“Paper tuning” is the process of shooting an arrow from your bow through a piece of paper. The tear created by the impact and travel path of the arrow can reveal key factors about how your bow and arrow combination are shooting. By shooting an arrow through paper, you will be able to see where the arrow’s point makes an initial impact with the paper, how the arrow shaft continues to tear the paper as it flies, and then is torn further by your arrow’s vanes or feathers that make a final tear. What you want to see is one hole, which happens when the front of the arrow tears at impact, and then the rest of the shaft passes through so straight that there is no additional tear through the paper.

What you’re looking for is the perfect “bullet hole.” You want to see where the point impacted and the fletching should be going right through that hole in a straight line. If the fletching tears are high, low, left or right, you need to make adjustments. The bow is out of tune.

Paper Tune

I hope that the very first arrow to leave the bow after setting it up will fly perfectly. There is only one way to know for sure, and that is to shoot an arrow or two through paper to see how it tears. Here are what some of the different paper tune tears represent. After shooting through paper, you can use the following information to help you determine the best course of action.

Tail high: To fix a high tear, lower the nocking point or adjust the rest set up. If you can’t stop the high tear, try a lower shooting poundage. If that has no effect on the tear, see cam rotation problems.

Tail low: To fix a low tear, raise the nocking point or adjust the rest down. If you can’t stop the low tear, try a higher poundage. If that has no effect on the tear, see cam rotation problems.

Tail left: Arrow spine may be too weak; try using stiffer shaft, lighter point, or reduce draw weight. Or move the rest toward the arrow vanes.

Tail right: Arrow spine may be too stiff; try using a weaker shaft, a heavier point, or increase your draw weight. The perfect tear will result in a bullet-like hole.

To ensure the arrow is flying straight, test at 6 feet and at 10-12 feet from the suspended paper. Only after your arrow is flying clean do we go on to the next step, which is sighting in your first pin at 20 yards and extending ranges after 20 is solidified.

Basically, no matter which adjustment you will do, the arrow will have a nock tail rip or a snapshot due to its natural flex. For that reason, other techniques like bare shaft and walk-back tuning would be complementing options for group testing arrows and most likely to give you more relevant results about your shots. Also, take into consideration proper grip and stance are executed during the tuning process.

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Jason Ashe
Jason Ashe is an avid whitetail deer enthusiast and avid hunter from the finger lakes region of New York. A full time social media specialist in the outdoor industry and habitat specialist with Mid-Lakes Whitetails, Jason has been featured in such publications as Quality Whitetails numorouse times and been paired with hunting greats in Outdoor Life for his knowledge and passion for hunting mature deer. Turkeys, Coyotes also top the list of game that Jason pursues in any down time he has from whitetails. He consideres himself lucky to have whitetails and hunting be a part of everyday life. His wife Laura also shares in his passions along with their 2 children.