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Thread: PSE (or hybrid cam) tuning tips

  1. #1

    PSE (or hybrid cam) tuning tips

    For some time I’ve been pondering trying to capture the basics of my setup methods for PSE’s in one location. I get a lot of PM’s helping guys trouble shoot and end up typing bits and pieces of it over and over based on their need at the time.
    Let’s see if I can organize my thoughts and assumptions here and I’ll start by setting aside a few “universals” in how I tackle my own bows and I probably can’t do it without exposing my own politics on a couple of tuning concepts but I’ll try.

    1. Draw length- My draw length is set to support my form and shot. That’s it. It is fine tuned to my pin motion and my own form of group tuning. If your draw length is off such that you contort your body to fit into the bow, you can’t expect tuning (or grouping) to go as it should. Later I may fine tune my draw length by pin motion and groups (misses).

    2. Arrow selection- I am blessed with a longer than average draw length. I also don’t have a “need for speed”. My target arrows and hunting arrows are all built heavy. The lightest arrows I own are 433 grains. I don’t ever push the envelope to the weak side on spine. In my opinion, tapping into speed is the only reason to go light on spine (so you can use a lighter GPI arrow). So, I always choose a shaft that is “stiff enough” and may choose over time to break it down a bit with point weight. My arrow selections are based on quality and specs that will finish in a weight range that I want. I’m not going to fret over helping you choose the right spine in this write up. There are tools for that.

    3. Grip- it will make or break your tuning endeavor. First and foremost, you must be able to repeat the grip over and over again. Then, you may find that you need to be able to alter it slightly to test the result of having done so.

    4. Finishing the shot- like grip. Even when you can tune “perfectly”… it won’t make more x’s, 12’s or dead deer for you. Good shots make those. A good test would be to take one shaft and repeatedly punch paper or bare shaft, if you can’t produce identical tears or group with the bare shaft…. Tuning shouldn’t be your first priority. You’ll chase your tail tuning and your time could be better spent. When you can bare shaft groups and identical tears you’ll soon come to realize that the tune doesn’t make nearly as much difference in scores or groups as it is made out to. Good shots make good groups and good scores….not good tunes.



    Now, I realize those things don’t make me “normal”. That’s ok but one thing I want to make clear, tuning is much easier with an arrow that is stiff vs weak. After much testing, the only time I’ve seen softer spines equate to better scores or groups are where a bow had nock travel I couldn’t remove (or chose not to pursue). During tuning, if we know our arrow is at least “stiff enough”, we have a safe assumption. The arrow is showing us nock travel that is in the bow, with minimal chance of anything else. We tune the bow to the arrow (remove the nock travel) and the end result is a bow that is very tolerant of a variety of spines.


    5. Center shot and nock height- I won’t dwell on these things like most “tuners” do. Here’s why; I let the bow tell me what it wants during tuning and early in its life. Nock height to me is defined by the way the bow aims and tunes. Center shot is where it tunes…not a measurement. I do not use walk back or French tuning at all, ever.

    a. If you think you need walk back tuning, I’m going to challenge you. Check your sight setup (2nd axis specifically). Check your shot…are you centering in the peep the same as distance increases? And lastly, set your windage at the long range first. Then move up and see if you still think you need to move your rest via “walk back” tuning. Walkback tuning implies that there is one magic location that a bow will not drift left or right with increasing distance. This is simply not correct.


    So, those are the basics concepts that are always in my mind. Let’s assume I’m taking a new bow out of the box.

    1. First things are to set the specs on the bow. Draw weight, draw length and synch are the most important. I generally set ATA at this time as well (mostly so that I have a record of a starting point). If I know the cam system/bow well, I may already have some personal ideas about how I set my timing and synch. With any hybrid cam, it is a safe assumption to synch the cams so that the top cam hits slightly ahead as a starting point.

    a. Let me time out and explain a couple of dynamics at play with just about any hybrid cam system. The timing marks are almost irrelevant. They really are an indication of letoff and valley more than anything else. If the timing marks move towards the string, letoff and valley length is increasing from factory spec. If ATA is correct, it is also an indication that you are making a longer draw length than the module/stop would indicate. If they move towards the riser, letoff and valley length is decreasing and the opposite is true regarding draw length vs factory positioning. When the cams are synched perfectly (as defined by us during tuning and setup) the timing marks will probably not be dead on the cables.

