5 Things You Need to Start a Home Bow Shop
Setting up my bow shop at home was the next step I took in the making my hunts and time spent at the range more personal and meaningful.
I initially set up my home shop because I wanted to take more control of my setup. As a bowhunter, I wanted to play a bigger part in my success – and failures. I began by fletching my arrows. This was a natural first step since I could get my local pro shop to cut my arrows, then all I would need was some epoxy and a fletching jig to get at least started on building my arrows. They weren’t great arrows by any means. I keep one of my first dozen in my shop to this day as a reflection of where it all started.
Despite the quality of my first arrow build, I did manage to take a black bear in BC with one of these arrows, and I will never forget the pride I felt after that hunt, knowing I shot that animal with an arrow that I built.
As trivial as this may sound, it was a big deal. I needed to do more, I never wanted a set of hands other than my own to work on my bow or arrows. Flash forward a few months, and I was working away in my shop on my bow, getting ready for the fall season.
Flash forward another six months, and I was building bows and custom arrows for friends and soon for clients.
Looking back, my only regret is that I didn’t start doing my archery tech work from home sooner because it wasn’t a huge investment, and it has made every arrow I’ve shot since those early days working in my basement much more meaningful.
Here are five essentials to start working on your archery equipment at home in no time!
A bow press is a staple of any bow shop. It is a mechanics floor jack and a chef’s best knife. It will be the most used piece of equipment in your shop, and thankfully it is a tool you buy for life.
Bow presses don’t wear out or need maintenance (other than some lubrication every few years), and it is one of the greatest investments you will make as an aspiring bow tech.
Your bow press will be used for yoke and cable adjustments, adjusting draw length on many bows, changing strings, tying in peep sights and nock sets, cleaning strings, and many more crucial tasks.
A bow press does more than press your bow.
Nine out of ten times that I have a bow in my press, I use it simply as a vise to hold the bow perfectly stable while I work on the strings or other parts of the bow.
The industry leader in bow presses is Last Chance Archery. I use the classic EZ Green press. It is a simple press that is long enough to accommodate any size bow and powerful. It is a simple press with a crank handle. Sure, it is a bit slow to press with the hand crank, but I like the fine control I get from this.
If you want a faster press, you can opt for a higher-end model with a more efficient wheel or a powered foot pedal. But rest assured, the basic EZ is affordable and will handle every job you need.
You don’t need to pour a lot of cash into your bow press to be satisfied and do good work.
I can’t say I have a lot of experience with other brands of presses, and this is not a sales pitch for Last Chance. This is just me sharing with you the gear that has worked well for me, and I can’t say enough good things about the EZ Green press.
You may be tempted – as I once was – to try a budget option for a bow press. There are ‘presses’ out there that are little more than glorified ratchet straps that wrap around your bows limbs and compress them like that, but I would caution you from trying this.
They aren’t stable, reliable, or safe, and once your bow is pressed, it will be extremely hard to do any work on it since it isn’t in a stable vise-like with a table-mounted bow press as described above.
Here is my recommendation https://lancasterarchery.com/products/last-chance-ez-green-bow-press
A draw board is a tool that allows you to draw your bow and lock it in place at any point in its draw cycle safely. This allows you to accurately time your cams and measure draw lengths better than any other method.
Thankfully, a draw board is hardly an investment. Commercial models are available for a few hundred dollars, but I built my draw board out of a 2x6, a trailer winch, and a meter stick for under $30, and you should too!
A draw board is an underrated piece of equipment in the archery world. When I was a kid getting into all of this, I didn’t have a draw board, so I had my dad drive me to the local pro shop to see if I could borrow theirs.
They hadn’t even heard of what a draw board was. The next stop was the hardware store, and a few hours later, I was timing my cams in my living room. It is so cheap and easy to build one that you almost can’t afford not to when you are setting up a home shop.
There is no great way to time your cams without a draw board. You can time them by feel to some extent, but the accuracy you can achieve using a draw board is mind-blowing. It gives me so much more confidence in my equipment, knowing that the small details on my bow, like cam timing, are flawless, and if I am ever in doubt, I can always double-check my bow at home with my board.
