David Houser: Setting up a 3D bow

Hoyt pro archer David Houser is one of those few compound-bow archers who successfully competes in both the 3D and indoor spot-target games.

Just last year, Houser finished second by a single bonus ring at the 2015 ASA Classic in the Known-50 division just a few months after shooting a perfect, 600 round, and qualifying for the final shoot-off at the 2015 NFAA Indoor Nationals Championships.



Living in both worlds, Houser has to maintain bow setups for each. And he’ll be the first to tell you there are differences between an indoor spot bow and a 3D bow.

Let’s listen to Houser’s advice on setting up a compound bow for 3D archery.

LAS: What is your 3D setup for 2016?

DH: My current set-up for 3D is as follows:

1. Hoyt Podium X 37 compound bow with No. 2 spiral pro cams; 27.75-inch draw length; 59.5-pounds draw weight; 280 feet per second arrow speed.

2. Axcel Achieve Carbon sight.

3. Shrewd Nomad scope with 3-power lens.

4. Hamskea Hybrid Target Pro arrow rest with a .010 wide launcher blade.

5. Front stabilizer bar is a 30-inch Bee Stinger Premiere Plus with 6 oz. of weight, mounted to point downward 10 degrees;

6. Rear stabilizer bar is a 15-inch Bee Stinger Premiere Plus with 16 oz. of weight.  This bar is mounted on the front mounting hole of my riser behind my front stabilizer with a Bee Stinger side arm bracket.  The bar is sitting nearly straight back with a slight downward slope, and it is relatively tight to my riser.


7TruBall 3-finger Honey Badger Claw release.

8. Gold Tip X-cutter arrows cut to 25.5 inches, with a 100-grain point, and three, 2-inch, high-profile Vanetec vanes.

(For indoor archery, competitors shoot all of their arrows at one distance, in a controlled environment. In 3D archery, competitors shoot outdoors in all kinds of weather, firing one arrow each at targets placed at a variety of ranges. In some events, those yardages are listed for the archers, in others, it’s up to the archers to guess the distances and shoot accordingly.)

LAS: How is your 3D bow setup different from your indoor setup?

DH: One of the biggest differences is the sight for my indoor setup features a large black sticker on the lens that covers nearly the entire yellow (9-10-X rings).  This allows me just to focus on covering most of the yellow and centering my dot in the middle. Also, my sight picture never changes if my target begins to get shot out, or a hole begins to form. I am covering so much of the yellow, it looks the same all the time.

For my 3D bow I want just the opposite.  I shoot a small, .010 pin with a blue fiber and a light for 3D.  I want to see as much as I can on a 3D target, and be able to aim at small holes in targets, or at other arrows for that matter. So the smaller fiber allows me to do that.

target and 3D scopes2

LAS: Is the draw weight for 3D higher than for indoor?

DH: The draw weight on my 3D bow is usually about 3-4 lbs. heavier than on my indoor bow.  The higher poundage gives me more arrow speed.

(A faster arrow has a flatter trajectory. That reduces how much an arrow drops as it flies down range, which, in turn, gives an archer more of a cushion when shooting at different yardages.

Let’s say an archer shoots at a target that is 32 yards away. A faster arrow can help mask flaws in judging yardage, so the arrow will hit the intended spot, even if the archer guesses that it is 30 yards out.

In 3D archery, there are no highly-visible bull’s-eyes like you’ll find on spot targets. There are scoring rings, but they are the same color as the whole target, which means archers often have to pick a spot on the target to aim at. That can cause aiming pins to slide around more than if there were an easily recognizable bull’s-eye to lock onto.)

I like to have my 3D setup shooting about 280-285 fps., and the higher poundage allows me to obtain the speed I desire with a large diameter, heavy arrow.

The additional poundage also gives me a bit more holding weight at full draw. I like to hold 19-20 lbs. at full draw when shooting outside. If it ever gets windy, the higher holding weight helps me to fight against the wind and aim steadier than if I was holding less weight at full draw.