    b. Let’s talk about twisting and the effect of each move on a hybrid cam;
    i. Buss cable- a twist in the buss cable advances the top cam (makes it hit sooner), it lengthens draw length, decreases ATA and increases letoff/valley (assuming timing was even before the twist).
    ii. Control cable- a twist in the control cable slows down the top cam, shortens draw length. It’s effect on ATA, valley and letoff are dependant on the others.
    iii. String- a twist in the string shortens draw length, valley and decreases letoff. It plays a role in ATA and draw weight but it is secondary to to the buss.
    iv. All- a twist out produces the opposite effect.

    c. Cable rod or flex guard;
    i. You should preliminarily set this prior to moving on. This should be done to provide minimal clearance off the first obstruction. On most of the flex guard bows, it would hit the string stop first. If you aren’t running a string stop, it will be in your sight picture before it hits the shaft at full draw or most vanes on the shot. I eyeball mine to be at the edge of the riser at brace height (not on a Dominator) to provide relief but not put them in my scope housing at full draw. Your tolerance for this may vary from mine.
    ii. The flex guard bolt will move. I highly recommend removing it, adding loc-tite and replacing it. After initial adjustment, mark it with a silver sharpie or similar.
    iii. I also run a small rubber washer behind mine. It does quiet the bow and seems to assist in it not wanting to vibrate loose. Others use hard plastic washers with success.

    So, at this point, I have set my draw length and draw weight and preliminarily set my timing. Since I’m in and out of the press during this time, I also pre-set my top cam pre-lean to be minimally like \ when viewed from behind. Lay an arrow on the side of the cam just to get a better visual of where it is. Don’t over think it. If the shaft touches somewhere around the nock point, its good enough to start. I also check the bottom cam but we’ll circle back to the both cams shortly.
    Let’s tie the nock point in. The reason I don’t do this before setting my other specs is that adjustment to the buss and control cable move it. I don’t want to tie it in, do my twisting and then find it isn’t where I wanted it to start with and have to re-do it.

    1. Nock height- I said I wouldn’t dwell on this and I won’t. I use a basic bow square and tie the top of my bottom nock set in level with the center of the berger hole on a new bow. After I know a bow and cam system, I may learn through tuning and shooting that a slightly different nock location works better.

    2. Hard nocks- I use superglue and cotton thread to build my hard nocks inside my loop. Some say not to put superglue anywhere near a string but over the last 25 years or so, it’s never hurt one of mine or that I setup for others. I tie in my top nock allowing for a tiny amount of play over the nocks I use to reduce the severity of nock pinch. ~1 serving wrap worth of play.
    3. Install your loop. I measure mine with a caliper. Generically, the inside spread of my loop is .575”. I do change this based on the release and the bow. You need to know this measurement so you can replace them easily and stretch to the same length as it is highly critical to your anchor and accuracy. I can absolutely feel .020” difference.

    Now I install my rest.
    1. Height- Nothing fancy. I eyeball it so that the shaft sits level or very slightly nock high. Tuning will tell me what it needs later on.
    2. Center shot- I do this by eye generally as well. I don’t measure it. If I am inspired for whatever reason, I use the two-arrow method where one is laid against the riser face and the other on the rest and adjust the rest to parallel. The reason I don’t really bog down on this is….. wait for it…. It doesn’t really matter. As we adjust the cams, the center shot of the bow changes. I tend to start with my rest centered in the grip (or window in the case of a Dominator).
    So, hopefully I haven’t lost you yet. I don’t even like discussing the above because it’s individual and doesn’t really matter. We want to tune the bow to ourselves. At this point, I like to put some arrows through the bow to settle the strings before I even start tuning. I may immediately feel a needed draw length tweak or timing/draw curve adjustment I want to make….might as well do as much of this as we can before we worry how the arrow is flying.


