I’m sure most everyone knows that a rifle needs maintenance and cleaning done to it regularly to keep it working properly. A bow is no different. Regular maintenance must be done on your bow to keep it in proper working order.
It may not seem like there is much to a bow that needs to be done, and there really isn’t. Bow-maintenance should be completed at the beginning and end of the season at the least. Although it should really be done every time you use it.
The initial step to take is always inspection. Of course, you look at the bow every time you pull it out of the case. Although most don’t actually take that much notice of every aspect of the bow, every single time they use it, they should. The inspection should especially be done prior to the first use of every season. Sit down and genuinely inspect the bow. Pay special attention to the limbs. Look for any cracks, dings, or wear spots. If these have any issue with them it could cause them to break. A break while drawn could result in serious injury to the archer and at the very least affect the way it shoots. Check the forks in the limbs, the cams, and especially the tracks, look for any areas that could have a potential issue.
Dust off the bow so to speak with a cotton ball or q-tip. The purpose of doing this is not only to make it look pretty but to find any hairline cracks on the limb. The fibers of the cotton ball will separate, and remain on the limb. Sometimes the bow may only have a hairline crack that is hidden by the paint on the bow. This step will assist with finding these. This is also a great step to take when looking at purchasing a used bow.
Draw the bow back, and listen. Look at the top cam while you draw. If it wobbles, it could be bent, or the cables need to be replaced. A squeak sound means that the bow needs to be lubricated. A grinding, or cracking sound are evidence of a bent or cracked axle. Obviously, you don’t want to dry fire the weapon, so upon release do so slowly, and listen for the return. Draw the bow again, and pay attention to the bottom cam. If the bow is completely silent there is nothing that needs to be done. If there is a sound the bow needs to be serviced by a professional, or replaced.
Inspect the string and the servings. The serving can be removed from the string to properly inspect it, or give the serving a gentle twist. Look between your fingers to see if the area is still straight and tight, or if it has begun to look like a slithering snake. Check the fibers on the entire length of the string. If there are any fibers that have broken, or frayed it is time to replace the string.
Wax The Strings and Cables:
The strings and cables of the bow are one of the most needed parts of the entire piece of equipment. The best way to lengthen their life span and keep them working properly they should be waxed. Wax should be applied during periods of heavy use, at the beginning and end of the season.
The wax itself is available in a tube similar to that of a tube of chapstick, as well as a liquid. Despite the choice in wax, it should be applied and then worked into the fibers of the string. No bow string has ever broken due to over waxing. At least not one that I have heard of that is.
The cables should also be waxed. Keep the wax away from the serving. Apply wax in this area could loosen the fibers. Proper maintenance of the strings will provide many years of enjoyment with the bow. Failure to do so could cause the strings to stretch, fray, or break completely. If the strings ever get wet allow them time to dry, then immediately apply a heavy coat of wax.
Apply lubrication to all working parts of the bow:
The cams are the workhorses of a compound bow. These small little disks rotate on an axle and assist with the pull of the bow. Manufacturers say that these little devices require a small drop of lubrication once every 1500 to 2000 shots. Although who really counts the amount of arrows that they shoot? Simply lubricate the bow at a minimum of the beginning and end of the season. If you have just purchased a used bow it is best to do this prior to your first use.
In areas with extensive humidity and moisture, it is best to lubricate every time you use it. Steer clear of any lubricants that penetrate. These would include lubricants intended to break up rust like wd-40. These will eat into the strings and cables and render them useless. You want a quality product that is designed for the purpose you intend to use it for. In a case of needed substitute gun oil will work, as well as lubricants that consist of silicone, or Teflon.
While you are working on the cams add a drop or two into each of the areas that house a moving part or screw. You should be able to access the back side to apply a drop. Allow the lubricant to work its way through before putting the bow away. Failure to lubricate the bow could cause the workings to seize up and prevent the bow from being drawn. Moisture causes rust, lubrication prevents it.
If you have just purchased a used bow it is best to take the screws completely out of the bow. Apply the lubricant to the holes, then return the screws. It is highly recommended to only remove one screw at a time. If you are planning to sell the bow, you may want to do this prior to marketing it. It could alert you to any potential issues with the bow that you should fix.
Bow-maintenance is necessary to keep everything in working order. Don’t overlook the simplistic design and ease of use to thinking that a bow doesn’t need to be maintained. Take the time now, if you haven’t already been doing it to inspect everything on the bow.