Paper Tuning 101

By Scott Stover

In the following article we will look at a few ways to determine if your bow is in tune, or needs just a bit of tweaking. Paper tuning is the method of shooting a bow through paper to ensure that you are getting correct arrow flight, proper arrow spine and that the nock or string loop is correctly placed on the string.

To properly paper tune a bow, you will need basic materials that most pro shops should have set up for you. However, if you so choose to do it at home, you can stretch newspaper between two 2×4’s or whatever you have available to hold paper. In most pro shops, as I stated before, they should have a paper tuning area so that you can ensure your bow is correctly tuned.

You will need to paper tune a bow if you change rests, strings, arrows or something as simple as putting a new nock point or string loop on. At our pro shop, we go back to our indoor range with you to make sure that the bow is shooting accurately and if any small adjustments need to be made to correctly paper tune. There are many things that cause improper tears in paper, such as arrow spine, bow grip and possibly much larger problems but for the most part it is normally a simple adjustment that is required.

Let’s get started, stand approximately 3-5’ from the paper, draw your bow and anchor just like you would be shooting at a target. Settle in, and slowly squeeze the trigger. Your shot should look like this.


The shaft is a perfect circle, and each cut from the vanes is visual. This is commonly referred to as a “bullet” hole. This means that your bow is tuned completely left and right and your nock point is correctly set on the string.

However, many times when you change things on a modern compound, whether big or small, you may run into tuning issues that require some adjustments. You will see in the example below a few tears showing a nock high condition.


This can be fixed by either moving the nock point down or twisting your string loop down. With the style of string loop that I tie in, it is very easy to twist the loop up or down. To move the nock point down, I twist the loop in the direction of the serving, to move it up, I simply twist the upper part, and then the bottom will be easier to twist.

To ensure you are not getting a left and right tear, the pro shop should ensure that the bow is correctly aligned left and right. If it is not, you may experience tears like these.


In the pictures above, the far left hole shows an upper left tear (light spine, but can be adjusted out) rest can be moved out slightly. The middle hole shows an upper right tear, move the nock point up, and adjust rest if need be. The third hole shows the shot after adjustments. There are tears that can be made, from bow torque as well, that will mimic a right and left adjustment. To help the shooter stop torquing the bow, show the shooter the proper grip on the bow, and shoot again.

As I stated before, make sure that your left and right arrow alignment on the rest looks like these pictures below. String should split the arrow evenly and the arrow should be square on the bow as shown in the second picture.



In this second picture you can see that the arrow and riser make a complete 90 degree angle, showing the arrow is square on the rest.

With this knowledge and the help of your pro shop technicians, paper tuning will be a breeze!

Happy Shooting!!!




2 Responses to “Paper Tuning 101”

  1. Rick on July 7th, 2009 10:49 am

    Very good post. It is a good way to see if your arrow and broadheads are shooting properly.

  2. Terry on July 7th, 2009 11:54 am

    good info and I am still learning. i have had my bow for 3 years now and have yet to hunt with it. This may be the year. I am wondering what I might need to do as far as new string etc. It still shoots well. Do you think I need to get it checked over by a pro?

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