A hunter with a compound bow

Tips for Paper Tuning Your Bow

The Art of Paper Tuning

In the realm of archery, precision is paramount. And achieving that requires not just skill but also a bow that's in harmony with the arrow it launches. One technique that’s garnered much attention among archery aficionados is paper tuning. But what is paper tuning a bow? And is paper tuning a bow necessary?

What Is Paper Tuning a Bow?

Simply put, paper tuning is a diagnostic method that involves shooting an arrow through a sheet of paper to study the tear pattern. This pattern can provide insights into how well your bow is tuned and whether the arrow's flight will be true and straight. The primary aim is to achieve the much-coveted "bullet hole," a near-perfect round tear that indicates your bow and arrow are working in perfect harmony.

Why Bows Need to be Tuned and How Often

Tuning a bow ensures optimal performance. A well-tuned bow will shoot arrows consistently, leading to better accuracy and tighter groupings. Factors like changes in equipment (like a different arrow rest or point weight) and natural wear and tear can cause inconsistencies in your bow's performance.

Thus, tuning your bow should be a regular practice, especially if you've made recent adjustments or if you sense irregularities in your arrow's flight. Visiting a pro shop annually is recommended, but knowing how to paper tune a bow at home can save time and money.

An archer at an indoor range

Step-by-Step: Paper Tuning a Compound Bow at Home

Set Up:

  • Secure sheets of paper on a frame, ensuring it’s taut. The best paper for paper tuning a bow is a regular printer paper or butcher paper.
  • Position yourself about 6-8 feet in front of the paper.
  • Ensure you have a safe backdrop behind the paper.


  • Start with a bare shaft tuning (an arrow without fletching) to get a clear indication of its flight.
  • Draw the bow, aim and release the arrow through the paper.

Analyze the Tear:

  • A perfect tear (bullet hole) indicates a well-tuned bow.
  • Horizontal tears suggest an issue with the bow’s nocking point, while vertical tears can be tied to arrow rest adjustment.
  • Left tears in the paper may indicate arrows spined too weak for right-handed archers (and vice versa for left-handed archers).

Make Adjustments:

  • Based on the tear, make micro-adjustments to your compound bow's arrow rest, nock, or even consider arrows with different spines.


  • After adjustments, shoot another fletched arrow through the paper and analyze. Continue this process until you get a perfect or near-perfect tear.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If you're getting inconsistent results, it might not be the bow. Your shooting form plays a critical role in arrow flight. Ensure you maintain a consistent stance and draw.
  • If the tears are predominantly left or right, and adjusting the rest doesn't help, consider checking if your arrows are correctly spined.
  • Sometimes, the issue may not be with the bow or the arrow, but with the nock. Ensure your nock fits snugly but can rotate freely on the string.

Perfect Arrow Flight with a Tuned Bow

Understanding the intricacies of how to paper tune a bow can seem daunting, but with practice, patience, and a keen eye for detail, you can optimize your shooting performance. And while paper tuning is one of the most effective tuning methods, remember it’s just one of the tools in your archery toolbox. Every archer's ultimate aim should be achieving a tuned bow that offers a perfect arrow flight, whether they’re shooting in their backyard or a competitive arena.

To dive even deeper, consider training on an Accubow.