Simple test to determine which way your arrows spin

Which way do my arrows naturally spin when they come off my compound bow?

That’s a common question archers ask before sitting down to fletch a fresh batch of arrows. If you plan to incorporate a right or left offset and/or helical into your fletchings to promote arrow spin, you might want the arrow to keep spinning in the direction it naturally spins anyway.

At left is an arrow fletched with left offset vanes. At right is an arrow fletched with right offset vanes.

This is called indexing your arrows. And there’s a super simple test you can do to figure out which way your arrows want to spin as they leave your bow.

The reason an arrow spins one way or the other has nothing to do with whether you shoot right or left handed. It is commonly considered to be related to the direction the bowstring is twisted, although there have been discrepancies observed with that theory.

But don’t worry about string twist. Here’s the simplest way to determine which way your arrows naturally spin when shot from your bow without any influence from fletchings.

Take an unfletched arrow and nock it on the bowstring. Draw a short line down the center of the top of the shaft, just behind the nock.

Stand about 10 feet from a target and shoot the arrow. When you inspect the arrow, you will see the line is now to the left or right of its centered position when it was on the bow. If it’s to the left, then your arrows spin counterclockwise. If it’s to the right, then your arrows spin clockwise.

Notice how this arrow is tilted left of its vertical position, indicating a counterclockwise spin.

Archers often ask at this point, “How do I know the arrow didn’t spin all the way in the other direction and stop there?” The simple answer is that it doesn’t have enough time to spin that far in such a short distance. But you can check to verify this further.

Take two more unfletched arrows and mark them just as you did the first. Now take three steps back from where you shot the first arrow and shoot a second. Take three more steps back from that spot and shoot your third arrow.

Shot from a greater distance, this arrow clearly spun a bit more counterclockwise than the first, confirming the rotation direction.

When you walk up to inspect all three arrows, you will see the graduated rotation. As you increased the shooting distance, you gave the arrows more room to spin.

So let’s say your first arrow spun a bit to the left. Your second should be a little more to the left and the third arrow even more to the left. If the arrows truly were spinning clockwise, then the graduated rotations would be the opposite.

Once you determine your arrows want to spin counterclockwise, then you know to fletch using a left offset and/or helical configuration, which will enhance that counterclockwise spin. If they spin clockwise, use right offset/helical.

An exception would be if these are hunting arrows, and you are shooting fixed-blade broadheads which have the blades set at an offset – which is almost always a right offset. Fletch to match the blade offset regardless of the results of your bareshaft test so your broadhead and your fletchings can work together to promote arrow spin.

What is F.O.C.? And how does it affect my arrows?

F.O.C. is a hot topic in arrow-building discussions today.

What is F.O.C.?

It’s the acronym for “front of center.” What it refers to is the percentage of an arrow’s total weight – including the point – that is concentrated forward of the center of the arrow.

F.O.C. is something that mainly bowhunters are concerned with, and there’s no question that having a solid F.O.C. number is key to getting good arrow penetration on a big game animal.

But some bowhunters think F.O.C. is the only factor they should be concerned with in preparing hunting arrows, and they don’t understand the consequences of simply beefing up the front end of their arrows.

Let’s start with a minimum. Easton Archery recommends arrows have a minimum F.O.C. of 10-15 percent. That’s going to allow an arrow to fly accurately, especially at longer distances. If you go less than 10 percent, the arrow’s trajectory will be flatter, but its flight will be more erratic.

That 10-15 percent is what Easton recommends for target arrows and for hunting arrows. The amount of weight needed up front to hit that range will be sufficient for hunting, according to Easton.

A lot of bowhunters today try to get their F.O.C. to 20 percent and even a little higher. They can do that by adding weight to their inserts. A standard aluminum insert might weigh about 16 grains, where there are brass inserts that can weigh 100 grains. Also, some insert manufacturers allow weights to be screwed into the backs of their inserts, which is another way to add weight to the inserts.

Gold Tip 100-grain brass insert

Bowhunters also can add weight by shooting heavier broadheads. A standard broadhead weighs 100 grains. But there are common options for 125 and 150 grains. And there are special broadheads aimed primarily at the heavy F.O.C. fans that weigh 200 grains.

