Upgrades to Make to a Budget Bow Shoot Like a Flagship Bow

Upgrades to Make to a Budget Bow Shoot Like a Flagship Bow

Posted by Robert Carr on May 3rd 2024

I’d like to preface this by saying that it’s highly unlikely that your bow will shoot exactly like a flagship bow as a result of implementing the following bow modifications. That being said, these mods will undoubtedly bring out the best in a budget bow and significantly improve how it feels so that it’s comparable (at least in feel) to a flagship-quality rig. Using high-quality components that have been set up properly can be a game-changer, so if you’ve been thinking about replacing your budget bow because it’s not meeting your expectations, you may want to consider the following bow upgrades instead.

Introduction to the Project

Once I dove headfirst into archery, it was everything I could do not to go purchase the next latest and greatest flagship bow the second it dropped, despite the fact I hardly harvested any game with the archery equipment I already had.

As this deer season approached, I revisited this mindset, albeit years later, and decided to make a change and put my money where my mouth is. I decided, unwise as it was, to abandon my current setup right before deer season in favor of purchasing the cheapest entry-level bow I could find and outfit it with bow upgrades to see what I could make of a “cheap” bow.

Where did this land me, you might ask? I ended up finding a Bear Species EV, used and on sale for a couple hundred dollars. This looked like the perfect project piece, so I went after it. I asked for it bare, but were it purchased as an RTH (Ready to Hunt) package, it would have looked something like what you see in Figure 1. All things considered, this is an approximation of where the bow “started.” Continue along to see how things progressed with my bow modifications.

A ready to hunt (RTH) Bear Species EV, as originally sold by the manufacturer.

Figure 1: A ready to hunt (RTH) Bear Species EV, as originally sold by the manufacturer.

Modification 1: Aftermarket Bow Strings

One of the most important bow upgrades to these budget bows is to the strings. The function and tune of a bow is flawed, to say the least, without a proper bow string. When looking at the string sets that are included with these bows, it goes without saying these strings leave a lot to be desired; just take a look at the surgical tubing installed to ensure you can see through your peep, despite the inevitable string rotation that surely awaits.

Replacing the stock strings with an aftermarket set (such as our custom bow strings) will likely be the most expensive upgrade mentioned herein; however, the benefits provided by this bow upgrade cannot be overstated. Peep rotation can become a worry of the past, and once your string is settled and set up, you won’t have to worry about the bow constantly slipping out of tune, and something changing at the most inconvenient of times. These strings, as compared to stock strings, often provide a much softer feel, and in some cases, might even pick up a few extra fps out of your bow.

Modification 2: Replace the Cable Slide With a Roller Guide

This bow modification intentionally follows the purchase of aftermarket bow strings for a reason—some bow upgrades work in conjunction. You spent good money on a new set of strings, right? This being the case, it would really be a shame if your cable slide chewed through part of your string/cable and damaged it, but this CAN and DOES happen. Additionally, the friction between the cables/strings and the cable slide can result in your string chewing through the cable slide, which alters your cable tension and offset as the plastic of the cable slide is worn away. This will change the tune of the bow, albeit slightly, which regardless could spell disaster if your bow upgrades aren’t kept up with on a regular basis.

An often overlooked benefit in switching from a cable slide to a roller guide is that it alters the draw cycle, oftentimes resulting in not only a more linear and smooth draw but also a few additional fps out of your bow. Also, because many of the roller guides are constructed from metal rather than plastic, the tension on the cables won’t change over time due to wear of the guide.

cable slide to roller guide upgrade  before shot
cable slide to roller guide upgrade after shot

Note: If you decide to upgrade your cable slide to a roller guide, and are looking for a fresh set of strings as part of your bow upgrades, reach out to 60X and notify us of your use of a roller guide so we can better accommodate your bow modifications. See Figure 2 (left) and Figure 3 (right) for before and after the upgrade to a roller guide.

Modification 3: Upgraded Rest

The third modification to bring the best out in your budget bow is tossing out the whisker biscuits provided with the RTH kits and replacing it with a quality drop away rest. This modification is less to address feel; however, the benefit to performance, specifically with respect to newer shooters, cannot be overstated. Bow upgrades can work wonders in getting you started on the right foot. I will concede that because whisker biscuits have fewer moving parts, and are affixed to a bow with nothing other than a bolt in the riser, there’s an element of “plug and play” that’s very user-friendly to a new or budget-conscious archer.

That being said, the very nature of a whisker biscuit can create issues with respect to arrow flight, especially for archers with poor shot execution and follow-through. Because the arrow is in contact with the whisker biscuit (and by extension the bow) for longer after the shot, there’s additional time for inconsistencies in the archer’s form to have a negative impact on the flight of their arrow. That’s why these bow upgrades are so important—switching to some form of drop away rest could prove beneficial (if installed correctly) because the arrow cannot be affected by what the archer does with the bow after the arrow leaves the string.

Modification 4: Stabilizer Upgrade

It goes without saying that a lot of what gives a flagship bow its feel is its balance in the hand. There are a number of flagship bows that have exceptional balance with little or no stabilization bow modifications, and once stabilization is added, they’re rock solid. This obviously isn’t the case with an entry-level bow, as one of the primary considerations is affordability. Because of this, bow upgrades surrounding quality stabilization with a budget-friendly bow are significantly more important than that of a flagship model.

Looking at a budget bow, specifically the one I’ve chosen, the “stabilizer” is in reality nothing more than a vibration dampener and does little to assist in how the bow holds on target or balances in the hand. For this reason, a favorite modification of mine is the Quivalizer by Option Archery; it can be mounted on the bow similarly to a traditional quiver, or for those like me who prefer to have a quiver and stabilizer in one, it can be mounted on the front of the riser acting as a hybrid front/back bar. Not only will this bow upgrade make any budget bow hold better and bring the balance point lower and more forward, but the added benefit is also that a modification such as this can be moved to any bow in the future; it’s not bow-specific. A very close second, however, are stabs made by Xtreme Stabilization—you can get these bow modifications here at 60X.

Modification 5: Aftermarket Draw Stops

Last but definitely not least are draw stops. These are responsible for the last thing we feel before a shot breaks and throughout the shot process, so there’s no room for error here. Many bows with or without bow upgrades (flagships included) have ticked all the boxes and were exceptional to shoot, but fell short just because of a suboptimal set of draw stops; take the Hoyt RX-3 for example. I loved the bow, and it shot well; however, the rubber stoppers allowed for too much play and made the back wall too spongy for someone like me, who prefers a relatively solid back wall to pull my hinge against. A quick swap to Bomar draw stops, and the back wall on this bow became one of my favorites even to this day. Bow upgrades can make a major difference.

Likewise, the single draw stop on my Bear Species EV has a large rubber stopper, and the feel in the back wall leaves a lot to be desired. For this bow and other models, I recommend Lucky Stops, an aftermarket string stop brand with options for a multitude of bows. They come in multiple sizes and are adjustable to fit the feel you’re looking for.


With the bow I’ve purchased and committed my season to, I’ve made the above bow modifications to make this little budget bow the best (in my opinion) that it can be. As can be seen, with all of the aforementioned bow upgrades, this Bear Species EV looks drastically different from how it’s presented stock at the store, and I can assure you the way it shoots is no exception.

Bear Species EV bow modifications

Once my deer season has concluded, I aim to follow up this article with a review if you will, of how the modifications helped or hurt the build, and what my overall thoughts on this project have been. Check our archery blog for updates. Stay tuned!