Modifying your bow, ghetto style...


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  1. #1

    Modifying your bow, ghetto style...

    So, until business picks up for a bit, it seems that if I really want to get honed up on better shooting, the my 54# recurve is where it's at. To be honest, the bow (a Predator Velocity) shoots better than I do, but there are a few aspects I'd like different about it.

    It might be a blessing in that before I jump on trying to find nirvana in something else, (a borders black douglas riser tricked out with Hex 6 limbs is the compulsion fantasy at the moment), in that I'll really have to learn the specifics of what I really want in this mystical ideal. It would suck to spend that kind of money on a bow and not have it be exactly what you're after.

    And it's not like I don't like the bow I've got, a LOT. Things I like about my go to Predator Velocity bow as it is right now...

    • pretty smooth draw (the longer limbs I've tried are a little smoother, but also slower, and in this instance, I side with Viper on the smoothness versus speed/holding weight trade off, on a purely personal preference standpoint.
    • I like a 60" bow. I've tried longer bows, but they don't have enough string angle to stay out of the way of my fat torso . I could probably deal with a longer bow if all of my shooting was straight up and down but... it isn't.
    • comfortable and relatively thin grip. Seems pretty easy to not torque the thing.
    • relatively forgiving
    • on the 'fast' side, not as fast as some, but about 200 fps at my draw length, which seems fast enough, and is a nice round number.
    • easily shot off the shelf
    • cut past center to allow arrows very close to center shot (or actual center shot, if I wanted).
    • allows the use of a plunger at the shelf, or adjustable rest mount, or both.
    • I've already got things dialed in as far as tuning.
    • I've already got things dialed in from a tuning perspective. Oh, said that twice. I've already bought arrows for it
    • With it's current setup, it balances really well in the hand, with or without a stabilizer.

    Things I'd like to have 'improved', as per my own personal preference....

    • I'd like to play with tiller adjustments, or at least have the option. The riser supposedly allows this, but looking at the design, I don't think it's a good idea, as the limb bolts have no way to pivot with the limbs, so that means something is going to bend to make this happen, and by that, I mean metal.
    • I would like the sight window to be shorter, and more regular. On my 'classic' predator bows, I have a much better handle on dealing with different ranges, instinctively or not. The sight window is not only larger, but the end of the sight window is somewhat ambiguous. I prefer the sight window that simply curves away from the riser, kind of like a quarter pipe for skateboarders. On my classic riser, I can use the midpoint between the arrow point and this corner more easily for a gap reference.
    • I'd like to move down to working with a lower holding weight. I can shoot the 54# pretty well, but I'd really like to try 40-45# and see how that goes. I do have lower draw weight bows, but they're not as much fun for me as a fairly screaming recurve, and if it's not fun, I don't want to shoot nearly as much, means less practitce, and defeating the whole real purpose....
    • The pins that hold the limb pockets to the riser, in conjunction with the limb bolts, are friction fit. During the last shoot, I noticed one of them beginning to slide out. I remedied this with an occasional slam into the corner of a concrete bench, but it's not the kind of thing I'd like to have the opportunity to surprise me.
    • Time to time I get some string slap on my forearm. I've looked into my elbow rotation, and am being careful to not torque the bow. It has been suggested that it can be related to brace height or tuning, or it may have something to do with a very low brace height ( the riser is somewhat reflexed). If I spin the brace height up, at my draw length, it begins to stack more than I'd like. Between the additional pre-load and the reflex design, it effectively makes the limbs behave as is the draw length is 1" longer than with the standard riser, which would essentially be putting a 29.5" draw on a 60" bow with medium limbs, assuming the 6.75" brace height. Spin it up, and it increases the pre-load even more. With the longer limbs that result in a 62" bow, twisting it up to 7" feels fine, but I like the shorter 'medium' limbs for cast and maneuverability.... With the 'classic' models I have, no string slap at all, on any of the three, shooting with a 7 3/8" brace height. I can shoot without an arm guard just fine.

    So, Can't do anything about the Tiller adjustments. I can wait on that.

    Sight window, was thinking about playing with bondo to shape it to taste. Anybody have tips on how to avoid disaster?

