Your bow setup is a finely tuned tool, and just like your car, performs best when proper maintenance and upkeep is accomplished. As with many hobbies, an important aspect of archery and archery hunting is properly maintaining your bow and equipment. To maximize the speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of your archery equipment, it must be in tip-top working condition.
There are several maintenance responsibilities that come with owning archery equipment and participating in the hobby. Though fear not, as bow and arrow maintenance is simple and there are only a few things you ought to look out for. Tune in to check out a few easy things to remember to look out for and keep up on for your archery equipment.
Whenever handling your bow, whether to shoot or to perform any maintenance or service, you want to get into the habit of inspecting your bow and keeping tabs on a few particular things on a regular basis. Developing habits out of these will make inspecting your bow a second nature action and you wont even notice yourself doing it. You will just be able to quickly detect any variances that should be closer inspected. Here are some things to keep in mind for developing your inspection habits.
On a compound bow, you will want to find yourself regularly inspecting the limbs of the bow. These are high stress areas and it is potential for damage to occur, leading to fractures. When I am inspecting my bow, I like to look at and run my fingers down all of the bow limbs to be sure I do not feel any fractures, splinters, or splits beginning. I have seen damaged bows have limbs that begin to split and eventually fail entirely.
You want to also develop a habit of being verifying the alignment on your cams. A cam that has been knocked out of alignment can severely alter your shooting or even potentially damage your bow. I like to hold my bow out in front of me and just do a visual check to insure the string, cam and limbs all appear in proper alignment. Always trying to look out for any potential misalignment in the cams.
Nuts and Bolts
Frequently, when I handle my bow, I like to jiggle and touch all the different tightening options on the bow. Whether that be an allen wrench head, a nut, or a knob; anything that twists or turns on the bow I like to verify is holding its designated place securely.
One of the high wear components on your bow is your string. It is subject to high wear, damage, and is one of the more regularly replaced components on your bow. Due to the somewhat fragile nature of bowstrings, you will want to develop a habit of visually inspecting for any string damage or severely frayed areas. Some loose frays here and there are simply a cost of doing business, just be on the lookout for any serious damage.
String Maintenance and Lifespan
As previously mentioned, your bowstring and cam cables are one of the highest wear components of your bow and must be replaced on a somewhat regular basis due to the high wear nature. It is generally recommended that you replace the string setup on your compound bow on an interval from 12-24 months or around 2500 shots, whichever you may reach first. However, even if you are not shooting your bow regularly, you should really think about replacing the string and cables at least every 2 years. This is a maintenance activity best performed by an experienced and reputable archery shop. However, there are some things you can do to help prolong the lifespan of your bowstring.
I always pay particularly close attention to the condition of my bowstrings and do my best to stay on top of proper upkeep on them. This helps ensure I can maximize the performance and lifespan of the strings. String wax is an essential maintenance tool every archer needs to own and use regularly. Your bowstring is prone to drying and wax will help the help to keep the bowstring hydrated. In addition, little fuzzy fibers that inevitably form on your bowstring are dampened down by the application of bowstring wax, preventing further separation of fibers.
To apply bowstring wax, you want to make sure you have high quality fresh wax. I like to use Bohning Tex-Tite wax myself, and always have an extra on hand. Your srting wax should be soft and pliable, not hard and crumbly. If you have old hard wax that must be rubbed into the string to apply it, the generated heat will degrade your string. With a good soft wax, you should be able to apply straight from the container and smooth any spots out with your fingers. You want to apply the wax all over your bowstring and cables. Even on the string serving and the cables running over the cams. You will begin to see areas that are particularly prone to wear and will require more attention than others.
If you are in a pinch without string wax, one might think chap stick could be a good alternative. However, I wouldn’t recommend it, as it could contain petroleum product that in the end could contribute to the degradation of your string. However, natural alternatives, such as bees wax were the traditional methods of waxing bowstrings.
It’s easy to get caught up in making sure your high dollar bow and all of its components is in proper working order and forget about your arrows. Don’t forget that your arrow and its proper performance is half the equation in archery. Even more so than your string, arrows receive the most wear and abuse out of any of your archery equipment. Subject to high-speed impact with a variety of objects, damage to your arrows is inevitable.