Strickland’s Archery 200-grain broadhead

So if a bowhunter swaps out that 16-grain aluminum insert for a 100-grain brass insert, and trades a 100-grain broadhead for a 150-grain model, that hunter just increased the front-end weight of that arrow by 134 grains. That’s sure to boost the arrow’s F.O.C. considerably.

No question that arrow now will have improved penetration capabilities. But it also could cause problems for the bowhunter.

For starters, with all that weight added to the front of the arrow, the arrow’s spine is considerably weakened, and accuracy problems are likely. According to Easton’s hunting arrow shaft selection chart, an archer shooting a 29-inch arrow from a 62-pound bow should choose an arrow with a 340 spine while using a 100-grain broadhead. If the archer only increases point weight by 50 grains, that archer should be shooting a 300-spine arrow. The more weight you add to the front of an arrow, the stiffer that arrow needs to be to support that extra weight.

A second issue could be trajectory. When you add weight to an arrow, you slow it down, which adds more curve to its trajectory arc. For the Eastern tree stand hunter who expects most shots to be under 20 yards, that’s probably not an issue. But it could be for the Western hunter who is spotting and stalking and might have to shoot out to 60 yards. With that much weight added, a 2-yard miscalculation in shooting distance could easily result in a miss.

No question there are benefits to boosting an arrow’s F.O.C. to increase its capability of punching through an animal. Some animal hides are notoriously tough, and if the arrow hits a bone, it would be nice if the arrow could punch through that bone.

But as with many things in archery, balance is important. Kinetic energy is the amount of energy a body has in motion. It’s calculated by a formula that relies on the weight and speed of a moving object.

To calculate KE in foot pounds you would take the arrow weight and multiple it by the velocity squared, and divide that number by 450,800. For hunting game animals like antelope and deer, Easton recommends an arrow have KE values of 25-41 foot pounds. For elk, black bear and boar, Easton recommends 42-65 foot pounds.

To illustrate what an arrow build would be to meet those minimums, let’s look at the popular Easton Axis 5mm. A 29-inch, 340-spine arrow weighing 9.5 grains per inch, with a standard insert and fletchings would weigh about 315 grains. Add a 100-grain point and you get a 415-grain arrow. Shoot that arrow from a 70-pound bow drawn to 29 inches, and a speed of about 290 feet-per-second is likely.

The KE value for that arrow is 77 foot pounds. That’s well above Easton’s recommendation for any of those animals. So it’s safe to say that arrow is sufficient for bowhunting all of them.

The F.O.C. for that arrow is 12 percent, which is also within Easton’s recommended range. If I add a bunch of weight to the front of that arrow to try to get to 20 percent F.O.C., I am increasing the penetration capability of an arrow that already is capable to killing a deer, elk or black bear.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But remember to consider arrow spine and performance, along with your hunting expectations as you are building arrows with an eye toward boosting F.O.C.

A simple, inexpensive way to test arrow performance with different F.O.C. values is to get screw-in field points of varying weights. Saunders makes field points as heavy as 250 grains. Shoot several arrows with points of different weights at whatever you consider to be your maximum effective range. By doing this, you should be able to determine what gives you the tightest, most consistent groups.

Saunders 250-grain field point

Don’t just look for the tightest groups. You also want to consider forgiveness. That is, which arrows hit closest to your aiming point when you make a bad shot. If you have an arrow setup that produces 2-inch groups at 50 yards, but a slight bobble on your part throws the arrow off 8 inches, versus an arrow setup that produces 4-inch groups, with imperfect shots only missing by 3 inches, you should consider going with the latter setup.

Know Your Archery Glues

Stick it, for the win!

Archery is a game that requires lots of glue.

We glue points, inserts and nock bushings inside arrow shafts. We glue vanes, feathers and certain nocks onto arrow shafts.

Sometimes you want bonds to be permanent. Sometimes, you want to be able to separate parts later.

To get the right parts to stick the right way, you’ve got to know your archery glues.

CYANOACRYLATES

This is a family of fast-setting gels and liquid glues commonly used for fletchings, point inserts and sometimes nock bushings and nocks.

