With the mid-September start of archery deer season just a few weeks away, those that haven’t done so need to be practicing and making sure that their equipment is in top shape.
After all, who wants to put in the hours required to scout and hunt only to find that there’s a problem when it’s time to take that all-important shot at the season’s first chance?
Bow maintenance is important in guaranteeing your own safety and ensuring that success follows opportunity.
If you’re unsure of either your equipment or your ability to determine that all is right with your bow, take it in to your nearest archery shop and ask them to have a look. Any pro shop will provide a good inspection.
If you feel comfortable that you can handle a few small maintenance checks, then here are a few things that you should definitely look for on your rig.
The first and most obvious place to start is with the bow’s string. Was it properly waxed during last season and before storage?
If not, do so. String wax can be purchased for just a few dollars from any archery dealer and performs several tasks, including conditioning the strings and protecting it from the elements. An unwaxed string quickly deteriorates and becomes a hazard to the archer if and when it pops.
Do you see any fraying on your string or the serving wraps? If yours has any age on it, don’t take the chance. Odds are that it has stretched anyway and it’s time to replace it. New strings aren’t that expensive (around $50) and should be considered cheap insurance.
Are your cables in good condition? What about that “d loop” you attach your release to?
These just might need replacing as well.
Next, take a look at the cam (or cams if you’re shooting a twin cam bow.) Do they appear to be in good shape with no dings or dents along the edges? If there’s a bad spot or a warped/bent area on the cam, have your local dealer order you a new one.
These are relatively inexpensive as well when you consider the price of a new bow. If you shoot a single cam bow, check the wheel as it is just as important.
All compound bows feature axles that the cam or wheel must turn on. Over time and exposure to weather, these can rust and corrode.
This will seriously hamper bow performance so they need to be cleaned and lubricated annually with the proper lubricant. Teflon or synthetic based ones are best.
Now, check the bow’s riser and limbs. It’s pretty rare to have a problem with the riser but it happens. More often than not, it’s the limbs that fail and they should have careful attention paid to them.
The limbs of the bow can have stress cracks that are hard to see without paying close attention. Inspect them thoroughly and never draw a bow that shows even a small crack in one of the limbs.
Does everything look right with the limb pockets and bolts? Many hunters shoot their bows at the maximum draw weight, which requires cranking down the limb bolts. Never over tighten the limbs as this can cause damage that isn’t seen because of the pockets.
If they’re snug, that’s good enough.
These days, few people shoot compound bows instinctively. Today’s archer typically uses a single or multi-pin sight along with a number of other accessories attached to their bow.
You’ll want to be sure that anything that you’ve added, including your arrow rest, is tight and properly installed. Because of the amount of energy that is transferred through the equipment during the shot, anything that’s loose will be very noisy upon release of the string while also robbing you of accuracy.
The last and most often overlooked piece of the archery puzzle is the arrow itself. If you shoot often, there’s a good possibility that it’s time to purchase new ones.
Obviously, no piece of your archery arsenal takes more abuse than the arrow as an incredible amount of both shock and vibration are inflicted on the shaft with every shot.
This immense transfer of power from the bow into the arrow can result in tiny stress fractures or weakening of the spine of the arrow, causing it to wobble and fly inaccurately.
Though I’ve never seen it myself, I’ve heard accounts of arrows that have broken up at the moment of release and I can definitely tell you that the last thing you want is a sharp broadhead flying around me in no particular direction.
Don’t forget the plastic nocks and vanes. If they’re in bad shape, scrap ‘em and swap for new ones.
Do you even know that you’re shooting the proper arrow to begin with? Arrow manufacturers provide charts that can help you match the perfect arrow spine with your bow and you should definitely take their recommendations into consideration when buying.
If you’ve given everything the “once over,” go ahead and do it again. Although truly good archers practice year-round, for many hunters it’s more than likely been at least nine months since you’ve paid much attention to it and it never hurts to take that extra time to be sure.
If everything has checked out and you feel that you’re ready to fling a few arrows at your practice target, do so cautiously.
Never draw your bow without having nocked an arrow since one slip is all it takes for a “dry fire” that will potentially destroy it. Even worse is the possibility of injuring yourself.
Just because you do all of this before the season starts doesn’t mean that your equipment is always good to go.
Each time you draw and release your bow, you should be listening for anything that simply doesn’t sound right or is making any noise at all. If you hear something, start over with the whole process and locate the cause.
The key to properly maintaining your equipment is to simply get into the habit of checking it out regularly.