Selfbow Care and Set Up

Set Up

Important considerations are brace height, nock point and arrow spine. Your first area of concern is the brace height. To begin with, start with a heightthat clears the fletchingof your arrows. Later the brace height may be fine tuned. If you are using a flemish twist string then adjust your string by twisting it. Flemish strings lend themselves readily to such adjustments and offer an advantage over the endless string. If the brace heightis set to low, then you will hear the arrow slap the bow as you release. Set the brace heightat the lowest level needed to achieve good arrow flight.

Your next area of concern is arrow spine. Spine is a reference to the stiffness of the arrow. If the spine of the arrow is improper for your bow then the arrow will move in a side to side fashion. Selfbows are very sensitive to arrow spine. Arrowsmiths typically make arrows in 5 lb. spine groupings. You may buy arrows or shafts in a 40-45 lb. grouping, for example. I keep arrows of several different spines on hand for bow tuning. Often, selecting the correct arrow spine is a trail and error process that becomes easier with experience.

Your final area of concern is the nock point. Archers often place a mark of some sort on their bow string to indicate where their arrow should be nocked. I nock my arrow under this mark. The nock point is individual to the archer. There is no right or wrong way to place it. You will know, however, when it is placed incorrectly because your arrow will porpoise through the air in an up and down manner. I use a small piece of duct tape about 0.5 in. wide and wind it around the bow string beginning at 0.5 in. above a right angles tothe arrow rest. Bow squares are handy helpers now. Move the tape up until perfect flight is achieved. Later you may replace the tape with windings of nylon thread set with glue but this is not necessary.


Properly built selfbows are tough and last for years. Stringing your selfbow properly is vital. Use a bow stringer. They are inexpensive and you may shape you r nocks to fit it as you build your bow. You may, if you wish, use the push pull method. If you are right handed the bottom limb is placed against your left instep. Keep it off the ground to protect your nock area. Your left hand is placed on the handle of the bow while your right hand is placed over the string. The upper limb of your bow is between the upper loop of the string. Pull toward you with your left hand and push away with your right. Slide the string over the upper nock of your bow. Heavy bow shooters often hold the bow above the handle while stringing because they lack the strength to hold it at the handle. This, I believe, places undue stress on the upper limb. If you can't hold it at the handle, then use a stringer.


Some woods are very sensitive to extreme temperatures. Give your selfbow a chance to adjust to the temperature. String it and put it aside for a few minutes while you warm up and stretch your muscles. Also, no finish is impervious to moisture. Be sure you renew your finish periodically if you are using wax or grease to protect you r bow. If possible, store it away from humidity. My regular shooter is removed from my cellar in the summer because of the humidity present there . Selfbows will take a set and lose cast in humid conditions. Often this is irreversible. In addition, touch your selfbow up as needed. Apply a bit of stain or similarly colored paint if possible. Take pride in it as you worked very hard to produce it. Moreover, never rest the nock of your bow on the ground place it on your shoe instead. While you shoot with others your bow may attract a crowd. Always supervise people as they hold it. My advice is to never let another person shoot it, except possibly other selfbow shooters with similar draws, as they may break it.

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