You’d use a cyanoacrylate for anything you want to stick permanently and quickly. Let’s say you’re putting a point insert into a hunting arrow to receive screw-in field points and broadheads. You’d use a cyanoacrylate because these inserts typically are intended to be permanent.

Attaching fletchings to arrows is a common use for cyanoacrylates because the glue enables the fletchings to stick where you put them very quickly. Pay attention to the type of cyanoacrylate you choose for fletching. Not all work equally well on both plastic vanes and feathers. Likewise, if you’re working with wood arrows, some of these glues work better on wood than others.

HOT MELTS

These glues come in stick form. You apply a flame to the glue to melt it into whatever you want to stick to another surface.

Hot melts are great for products you might remove, such as points and nock bushings. Should the time come, you can heat the point or bushing, which will loosen the glue, and that component can then be easily removed.

Understand, however, that you should never subject carbon to high heat, like an open flame. That will cause the carbon to crack.

Another method for softening hot melt that’s already holding components in place is to use hot water. Let’s say you want to remove a point that’s glued in place inside a carbon arrow. Submerge the arrow end into a pot of hot water for a few seconds, and the glue will soften so you can remove the point with a pair of pliers. (Don’t use your hands or you’ll burn them.)

This is a safe way to remove components from carbon arrows without damaging the carbon.

COLD MELT

Cold melt glues also come in stick form, and are applied by heating them. They require less heat than hot melts to liquify the glue, however.

Cold melts are great for gluing components where you don’t want to use high heat – such as anything being inserted into a carbon arrow shaft. The lower melting temperature required to liquify these glues minimizes the risk of damaging carbon.

They’re great for nock bushings, since these bushings sit so close to arrow shafts. So let’s say you want to remove a bushing. You’ll have to heat it to liquify the glue holding it in place. Since the bushing is so close to the shaft, if it were held in place with hot melt, the amount of heat required to loosen the glue might be enough to damage the carbon, where the lesser amount of heat required to loosen a cold melt would be safer.

EPOXY

Epoxies used for archery purposes usually require a mix of two liquids at the time the glue is applied. Epoxies don’t set up fast, so you have time to work with your products to get them in position, before they stick. Once an epoxy cures, it usually forms one of the hardest bonds you’ll find. Epoxies are great for hidden inserts that can take some time to position correctly inside arrow shafts, and for bow grips.

How to Shoot the 101-Yard Bigfoot Target in Redding, Calif.

Every year, the Straight Arrow Bowhunters in Redding, Calif., host the Western Classic Trail Shoot and NFAA Marked 3D Championship.

And one of the iconic targets featured at this combined event is a custom-built Bigfoot, which is shot from a distance of 101 yards.

In this video, we talked to professional archers Christine Harrelson and Chris Bee to get some tips on how to attack the Bigfoot target.

EXPLAINED: World Archery 3D Championship Classes

The World Archery 3D Championships features competition in four classes, each with separate divisions for men and women.

In this video, we explain the basic rules that separate the Barebow, Compound, Instinctive and Longbow classes. These classes exist within other organizations, but the World Archery rules for each are unique.

World Archery’s 3D Championships are held every other year in different parts of the world. A competition round features 24 3D animal targets, which archers must shoot two arrows at per round.

Field Archery: What You Need to Know

Field archery is considered by many archers to be one of the most challenging and enjoyable archery formats out there.

It’s been dubbed “archery golf,” because it requires an archer to navigate an outdoor course, featuring shots at targets set at varying distances.

field 1

The target sizes also vary, with smaller target faces being shot at shorter distances and larger ones at longer distances.

Since the course is outside, archers have to deal with weather, changing light conditions if the course moves from open fields to woods, and potentially uphill and downhill shot angles, depending on the course terrain.

Field archers shoot a lot of arrows during a typical round. Where a 28-target 3-D course would require 28 shots, a 28-target field round might require shooting 112 arrows – four per target – depending on the format.

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Speaking of format, there are two basic types of field archery in the U.S. – World Archery and National Field Archery Association (NFAA).

