Bow Setup & Tuning – How to Build a Draw Board

What is a “draw board”? How does it help with bow setup and tuning? And how can you easily build one?

A draw board is a device that can hold your bow in place, mechanically draw it, and safely hold it at full-draw. A draw board that is equipped with an inline scale and ruler will allow you to better understand your bow’s draw cycle and check the measurements that we discussed in Part 1, such as draw weight, holding weight, and draw length.

A draw board greatest value is that it lets you see the bow’s draw cycle and understand how your bow is performing at full-draw; more specifically, it allows you to check cam timing, cam synchronization, and draw stop positioning.

Recommended Materials to Build a Draw Board

You don’t have to add a scale, a ruler, or a turnbuckle to your draw board, but I highly recommend doing so.


Assembling the draw board is as simple as mounting the flange and post to one end of the board, and the hand-crank winch to the other end.  The winch connects to the turnbuckle, which connects to the scale, which connects to the bow.  How long you make the board, and were you mount the post and winch on that board depends on where you will be using the board and how you will be mounting it.

I would recommend leaving enough room in the front of the board so that you have plenty of clearance to mount your bow without having to remove your sight and stabilizer.  I have my draw board drilled so that I can bolt it to my workbench in my house, but I am also able to move the draw board to other locations and use clamps to secure it to almost any surface.  (I have it mounted to my deck in the video above.)

The yardstick placement should be determined by measuring from the front of the threaded post, and adding 1.75″  (Why would you do that?).  I also recommend verifying placement by comparing with a bow that’s draw length setting has been confirmed with a draw arrow.

The purpose of the turnbuckle is, as I mention in the video, to finetune the amount you draw the bow.  The hand-crank winch has fixed amounts of draw length at each step.  If, for example, you’re only 1/6″ from reaching full-draw on the bow, another step on the winch is going to pull too hard/far into your bow, whereas the turnbuckle can be twisted to perfectly draw the bow that last fraction of a measurement.  This is especially critical on bows with a limb-based draw stop.

For a great illustration and another DIY draw board plan, check out this article at Field & Stream: Step-by-Step: How to Build a D.I.Y. Draw Board for Your Compound Bow

Here are some detailed photos of the components in my draw board…

Draw Board Mounting Hardware Draw Board Scale Attachment Draw Board Turnbuckle Draw Board Winch

How To Setup & Tune A Compound Bow – Part I

Over the next couple of months I will show you, step-by-step, how I setup and tune my Elite Energy 35.

Even if you’re not interested in learning the entire process of setting up a bow from scratch, stay tuned to this series!  Along the way we will be covering topics that every bowhunter needs to know, such as installing and tying d-loops and peep sights, making arrow rest adjustments, and much more.

Getting Started

What’s the first thing you want to do when you get a brand new (or “new to you”) bow?

Shoot it, of course!

I used to be the guy that hurried to tie on a d-loop, slap on a rest and sight, and hit the range ASAP. But I discovered that a little bit of planning and patience up front will result in a much easier setup, tuning, and sight-in process in the long run. Now when I get a new bow I’m much more methodical about the process that I go through before I start sending arrows down range.

Regardless of what bow you shoot – and whether or not you’re setting up a brand new bow, setting up a bow that you purchased used, or even looking to re-tune your existing bow – the first step is the same…

Know the Numbers

A bow’s specifications – such as axle-to-axle length, brace height, peak draw weight, etc. – are more than “selling points”. These numbers tell you how the bow is meant to be configured for optimal performance.  The first step in setting up a perfectly tuned bow is making sure that all of these numbers are what they should be.

The perfect place to start with any new bow is the owner’s manual.  Make sure that your bow is within the manufacturer’s specifications.  Take the few minutes required to make these measurements, and save yourself from hours of frustration that could have occurred later on in the setup, tuning, and sighting-in process.

“The River’s Divide” DVD Giveaway and Broadcast Debut on Sportsman Channel

Donnie Vincent Hunting

There’s little that I can say about Donnie Vincent’s The River’s Divide that won’t sound cliche. Any description of this film that I attempt to write is going to include buzzwords like innovative, groundbreaking, and refreshing – all of which are true.

I would say that Donnie’s work (along with the crew at Sicmanta) is setting a new standard.  That sounds like marketing fluff, but again – it’s 100% true.

Regardless of interest in hunting, anyone can immerse themself in the story, applaud the creativity, and marvel at cinematic quality of this film.  And if you’re a hunter, you’ll just love it all the more.

The River’s Divide has been released on DVD (enter to win a copy below!), viewed on the big screen as part of the Full Draw Film Tour, and selected for multiple film festivals across the country.  Now it’s coming to millions of homes across the country with a debut on the Sportsman Channel. Watch The River’s Divide on Monday, April 7, at 7:00pm Eastern.

The River's Divide

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But that’s just the beginning!  Preview more of Donnie’s upcoming adventures to be aired on the Sportsman Channel…

State of the Union – An Explanation & A Thank You

It has been a little over 3 years since I started Sole Adventure. What was a simple way to catalog and share my hunting experiences has turned into something that I could have never imagined. My favorite thing about doing this site is that it gives me an opportunity to document things that I am interested in, while at the same time connecting with other passionate hunters from around the country – and even around the world.

2013 was my most ambitious year ever. As you likely know, I published dozens and dozens of articles that outlined how I prepared for my first elk hunts. That project was a labor of love; and laborious it was! I will continue to publish articles about elk hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, other outdoor adventures, and archery information, tips, and tactics. Basically, nothing’s changing!