    Tuning- 1. For most shooters, it’s going to be easiest to start in front of the paper at about 6’.
    2. Maybe you get a bullet hole. If you’re a “paper tuner” I’m going to encourage you to shoot from multiple distances (say 6’-10 yards) to get a real picture of arrow flight. I might also encourage you to do the same with a bare shaft. It will show you more clearly what the shaft really wants to do.
    3. I generally make sure that nothing is WAY wrong through paper and then step to our 20 yard range and start bareshafting. The two methods are really equivalent but the bare shaft more clearly illustrates the flaw. You can arrive at the same point and quality of arrow flight with either with some effort and understanding. Bullet holes don’t necessarily mean the best groups. Many target shooters prefer a tail high or high left.
    a. Paper tail left = bare shaft right.
    b. Paper tail right = bare shaft left.
    c. Paper tail low = bare shaft high.
    d. Paper tail high = bare shaft low.
    4. Broadhead tuning is another equivalent to paper or bareshaft just illustrated differently.
    a. BH left = paper tail right….
    b. And so on…..


  2. #2
    So let’s talk about how to “fix” the issues.

    1. Vertical tears or bare shafts vs fletched. The majority of the time these are going to be rest vs nock height or cam synch.
    a. High tear (low bare shaft)= the bow is telling us to move the rest up, or the nock point down or it may be telling us we have a synch issue. If the rest doesn’t appear to need to go up, we need to look at the timing. We may choose to put a twist in or out of the buss or control cable and shoot again to see if we improve. It is always a good idea to verify that we are not getting a false reading by bouncing off the rest or vane contact. Spray foot powder is your friend.
    b. Low tear (high bare shaft)= the opposite is true.
    i. Moving the rest down is NOT the same thing as moving the nock point up. The rest only guides the arrow, the nock point affects how the bow loads it. Don’t think that because you dropped the rest and didn’t get what you wanted means that raising the loop won’t work.
    ii. Vertical tears can also be spine related. Like I said, stiff shafts show nock travel in the bow. If you don’t have the nock travel addressed vertically, the stiff shaft will show it. A weak shaft can hide nock travel or be equally troublesome. I’ve seen them be stubbornly tail high all too often.
    c. Left or right tears or bare shafts=
    i. A left of right tear may be corrected by yoke tuning, shimming the cam, moving the rest or by adjusting the flex guard or cable guard.
    ii. This is also where a lot of guys run into grip or anchor troubles. Especially with a bow that you’re getting to know still, it is wise to run some tests on your grip by adding or removing thumb side pressure while shooting through paper. We want to tune the bow to you, but we want to make sure we aren’t asking too much of it.
    1. Right tear = gently add thumb side pressure.
    2. Left tear = gently load the outer edge of the grip.
    iii. Before moving on, I want to clarify that an underlying goal should be to end up with the lean of each cam working together. They should be similarly opposite of each other. If they are leaning in very different amounts (or even directions), one is compensating for the other in our tuning.

    1. Shimming (bottom cam).
    a. I consider this to be the “coarse” adjustment available to us. I want it right first so that I’m not over compensating elsewhere in my tune.
    i. PSE uses three sizes of shims
    1. Thick = .120
    2. Medium = .060
    3. Thin = .020
    ii. The limb design is very responsive to small changes in the location of the cam. Unless assembled improperly, we are typically going to move .020-.040 tops to adapt the bow to our style/shot/setup.
    b. We always move the cam in the direction of the tear after deciding if we need/want to do so.
    c. Left tear = move the cam to the left by rearranging the shims. As the cam moves to the left, it will lean more like / at brace. So, if it already has a healthy amount of lean, we want to look elsewhere.
    d. Right tear = (common for me with factory built PSE’s) move the cam to the right. As we move it to the right, it will have less and less / at brace. Personally, I do not allow the cam to go “past plumb” at full draw…that is how I define my minimum tolerance for pre-lean.

    2. Yokes
    a. I consider the yokes to be the secondary adjustment to be used after the bottom cam has been located properly. You must check timing regularly though during yoke tuning. Due to the unequal amount of twists in each yoke, the value of the twists is not exactly equal.
    b. Left tear= add twists to the left yoke and/or remove from the right.
    c. Right tear= the opposite of the above.

    3. Rest location
    a. I don’t move my rest much during tuning of horizontal tears. If I look at it and suspect it may need to go one way or the other, I may move it but I generally leave it locked down and tune the bow around it. Understand that the adjustments above are moving the path of the string (the power stroke center….the center shot) of the bow. If your rest was “perfectly centered” before the above, it isn’t anymore. Each yoke or shim changes the center shot.
    b. Left tear = move the rest in.
    c. Right tear = move the rest out.

