Archery Talk: How To Customize Your Bow

Customize Your Bow: Today’s bows come out of the box ready to rock — sort of. So much more can be done to make it “yours.”

I love getting a new bow. It’s an opportunity to make it mine. By this I mean, a world of custom accessories await; I get to pick and choose to make it the best it can be. Every pro shop offers bow packages; rigs ready to shoot right off the rack. If we’re on a fixed budget and don’t want the hassle of customizing a bow, these can be practical for sure. But it doesn’t take long before every archer forms an opinion about accessories we like for this or that reason. Really, just buying a bare bow is only half of the equation. Personalizing your rig with a custom string and cables, peep, noise dampeners, sight, stabilizer, D-loop, wrist strap, and more can improve performance and make it uniquely yours.

Consider the Archery Trade Association (ATA) (www.archerytrade.org) membership list; it’ll make your head spin. The go-to organization comprised of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, sales representatives and others in the archery and bow hunting industry, the ATA has more than 1,600 members. With this much input from those with a vested commercial interest, it’s no surprise that archery products are ever-changing. New and improved accessories are launched annually into the marketplace to meet the demands of today’s archers and bow hunters.

I’ve owned a lot of different bows in my lifetime, but for the last six years I’ve been shooting Hoyt. This year I picked up a 35-inch Maxxis. With each new bow, I make several choices to customize it based on my needs and shooting style. Here are some things to consider when accessorizing your next bow.

Strings

One of the first changes I make to a new bow is a string upgrade. No, I’m not for a moment suggesting factory strings don’t work, but custom strings can indeed improve performance. Several companies make custom bowstrings and cables, but they’re not all created equal. I’m partial to Scorpion strings. Everyone has their own preference, but general consumer evaluations, along with my own experiences have been positive. Out of the box, Scorpion strings come pre-stretched and pre-twisted, a nice advancement from the factory strings we see on off-the-shelf bows. An added bonus with custom strings is the option to select a favourite colour pattern to give your bow a personalized look. For more information visit www.cdnhunter.com.

On the string itself, a brass nock point or D-loop is required. Truth is, with the increase in speed and shorter axle-to-axle length of most of today’s compound bows, most archers now use a D-loop. Yes, we’ve got plenty of choices here too. String loops, machined anodized aluminum, or a combination of the two are common.

Aiming

For aiming purposes a few years ago kisser buttons were all the rage along with a peep sight. While still available, kissers are considered by many to be old technology. Mechanical releases make establishing a routine anchor point straightforward. Peeps, on the other hand, are a different story. Almost every compound bow hunter uses a peep sight. I’ve tried several and really like the 3/16-inch Radical Peep Sight by Radical Archery Designs. It’s designed specifically for shorter, faster bows. Regardless of which make or model you choose give serious thought to the diameter of the hole. In many bow hunting situations, low light can be expected. The smaller the hole, the less visibility you’ll have; the bigger the peephole, the greater your visibility will be under low light conditions.

Unless you have the rare ability to shoot a compound bow instinctively, next on the list is a sight. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest this is where the most innovative advancements have been made. Light gathering fiber optics, levels, even lights, can are commonplace on today’s sights. While a good many companies still utilize multiple-pin technology, some companies offer a single-pin design. For my own use, I still prefer multiple pins set to at least 60 yards. Further, some utilize a fiber optic design all on a constant vertical plane to ensure precise left/right alignment. In my view, one of the more critical elements is how the sight accommodates micro-adjustments for windage and elevation. Models that require a simple turn of a finger knob are preferable. A level is also a valuable addition available on many high-end sights. Although I haven’t yet made the plunge, I’m taking a close look at Spot Hogg’s Seven Deadly Pins sight; it’s durable, has a fiber-optic wrap to increase pin illumination, and it is easily micro-adjustable.

Noise-Dampening

Aside from other subtleties like customizing the colour of your serving, you’ll also want to consider noise-dampening accessories. For my money, Sims has a line of incredible noise and vibration-dampening products for strings, limbs, and stabilizers. I use them extensively and they’ve never done me wrong.

Stabilizers

If you really want to get dizzy, take a dive into the land of stabilizers. For an accessory with a very basic function, the variety on the market today is astounding. Every size, weight, shape, colour, and variation can be found. Some purists will question this, but as a rule I tell new bow hunters not to get too worked up about which stabilizer they use, if any at all. My wife, for instance, hasn’t used a stabilizer for the past decade and she shoots tighter groups out to 50 yards than most of my buddies. Bottom line — no one says you have to use a stabilizer, but if your shooting form is solid and you find that your bow doesn’t pivot gently forward immediately after each release, then you probably need one. My rule of thumb is to go with the lightest stabilizer I can get away with. To be clear, it has to serve its purpose but I have no interest in carrying the extra weight while bow hunting. As an example, I recently mounted a six-inch (seven ounce) Fuse Axium on my Maxxis and it serves the purpose nicely.

Arrow Rests

Arrow rests, on the other hand are a bit more straightforward. My intention is not to ignore the small percentage of finger shooters out there, but for sake of argument, most of us are using compounds and releases. This in mind, there are generally three main designs to choose from. Each manufacturer has its own flavour, but again to keep it simple, there are rests that incorporate an arrow containment system like Whisker Biscuit, fall-aways, and the spring-loaded prong-style rests. When I shop for a rest, I consider application and adjustability for tuning. A couple years ago I was convinced to try a Whisker Biscuit. The consummate skeptic, I held low expectations for what I thought was likely just a gimmick. Frankly I was pleasantly surprised with its accuracy and continue to use this style of rest today.

Funny thing is there are loads of other weird and wonderful accessories on the market, things like custom grips, limb-style quivers, wrist straps, and an assortment of accessories many of us would never think of.

“But you haven’t even mentioned arrows yet Kevin!”

True enough… this will have to wait for another issue. Choosing a hunting arrow and accessorizing them is a topic unto itself. In the meantime, if you’re looking for feedback from other archers and bow hunters on customizing your bow, consider the Internet. Word of mouth is vital and it usually provides some good feedback, but I’ve learned that one of the best steps I can take when looking at new equipment is seeing what other bow hunters and target shooters have to say about it on www.archerytalk.com. This site is a great source of information and, in my experience, the go-to source of archery advice.

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