How to set up a compound bow rest

Your rest is the most fundamental part if your bow. Other parts can be off slightly and still work but if your rest is off then everything’s going to be off. So it’s safe to say it’s important to get it right. Well lucky fir you I’ll show ya how.

The steps to setting up a compound bow rest are as follows:

  • Setting up your nocking point
  • Installing your rest
  • Getting your Centre shot
  • Choosing Blade
  • Setting Blade angle

As mentioned before your rest is the first and last thing touching your arrow as it leaves the bow. If it’s not right then the shots not right. So lets get it fixed shall we.

Nocking point

Your nocking point has a range of places it can be, but that range is very small. There is a correct and incorrect place to put your nocking point. For this job you’re going to need a bow square, or a really good pair of eyes. The objective of this it to get a nocking point directly in line or just above the burger hole of your bow. If you don’t know the burger hole is the threaded hole that the bolt from your rest will go into. It’s also the pivot point of your bow which is why we tie our nocking points in line with the burger hole. So take your bow square and line the bottom of the bow square in line through the middle of the burger hole. From there that’s where your nock from your arrow will go. So get the nock your going to use and use the bow square to line the nock in line with the burger hole. Then go ahead and mark above and below the nock with a paint pen. Then where you’ve marked serve over doing overhand and underhand knots. For your bottom nock you should do 7 wraps and for your top you should do 4-5 wraps. The reason for this is when you tie a dloop onto your string you want the hook of your release aid to be directly behind the nock. Naturally the way the bow gets drawn due to you putting the nocking point on the top half of the string the release will want to sit high on the string. So putting more wraps on the bottom will bring that release aid back down in line.

Now although it is important that your nocking point is in line with the burger hole you can be a little bit above it. I have found that the max you’ll get away with being above the burger hole is 8mm. So you have room to maneuverer but not a whole lot. That being said you shouldn’t ever be below the burger hole. It is just a written rule in the 101 guide to tuning a bow.

Installing the Rest

Here’s where it get interesting. Next your going to take your rest and mount it to the bow. With your rest you’ll get a 5/16ths bolt to mount it. The only issue I have when doing this is keep the rest level while mounting it onto the bow. There’s no real trick or technique to get it level you just have to get it tight where the rest will stand on its own but you can move it when pressed against. What I do with my rest is I press a spirit level up against it to make sure I’m bang on. But this is hard to do while tightening the rest down. You gotta make sure your bow is level if you’re going to do that as well. Having your rest perfectly level isn’t essential as a lot of good archers shoot with their rests off at an angle. However there is markings on your rest for adjusting it left and right, up and down and for me the maths is easier to work out if the rest is level. So don’t wreck your head too much getting it perfectly level. We can get the arrow bang on level by fine tuning the blade later on.

But if you’re fortunate enough to own a bow with two burger holes then you are in luck. If you got two 5/16th inch bolts then you can mount your rest straight onto the bow as the two burger hole will be in line. Once that’s mounted with the two bolts in there’s no question that your rest is levelled. Makes the job a whole lot easier.

Getting your centre shot

The power of your centre shot is crazy, and I didn’t believe it for myself for a while. They say when tuning you can move your rest 1/8 of an inch either way from the centre shot before it starts to hurt your groups, and I would intend to agree. Until I figured out it helps your groups a hell of a lot more when you keep your centre shot true and fix the tears through paper by either shimming your cam or yoke tuning.

How do I find my Centre Shot

So how do you get your centre shot. Well if you look up the specs of your bow you’ll get the exact figure, all bows have a different centre shot so it’s important that you get the exact make and modle of your bow.

How do I measure my Centre Shot

Measuring your centre shot is very simple. But first your going to throw on a blade onto your rest as that’s where we’ll be measuring from. Once you have a blade on your rest and the measurement of what the centre shot is you’ll take your tape measure and put it against the edge of the riser. Then you’ll measure to the middle of the blade and that number is your centre shot currently. You may need to move the rest left or right to match the centre shot you want. It’s a bit tedious but it is worth it trust me.

Alternatively if you’re lazy, you can put a blade on the rest and put your front stabiliser on ( without any quick disconnects pointing downwards ) and nock an arrow. What you’ll do is close one eye and line up the string with the stabiliser and move the rest left or right until the arrow is lined up with both the string and the stabiliser as well. Although not as accurate it still gets the job done.

Choosing your Blade

This is going to depend on a few factors. The main one being what arrow your using. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors it’s going to change what blade you use. For starts your going to look at the actual size of the blade. Generally for skinny arrows you’re going to want a skinny blade, and for fat arrows your going to want a wider blade. Simple right?

The reason we do this is that if we had a wide blade shooting off a skinny arrow there would be so much contact between the arrow and the blade that the shot would look horrible through paper. But then I know what your thinking, why don’t we use a skinny blade for the fat arrows then we’ll get less contact. This may be true in theory but in practice it doesn’t work. The thing you need to juggle here is your arrow staying on the rest as you draw up the bow, and it is very difficult to keep a fat arrow on a skinny blade.

The next thing to talk about when choosing your blade is the stiffness of it. Now if I were you I wouldn’t loose sleep over this but there’s never not a good reason to learn something. In compound archery there’s really only ever three stiffness of blades you’ll ever use, they are 8thousands 10thousands and 12thousands they can be written like so 0.08 0.10 0.012. The higher the number the stiffer the blade. Now in my experience I have found that 0.10 has worked the best for me. Not too stiff not too flimsy either. I’ve gotten away with 0.08 in the past but I always came back to 0.10. Personally I could never get 0.12 blade to work for me, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work for you. These things take time to test and figure out but once you do then you’ll be set up for a long time.

Setting your blade angle

The beauty of archery for me is that there is usually 1000 ways to do one thing there’s no right or wrong answer. But there a couple things where there is a right and a wrong way, and setting your blade angle is one of those things. I’ll come out an say it that your blade angle should be somewhere in between 30-37 degrees. Any higher and any lower and there is just no logical reason for it. The most stable position for your blade rest to be in is at about 32-33 degrees but you can play around with it. You see some guys going around with crazy blade angles and I just have to shake my head. On any good rest there will be markings to measure out the angle of your blade. This is why earlier I said it’s easier to do the maths when your rest is level! If your rest doesn’t have any markings on it then you can always bust out the handy protractor and measure it yourself.

How do I know if my rest is at the wrong Angle

Well lets say you had your rest in the range of angles that I had above how will you know what’s right for you. You’ll know your blade angle is off if you draw up your bow and your arrow keeps falling off the rest. This generally means your blade is too high and you need to bring it down. This is definitely something more people need to keep in mind, especially since there is a right and wrong answer to this. You also need to not the height of your blade is going to change if you change the angle so if you’ve already put your bow through paper and then change the angle you may wanna check it again.

Rogan Cunningham

Rogan Cunningham is an archer and writer for He's a proud member of the National Archery Squad. He writes about his archery training, shooting, and traveling with the national archery team, and he also reviews all kinds of archery kit. He only writes about archery, what can I tell you?..... He's an Archer!

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