As archers we obsess about our form and our scores. Every detail is filmed, analysed, picked over, prodded and worried about until our all our deficiencies are displayed under the harshest of spotlights, laid bare and quivering for all to see!
(bare archer references? <shudder>)
Frequently taken for granted is our kit. We may love our bows but how often is simple maintenance forgotten in the rush to get to the field and get those arrows flying?
This article was inspired by our editor spotting a crack in one of his Easton X7 – 2114 spined aluminum arrows (see pic right). The X7 is about as resilient an arrow as you’ll find. Our editor is fanatical about maintaining his kit but this has been sneaking past him for some time. If it got past him, whats getting past more casual archers and is this something for you to be concerned about?
Well yes, yes it should!
Things to check
Most obvious of all is your string. It takes a brutal beating every single shot. It should be regularly waxed to waterproof it and to bind the strands together. If the string is hairy or feels dry, its time to wax. Never waxed a string before … Grizzly Jim has a guide for you. If any of the strands look worn or have actually snapped, its time to replace the string. Wear on the top/bottom loops should be investigated and if the serving is loose/worn/frayed … you need to be looking at a new string. Central serving wear is less of a problem as this can easily be replaced with a serving jig while the string is on your bow. (see Archery Workshop)
Arrows are also in need of checking on a regular basis. Fletches are obvious when they detach but they should be replaced if damaged or becoming elderly (ie warped/deformed). Nocks need to be examined for damage – cracks or an actual furrow from impacts. These can weaken or spread the nock arms making dry fires more likely and a dry fire could kill your bow stone dead. Cracks in the shaft, as discovered above, is another major concern. Arrows breaking as they are shot OR losing the point and then being shot again are rare but possible. Neither arrow will be predictable in their flight and rogue arrows are not something we want. Damaged carbon arrows are hazardous to your health due to possible carbon splinters and require to be binned if found to be damaged. So check those arrows.
Finally the bow itself. Unless its a traditional bow, there are going to be a myriad of screws that could come loose. Odd rattles on your bow or sounding “not right” on a release are good indications something is loose. Sights are notorious for things vibrating loose even on well suppressed bows. Check things are tight. DO NOT crank them tight with all the force at your disposal as trying to get them out later might result in you stripping the screw head and then that puppy is NEVER coming out. Instead, they should be finger tight. If something needs to go in and stay in for a long time, then a threadlocking liquid can be used to make sure it doesn’t come loose any time soon.
Limbs should be checked for cracks. Longbows/selfbows are extremely susceptible to simply failing (watch the first 10 seconds of this video for 3 spectacular examples) and early signs like cracks needs to be checked for. Modern laminate limbs are very unlikely to let go but it does happen. To my knowledge in the last 12 years only one set of limbs at Glasgow Archers has been sent back to the supplier due to cracks. Yet unpleasantness does happen. At the Scottish Championships a number of years ago, a top limb explosively de-laminated so catastrophically that the field party 100+yards away got a fright from the bang. People on the line were dodging the flying debris! That was on an extremely top end set of limbs so there are no exceptions!
So to sum up … everything related to the act of shooting an arrow is under a lot of stress. Bow, string, arrow and archer. Ideally we don’t want things dropping off, exploding, snapping, breaking, going rogue or losing their temper (well, no more than usual!) so check that kit and do it often.