You don’t have to be a contractor to know how to use a hammer. You don’t have to qualify for the NASCAR circuit to know how to change a tire. And you don’t have to be a full-time bow tech to know how to tune, maintain, and set up your own hunting bow.
You do, however, need a few basic tools. So let’s dive in and outline a trio of tools that I think every bowhunter should own and one most will want to own.
Bow Vise Just about every task you’ll ever want to tackle on your bow is a two-handed operation. Sure, you can cradle your bow in your lap, wedge it between a couple of boxes, or just lay it haphazardly on a coffee table. But you’ll regret doing so because you end up spending a whole lot more time on the task at hand than is necessary simply because you’re fighting the bow the whole time.
Get a bow vise. Don’t question the purchase, just do it. The vise will make every task easier and, for many jobs, it’s the only way you can do it right. A quality vise will keep your bow level on two planes, which will save a lot of tuning headaches and hassle.
I own a KTECHMulti Vise and the thing is ridiculous—it holds any bow at an angle without wiggling a bit. It’s also pricey at about $330. If you’re looking to spend a bit less, check out the Apple Archery vise. It lacks a lot of the adjustability of an upper-tier vise but still does an admirable job for about $65.
Levels A lot of wasted time has been caused by the ‘ol eyeball method of accuracy. I should know because it’s a method I’ve employed far more than I care to talk about. Then I bought a good set of bow-specific levels and suddenly things got a lot easier.
For less than $25, you can add precision and efficiency to your tuning tasks. I have three levels that I use all the time: one that attaches to the bowstring, one that attaches to an arrow shaft, and one that attaches to the riser of my bow.
With those three levels, I know that my bow is sitting perfectly upright in the vise, the arrow is perfectly square to the string, and the bow isn’t canted left of right. Knowing these three factors with certainty will make installing a rest, D-loop, sights, and every other accessory simpler and more accurate.
Allen Wrench Set The lowly wrench set isn’t the sexiest of tools. But it is the most vital. I’ve yet to encounter a bow setup that didn’t utilize a plethora of hex-head screws. And, yes, that is the tech talk term for them…they’re hex bolts. Now you can call them “hexes” and impress your friends.
You can easily get away with a single set of wrenches. Pine Ridge makes a good one that houses nine of the most-used sizes. I prefer the XL model simply because it’s a bit more stout but both iterations will do 99 percent of what you’ll ever need to do on a bow like installing rests, sights, and accessories.
If you’re looking to pamper yourself a bit, step it up with t-handle wrenches. They’re easier to hold, faster to use, and make you look especially professional on your Instagram story.
Wish List Item: Bow Press OK, a press is not an absolute must-have because you’ll be able to do the majority of tasks needed for a season of bowhunting without one. But there are some things you won’t be able to do. For starters, you will not be able to install a peep sight safely and correctly. Nor will you be able to swap out strings, cables, or cams should you need to. So, if you’re really ready to up your DIY game and go all in, you’ll need a bow press.
My suggestion here is that you get really, really adept at tuning and setting up your bow first. Visit a local bow shop to have your peep installed and then learn the rest of the tuning process on your own using the three tools above. Once you get the hang of that and are ready for more then it’s time for a press.
A bow press is a substantial investment and a tool that can get you in some bad spots with your bow if you aren’t careful. That said, once you own one you will almost certainly grow your sphere of influence because you’ll find yourself with buddies you never knew you had before, all of whom will hit you up to install their peep sights and swap out strings for them.
There are several reputable bow press companies in the archery world and I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. My personal press is the EZ Green from Last Chance Archery. I paid about $300 for it and have never regretted the purchase, just like the other three items on this list.