    4. Flex guard or cable guard.
    a. This provides a very fine adjustment for horizontal tears or bare shafts. I typically only use it while BH tuning. A slight turn of the bolt can yield a finer adjustment than moving the rest or twisting a yoke.
    b. Left BH or Bare shaft = loosen the flex guard bolt.
    c. Right BH or Bare shaft = tighten the flex guard bolt.
    d. 1/8-1/4 turn adjustments at a time. More than that and you probably should’ve made your tuning adjustment elsewhere (yoke or rest).

    Creep tuning- a. I don’t go about this exactly like it gets written up but the specifics somewhat depend on the cam. To do this, you really need to shoot the bow a while and come back to it. You should have the harness broken in and be very familiar with the bow…. Peep height dialed in, draw length dialed in, stabilizers pretty close. The successfulness of this method somewhat depends on your ability to hold and shoot accurately. If you can tap into it, it can really tighten up your groups vertically.
    b. Take a horizontal line on your target….the farther the better but only to the extent of your ability to hold on and hit this line repeatedly with good shots.
    i. Zero on the line.
    ii. Now, creep off the wall slightly, settle the pin and make a good shot. If your bow is so jumpy that you can’t creep slightly, pull harder into the wall than normal, settle the pin and make a good shot.
    1. If the softer shot goes higher than your normal shot (or if the harder shot goes lower than your normal shot) we need to advance the top cam. We do this by adding a half twist to the buss….or by removing a half twist from control.
    2. The opposite requires the opposite adjustment.
    3. Know that each adjustment has an effect on your draw length so you may wish to correct your draw length using the string if you adjust your cables much at all.
    4. Repeat until your hard and soft shots hit together.
    iii. Once this is complete, you’ll have a bow that aims better because this is giving you the best possible timing you can get. It also makes maintenance down the road very simple. If you start to see high fliers out of your group, it is a sign that you need a tiny adjustment (half twist added) to your buss cable. Hybrid cams stretch buss cables…that is a fact of life. The don’t really stretch the others as the load is a fraction of what the buss cable carries. So, it’s a pretty safe assumption with quality strings that any subsequent change to our tune comes from buss cable stretch. If you shoot lots of arrows, consider having your builder build your buss cable with extra strands. It will increase maintenance intervals.
    iv. This is a great time to recheck your paper or bareshaft tuning. You may wish to make a tiny rest adjustment. It will affect arrow flight quality but not your creep tune.

    Torque tuning- a. This is really an act of finding the sweet spot location for your rest and sight where torque applied in your grip is nullified by the rest and sight. It really takes left-and-right misses out of the front half of the bow. Careful, you may run out of excuses for missing here.
    b. Hang a vertical line on your target. Dial in on it with your normal and good shots. Like creep tuning, the quality of your result may increase with distance but only to the extent of your ability to hold and make good shots.
    c. Now torque to bow to the right or left, hold on the line and make a good shot. If the arrow misses in the direction the stabilizer was pointed, move the rest back or move the sight forward. If it misses opposite of the stabilizer, move the rest forward or the sight in.
    d. Repeat until all arrows hit together. If you moved your rest, you may wish to recheck through paper or with a bare shaft for its vertical setting. Re-zero.
    After all of this, I am just looking for “quality time” with my bow. I may fine tune draw length or decide I want more or less valley, more or less holding weight, monitor my sight picture and adjust stabilizers/weights. Based on sight picture, I may experiment with tiller adjustments. I may raise or lower my nock height slightly. I may experiment with point weight or altogether different arrows. Each would take only minor adjustments/tuning since I’ve cleaned up the nock travel in my bow. Basically I’m looking for groups smaller than my hold pattern. Honestly that comes from the quality of shot more than the setup. It is very rare that I would change anything related to arrow flight in pursuit of better groups or scores…my tuning is about feel and comfort that allows me to repeat the kind of shots I want to shoot. If I’m getting misses I don’t feel I contribute to, or are larger than I expect, I research and trouble shoot it. If not, I just shoot.

