By PJ Reilly
When it comes to installing a bow, it’s the little things that make a big difference.
This is the goal of any archer who loses an arrow. And when you hit it, you feel great. Really good.
However, it’s not just about feeling good. The more you hit in practice sessions, the more confidence you will have in your shooting skills. That confidence is worth its weight in venison when you’re in your full-strength stand on a murderous buck.
Your mind is racing, your heart is pounding and your nerves are heating up. It’s not the best physical condition you’re trying to score a perfect shot in. But confidence in your abilities and your gear will help you win the day.
This is why archery hunters are so diligent in training during the offseason. The question is, are you taking advantage of all that is available for your bow hunting rig?
Do you find that no matter how much you practice, you just can’t get your groups tight enough to constantly break notches at 20 yards? Such precision is possible for any bow hunter.
There is a litany of products on the market that can help improve accuracy. For this discussion, I’m not talking about gadgets used only by competitive archers that wouldn’t stand up to the bumps and bruises of the wood dish. I’m talking about equipment for bow hunters.
These products don’t remove the need for training, but they can help you find the target more consistently.
PEEP SIGHT, RETINE LOCK
Consistency is the key to accuracy. Do the exact same thing each time drawing, aiming and releasing, and soon you will have to shoot at different places with each shot in order to avoid damaging the arrows.
A peep is a circular device that is attached to your bowstring, which you look at at full draw to see your bow sight. The purpose of the peep is to align your head, eye, and sight every time you land your pin on a target.
Without a glance, your eye may drift up, down to the left, or to the right. It is almost impossible to ensure consistency of aim without a glance.
Why would anyone consider not using a peep? Well you lose a little bit of light when you look through a gaze. In low light situations, it is possible that a deer that you can see clearly with your eyes will be dark when you look at it through your gaze.
Personally, I’ll give up a few extra minutes of shooting light in exchange for knowing that I’m still in perfect alignment when aiming through a beep. Consider this: If my head / eye / sight alignment is only shifted a quarter of an inch when I shoot a deer 40 yards away, chances are I will miss that deer completely.
Go for a peep with a quarter-inch hole. It’s large enough to minimize low-light issues, but small enough to achieve consistent alignment. Small gazes improve your alignment and accuracy, but they allow less light to reach your eye, thus increasing the light problem.
Conversely, a larger gaze allows more light to enter, but it also allows room for error in trying to maintain a consistent head / eye / sight alignment. With a larger hole, there is more room to move up, down, left or right while still seeing your sight. It’s not good.
Some sights incorporate Retina Lock into their construction to ensure proper head / eye / sight alignment. Retina Lock is a circle on top of the viewfinder ring. Inside this circle is a point. You know that everything is perfectly aligned when the point is perfectly inside the circle. If not, then something is wrong. Think of it as a 360 degree level that lets you know if you’ve changed anything in your alignment.
In keeping with the theme of head / eye / sight alignment, we come to the kiss button. It’s a piece of plastic or rubber attached to your rope 1.5 inches above your notch point. At full draw, the kiss button should be right on the edge of your smile line. For right-handed shooters it would be on the right side, and vice versa for left-handed shooters.
When you get to the full draw, you lock the kiss in the corner of your mouth. If your head goes up or down the string, you’ll know it with a kiss button attached. It’s a reminder not to have to think about it. Use a kiss in conjunction with a glance to perfect your head / eye / sight alignment.
Some bow hunters like the idea of the kiss button, but they don’t like the way they feel. You can tie a piece of dental floss or extra serving material where you would tie a kiss. The goal is to have something on the rope so that you can anchor yourself at full draw in the same spot every time.
Now that you have your head aligned, it’s time to make sure your arch is straight. For consistent shooting, you want your bow to be perfectly vertical when shooting. Obviously, we are talking about compound bows here. Classic and longbow shooters have their own style.
If you tilt the top of your arch to the left or to the right – called tilt – it will affect the point of impact.
Go up a level at the bottom of your sight. Many sites come with levels already attached. Ideally, the level will be located just below your sighting marks so that you can quickly verify that the bubble is in the middle when you aim. If so, you know your bow is straight.
A sight level is especially handy when hunting from a tree or in the hills. When aiming down a support or across the side of a hill, it is easy to become disoriented from absolute vertical. The level overrides this problem.
The D loop has become standard in all settings where archers use mechanical triggers. A D-loop is a piece of string or a half-moon metal ring that is attached to the bowstring above and below the notch point. It provides equal tension on the string above and below the notch as you pull.
The traditional method of tying metal notch points on the string above and below your notch point, and then cutting your trigger below the bottom notch, can cause the arrows to pinch. This can horribly disrupt your chord as it causes the arrow to come out of the bow high.
A D-loop eliminates notch pinching and pulls the string directly behind the arrow notch, promoting better arrow flight.
D-loops also prevent wear and tear on the middle portion of your rope. Over time, the jaws of a metal trigger can cut the portion and damage the string. Reserving a channel is no easy task. Tie a new D loop is.
Because many archery hunters like their bows to be light and compact, they either avoid stabilizers or choose very short ones. But the positive influence of a stabilizer on accuracy is indisputable.
A stabilizer adds weight to the bottom of the arch, helping to keep it vertical. It provides a counterweight to your sight and quiver and helps stabilize your sightings.
A stabilizer also fights torque, assuming it’s long enough. Manual torque is an archer’s worst enemy. Torque occurs when you turn the handle of the bow to the left or right. Correct hand position on the grip eliminates torque, but few shooters are perfect every time.
The problem can be made worse by bulky gloves or jackets that you probably don’t wear when you practice.
A stabilizer that extends beyond limb pockets helps combat torque by adding weight in front of the arc.
Some of the newer bows have radically recessed risers inside the limb pockets. On some it may be 4 or 5 inches from the stabilizer mounting hole to the pockets. This means that you would need at least an 8 inch stabilizer to take full advantage of its benefits. A 10 inch would be even better.
To get the best performance from a stabilizer, choose one that concentrates the weight at the end. If the weight is distributed evenly across the stabilizer, it won’t be as effective at combating torque and adjusting your sight pins.
Balanced stabilizers are better than no stabilizers, but concentrated weight in front of the arc is the best way to go. How much weight you want is a matter of personal preference.
Hold the tip of a pen directly in front of your eye and use it as if you were aiming at a point 20 yards away. Now hold this pin at arm’s length and aim. When the pen is near your eye, you will notice that the tip looks larger and covers your target more than when it is at arm’s length.
The same goes for your bow finder. The further it is from the riser, the more precise you can be. How far you want is a matter of preference.
Consider this – and the same principle applies to your stabilizer – when you think you don’t want something sticking out in front of your bow because it might get in your way, notch an arrow. How far in front of the bow is it before you shoot?
Your arrow protrudes much further than any hunting stabilizer or bow sight. A sight with a 4 or 6 inch bar is nothing in comparison.
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This article originally appeared in the July 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your doorstep.