How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

How to paper tune a compound bow is mainly to analyze the arrows flight. In other words, it’s to make sure that all your accessories are aligning for your arrow to keep its straightness.

However, it is understood that the arrow has its own natural flex when you shot. It is really important to understand this element because some results will alter if you paper tune your bow at the wrong distances. To have a better idea of what is a natural flex, here is a video in slow motion showing what it is.


Basically, no matter which adjustment you will do, the arrow will have a nock tail rip or a snapshot due to its natural flex. For that reason, other techniques like bare shaft and walk back tuning would be complementing options for group testing arrows and most likely to give you more relevant result about your shots.


What are the elements to check first to paper tune my bow?

Those factors are important because any problems here will have an impact on all paper tuning results.

  • Are you shooting with a torque-free grip?
    • If you are torquing the bow at the shot, due to improper hand position, none of the bow settings will matter.
  • Are you shooting with the right draw length?
    • Causing you bad shooting form.
  • Are you shooting an arrow with a proper spine?
    • A wrong arrow spine can by itself mislead any of your adjustments because it is not properly made for your setup.
    • Your draw weigh influence greatly your arrow spine selection and then its natural flex.
  • Are you shooting with a proper archery form?
    • When paper tuning, proper shooting form and a consistent release are critical to developing relevant results to understand if you have a bow issue or a shooting issue.
  • Has your arrow rest been set up properly?
    • Is it interfering with the fletching of your arrows?
    • Is it centered with your bowstring?
  • If shooting a solo cam, have you yoke tuned and checked the timing?
    • Yoke Tuning simply means the adjusting of the control cable, where it splits and forms a “Y”. Those control cables have an impact on the movement of the bowstring during the shot.
  • If shooting a two cam bow, have you checked the timing?
    • Timing your bow is recommended. These cams will have timing marks that allow you to see how they’re rotating.

After checking that list you can start to build your paper tuning setup. 


What do you need to paper tune a bow?

So what you will need to paper tune your bow is obviously your bow and some arrows, a frame that can hold paper for you to shoot through, a target behind and a shooting range or any place that allows you to shoot.

It is possible to DIY your own paper tuning system with newspapers as long as the paper is held rigidly by all four corners and high enough to shoot straight through it. The average height would be at chest height. There is also a do-it-yourself paper tuning kit made by .30-06 outdoors that provides a frame and paper to shoot through.

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

30-06 Paper Tune-It System PT-1 | Tuning Tool

Place your target backstop 5 feet beyond your paper tuning system at the same height, so the arrow can pass all the way through the paper before it hits the target. You have now a setup to paper tune your compound bow or any bow.

Next step, before doing any adjustments, take three shots through the paper to have your first impression of your arrow flight and your bow alignment at 3 different distances.  If all shots show the same paper tears, then you know they are likely the result of issues with your bow, rather than your form.

After any adjustments, study the result and repeat the process of shooting a minimum of three arrows until you reach the wanted result.


What are the suggested distances and what am I looking for?

First distance would be 5-6 feet to determine the alignment of your accessories;

  • Are the Timing and tiller are in the right place?
  • Are your arrow rest, bowstring and nocking point are all perfectly aligned?

Second distance would be 10-11 feet for the arrow itself (proper spine or not according to your bow setup);

  • Is the arrow spine too weak or too stiff?
  • Is my center weight balanced?

Third distance would be about 15-20 feet for the decay of velocity and its impact on grouping;

  • Is my fletching balanced for the distance?
  • Is the decay of velocity of the arrow having an impact on nock tears?

Also called walk back tuning, those elements will help you to identify the possible issues of your bow or your form.


Archery shooting tips!!

We also recommend shooting your arrows at different distances at a vertical line on a target because a bow in good horizontal tune should produce groups that align in the vertical as shown below.

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

Arrows should line up at all distances on the vertical line. If not, refer to the results obtained with your paper tuning system and make the proper adjustments.


Compound bow paper tuning chart and its possible remedies!

When a bow is properly paper tuned, the arrows should be flying true as shown below.

How to Paper Tune a Compound BowBullet hole, Nothing to change!

Let's see the possible problems that may be occurred when paper tuning. Remember to make vertical adjustments prior to horizontal adjustments to avoid getting a false reading due to vane clearance issues.

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

  • Move your nocking point down or,
  • Move your rest up or, 
  • Decrease launcher stiffness or,
  • Shorten arrow length if possible.

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

  • Move your nocking point up or,
  • Move your rest down or,
  • Stiffen launcher stiffness.

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

  • Move rest away from the riser on a right-handed bow, toward the riser for a lefty or,
  • Arrow spine could be too stiff or,
  • Increase the point weight or, 
  • Move rest/center shot away from riser (right-handed bow) or,
  • Move cable guard away from the arrow (increase load on cable guard) or,
  • Adjust wheel lean

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

  • Move rest toward riser for a right-handed shooter, away for a lefty or,
  •  Arrow spine could be too weak or,
  • Reduce your point weight or, 
  • Move rest/center shot towards riser (right-handed bow) or,
  • Move cable guard towards arrow (decrease load on cable guard) or,
  • Adjust wheel lean or,
  • Decrease draw weight

How to Paper Tune a Compound Bow

  • If encountering multiple issues, make vertical corrections first and then make the horizontal ones.


When you have perfect flight, you will have improved accuracy and arrow penetration for any circumstances.

Thank you for reading us! Do not hesitate to ask us if you have any questions or leave a comment below.

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