    Lower holding weight, I'll just deal with it for now. I could maybe sell some other limbs and buy some lighter ones, though I'm kind of particular when it comes to limbs from this manufacturer. They're all hand-shaped, so while it may contribute to each having a nicely matched set, some of them are thinner at the ends than others, and I suspect, faster because of it. I'll compare a 60# set and 59# set on classic risers and see what I get later, with the same arrow. Not exactly perfect experimental control, but the 59# limbs with thinner limb tips seem to do pretty darn well, and are quieter than the bow with 60#, fatter limb tips. Plus, I still want to keep this bow. If I just get lighter limbs, I can't grab this thing as is when I want to shoot something in the mid fifties! Heck, I still like my 70# bazooka recurve, even if I can't keep it under control all day

    I think I can probably get the limb pocket pins to stay with either epoxy, or bondo, or whatever else any of you guys would recommend.

    String slap, I'll explore it later. I'd prefer to not have it, but the arm guard seems to be adequate. I wonder if it might be because the string groove on the top is a little off center. Would this have other undesirable effects?

    Any thoughts oh knowledgeable ones??



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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Granola CA What ain't fruits and nuts is flakes
    Don'tknow about the other things, but a word about the string slapping your arm. As you've already mentioned, elbow rotation and BH have a lot do to with that. You may be able to get a bit more clearance with a mod to your basic grip style. Try folding the bottom 2 fingers of your bow hand under so that they are folded between the bow grip and the palm of the hand. Somewhat akin to the common grip style used by many FS shooters. You can see a vid of it here:
    It works for me, but its not one of those things that I would say is a "must".
    Archery,... so easy a caveman can do it.

    Don't believe everything you think.

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Berkeley, CA
    I was shooting a 70" longbow today that had way to much hand shock with a brace height of 7". Made a longer string to get a brace height of 6 1/4 to 6 3/8 and...the hand shock has improved. However, the string slap on my wrist is so bad it goes right through the arm guard! Oh well..just more work to do. Will try more different brace heights. Then I will probably modify the wood grip.

    I tuck my lower fingers as "Bender" suggests.

    The string grove being off may indicate the limbs may not be properly aligned. If the string is off center towards your bow arm this may be part of the problem.

    The string on my bow is not on center line and I am sure it is a part of the string slap and hand shock issue that I have.

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  7. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    East central Minnesota
    I have neither experience nor advice to offer on ILF bows but I'm going to make the bold assumption that they are similar to non-ILF bows in that most are pretty good and to really know which one you like you need to spend some time with one. For me that means more than half a dozen shots from a vendor or friend at a shoot, it means you have it to tune it, shoot it, and live with it for a while. The only way this usually happens is to buy one.

    The classifieds is where you find out what you least it has always worked for me. If you are lucky you find exactly what you want there and save a bunch of money. If you don't find exactly what you want you at least eliminate a lot of bows and start to get an idea of the compromises you might be willing to make. The thing that's nice about buying good quality used traditional bows (yes, I think ILF is traditional) is that after the initial depreciation they hold their value very well. Buy one, shoot it for a few months and you should be able to get most if not all of your money back if you choose to sell it. Of course you are out shipping, but I just look on that as money well spent in research. I bought lots of recurves and longbows off the classifieds before I settled on what I like. I honestly never had a lemon, but I definitely liked some better than others and never would have known about the subtle but significant differences if I hadn't tried a bunch.

    What are you looking for...wood riser...?...metal riser...? of the sexy Italian bare bow risers...? With a little patience they all show up in the classifieds.

    As far as weight, going down a bit from 54# sounds like a good idea to me, at least for target shooting and hunting less than really big game. I recently went down to 50# at my draw length from 57# at my draw length and am really enjoying the lighter bow. I kind of wish I'd gone down to 47# or so. Much more fun to shoot.

    Sounds like we are of similar size and draw length (I too am not lacking in torso mass), but unlike you I definitely prefer shooting a longer bow. I have 60", 62", and 64" recurves and while I can shoot them all comfortably I do like the 64" bows. Slightly less finger pinch and they seem a little more stable (that part could be in my head). But then I also have a relatively straight up shooting stance and only a slight cant to my bow. I do have some string clearance issues when I wear heavy clothing but arm guards and chest protectors help.

    You have shot enough and from what you've written you have some definite things you want to see in a bow. Enjoy your journey for the perfect's out there, and it's fun looking. And yes, those fancy Borders are pretty sweet looking bows...

  8. #5
    thanks guys, good advice all! I will try the finger folding thing.

  9. #6

    Modifying your bow, ghetto style...


    You can use plumbers putty to shape the site window - if you don't like it a smack with a hammer in it will fall off.


  10. #7
    Nifty idea matt!

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