A feature I love about my homemade 2x6 draw board is that I can write on the board and make marks indicating my and my friends' draw lengths.
My friend Jonah brings his bow to me every year for a check-up, and whenever he gets a new bow or string set, it also comes to me. Being able to mark down his draw length is useful for ensuring that his draw length is perfect every time his bow leaves my shop, and I never have to remeasure it on him. I do this for myself and all my friends' bows!
My homemade draw board, crafted from a 2x6, a trailer winch, a meter stick, and a plumbing pipe
A bow vise is a device that mounts to a worktable and allows you to fix your bow in any position you would like to work on. It is a crucial tool for setting up arrow rests, setting nock points, and leveling your sight and rest.
When it comes to vises, there are options for every budget. I started with a mid-range option, and I quickly upgraded. You need fine precision when you are trying to level a bow during an arrow rest installation. It will matter a lot when you hit the range.
I recommend choosing a higher-end bow vise; you won’t regret it. Just like your bow press, it will last you for life, and your work will improve.
Here is my recommendation https://lancasterarchery.com/products/omp-versa-cradle-wide-limb-bow-vise
String and Arrow Levels
String and arrow levels are probably the most useful tool in your shop.
For only $10-$15, a set of string/arrow levels will enable you to set your bow up perfectly level in all dimensions in your bow vise. This allows you to install and set up your arrow rest with incredible accuracy.
You certainly can set up a rest without one, however. You can eyeball the center of your riser and the leveling of your arrow and then sort out the issues when you shoot through paper during paper tuning.
However, since I have started using these cheap string and arrow levels to set up my rests, I rarely need more than two shots to have a perfect bullet hole during paper tuning. I will often get a perfect bullet hole on my first shot and never have to adjust.
For the $10-$15 you will put into these little plastic tools, you will save so much time in tuning and add that much more value to your shop and the quality of your work as a bow technician.
Here is my recommendation https://lancasterarchery.com/products/r-s-bowvise-string-level-combo
Draw Weight Scale
A draw weight scale is a crucial add-on to your home shop. It will be extremely handy when building arrows to achieve greater accuracy in your spine matching. Knowing the draw weight of a bow is a preliminary step in working on any bow.
It is like stepping on the scale when you go to the doctor's office, it may or may not mean much depending on what your visit is for, but it is always useful for the doctor to know.
The old draw weight scales would hang from the ceiling and require you to pull down on your bow towards the ground extremely awkwardly, only to get a reading within 2-3 pounds of your actual draw weight.
Modern bow scales are just luggage scales that feature a peak weight option. This is a crucial feature. Using one of these scales – which you can easily find for around $25 on Amazon – will allow you to measure the peak weight of your bow just by drawing it as you normally would with a release and will tell you your peak weight to the 100th of a pound.
There is neither a simpler nor more effective way of measuring draw weight in a bow shop than with a simple luggage scale!
Here is my recommendation https://www.amazon.ca/CyberDyer-Digital-Archery-Recurve-Compound/dp/B09ND94WYY/ref=sr_1_6?crid=LY6JIQOP45GF&keywords=archery+scale&qid=1676392268&sprefix=archery+scale%2Caps%2C139&sr=8-6
These are, of course, only the essentials of a home bow shop, but with just this equipment, you will be able to do so much more than you ever imagined at home! Working on your archery equipment at home is such a rewarding process.
It sure can be frustrating learning the ropes, but when you take down that first animal using arrows you build, shooting out of a bow that nobody had touched from the factory except for you, it will add so much meaning and power to your bowhunting adventures.
A home bow shop is also a great way to pay back favors to friends, but I will warn you once you start doing good tech work at home, you may develop a long list of people requesting your services!
If you are in the Calgary area in Alberta and would like me to work on your bow, send us an email or a message, and we can arrange an appointment for you to meet me in my shop and do any custom work on your bow, including custom strings and arrows!
If you have any questions or would like to discuss the topic further, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are always more than happy to talk arrows and broadheads with fellow bowhunters!
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