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Archery Paper Tuning | 10-Step Guide To Paper Tune A Bow

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Tim Rhodes

One of the most interesting questions a beginner may have is ‘how to paper tune a bow?’

If you attempt to learn perfect arrow flight in just one sitting, you will end up completely lost.

Paper tuning can be complicated and can take time to understand and get to grips with.

But don’t worry, anyone can do it with the right knowledge and setup.

Before you know how to paper tune a bow properly, learn what is meant by paper tuning.

Table of Contents

10-Step Guide To Paper Tune A Bow

Paper tuning involves an archer shooting an arrow through a suspended paper at a distance of 6 to 8 feet to study the rip it creates.

The things you need to paper tune your bow are a bow, arrows, a frame that can hold a piece of paper that you can shoot through, and a target place behind it.

With that out of the way, let’s get started on our 10-Step Guide To Paper Tune A Bow.

Step 1: Construct Your Frame

First, you have to make a stand where you could stick the paper for tearing to begin the process of paper-tuning.

For that, you need a few things to build a frame to hold the paper you’ll be shooting through.

Buy inexpensive furring strips from any store, or you can also use any scrap lumber that can be nailed to create a square frame.

Use two eight-foot furring strips and a Sawzall to cut to length,
A handheld drill and 1-inch drywall screws to create this simple frame.

You can also sharpen the legs to make it easier to pound the frame into the ground in front of your target.


Combine furring strips with drywall screws in a way to make a perfect square or rectangular frame

There is another cheap method to make your stand for paper tuning.

You can make it with the help of PVC pipes.

 Step 2: Set Up The Paper In Frame

After creating a frame, fix a piece of paper so you can shoot through it.

A proper setup will ensure that the arrow is flying straight, and it improves the chances of hitting your target.

The paper should be tightly fixed to a frame, or it is designed in a manner so that it should not be loose-fitting.

Having a paper-tuned arrangement isn’t a magical response to make you a great archer, but it will most certainly be a good step in the right direction.


The following are some of the items that you’d need.

Use a heavy butcher or wax paper.

With a staple gun, attach one end of the paper to the top of the frame evenly.

Then pull it tightly across the frame face.

After that, secure it at the bottom with more staples.

One quick tip – You can also use four large binder clips to fix the paper at the top and bottom.

Step 3: Take The Right Bow And Arrow

Set up your bow with the best possible skills that you know.

To have a perfect result take the right arrow.

While selecting an arrow, remember one thing!

All manufacturers have calculators on their website, which helps you determine the correct spine of an arrow.

If you are buying from a store, you must know that it is printed on the back of the arrow box and shows the spine or the shaft’s stiffness.

Pre-fletched arrows from the factory work perfectly fine for paper tuning.

Most people buy the raw shaft because they can fletch their arrows, and it runs a slight to aggressive helical.

If you have inconsistent flyers, place numbers or marks on each arrow to easily identify them.

Here are some additional instructions – do read them carefully.

First, your frame needs to be position high enough so that you can shoot straight through it.

If you see that your stand is not high enough, you may need to adjust it; obviously, you don’t want to shoot an arrow at a steep angle up or down.

Second, you need to place a backstop target 4 – 6 feet beyond the paper so it may not harm anyone.

Thank me later!

Step 4: Position Yourself

Now it’s time to position yourself with a bow and arrow in front of the stand.

Your feet should be shoulder-width.

Interesting fact: There are two types of shooters-

Left-eye dominant 

Left-eye dominant shooters stand with their right shoulders forward.

Right-eye dominant

Right-eye dominant shooters stand with their left shoulders forward.

While shooting, use three middle fingers to pull back an arrow until your hand rests against your cheek.

When paper tuning your bow, keep some distance (5 – 7 yards) between you and the stand. 

You can minimize the distance gradually once you are sure that your tuning has completely done.

It’s normal for beginners to feel tense the first few times, but I would suggest that they try and focus on the target more.

Step 5: Grip

When I hear the word “grip,” it makes me think of grasping something very tightly.

While it looks pretty simple, take a bow and shoot an arrow.

This is not at all how you look at word grip when it comes to archery.

You might see a lot of people, during shooting, grip their bows quite tightly.

You need to get that out of your head!

You must have a relaxed grip on your bow.

Not squeezing it, but just holding.

By doing this, I can assure once you shoot, you won’t throw the arrow off course.

Avoid the “death grip” because it increases the chance of incorrectly angling the bow against the shot.

Warning! You will have erratic bow flight if you are gripping your bow too tightly.

Before shooting, make sure your hand position on the bow grip is perfectly correct.

 From the center of the inside of your wrist and up towards the area of your hand in between your pointer finger and thumb – these positions allow your bow to rest in your hand naturally.

As long as you hold the bow from here, I suggest resting your middle finger and pointer along the front of the grip.

Step 6: Aim

This is it — this next step is a big one.

A good archer is known not by his arrows but by his aim.

 There are two basic techniques to aim.

 1. Aiming with a bow sight

It’s a pretty natural way to do it.

