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What’s a Plunger?

If you’re interested in barebow or Olympic recurve archery, you need to learn about an accessory called the cushion plunger. This small item is vital to accuracy and bow tuning. In this video, we discuss the plunger’s features, how to set one up, and how to adjust it.

Make sure your arrow shaft is aligned with the center of the bow. Photo Credit: ATA

A plunger is a small cylinder that threads into your bow’s riser above the arrow rest. A plunger houses a spring, and the plunger’s tip contacts your arrow shaft. Plungers have two main functions: They set the center shot, and absorb imperfections as the arrow takes flight.

“Center shot” is an arrow’s lateral position on the bow. When setting up a bow, the archer or bow technician adjusts the plunger so it guides the arrow in line with the center of the bow. This setup requires using guides like a Beiter limb line gauge to find the bow’s centerline. The technician then aligns the arrow by loosening the plunger’s jam nut and spinning it until the arrow shaft aligns with the center of the bow.

If you depress the plunger’s tip, you’ll notice it has a spring action, which is an essential feature. Arrows flex laterally when shot. The plunger’s small amount of give absorbs imperfections and inconsistencies in the arrow’s lateral flex, which keeps the arrow on a straight path as it leaves the bow.

Experiment with the spring tension after you set it up. Photo credit: ATA

A plunger’s spring tension can be adjusted to make a plunger stiffer with less give, or weaker with more give. Some plungers come with multiple springs for a wider adjustment range. These adjustments help archers fine-tune their arrow flight. Once you’ve set up your bow and initially tuned it, you can experiment with plunger tension. Small adjustments in plunger tension can shrink groups and increase your score.

Now that you understand a plunger’s features, you might be wondering which plunger to buy. Expensive plungers are more consistent, and offer easy, repeatable adjustments. Less expensive plungers also work well, and are better than using no plunger. An archery shop’s experts can help you choose the best plunger for your budget and archery goals. To find a nearby archery shop, click here.



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Learn the basics here, from the different styles of archery to how to choose the bow that’s right for you.


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