Bow Tune-Up Tips Can Improve Accuracy And Confidence

Example one: I’m pulling my bow up to my treestand using the haul rope and it gets lodged in some brush below. A branch is stuck between the bow quiver and the bow itself. It would soon be light enough to shoot. I pulled harder, I yanked. The bow arrived in the treestand along with a bush. Shreds of bark were jammed into the big cam on the bow.

Example two: I sat in a treestand in the rain for two days during a bear hunt over bait.

Example three: I shot at least 100 arrows a day during the spring and summer months, to prepare for archery season. As much as I love to hunt with a bow and arrow, I love to shoot just as much.

Lisa Price

Whether you shoot a little or a lot, hunt in any weather conditions or only on clear days, chances are your bow is overdue for a professional tune-up. Your bow will perform better and last longer with regular maintenance. Here are a few pointers from my favorite bow shop.

Regular Wear And Tear
Kevin Nelson, who owns the Archer’s Choice bow shop in Skowhegan, Maine, often shakes his head sadly when he looks at my bow. In just one year, that bow (a Mathews) has usually taken a lot of abuse — pulled up into trees and let down countless times, shot many rounds of practice arrows, bounced around in a case in the belly of a plane, used in rain and snow, locked in car trunks, dropped, dragged through brush and even accidentally sprayed with doe urine (try that at full draw).

But even a bow that’s used a few months a year needs regular maintenance.

“The biggest thing that can happen to bows, and even more so if they’ve been out in rain or snow, is that the lubrication will dry out,” Nelson explained. “When that happens, it sets the bow up to dry out and begin to rust, and that can create squeaks and other bow noise.”

During a tune up, archery pro shops will completely disassemble a bow and lubricate it at all its friction points before putting it back together. Also, it’s a good time to clean and lubricate the arrow rest, which is also prone to rust and corrosion due to exposure to the elements. Another spot for yearly lubrication is the bow rocker — the spot on the limb where poundage is adjusted.

Cams, the bowstring and cables also should be checked for signs of wear. This can be done to an extent while the bow is strung, but is more thoroughly accomplished when the bow has been taken apart.

Check For Burrs
“What you’re looking for when you inspect the cam are any burrs, which could cause chafing,” Nelson said. “Around the cams the bowstring is protected with servings, but you should check the serving for any signs of unraveling or separations, that are worn enough to show the bowstring underneath.”

Kevin Nelson, who owns the Archer’s Choice bow shop in Skowhegan, Maine, measures the draw length of his daughter Erica.

Servings are on the bowstring to protect it, and if the bowstring is exposed it is more likely to become damaged, Nelson said. Heat can put a whammy on bowstrings and cables, and that type of damage usually occurs on bows that have been left in a vehicle on a hot summer day. Even though today’s modern strings are made of “no stretch” materials, heat can cause them to deteriorate.

Archers who use their bows year-round usually replace the string and cables every year, although the average replacement is two years, Nelson said. Most should be replaced after 10,000 shots as part of regular maintenance. Chances are the servings will need to be serviced before the string itself needs to be replaced, especially the serving that goes around the cam on a one-cam bow.

While a bow is disassembled, Nelson also checks its limbs for any signs of de-lamination or splintering.

Another spot that archers who use a tube-style peep sight always keep an eye on is the tube that runs from the in-string peep sight to the cables or bow. Usually the first sign of wear on the tube shows up where it attaches to the peep stem. Those tubes usually last about a year. Archers should carry extra lengths of peep tubing, Nelson advised.

Young archers should be checked every year to make sure their draw lengths have not changed. A 1-inch or 2-inch change in vertical height can translate into a change in draw length, and if that isn’t adjusted on the bow, the youngster’s shooting accuracy will suffer.

Arrow Flight
Here’s the most common complaint of archers — tight groups with practice points disappear with the switch to broadheads. And here’s a very important fact to remember — with a good archer, even a poorly tuned bow will repeat.

That means than even if your bow is not properly tuned, if your form is consistent you can be accurate on the range with field points. I hate to hear that someone is using mechanical broadheads only because they “couldn’t get my broadheads to fly right.” If your bow is tuned properly, the change in arrow flight from field points to broadheads should not be more than 1-inch or 2 inches.

“The best way to see if a bow is tuned properly is to shoot it through paper, and look at the type of hole the arrow leaves,” Nelson said. “See if the hole is straight, or tearing the paper at an angle — if there’s an angle the bow is not tuned.”

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