The World Archery format, which is employed at all USA Archery field events, consists of shooting 48 targets over two days – 24 per day. On one day, the target distances are unknown, requiring barebow archers to shoot from 5-45 meters, and compound and Olympic recurve archers to shoot 10-55 meters. Target faces are either 20, 40, 60 or 80 cm. Scoring rings are worth 1-6 points.

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Here are the 20cm, 40cm and 60cm World Archery field faces.

The second day of competition involves shooting at targets set at marked distances anywhere from 5-50 meters or 10-60 meters for the three respective classes of archers, which are broken up into several age categories.

For the USA Archery National Field Championships, the top three, two-day scores are rewarded with medals. In even years, when there’s a World Archery Field Championship, USA Archery picks the top eight archers after two days of scoring. Those archers shoot an additional 12 targets, and the top three finishers are selected to represent the U.S. at the world championships.

Under the NFAA format, archers shoot a 14-target course twice. Two types of NFAA rounds require shooting four arrows at each target face, which vary in size among 20, 35, 50 and 65 cm. Scoring rings are worth 3-5 points. The third type requires a varying number of shots at 2-D animal targets of varying sizes. Shot distances to targets in all three types of rounds are known.

The field round requires archers to shoot at distances ending in either 0 or 5, from 20 feet to 80 yards for adults and young adults – 50 yards max for youth archers and 30 yards max for cubs. The field target faces feature a black center, surrounded by two white scoring rings and then two outer black scoring rings.

The hunter round requires archers to shoot at odd-number distances from 11-70 yards. Hunter target faces feature a white center, surrounded by black scoring rings.

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A selection of NFAA field and hunter target faces.

NFAA sometimes holds field events, where archers shoot two, 14-target field rounds; hunter events, where archers shoot two, 14-target hunter rounds; or field/hunter events, where archers shoot one 14-target round of each type.

In the NFAA animal round, a course of 14 paper animal targets is set, with archers shooting 10-60 yards. Archers shoot up to three arrows at each target until they hit a scoring ring. If the first arrow hits a scoring ring, then the archer shoots no more.

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Here’s a selection of NFAA animal round targets.

Each target features a center bonus dot worth the most points, a large scoring ring surrounding the dot that’s worth the second-most points, and a larger ring surrounding that one that’s worth the least points. Scoring per target varies from 10-21 points depending on where the arrow hits, and how many arrows it takes to hit a scoring ring.

NFAA has many competition classes for archers using compound bows, recurves and longbows. And each of those classes is broken down further by age, so that archers of similar age, shooting similar equipment, compete against one another.

At the annual NFAA Outdoor Field National Championships, competitors shoot one field round, one hunter round and one animal round. The archers with the top cumulative scores in each respective division and age class are declared the winners.

USA Archery typically holds its national championship field archery tournament in early June, while NFAA has its in late July.

Field archery events held through the spring and summer at the club level across the U.S. typically follow either the World Archery or NFAA formats.

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String alignment for consistent archery shots

Aligning the bowstring in your sight picture is critical to consistent shooting. How archers do that varies – especially among the different archery disciplines.

Let’s get compound archers out of the way first, because their alignment process is the simplest. Almost all compound archers use a peep sight.

peep

A compound archer takes aim through a peep sight.

This is a small circle or tube that is set into the middle of the bowstring, between the strands. The height of the peep is set based on the archer’s anchor. Most archers will draw to anchor, touch their nose to the string, and then have someone slide the peep up or down so that it matches their eye height.

Look through the peep and line up the sight so it’s in the center. Ideally, the edges of the peep will perfectly match the edges of your scope housing. If it doesn’t, just make sure the sight is in the middle of the peep, and you’ll know you’re aiming the same way for every shot.

Some bowhunters opt not to use peep sights for various reasons – one of them being hunters fear not being able to see through the peep in low light conditions. These archers might use a bow sight with optical alignment built in, or they use the string in some fashion to line up their sight pins in order to achieve a consistent aim. Perhaps they make sure the string aligns against the riser side of their scope housing, or the bow riser itself.

(Using a peep sight is much simpler, and it’s going to be way more accurate. The time you might sacrifice in failing light is more than offset by the huge gains in accuracy.)