Okay, one thing has changed.

I have grown as a writer, which has opened up numerous opportunities for me to write elsewhere. These opportunities are great, and I am thankful for them, but they compete with the time that I have available to continue to contribute here, at Sole Adventure.

Turning Sole Adventure into a “successful” or profitable website has never been my goal, nor is it an aspiration that I have now. But, given the economics of time and money, something had to change. I have limited time to write and numerous paid opportunities to write outside of Sole Adventure. So to make it worth my while to continue devoting so much time into this site, I had to be able to “pay myself” something.

That’s why you see some ads on the site now. But these aren’t just any ads. I’m not taking money from anyone that willing to give it. These ads are from carefully selected (by me) partners that I know and trust. The guys at Exo Mountain Gear, First Lite, Extreme Elk, and the Elk101 Store, offer products that I know, use, trust, and would recommend to my closest of friends. I am happy to have their support, and I hope that you would consider supporting them when possible.

It’s odd, maybe even silly, to explain all of this. Many of you have probably seen the ads and didn’t think anything of it. After all, ads are everywhere these days. But this wasn’t a decision that I made lightly, and I wanted to clarify why it’s happening. In terms of my content, my passions, and my direction for this site – nothing is changing.

Check back for another giveaway later this week, and then next week we’re diving into a multi-part series on bow setup and tuning. I’m going to take you with me, step by step, as I setup my elk hunting bow for this year – an Elite Archery Energy 35.

Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting, and emailing.


Hiking with Cameron

“September Calls” Giveaway & Interview with Promont Outdoors

It’s time for another giveaway!  Check out this interview with Weston Paul, founder of Promont Outdoors, and be sure to enter the giveaway for a “September Calls” shirt.  The entry form is at the bottom of the article…

September Calls T-Shirt

What drove you to start Promont Outdoors?

I started Promont Outdoors after a 7 year stint in the science/biotech industry and after getting laid off for the third time, I knew I had to pursue something on my own. No longer was I willing to sit back and be a by product of a poorly run business. Turns out that I had gained enough experience in those seven years to realize that the outdoor industry was where I wanted to make an impact.

My upbringing and the presence of my parents throughout my childhood are at the roots of my company’s message. They were always there for my sister and I, and I want to encourage everyone in the outdoor industry to strive for this type of presence in the lives of their families and friends as well.

“Our children are not going to remember us for the number of fish we caught or the size of our trophies on the wall. They will remember us for our presence in their lives.”

Hazen with Shed Antler

What does the name mean?

The name Promont has a couple of meanings. It is short for promontory which is where I’ve learned the elk like to hang out. I’ve spooked plenty of game while trying to make it to those great vantage points! It also stands for Pro (Mont)ana. I truly believe everyone is a Pro in their own respect. This isn’t to tout our hunting successes, this is simply a way of looking at our own lives. For example, I’m a Pro at being a husband and a dad. No one is better at this than me and I am constantly striving to become better.

Your brand reaches hunters and fishermen.  Do you see a lot of cohesion between these two groups?

Hunters and fisherman have a lot in common. We love adventure and conservation and gear! What I truly appreciate about these two groups is that it is so easy to incorporate our families into our way of life. My wife and I learned this after having some of our very good friends set an example for us with their children. Floating the river, camping, scouting, and hunting were all activities that we incorporate a child into. Our friends took their kids everywhere with them, and this was a huge encouragement to us. Hopefully, Promont will be an encouragement to other hunters and anglers to do, or continue doing, the same.

I really love the whole lifestyle apparel design and production process. As an avid fly-fisherman and bowhunter, I mostly just create items that I would wear. When people put on something from Promont I hope that it invokes a little bit of that same sort of feeling you get when you open up a letter containing a fresh hunting or fishing license. We all know the excitement that brings!

What’s your most memorable hunt?

I’m a fairly new hunter so I feel that each year my hunts get better and better. This year I did go on my most memorable hunt to date. It was with my brother in law and he was able to harvest his first bull elk. The look on his face was priceless. He is a very accomplished hunter and guide and to see the joy in his eyes after taking a mountain bull, well it’s hard to describe. I’ve never felt so good after packing meat out of the mountains. To share that with him was truly a blessing.

Rich with Big Rub Rich Smiling

What can “everyday” hunters and fishermen do to protect the future of their pursuit?

Pass the love onto our children. If you don’t have children, volunteer for an organization such as Fathers in the Field. Also, be ethical and respectful. Follow the rules; they are there for a reason, and I cringe when I see them getting broken because I know that that person is potentially ruining it for the rest of us.

Hazen in Treestand

As a relative newcomer, what has surprised you most about working in the outdoor industry?

I was blown away by how helpful and supportive people are. A few years ago I was fortunate to shoot archery league with David Brinker and Jeff Sposito from Sitka Gear. They were humble, approachable, and truly genuine, and it changed how I thought the hunting industry operated. I’ve continued to meet individuals just like them, and that is why I am so excited to be a part of the hunting world. Of course, there are always exceptions and people with heads so big I don’t know how they navigate the downed timber of a north facing slope. But that dynamic is changing, and I feel that there is a growing camaraderie amongst my generation. It isn’t a competition out there. It’s a “Sole Adventure”.

The Giveaway

I have to give props to Weston for taking the time to answer these questions for us.  I know that I’m inspired, as I’m sure you are, too.  Weston wants to hook one of you guys up with a September Calls shirt, and here’s your chance to claim the prize…

a Rafflecopter giveaway