    I don’t credit my setup for my good days or blame it for my bad ones. Preparation and maintenance are on me.

  3. #3
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    Nice work thanks!

    Always good to have a full workflow of another archer.

    Skimming through, I noticed I usually do the same things as you do, I just use different tests during the process. (Never use paper really... Always do a short walk back, since it accounts for grip issues better and it does show stability. Yes, that might be bad, but in the end, I care about the PoI, not about how the arrow gets there really. - But yes, I need to fix myself and the bow in one longer step.)

    5/5 from me.

  4. #4
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    Great work! Thanks for taking the time for this.

  5. #5
    Thanks guys.

    If a man has a method that works for him, I'm not going to step in and say otherwise. The main reason I use bareshaft (and situationally paper) is my "stiff arrows" for 3d and indoor. I've found that they group best when they fly really well and this seems more true the lower the FOC gets. The only times I've had problems with them grouping or being critical just so happened to be when I would also visually catch "kicks" in flight after leaving the bow. I am aware of just how "mental" this could be too. But like I said, I'm not married to bullet holes or fletched+bare hitting together but those things give me a good starting point. I like my flight "issues" to be corrected in one cycle or less....meaning when I tune for a slight tail high (normal)... I want to see that arrow never get worse than what I put in it....and I don't want to see it go the opposite way (more or even equally) before correcting. I'm not sure if that makes sense. All of this really applies well to broadheads too come hunting season. A good bareshaft tune just makes BH tuning easier to me.

    I figured if I had any magic to share it was in the shimming and the flex guard. Many very competent guys don't seem to tap into this still. So, the rest of the stuff before that is to help make the right decisions about cam lean and not abusing one thing to correct another.

  6. #6
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    Nice Instructions

  7. #7
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    Marked for later and often!
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmorelli View Post
    Thanks guys.

    If a man has a method that works for him, I'm not going to step in and say otherwise. The main reason I use bareshaft (and situationally paper) is my "stiff arrows" for 3d and indoor. I've found that they group best when they fly really well and this seems more true the lower the FOC gets. The only times I've had problems with them grouping or being critical just so happened to be when I would also visually catch "kicks" in flight after leaving the bow. I am aware of just how "mental" this could be too. But like I said, I'm not married to bullet holes or fletched+bare hitting together but those things give me a good starting point. I like my flight "issues" to be corrected in one cycle or less....meaning when I tune for a slight tail high (normal)... I want to see that arrow never get worse than what I put in it....and I don't want to see it go the opposite way (more or even equally) before correcting. I'm not sure if that makes sense. All of this really applies well to broadheads too come hunting season. A good bareshaft tune just makes BH tuning easier to me.

    I figured if I had any magic to share it was in the shimming and the flex guard. Many very competent guys don't seem to tap into this still. So, the rest of the stuff before that is to help make the right decisions about cam lean and not abusing one thing to correct another.
    Thanks for the constructive discussion. I didn't mean anything negative with my remark and I don't feel that I have to prove my method or anything. Your additional explaination makes a lot of sense. And I should add that I too like to do some bare shafting which is indeed (Essential I'd say) a very good tool before BH tuning. For my 3D arrows, I don't care as much. I tend to do better with the bow slightly out of tune because I just get to feel comfortable with the gear and every slight change might trow it off (feeling wise).

    Love how tunable PSE Hybrids are in general. Only thing I've never explored is the shimming though. I guess I just prefer not to and haven't found a bow that couldn't be tuned as is from the factory. But I'm sure they are out there. Lucky me I guess.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Unicron View Post
    ... that couldn't be tuned as is from the factory. But I'm sure they are out there. Lucky me I guess.
    I know two shooters better than me (yes, there are more than two) who would say this about their bows;

    Shooter A: when I take a bow out of the box and set my specs, it is going to tear left.
    Shooter B: when I take a bow out of the box and set my specs, it is going to tear right.

    PSE generally builds them all the same. I personally believe it is about our grip and how we setup behind the bow (shoulder position and draw length). My tuning methods are about tuning the bow to ME... I don't adapt to bows. If one asks me to, I sell it

  10. #10
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    Great write up. I actually discovered this week how much the flex guard adjustment can impact bare shafts and paper tears. There definitely seems to be a sweet spot for it.