Maybe most importantly of all, shooting a damage arrow is flat out dangerous! You can face serious injury attempting to shoot splintered carbon arrow out of a high speed compound bow. This could potentially lead to severe damage from carbon splinters into your face and skin.
Fortunately, this is an easily preventable scenario regularly and properly inspecting your carbon arrows. Before shooting any arrow, you want to give it the flex test. This involves grabbing the arrow with one hand on each end, and flexing the arrow several inches to simulate being shot from a bow. Any arrow that would break being shot from the bow should break or indicate such at this moment by splintering further. There is even a small warning label on most arrows advising the user to “Flex First” to ensure the arrow is in proper and safe working order.
Arrow Maintenance and Lifespan
Your key component of proper arrow maintenance, is really to perform regular and proper inspections. As discussed above, the flex test is something you really want to develop a habit of performing regularly. While also inspecting for any sort of mushrooming or splintering at the point insert end of the arrow. Hard impacts can cause this type of damage.
You will also want to make sure you nock is in working order. I have missed shots on animals before because my nock fell off the string upon draw. Don’t let that happen to you and make sure your nocks, for hunting especially, have proper grip on the string. You will also want to replace any nock that appears to show cracking or signs of damage.
Arrow vanes can be fragile at times or separated from the arrow shaft. Keep an eye on any separation of the arrow vanes. If any is present, dab a little arrow vane glue such as this this Pine Ridge Instant glue to repair it.
Due to the high wear nature of arrows; you will need to replace them somewhat regularly. Though some arrows may last you a while and somehow evade damage. You will likely miss the target at times and break or damage arrows. So long as you perform proper inspections, your arrow will last as long as it can avoid having sever damage done to it. Though any regular archer expects to be buying at least a dozen or more arrows per year.
Bow and Arrow Storage
If you want to prolong the performance and lifespan of your archery equipment as best as possible, proper storage is a key component. Most of your equipment has its life prolonged when stored in a climate controlled setting. Garages, attics, and basements are not ideal places to keep your equipment. Better yet, under beds and in closets. Also be careful not to leave your equipment in hot cars, as the heat can damage it.
The way I see it, I invest a lot in my archery equipment, and therefore should not cheap out on improper storage equipment. Bow cases come in a variety of hard and soft case designs. Soft cases are affordable, light, and compact. They protect your bow to a degree but your bow can still be damaged inside. Hard cases offer the best protection for your bow and come in a variety as well. There is a range of affordable plastic hard cases that offer sufficient protection for most scenarios. You can also spend several hundred on a case that is approved for airline flights. Personally, I store my bow in a Pelican Case 1700 model. Though this the case is limited on space and the quiver must be removed to store the bow, it offers unsurpassed protection.
Alternatively, hang your bow on your wall by a secure hanger and on a secure spot on the bow riser is not a bad option either. If you do store in a case, it is best advised to put the drying silica packets in with it to prevent moisture build up.
Your arrow collection may have a tendency to get out of hand quickly. With dozens soon dwindling to duos, you will likely have a conglomeration of single and double arrows from dozens of the past. In addition, you will likely have your current set of arrows that you shoot with and hunt regularly. These are the arrows you want to be taking proper care. This care can be further assisted by giving them a proper home.
The things you want to think about when storing arrows is not putting any tension on the shaft, and not damage the vanes. Storing them loose and upright in a quiver or storing them in a specific arrow case best accomplishes storing arrows.
Arrows that are in regular use, I have found to be best stored in either an upright quiver or PVC pipe. Arrows that I am not currently using but I want to offer maximum protection, I store in a case such as this Plano Plastic Arrow Case. Whatever you choose, just be sure to give your arrows ample breathing room and protection, not stuffed underneath your other gear. Even when I am transporting my arrows to go hunting, I find myself using a plastic arrow case to best maximize protection.
Part of developing my own archery practice routine for all my bows, includes the proper inspection methods as discussed above. It is advisable to start incorporating these into your own if you haven’t already. If you want to get the most out of your archery equipment, be sure to perform proper maintenance and replace your string regularly. No less than every two years at minimum.
When you rely on your equipment to perform in times of absolute need, such as competition shooting or in hunting scenarios, you want to make sure your bow is at peak performance. I truly becoming more and more familiar with my own equipment through this type of upkeep and I hope you do too. By learning and practicing proper upkeep and maintenance, you can assure your bow is always up to the task at hand.