Updated: Jan 27
A good archery pro shop is a bowhunter’s best friend. You can’t beat having a reliable bow shop with knowledgeable technicians that help you get your setup dialed for hunting season. Unfortunately, if you are like me (and live in the middle of nowhere), finding an excellent pro shop within reasonable driving distance is impossible. Having worked at an archery shop, I learned skills that helped me work on my equipment, which led me to look at building my home bow shop once I moved away. With excellent educational content on YouTube, such as John Dudley’s “School of Nock,” you can learn many of these skills at home for free. You can get carried away pretty quickly with wanting the latest and greatest tools to build your shop, but that comes at a price. For the hobbyist, you don’t need to speed a ton of money on equipment to get started.
On an episode of the East Meets West Hunt podcast, I talked with AJ Iaquinta of Knights of the Apex about our at-home bow shops and what we thought the essential tools were for getting started making tweaks and setting up your equipment. We discussed plenty of other archery related topics including the new Dialed Archery ARXOS Bow Sight. Winter is the perfect time to learn new skills and build your home shop. Check out that podcast episode for details on how we use some of this equipment.
Here is a list of some items I use in my home bow shop. Some of these items are from the GoWild gear shop. GoWild is a free social media app built for hunters, where you can use points from the app to score deals on your favorite hunting gear. I post my gear lists on the GoWild app, and you can see what others are using. You can use the code eastmeetswest to save 10% off all gear purchases on GoWild.
Note: I make a small commission from some of the links and discount codes below. I appreciate you using these where it makes sense to support the website.
Building Your Arrows
Building your arrows is the easiest and most cost-effective way to start working on your bow equipment. With a fletching jig, arrow saw, and arrow squaring tool, you can start building your arrows or fixing damaged ones. We all can relate to losing fletchings because you like to see tight groups. The fletching jig would rank number one on my list, with the others as nice-to-haves.
Affordable Bow Press
When I worked in an archery shop, I had the luxury of using many different bow presses, but I liked the simplest (and cost-effective) press the most. AJ Laquinta from Knights of the Apex agreed on this. I recommend looking for a used bow press since they typically last for a long time. You can start by looking on the Facebook marketplace or talking with a local bow shop to see if they have an old one they’re willing to part with. It’s essential to ensure the press will work with the newer wide limbs on bows. Some of the older presses don’t work very well with newer bows. My setup is simple yet effective, but after talking with AJ, I will add a draw board soon.
Archery Dezign Bow Press Draw Board Set (AJ’s recommendation)
AJ mentioned that he doesn’t have a bow vise because of the cost. I can understand that, but they add a ton of value. The bow vise I currently use is not ideal and honestly frustrating to work with, but it’s cheap and will get you started. The bow vise will allow you to hold your bow in place and keep it level while you work on it. If you can swing the $309 price, buy the OMP Versa Cradle that I have listed below to save you frustration, but if you can’t, the AAP Bow Vise that I currently use is much cheaper and will work (with much cursing).
American Archery Products Bow Vise (my current setup)
October Mountain Products Versa Cradle for Wide Limb Bows (what I would like)
We’ve talked about more significant items until this point, but I wanted to include a list of essential tools that are budget-friendly and will make your life a lot easier.
Pine Ridge Allen Wrench Set - .050 - 3/16 in. - get the set that goes down to .050 because many sight manufacturers use this small size. I learned this the hard way after buying a different set.
Viper D-Loop Pliers - This will get your d-loop started and snug before using the following item.
Easton Pro Archery Needle Nose Pliers - It’s crucial to use archery-specific needle nose pliers. The small notches will grab the string and d-loop to help tighten your d-loop without causing any damage.
RS Bowvise RS Bow Vise Bowstring Level - Snap On - Bowstring levels will help ensure your bow is sitting level when installing your rest and d-loop.
RS Bowvise RS Bow Vise Nok-Ez Arrow Level - This snaps onto your arrow just past your riser to help get the correct placement of your d-loop per your arrow rest.
Nice-to-Have Bow Shop Tools
Here are a few honorable mentions and “nice-to-haves,” but I wouldn’t consider them essential items.
Archery Shooter Systems Archery Shooter Paper Tuner - Folding Wall Mount - I use a roll of freezer paper, a broomstick, and two meat hooks that hang from the ceiling in my basement for paper tuning. It’s as redneck as it gets, but it works. If you want a paper tuner that you buy off the shelf, check this one out from Archery Shooter Systems.
Hamskea GEN2PRO Third Axis Sight Level - Ensuring your bow sight’s third axis is correct is critical for shooting down or uphill. I mentioned how I am doing it on the podcast, but I want to upgrade to this from Hamskea.
October Mountain Products Revolution Serving Jig - AJ talked about why he likes to use a serving jig, and rightly so. Sometimes your serving will wear out before your string does, and instead of replacing the entire string, you can replace the serving and get more life out of it.
Working on your archery equipment can not only be a times savings but cost-effective, as well. Having some equipment and learning how to use it will help you in a pinch during hunting season when archery pro shops are swamped with customer issues, but for some, it might even allow you to do everything on your own. Just a warning that your friends and family will ask you to help them with their bows.