By: Bears Butt


When I first picked up my bow and began to shoot, my mentor, Lynn Hayes, told me that what I was being told was all well and proper, but that as time goes on I will enjoy the sport more if I experiment with different aspects of the game.  He went on to say there are SO MANY variables that what might work for one person, might not work for me.  And so, here I go trying different stuff.  Keep in mind my goal in all of this is to kill a buck deer as humanly as I can using my bow.  So, right now my goal is to get my bow and arrow set up to be what they need to be and then the rest is all up to me.

Sure, I have quite a few arrows, all of which are in the 500 spine group and I’ve got people telling me I need to be shooting 400 spine arrows out of my bow.  Well, the other night I asked Weasel to bring down some 400’s he has in his arsenal.  In the mean time I made up a paper holder in order to test “bare shaft shooting” through it.

There are TONS of videos and more than that of professional archers using “paper tuning” to determine if your arrows are too weak or too stiff for your bow setup.  So, what better way to find out if my 500’s are too weak or not.

The way this is done is pretty simple.  You have a good arrow stopping bale that you are shooting into and you keep that where it is.  Then in front of that bale about 5 to 10 feet you place your paper.  In my case it is a cardboard box with just the bottom and two sides attached.  Across the open portion of the box I stretched some butcher paper and taped it good and tight.  Well, not too tight, but good enough.  Now to complete this test, the archer stands about 10 feet away and shoots into the paper.  The arrow will pass through the paper and then stick safely into the bale behind it.

Why would you want to do this?  Well, according to all the stuff I have read and all the videos I have watched, the arrow should pass through the paper with a single hole punched through the paper.  Being that close it makes perfect sense that a single hole would be exactly what you would see after the shot was made.  NOT NECESSARILY SO….remember “Archers Paradox”….the science of the arrow flight once it leaves the string of the bow?  The arrow has to flex and go around the riser (handle) of the bow.  How much flex is directly due to the amount of pressure the string is pushing against the back of the arrow and how much resistance there is in the shaft of the arrow that tries to keep the arrow from bending at all.  If you have a broom handle for an arrow, you can clearly see it is not likely to bend once you release the string.  On the other hand, if you have a straw (long enough of course), it would probably break when you release the string.  So, somewhere between those two extremes lies an arrow shaft that will be perfect for your bow, string combo.  That is what I am trying to find right now.

OK.  So, I set up the box and stood back about 10 feet, sipped a sip of my beer, set the can down and shot my first 400 spine arrow.  The arrow has no feathers on the back, just a bare shaft.  THWACK!  Holy crap!  A rip in the paper about 15 inches long!!!!  Let’s try that again!  THWACK!  Another rip about 7 inches long!  Let’s look at them.



You can see several rips in the paper in this picture, but my first two shots were the middle two.  Let’s look closer at these rips.


The field tips on those arrows hit the paper to the left side of the rip.  What does that mean?  Actually, what does that mean to ME.  To you pros out there I can hear you saying a lot of things.  It’s my form and I plucked the string, which would send the arrow across the riser to the left…It could mean the arrow smacked the riser and sent the arrow left, a direct cause of a poor release as well and I’m sure there are a hundred other things this means…but to ME, it means the arrow could not bend around the riser and is too stiff for my bow.

In the world of knowledgable people dealing with this their pictures show this:


Of the 4 suggested solutions listed, I can only do two of those.  1:  Increase draw weight…I’m maxed out for me at 55 pounds.  2:  Move arrow rest to the left….My arrow rest sets on the shelf and unable to move to the left.  3.  Use heavier points….I was shooting 125 grain points for this test and even if I went to 200 grains points the result would not be enough to straighten the arrow up to make a single hole in the paper.  4.  User a lighter spined arrow… this one makes the most sense to me at this point.

Well, this science is not complete with only this test.  But let’s look as Weasel and his arrows for a second, before we move on.

Weasel shoots a compound bow, you know, the kind with the wheels on each end of the limbs.  He can manipulate his draw weight heavier or lighter.  He can change just about every dynamic there is in archery.  He can, with much manipulation of all the controls, make himself look like he really knows what he is doing when it comes to archery.  He can adjust and re-adjust until he could hit a small dinosaur at 70 yards every time!  (I had to toss that in because my little dinosaur was shot to pieces and buried somewhere on the farm, not by Weasel, but by his daughter and her friend, they shoot compound bows too….manipulation you see).

'I forgot the arrow.'

‘I forgot the arrow.’

Well, Weasel thought this paper idea was pretty cool and he too wanted to see what some arrows he had in his arsenal would do with his current setup.  So he shot into the paper using those same 400 spine arrows that I used.  His results were just the opposite of mine.  His points hit to the right and the tear went to the left.


His shots were the lowest one with the very big tear (actually there are three shots in that tear, two are mine and one is his) and the one above my two in the center and to the right.  I can’t show you the lower shot he made because it just isn’t as clear, so I’ll just show you his upper shot.


So, his point is clearly to the right side of the tear, which shows the arrow to be too weak for his bow.


So, with his setup, the 4 suggestions would be to decrease his draw weight,  move his arrow rest to the right, put on a lighter point or go to a stiffer spined arrow….all of which he could do.

Well, after a couple more brews, and talking about these rips in the paper, we decided to shoot our current arrows through the paper just to see what that looked like.  These are the arrows we have been shooting for months.  His has plastic vanes on and mine are feathered fletchings.  The results!


These are the three holes Weasel shot with the vanes on his arrows.  Pretty much single holes, which says to me (us), he is shooting the correct spined arrow for his bow set up.  As for my arrow, well I shot one time and was happy.


A single hole and the tears from the feathers radiating out from that.  I’m pretty happy with that.  Here is some more info, just because I found it and thought you might be interested:


OK, now for the “there is more to this” aspect:

It’s kind of nice to know this method is out there and you can see results of the “that’s impossible”.  How can an arrow fly sideways for 10 feet and then hit pretty much straight on in another 10 feet?  Well, it does and it’s all about archers paradox and a myriad of other things.

Bare shaft shooting tells you a lot about your arrows and how you have your bow “tuned”.  I’m sure this applies to shooting a recurve or long bow, but for sure it applies to they archers with the “training wheels”.  You take your vaned arrows and shoot them into the target.  And then take the same arrow without vanes and shoot them at the target.  Ideally they will hit in a group, but what if they don’t?  Look at this:


For my recurve bow, a lot of what I’m seeing has more to do with form than most anything else, but I still have to be concerned with my brace height as well.


The manufacturer of my bow says that somewhere between a brace height of 7 1/2 and 8 1/2 inches I will find that spot where my arrows will shoot like they are supposed to shoot and I found a rather complex drawing of what happens when the brace height is too much and/or too little for the spine of the arrow I’m shooting.

brace height - spine

I’m still not sure what this is trying to tell me.  I looks like a lower brace height will cause the arrow to shoot more to the left….anyone????

So, just to add to this confusion, I decided maybe I should shoot like this for awhile:


At least you know I’m trying!

Bears Butt

April 10, 2016




Written on April 10th, 2016 , Archery stuff

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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.