up high or low tears and create a bullet hole in the paper.
At this point is where my process changes from others, usually. After getting a bullet hole in paper with my bareshaft, I will then go outside and perform a walk back tune with fletched arrows. I’ll normally sight in at 20 yards and use that pin setting as I start walking back to longer yardages, until I have run out of target for the arrow to hit. I will look for left and right patters on the target that look like / or \ from top to bottom and adjust my arrow rest accordingly. For example, if the arrows start to land to the left of my 20 yard shot, then I will move the rest to the right a small amount. I will continue this process until all of the arrows land in a straight line, one underneath the other. After this, I will re-sight my bow in and go to 30 yards for my final step with bareshaft tuning.
Now that my left and right is set after my walk back tune, all that remains is getting a good estimate of final positioning for the up and down setting on my arrow rest. To find this, I will go to 30 yards and shoot a 3 arrow group at the target. After this, I will leave the arrows in the target and shoot a bareshaft to see where it lands vertically, compared to the fletched arrows. I want my bare shaft to be just under the arrow group. I find my best results are usually when the bareshaft is touching or just barely underneath the grouping. This gives me good clearance and use of my blade rest to keep my shots most consistent.
My bareshaft tuning is now complete and I’ll move on to group tuning to find my exact placement of the arrow rest. Keep in mine that throughout the tuning process you should already have perfect draw length, loop length, form, and grip. Any variance in these areas will affect bareshaft tuning and the process will have to start over again. Also, you need to have a solid platform in place for repeatability or you will just end up chasing your tail with a bareshaft. They’re very finicky and when using them you have to really assess your ability first. Sometimes other methods of tuning are more affective for an archer to keep the frustration levels down and get them the best shooting bow they can achieve.