Follow these tips from Mathews Archery to prepare your bow and yourself for a successful bowhunting season.
Now’s the time to give your compound bow a checkup. Whether you need to replace strings or want to add new accessories, doing it now gives you more time to practice with those adjustments.
If you’re on the hunt for a new bow setup, Mathews can help you customize its bows and take some of the guesswork out of the process.
Below, we run through advice from Mathews Archery to have you ready this fall. Even experienced hunters may benefit from a refresher and unlock more consistent shooting.
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Summer is the time for any major bow adjustments, customizations, and re-tuning. This gives you time to get used to shooting the retooled bow and other minor tweaks before you hunt with it.
Here’s a quick guide on bow care you should complete before you start practicing with it again (much less hunt with it). If you’re new to bowhunting and not entirely confident in your setup skills, you can always bring your bow to a local shop. But give these a shot first.
- Overall bow integrity
- Wax your strings
- Center shot
- Straight arrows
- Sight your compound bow
First, give your entire bow a once-over, checking the cams and limbs for any dings or cracks. Likewise, look for loose parts such as the grip. On the riser, try to wiggle the arrow rest, quiver attachment, or other parts to ensure they’re tightly secured.
The same goes with arrows and their fletches and notches. Spinning an arrow shaft on a flat surface can help you hear inconsistencies and detect small bends you don’t notice just by looking.
Bowstrings are prone to wear and need to be routinely evaluated. Two years of hunting is a common lifespan for replacement. If you notice any damage, replace them. Otherwise, wax the strings.
Mathews recommends waxing your strings (and cables) monthly or more depending on their condition.
Back to the Range
If you’re shooting your trusty bow from last season, once you inspect it and it looks safe, head for the range and sling some arrows. If it’s still shooting true, sweet. It’s time for lots of reps to get those muscles back in shape. Focus on form and be mindful of soreness. Any injury now could derail your season.
If your bow is shooting consistently but isn’t tagging bullseyes, you may want to spend a few sessions verifying that the sights aren’t off target. It’s possible that a change in your grip, anchor point, or form since last season could contribute to a slight variation in your arrow grouping.
Give it a few practice sessions before adjusting sights. Once you have consistent groups, you may want to adjust your sights so your groups are on the bullseye.
If your bow seems way off or your groups are inconsistent, you may have some work to do. Unless you’re really good with a bow (in which case you probably know all this already), we highly recommend you take your bow to a qualified archery shop to have an expert check the timing, cable stops, and center shot.
But for those willing to invest the time to learn to fine-tune a bow, this is what it entails.
Set Your Sights
Once the string is tuned, it’s time to check the center shot. A nocked arrow in the rest should sit parallel to both the face and shelf of the riser. Mathews bows like the V3X are designed to have a 13/16 center shot, plus or minus 1/16.
Using a draw board, or with someone else drawing the bow, check that the cable stops and cams are synced. If the stops are out of sync, you need to adjust the timing and can “slow” the cable stopping first by twisting it a couple of times and resetting it.
Next, check your peep. Set a consistent reference point and enlist a friend to help you set the sight in your eye line while you have your retooled bow drawn.
Lastly, confirm or adjust your pin sights if you’ve made changes to your bow. Shoot at a target placed at the distance you want your top pin. Let’s say 20 yards.
Shoot three arrows and adjust your sight toward the center of that grouping. (If your three arrows aren’t grouped, that’s on you.)
Practice for Hunting Season
Once your bow is dialed, it’s time to hone your practice for the real world.
- Practice shots from an elevated position
- Shoot at odd yardages (pin gapping)
- Sight in with the broadheads you’ll be using
- Practice shooting with an accelerated heart rate
The main idea here is to get your skills back in hunting form before the season begins. To do this, you can eliminate variables in your shooting form and equipment.
If you stayed in practice by shooting on flat ground this summer, it’s time to start shooting from an elevated angle. This will give you time to adjust to the different angles you’ll experience from a deer stand. If you hunt elk or other game from the ground, you may also need to practice uphill shots to round out your possible angles.
Next up is pin gapping. Even with a multi-pin sight set at different yards, this is a skill that always takes practice. But regardless of your setup, be sure to practice at ranges outside the established 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, and 60-plus-yard intervals. Your target may be at 46 yards. Practice for it.
While you’re at it, tune with the broadheads you’ll be hunting with.
After a few practice days and feeling comfortable, Mathews has another suggestion for you: Shoot with your heart pounding. This can simulate the real-world adrenaline you’ll experience in the fall.
Stash your bow and take a few sprints or jumping jacks until your heart pounds. Talking should take some effort. Then, try smoothly taking a shot before your heart rate returns to normal.
Lastly, if you bought a new hunting apparel, wear it during these exercises to ensure it won’t bother you come fall.
Following these steps will have your bow and your shooting skills ready for action this fall. Keeping up with this maintenance throughout the season can help preserve the lifespan of the bow and prevent failures that can lead to injuries.
When you’re done with these prep tips, revisit Brett Seng’s advice for a better bowhunting season.
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This article is sponsored by Mathews Archery. Its website has more info about the V3X bow and bow customization.