Olympic recurve archers – those who put sights on their recurve bows – usually have a three-point system for string alignment to ensure they’re looking through their sight the same way for each shot.

These archers hook the string with one finger above the arrow nock and two below. With this grip, they will then anchor the top of their index finger under the jaw at full draw. Doing this sets their eye height at a consistent spot in relation to the bowstring.

Next, they will touch the tip of their nose to the string and then move their head until their view of the string and sight is set. That string will be in a consistent spot time and again – often along the vertical edge of the riser’s sight window or on the right edge of the sight housing for right-handed archers and the left edge for lefties.

conner

This Olympic recurve archer establishes the same relationship between his bowstring and his sight for each shot.

Regardless of where an archer aligns the string, if the string drifts from that spot, the archer will notice the alignment has moved, and correct it by simply turning his or her head slightly.

Barebow archers, who shoot without sights, often refer to “string blur.” It’s the blurry image of the bowstring right in front of their eye, which they see while aiming or focusing down range. Some pay attention to string blur during shot alignment, often lining it up in relation to the arrow or riser.

Others, like world champion John Demmer III, count on the string blur to be set properly based on their anchor. Demmer said if he notices his string blur, then he knows he’s out of alignment, because it should be “attached” to the riser from his perspective.

Demmer

Champion barebow archer John Demmer III wants his bowstring to be aligned with his riser for each shot, which means he shouldn’t see his “string blur.”

Also, barebow archers who are string-walking as they shoot different distances, like on a 3-D shoot or field course, will move the string blur left and right to move their point of impact left or right, depending on the distance.

Whether you shoot Olympic recurve or barebow, it takes a lot of practice to get consistent string alignment because there is no definitive object – like a peep sight – to give you a precise reference point.

Four Products that make arrow pulling easier

As winter turns to spring, and the weather starts getting nice, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor archery games – 3D, field archery, 50 meters for compounds, 70 meters for recurves, etc. And while it can be a problem on some indoor ranges, difficulty in removing arrows from targets and target butts really seems prevalent in the outdoor games.

backyard targets2a

The foam, compressed cardboard and/or bales that catch arrows outside often don’t want to give them up without a fight. Changing weather conditions, construction for durability and other factors combine forces to make them really arrow grabbers. But don’t worry, there are some products out there that can make arrow removal easier.

ARROW PULLER – Every archer shooting arrows into targets should have an arrow puller. These inexpensive rubber devices wrap around the shaft and give you a better grip as you pull your arrow out of a target. Your bare hand can easily slip on an arrow shaft as you try to remove an arrow – especially if it’s cold or your hands are sweaty. With an arrow puller, you can get a good grip on it, while it is firmly holding on to your arrow.

arrow pull2

In the event you stick an arrow in a target, and there just seems to be no chance of budging it by hand, Hamskea makes a device called the AroJack that is designed for just this situation. It grips the arrow, while employing a lever that pushes on the target while pulling back on the shaft. It’s a great tool for removing those arrows that sail a bit wide of the target, and stick into wooden frames.

arrow pull1

ARROW LUBE – Several companies make special lubrications that you can rub on about the last quarter of your shafts at the point end. This will make it much easier to pull your arrows out of targets, and will protect the shafts from getting coated with target material.

arrow pull3

The compressed cardboard butts commonly found on field archery courses are notorious for leaving cardboard residue on untreated arrow shafts. This residue can add a fair amount of weight to your shafts, so you’ve got to scrape it off every time you remove an arrow. Treat your shafts with some arrow lube, and you can minimize that problem – if not eliminate it altogether.

With arrow lube, you’ve got to reapply it fairly regularly during the course of a shooting round, because the material will rub off as the arrows are shot into, and pulled out of, the targets.

ARROW TREATMENTS – Along the same line as arrow lubes are arrow treatments. This is a longer-lasting arrow coating designed to ease arrow removal from targets. Dyna-Tek makes a pair of products called Dyna-Slick and Dyna-Slick Shield. Dyna-Slick Shield is a clear coating that you put on the bottom third of your arrow, and then allow it to harden and cure. Once it’s properly cured, arrow removal should be easy for hundreds of shots.