You need to find your target.

Now use your dominant eye to focus on the target.

Then direct the bow so that you can look through the bow sight.

Your pin should meet the target in the line of your sight.

That’s it! You’ve done a great job.

Remember one thing!

Your sighting won’t be correct all the time; you’ll need to readjust so that your sight will align with the target.

2. Aiming with instinctive shooting

Instinctive shooting means without a sight.

One thing you must know that instinctive archers use experience and their subconsciousness to hit the arrows at their targets.

Instinctive shooting is a mystical art, but others use scientific approaches to achieve the target.

In simple words, professional archers draw, look towards the target, and release an arrow once he/she feels comfortable with it.

Sometimes, this technique can be very complicated even to the professionals because it requires a lot of effort, practice, and time.

Step 7: Release Your Arrow 

It’s time to let it go! 

Simply you have to release the tension from bowstring fingers.

And let your arrow fly. 

To get a smooth, clean release you just need to relax all three fingers at once. 

So that string jump forward by itself

You need nothing but to let go!

At full draw, energy is stored in the limb that will move the string forward with greater force.

Three natural things will happen after releasing an arrow:

  1. Firstly your hand will fall back a bit
  2. Secondly, your chest will expand slightly and open up a little
  3. Moreover, your back muscle will contract moderately and your shoulders will come together a bit

There are two forms of release:

Dynamic release

The dynamic release is a process that lets your hand brush past your face.

Static release

In this process, your hand doesn’t fall gracefully backward.

Step 8: Evaluate The Tears

This is my favorite step! 

Now review your shot sequence, and figure out what you got right and what got wrong. 

Perhaps it is the most important task in all of the steps I’ve talked about. 

You might face several scenarios like tail high, tail low, tail left or tail right, you can also experience multiple tears

All you have to do is to take a good shot through the suspended paper.

The main point of this exercise is to produce a clean bullet hole with three clean cuts showing where the arrows have passed through the paper.

It is an indication of perfect tuning.

If you see that, just shout Bullet hole! because you did a great job.

You don’t have to change anything, your setup is perfect!

Possible Correction

Nock High 
  • Move your nocking point down
  • Move your rest up.
  • Reduce launcher stiffness
  • Shorten your arrow length
Nock Low 
  •  Here you need to move your nocking point up
  •  Move your rest down.
Nock Right 
  • Move rest away from the riser (right-handed bow), 
  • Move toward the riser for a lefty. 
  • This tear indicates that the spine of your arrow is too stiff. 
  • Increase the load on your cable guard, which will weaken its spine.
 Nock Left 
  • Move rest toward riser for (right-handed)
  • shooter away for a lefty. 
  • This tear indicates that the spine of the arrow is too weak. 
  • Decrease load on your cable guard
  • Reduce draw weight

Step 9: Adjust Your Bow If Necessary

In this step, you will adjust your bow, if necessary. 

Your bow adjustments can take place by improving the rest to the left or right. 

While doing the adjustments, make sure that you are chasing the point. 

You will have to rotate your rest to the left if the fletching is making a hole to the right and impacting on the left

To adjust your bow you can also add or remove twists in it.

For reducing or expanding the tension on the cables, you may need to adjust the cable guard or the roller guard rod.

To sort out the left or right tear, you will have to address the spine of the arrow by heightening draw weight.

Now you’re ready for a perfect shot!

At this point, you will gain a lot of confidence that your equipment is shooting the very best it can. 

And your confidence is worth its weight in gold.

Step 10: Mistakes You Should Avoid

The most important step of the whole process. 

There are several mistakes you can make as a beginner.

Tight Grip

Don’t use a tight grip because a lot of people grip their bows quite tightly while shooting. 

A slightly open and relaxed grip is best.

It will prevent bow torque and other problems.

Using the wrong equipment

Make sure you are using the right equipment for paper tuning a bow.

For instance: if you’re using thick paper, it may hide the errors and show you a lesser tear. 

But if you’re using thinner papers, it might reveal a worse tear.

 Paper too close to Target

If your paper is too close to the target then the arrow will go through the paper, and before the fletchings enter, it will touch the target. 

So, that will give you wrong and weird tears. Just don’t do that.

 Bow torque

You must keep your bow vertical and torque-free to have a perfect shot.

Being scared of the string

Many individuals have a fear of being hit by the strings and they do whatever they can to avoid it.

They think that the string is an elastic band and will come back to hit them.

This is a dangerous habit as this often causes the shooter to torque their body and this makes it more likely to get hit by the string.

This inherent fear of the string causes a lot of problems when they are trying to shoot an arrow

Final Thoughts

Paper tuning a bow is necessary because it’s an effective way to get your bow set up properly.

It’s not only the method to adjust the perfect flight of an arrow, but it’s a good way to achieve your accuracy goal.

The following tips and tricks that I gave you will help a lot in your paper tuning.

This completes our 10-step guide to paper tune a bow

Have a good day!

If you have any other questions please let me know in the comment section.

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