Also, in 3D archery, you’re only shooting one arrow at a time, where indoors you’re shooting 3-5 arrows at a time. The higher poundage is easier to handle when I’m shooting only one arrow at a time.

LAS: Do you shoot a different bow for indoor and 3D?

3D bow

DH: Yes.  Having a busy schedule of tournaments throughout the year, I like to have multiple bows set up.  That way I don’t have to constantly swap arrows and sights on one bow.  This saves me a lot of time by having one setup for each form of archery, and I can simply pick that bow up and it is ready for the tournament I am going to. All I have to focus on is practicing and not changing things around.

(A peep sight is a circular aiming device that is placed in the middle of the bow string. An archer looks through the peep, and then through the bow sight to take aim. Since the peep is a permanent part of the bowstring, it ensures that the archer looks through the bow sight the same way on every shot.

Generally, the smaller the peep, the more precisely an archer can aim. However, less light can get through a smaller peep as compared to a larger one, and so, in variable light, it might be tough for an archer to see the target through a smaller peep.)

LAS: What size peep do you shoot for 3D and is it different from your indoor peep?

DH: I shoot a larger peep aperture for 3D because I shoot a larger scope.  I shoot a Shrewd Nomad with a 3/32-inch aperture outside, whereas indoors I shoot a Shrewd Mini-Mag with a 1/16-inch aperture.  This mainly is because when I am outside, lighting is not always consistent and when shooting in the early mornings the target lanes can be dark.  So the larger scope and aperture allows more light to get in and I can see better when trying to aim at a 3D animal.


On top is a 3/32-inch peep; bottom is 1/16-inch.

(Many 3D archers use magnified lenses in conjunction with their sight pins, or they’ll put a small, dot sticker or piece of optical fiber in the center of the lens for aiming. The magnifying lenses allow the archers to see targets better, and to find the scoring rings, which often blend in with the targets.)

LAS: What power scope do you use for 3D?

DH: For 3D I am using a 3x lens and occasionally I will shoot a 4x lens but never any higher power than that.  I like the lower powers because with them I do not see as much movement in my sight picture as I would with a higher power lens, also with the lower powers I do not need to shoot a clarifier. I prefer not to use a clarifier because there are factors that can affect how well you can see though it, such as if it becomes fogged up or it begins to rain.  With just a smaller aperture, I can see very clearly with the lower powers.

(The purpose of the stabilizer setup in 3D archery is to reduce the bow’s ability to torque side to side, and to allow to archer to “quiet” the sight as it comes on target. That is, the archer wants the aiming device to lock on an aiming point, and sit there as steady as possible through the shot process.

Stabilizers add weight out in front of and behind the bow to help achieve this end. Also, the angle of the stabilizer rods can be changed to help an archer find the best way to balance the bow for his or her shooting style.)

LAS: Do you do anything unique with your stabilizer weights for 3D, as compared to indoors? Do you change the angle of your side rod or alter the amount of weight front or back? If so, why?

DH: I do not do anything unique with my stabilizers for 3D.  On my Podium X’s I have found what works best for me as far as stabilizer position, lengths, and weight combinations. This combination is what I have on my bows regardless of the style of archery because it is what I have found to make me the most confident when aiming.

LAS: Do you use anything on your bow to reduce sun glare? If so, what?

DH: Yes, on my Shrewd Nomad scope housing you will find a large sunshade on the front and back side of my housing.  This prevents unwanted light from entering my scope and causing a glare.

LAS: How do you compensate for moving from dark shadows to bright sunlight during a single shoot?

3D shadow

DH: I compensate for this by practicing in these conditions before the shoot to make sure that I will hit in the same spot regardless of dark shadows or bright light during a shoot.  I also always make sure to have my sunshades on my scope for this reason.

If during a tournament I find that the bright sunlight is affecting me while trying to aim, I will ask one of my fellow archers to hold an umbrella to help block to sun.

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