Maintenance isn’t just for cars; your bow needs it too! And it’s critical. Some bows get put in the back of the closet after season is over. Others get to stay out and play all year! Either way, there is upkeep that needs done to keep those arrows flying consistently and safe. The pressure that the limbs are under as you come to full draw is impressive. To keep yourself safe, it is imperative that you occasionally take a closer look at the bow components to ensure that they are in proper working order.
All you need for basic bow maintenance!
String Wax and a good set of Allen Wrenches.
The neediest component, which is most susceptible to wear, is the string. Although it is strong, it takes a lot of abuse when you are slinging arrows. Just like leather needs conditioned to stay hydrated, so do bow strings. Gray or frayed strings are a huge indicator that you need to wax! Wax your string every 200-300 shots. Be extremely critical when you look at frayed strings. Some wayward hairs sticking out are ok, but anything beyond that take it to a pro-shop to be checked out! If a string breaks at full draw, it could be catastrophic.
A thin coat of wax is all you need. Believe it or not, more is not better when it comes to waxing your string, this can cause it to slip off the cams.
Run the wax along the string and work it in with your fingers just until there is a light coating, but you can still feel the individual threads that make up the strings.
As I age, I find myself forgetting things more often than I used to. For bow maintenance, I like to work from small too big. As I look at the many components of my bow, I pick out the smallest things, like the draw length bolt, and work my way up to the limbs and arrows.
Draw length adjustment set screw.
Grab your Allen wrench set. To have a bow and no wrench set, is like having carpet and no vacuum. So many components of a bow rely on Allen wrenches, I’m surprised each bow doesn’t come with a set!
Go through the various bolts on your bow, giving them a gentle righty-tighty turn to make sure they are snug. Although our bows may be smooth and quiet, vibrations occur every time we let an arrow fly. Over time, this can cause the bolts to wiggle loose. Don’t forget to check the bolts that hold your string stop as well as those that hold on your accessories!
Do not adjust the bolts on the limbs that adjust the poundage of the bow! It’s easy to get distracted and just tighten everything, but don’t touch those! If you are a seasonal shooter, it may be necessary to adjust the poundage at the beginning of the season. If you need to turn it down, do so by adjusting one bolt, one turn then repeat with the other. These need to be adjusted evenly, and you may not need to set it as light as you think you do! You want to be able to pull it back, but you also want to work on building those muscles up again!
Don’t adjust the poundage unless you need to!
Maintenance isn’t just for cars, it’s for bows too! Move on to inspecting your accessories. Start with your sights. Repetitive drawing can cause your peep sight to walk in the string. Are all your pins on your sight still intact, after being hoisted up the tree fifty times last fall? Are the fiber optic pins still bright? UV rays can breakdown fiber optic sights over time. Be sure to store your bow in a case when you’re done shooting. Even accessories like string dampeners need to be inspected! Over time, the rubber will break down causing them to lose effectiveness.
Look at those limbs! Just a hairline fracture in a limb can cause major damage. Visually inspect for obvious damage, then run your fingers across them, to pick up anything that cannot be seen. Grab a cotton ball or pad and run that along the limbs. The cotton will catch on any imperfections.
Lastly, inspect your arrows, getting hurled at a target hundreds of times will take a toll! Is the fletching still adhered to the arrow? Are there any splits in the vanes? Any anomaly will affect the accuracy of the arrow’s flight pattern.
In the same way that we checked the limbs for fractures, we need to check our arrows. If there is a weak spot, the arrow could splinter and explode on impact. The cotton ball trick is especially useful on arrows. Carbon is incredibly strong, but when it starts to splinter all that goes out the window. Remember, maintenance isn’t just for cars, it’s for bows too!
When I get a new arrow out to shoot. I always mark it somehow, so I will be able to tell if it’s a “flyer”.
Sometimes arrows don’t land on target because something is off in your stance, it’s windy, or there is an imperfection that causes the arrow to not fly straight. By marking the arrows, if #3 is constantly flying to the right, it probably has an imperfection. By knowing which arrow is not flying right, you can do further inspection to see if it is fixable, like a crooked fletching.
When shooting your bow, always listen for anomalies. If you hear creaking, a strange vibration or anything else that is not normal for your baby, stop shooting and take it in to a professional. Although we went through all the components well, there could be something that was missed. Just remember Maintenance isn’t just for cars, your bow needs it too!
Maintaining your bow can be done in less than 30 minutes!
I don’t find it tedious, but empowering! Not only does shooting my bow instill confidence but knowing what to do to take care of it, completes the package!
By: Jessie Wagoner