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Vertical arrow rest adjustment.


Most bowhunters position their arrow rests so the arrow shaft sits slightly above the rest-mounting hole in the riser. This places the arrow significantly higher than it needs to be. The arrow needs to be just high enough to allow the fletching to clear the bow's shelf. In fact, I believe you're better off placing the rest as low as possible. Here's why:

The lower you get the arrow rest, the closer it will be to the center of the bow (top to bottom). Ideally, if it were possible, you'd want your bow hand (the hand that's holding the handle of the bow) to be in the center of the bow (vertically speaking). The bow is much less likely to rock in your hand before or during the shot if your hand is in the center of the bow (as opposed to being off-center).

Off Center

In a perfect world, you'd also want the arrow to be nocked at the center of the string (vertically). Unfortunately, it is impossible to have both your hand and the arrow in the center of the bow. If they were both centered you'd have to shoot the arrow through your hand. So, we must compromise. Most manufacturers put the grip just a little bit below the center of the bow and the arrow a little bit above the center of the bow. The result of this compromised positioning is that the pressure on the handle is below centerline and the pressure from your release aid on the string is above centerline. So, the forces holding the string back and the bow out away from your body are not aligned with each other. This results in an imbalance, so the bow is predisposed to rock a little.

The longer the bow (axle-to-axle length), the less noticeable the imbalance will be. So, a longer bow will be more forgiving of the offset forces. This is purely a function of geometry. If your hand pressure is three inches below the arrow with a 40-inch axle-to-axle bow it will have less negative effect than the same three-inch disparity on a 30-inch axle-to-axle bow.

In the past, some coaches and shooters tried to minimize this disparity by using a high-wrist grip. The high-wrist grip places the pressure point of the hand on the bow's handle significantly closer to the arrow. Not many shooters do this anymore, because the high-wrist grip forces you to hold the bow in position at full draw using the muscles of the forearm. The active use of these muscles makes it much harder to be consistent. A low-wrist grip allows you to fully relax your forearm muscles. The pressure point on the palm lines up directly with the radius and ulna (the bones of the forearm). Because you have bow-to-bone contact, no forearm muscles are engaged. The pressure on the bow will be much more consistent from shot to shot. The compromise of a high-wrist grip outweighs the compromise of the off-center hand position of a low wrist grip.

How Low Can You Go?

Although we can't eliminate the conflicting forces, we can minimize them by placing the arrow as close to the bow hand as possible. The higher the arrow rest is above your hand, the more you compromise the bow's forgiveness. So, I try to position the arrow rest so that the fletching comes as close to the shelf as possible without hitting it. This is one of the primary reasons I use low-profile fletching. This small fletching allows me to get the arrow rest down a little bit further.

Before the advent of drop-away arrow rests, I used high-profile fetching applied with minimal offset. This provided adequate steering to guide my broadhead-tipped arrows. With conventional, shoot-through arrow rests, it was impossible to get good clearance if your arrows were fletched with much of an offset or helical orientation. But with a drop-away arrow rest, you can fletch your arrows with as much offset or helical as you'd like. In my hands, a lower-profile fletch with lots of offset or helical will control an arrow as well as a high-profile fletch with less offset. Another advantage of low-profile fletching is that it allows you to place your arrow rest closer to the shelf.

When you're setting up your bow, keep your string loop loose enough to move it up and down the center serving. As you place the rest and string loop, eyeball everything closely. Try to put the arrow rest and nocking point in a position that allows the fletching to just miss the shelf. I like to spray the shelf with foot powder and shoot the arrow through the bow to see if the fletching hits the shelf. Keep moving the rest and the nocking point down until the fletching just touches the shelf. Once you've got it touching, move everything up just enough to ensure full clearance.

Another thing to consider when moving your arrow rest down so far is that, depending on how you grip the bow, your index finger might be slightly higher than the bow's shelf. If that's the case, you'll feel the fletching hit your finger. Obviously, if the fletching is hitting your finger, you'll have to move things up a bit further until it clears consistently.

Moving your rest down isn't going to make a huge difference in the bow's forgiveness or accuracy. However, it will help a little. Remember, it's all the little things done to your bow and your form added together that make you the most accurate shooter you can be.
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Author:Ulmer, Randy
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Aug 31, 2016
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