Tuning Arrows – Paper Test

By Mark V. Lonsdale

There are a number of steps in tuning arrows to match the bow beginning with matching the correct spine of the arrow with the poundage of the bow. From there, one can increase and decrease bow poundage by adjusting the limb bolts and then increasing or decreasing point weight. Lighter points will make a shaft act stiffer, while a heavier point will make the shaft flex more. But this post is focused on through paper testing and how to avoid an incorrect result.

Paper testing is best done at short range, 5-6 yards, so that the arrow does not have time to stabilize. Keep in mind that even a poorly tuned arrow will stabilize and fly straight once the fletching or vanes have time to straighten out the arrows flight. But a well tuned arrow will fly straight even at short range as illustrated with a bare shaft test.

So set the bale at about 5 yards (meters) and set the paper screen 3 feet in front of the bale. A stiff arrow passing through the paper will make the hole for the point to the left of the fletch cuts (for a right handed archer). If the spine of the arrow is weak, the point hole will be to the right of the fletch cuts. But it is possible to have perfectly tuned arrows and get a false reading

An example of false reading with perfectly tuned arrows. By not paying attention to string blur alignment, and allowing it to drift right of the riser, the paper cuts appear to indicate a stiff spine or insufficient point weight.

In the example above, these are all identical arrows – Easton RX7-23s with RPS inserts (37 grains) and 125 grain points. The bow is a Hoyt Xceed with 34# Velos limbs but 38# at the fingers because of draw length.

Arrows A, B & C went through like bullets since the string blur alignment was correct at the left edge of the riser window. However, with 1, 2 & 3, the string blur alignment was set right of the riser causing the arrow to leave the bow point left. So when it went through the paper, the arrow was still point left which would normally indicate a stiff shaft.

Conclusion: Even though paper testing is done at short range, pay attention to form and aim just as you would at longer target distances.

Easton RX7-23s set up for 20-yard (18-meter) indoor competition

Hoyt Xceed barebow with Velos limbs.


Author: Mark V

Dedicated shooter, seeker, traveler, teacher, trainer, educator

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