If you start to see signs of the Dyna-Slick Shield coating beginning to wear off, you can refresh it with Dyna-Slick. This material is wiped on to restore the coating.

For those archers concerned about arrow weight, Dyna-Tek estimates its coating adds no more than 1 grain in weight per treated shaft.

BULGED POINTS – Some manufacturers offer points that are bulged so that at least part of the point is fatter than the arrow shaft. The bulge cuts a path into the target that’s larger than the shaft, so the target material won’t grip the arrow as tightly.

arrow pull4

 

What archers need to know about cam timing

Cam timing is one of those critical aspects of compound bow tuning that every archer should know. It could be the evil demon that’s responsible for those seemingly unexplained fliers you’re seeing from time to time while shooting your bow.

Cams are the workforce regulators of your bow. They control the string and cable(s), which all combine to get you to your bow’s peak draw weight at some point early in the draw cycle, and then drastically reduce that weight by 60-90 percent by the time you reach full draw.

cam9

2018 Lancaster Archery Classic Men’s Open Pro champ Paul Tedford

If you have a two-cam bow, it’s critical that both cams roll over in sync with one another. If one reaches full rotation before the other, then your pull at full draw will be uneven. Cams have stops built into them, which are designed to hit a cable or limb when the cam reaches its full rotation. They “stop” the draw cycle at the appropriate point.

Imagine one cam reaching the draw stop before the other. Releasing from that point, one cam would rotate more than the other in sending the arrow down range. That’s going to affect the string’s interface with the arrow.

cam3

The draw stop on this cam is short of the cable at full draw.

cam4

Here is a draw stop touching the cable, meaning the cam has reached full rotation.

When you paper tune your bow, cams that are out of sync can cause tears that are unfixable by adjusting the arrow rest or nocking point. Fix the cam timing, and those holes should become perfect – assuming the arrow spine is correct for a given bow, and assuming the archer’s shooting form is solid.

Same goes for single-cam bows. It’s a myth that cam timing isn’t important on these bows. Manufacturers intend for their single cams to rotate a certain amount, from a specific starting point. If that rotation is off, then the cam’s performance will be off.

Single-cam bows usually have a timing mark that will let you see if the cam is properly timed. Often, it’s a hole in the cam. When the cam is timed properly, you should be able to look through the hole in the cam and see the cable perfectly centered in it.

cam7

Here is a piece of orange D-loop material stretched between two timing holes in the cam of this single-cam bow, and then extended straight out from those holes. You can tell the cam’s timing is right because the orange rope is parallel to the bowstring.

So how can you check the timing on your dual-cam bows? An easy way is to have a friend watch you draw and play close attention to the draw stops to see when they hit. This is somewhat imprecise, however, and it could be difficult to detect small differences in timing.

A better way to check is to use a draw board. This is a mechanical device that you set your bow on, so you can draw with a mechanical crank. With a draw board, you can slow the draw rate at full draw to closely inspect exactly when each draw stop hits home.

cam5

A compound bow on a draw board.

How do you fix timing issues? On a single-cam bow, you twist or untwist the cable on the cam until the cable sits properly in relation to the timing mark.

On dual cam bows, put twists in to the cable connected to the cam that hits the draw stop first. You can put in half twists or full twists to adjust the timing. Start out with small adjustments to figure out exactly what’s needed. Go back to the draw board after each adjustment to check your progress.

cam10

Twisting the cable of the cam that reaches full draw first on a dual-cam bow will fix timing problems.

Yes, you can adjust the draw weight on certain recurve bows

Compound bows are well known for their ability to have the draw weight adjusted. Most have a 10-pound adjustment range, but there are some that can be adjusted from 5-70 pounds.

Did you know it’s possible to adjust the weight of some recurve bows?

In an episode of “Behind the Riser,” filmed by Shrewd Archery, which follows U.S. Olympian Brady Ellison during the 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic, Ellison talks about “taking three turns out of” his Hoyt recurve bow after the first day of competition. That action changed the draw weight from 52 pounds to 47 pounds. (Ellison went on the win his second consecutive title at the Classic in the Men’s Recurve Division.)