    On your hard nocks, about how long do you make yours? Do you make your bottom one longer than the top?
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ThunderEagle View Post
    Great write up. I actually discovered this week how much the flex guard adjustment can impact bare shafts and paper tears. There definitely seems to be a sweet spot for it.

    On your hard nocks, about how long do you make yours? Do you make your bottom one longer than the top?
    I may alter the width of them during tuning as it can affect vertical tears through pressure applied to the nock and rest.

    This is basically how I start and I don't change unless I see a need. The top is slightly smaller than the bottom. Both are smaller than I see most on AT....I don't want my loop any wider than it has to be.


  12. #12
    Great post lots of good info
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  13. #13
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    great info

  14. #14
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    Thank you. I have been struggling for months and these notes give me confidence I can tune my Dominators.

  15. #15
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    Walk back tuning 100% does work, to each their own.. I prefer french though
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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Trying Archer View Post
    Walk back tuning 100% does work, to each their own.. I prefer french though
    It works for you so keep doing it.

    Philosophically, I tend to think many of our tuning methods and other rituals are really about putting our minds at ease with our equipment. What we have confidence in performs the best for us.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmorelli View Post
    It works for you so keep doing it.

    Philosophically, I tend to think many of our tuning methods and other rituals are really about putting our minds at ease with our equipment. What we have confidence in performs the best for us.
    I couldnt agree with you more! Goes right along with this, A $1200 bow that doesent feel good to someone wont shoot as good as a $300 bow that does. All tuning methods have reasoning and for the most part work good enough, at the end of the day, confidence in our equipment is key.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmorelli View Post
    It works for you so keep doing it.

    Philosophically, I tend to think many of our tuning methods and other rituals are really about putting our minds at ease with our equipment. What we have confidence in performs the best for us.
    If you dont mind me asking, could you go into a little detail about what to do instead of walk back/french?
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  19. #19
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    Great info. Thanks
    PDF. file would be cool. I'd print that. Maybe an addition page with a check list.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Trying Archer View Post
    If you dont mind me asking, could you go into a little detail about what to do instead of walk back/french?
    Its all there already. That's my point.... 25 years and countless bows and setups of my own and for others....no walk back.... No French. No issues.

    You tell me why...

  21. #21
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    Just got a Dominator, I'll be reading this a ton in the next few days and weeks. Any special instructions for Dominators?

  22. #22
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    Great right up! Thanks for taking the time!

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by rider01 View Post
    Just got a Dominator, I'll be reading this a ton in the next few days and weeks. Any special instructions for Dominators?
    Not off the top of my head. Most of my PSE time is divided amongst Dominators, Supras and Freaks. I've owned and built a bunch of Dominators. They were all on my mind when typing that up.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmorelli View Post
    Its all there already. That's my point.... 25 years and countless bows and setups of my own and for others....no walk back.... No French. No issues.

    You tell me why...
    Oh i must have missed that, i'll read again.
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  25. #25
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    Aug 2010
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    NE OK
    Posts
    163
    Quote Originally Posted by Trying Archer View Post
    If you dont mind me asking, could you go into a little detail about what to do instead of walk back/french?
    I'm nowhere close to an expert or an advanced tuner, but I'll throw out there how I was able to wrap my mind around the concept, and then Tony can confirm if I'm anywhere close to correct.

    If bare shaft are hitting with fletched shafts at 20 yds, that means the arrows are coming off the bow in a straight line, without the fletchings having to correct much in the arrows flight path, like a bullet leaving a rifle barrel. You don't sight in a rifle at 200 yds and then make sure it is on at 50 yds (windage wise). You know it will be, because the bullet is traveling in a straight line. However, you can sight in at 50 and be off at 200 because you wouldn't notice being off 1/4 inch at 50, but it is magnified at 200. You could sight in at 50, 100, 150 and 200, or just go straight to 200. Same for an arrow coming straight off a bow in a straight line. If the arrow is traveling in a straight line and it's on at 60, or the furthest I can comfortably shoot a good group, it's going to be on at 50, 40, 30 and 20, too. So I get the arrow flying straight (paper, bare shaft tune, broadhead tune), then step back the furthest I can shoot a good group and sight in my windage.

    Is my theory correct?

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