Improving your arrow flight is the difference between 1st and 2nd place and coming home with delicious venison or not.  Don’t be the sucker who empties their wallet on the best equipment, yet doesn’t spend the time to unlock its full potential. Paper tuning is an effective way to improve your accuracy immediately. Since my introduction to paper tuning, my success in the field has increased tenfold.  I want you to have more success as well, please read on.

1. Paper Tuning. Paper tuning is a popular practice used to determine and adjust an arrow's flight. The archer shoots arrows through a piece of paper and evaluates the “rip” or tear created in the paper. This rip gives you clues to how your arrows are flying as well as adjustments needed to improve its flight. Ultimately, perfect arrow flight is what you and every other archer should strive for. 

2. The Set Up. First, suspend a sheet of paper on a frame that can hold it from all four corners. You can buy paper tuning sheets and frames online or follow either of the "Do It Yourself" projects below. Place the frame about 6 feet away from you. Make sure the paper is directly in front of you, allowing you to shoot arrows straight through and not up or down into it.

  • Option 1 – build a small frame out of wood and tape newspaper to it.  This is simple and will cost about $10.
  • Option 2 – get PVC pipe and make a fully free-standing, 6’ tall frame.  Hang a large roll of paper below so you can pull the paper up. Clamp it up top and tear it off as you need. This option will cost about $50.

3. The Process. Next, shoot three arrows through the paper and note the tears they make. With each tear in the paper, you will see a rounded end and a three or four slotted hole made by the fletched end of the arrow.  This tear will help you understand how your arrow is flying.  For example, if the rounded end is up and the fletched hole is below it, you know your arrow is flying nose down with the point above the nock. 

Proper shooting form and a consistent release are crucial. If you are having trouble with inconsistent tears, check if your form is off or the veins are coming in contact with your arrow rest.  To check if this is the case, spray the vanes with aerosol foot powder. This will help you decide if there is vain contact with arrow rest, which can cause erratic arrow flight and inaccurate readings.

4. The Evaluation & Adjustments. Lastly, depending on the tear, make the according adjustments below:

  • Nock High – Possible Corrections
    • Move nock point down
    • Move rest up
    • Shorten arrow length
  • Nock Low – Possible Corrections
    • Move nock point up
    • Move rest down
  • Nock Right – Possible Corrections
    • Move rest left
    • Spine too stiff
    • Adjust wheal lean
  • Nock Left – Possible Corrections
    • Move rest right
    • Spine too weak
    • Decrease draw weight
    • Adjust wheal lean
paper tuning

If you end up with a diagonal tear, make the vertical adjustments before the horizontal adjustments.  After each adjustment, shoot three more arrows to make sure you are getting accurate readings and that it is not your form that is off.  Continue to make adjustments until you get a rip with the nock in the middle, surrounded by equal fletch tears. 

By using paper tuning, you will begin to see your arrows flying more consistently.  This simple process has allowed me to make sure I have perfect arrow flight again and again. What tools are you using to help improve your accuracy?