Brady Ellison

So yes, you can change the draw weight of certain recurve bows. The only bows this will work on, however, are those Olympic recurve and Traditional recurve bows that have ILF limbs and fittings.

ILF stands for “International Limb Fitting,” which is a universal limb attachment system that allows ILF limbs and risers from various manufacturers to be mixed and matched. Several Hoyt recurve bows employ a modified ILF connection system that uses the same hardware as ILF bows, but the hardware spacing is distinctly different than ILF. This unique limb connection system is the Hoyt Formula system. Formula bows adjust in exactly the same manner as ILF bows.

limb bolt32

ILF limb being inserted into ILF riser.

An ILF or Hoyt Formula riser will have dovetail pockets to capture the dovetail bushings on the limbs. And they’ll also have limb bolts. The limb bolts on these risers are adjustable. Turning the limb bolts clockwise lowers the bolts closer to the riser and increases draw weight. Adjusting counterclockwise raises the bolts and decreases draw weight. Also, nearly all risers with adjustable limb bolts use some type of locking screw to keep a limb bolt in place after adjustments have been made. It is very important to unlock these screws before adjusting limb bolts, and then lock them again when adjustments are complete.

According to John Wert, who heads the TradTech division of Lancaster Archery Supply, which produces ILF and non-ILF recurve risers and limbs, the bolts on ILF recurve bows have a recommended best working range. Starting at a maximum height of 20mm (13/16 of an inch) for lowest draw weight and adjusting in to a minimum height of 15mm (5/8 of an inch), for the highest draw weight.  Those distances are measured from the underside of the limb bolt to the surface of the limb pocket beneath it.

limb bolt22

limb bolt12

“This is the best range for the entire sphere of ILF bows,” Wert said. “You can take some in or out farther, but then you are in a gray area that can lead to problems. If you know what to look for, you can adjust to as low as 12 mm and as high as 25 mm on some limb and riser combinations.”

The chief problem with turning in a limb bolt shorter than 15mm is the leading  edge of the limb bolt cap can start to dig into the limb surface. Back the limb bolt out more than 20mm, and the dovetail limb bushing can bind in the riser hardware– or even worse, the limb could fly out from under the bolt altogether.

limbss1

Left photo shows a limb sitting under a bolt set at 15mm, while the other is set at 20mm.

The number of turns an archer can put in or take out of a limb within that 15-20mm frame varies, according to Wert. Some screw patterns on the limb bolts are more aggressive than others, which would affect the total turns.

It’s up to each archer to figure out how many turns the limb bolt can withstand to stay within that 15-20mm gap. Likewise, the amount of weight that can be added or subtracted varies from bow to bow. It’s up to the archer to figure that out, so he or she knows how many turns are possible, and how much weight each turn gives up or puts back on. But generally, a set of limbs has an adjustment range of 8-10% of the limb’s draw weight.

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Turning a limb bolt with a hex wrench.

During the Lancaster Archery Classic, Ellison was able to reduce his draw weight by about 5 pounds by taking three turns out of his Hoyt limb bolts.

It’s important to note that equal turns must be put into/ taken out of the top and bottom limbs in order to maintain the tiller. Unequal turns will affect a bow’s tiller measurements, which can affect the bow’s tune and the way the bow sits in your hand.

Bow manufacturers vary on how they determine limb weights. Some, like TradTech archery, stamp their limbs with the low end of their weight range. So a TradTech limb rated at 50 pounds would draw at a minimum of 50 pounds at 28 inches with the limb bolts backed out to 20 mm. The weight would increase from there as the bolts are turned in and the limbs would reach a maximum weight of approximately 54 pounds.

limb bolt10

Other companies, like Hoyt, use the middle of the range for their limb ratings, and some rate their limbs at the top end of the adjustment range.

So all of this begs the question, “Why would I change the draw weight on my recurve?”

In the Shrewd video, Brady said he was having trouble holding his bow still at the higher draw weight. So he lowered it to gain more control. Other archers might find more control by increasing the draw weight.

Another reason to adjust draw weight might be to get an arrow to tune better. If the tune is close at a set draw weight, changing the weight just a little could be all that’s needed to get perfect flight.