Pack those Spares!
Recently, we had a situation develop at shootie where a piece of kit bent. Now what caused the kit to bend is as yet undetermined, but it did leave the archer somewhat unable to continue shooting.
Step forward our Vice-chair whose pack is as notorious as his quiver for the amount of spares and kit hidden in its stygian depths! A spare was quickly found, placed on the bow and all was good … although we still don’t know what caused the thing to bend in the first place, investigation is required. This did, however, raise the question of “Do you have a spare?” and the unfortunately predictable answer “Yes, but it’s at home”.
There is no point buying spares and keeping them all at home. If something breaks on a bow, its guaran-damn-teed to be at the most inopportune moment so you need them to hand or every session/competition risks coming to a premature end. “But my Ikea drawer unit is full of spares, I can’t bring them all!” we can already hear you say. You don’t need everything, just the bits that are most likely to fail and these are usually small. As a result, having likely needed spares on hand will not be an issue .. but what to pack?
Rests: A piece of kit that can get a hammering is the rest. The glue pad holding the rest plate to the riser is rarely an issue but the arms on magnetic rests are not the thickest. If you have a clunky release, that arm will get battered. Enough of those sorts of shots and metal fatigue will start to creep in. You might, even if we can’t currently work out how it happened in the above example, bend the arm. On cheaper rests, you should have a complete spare rest in your pack. As our Vice Chair found out early in his career, having a spare at home in Glasgow is worthless when your rest fails at a competition in Edinburgh. On more expensive rests like the Shibuya Ultima II, you can have a replacement arm switched in with a twist of a hex key.
Nocks: Nocks break and crack, it’s a reality we can’t change. Either partial Robin Hood strikes or just the arrows clashing when oscillating post shot in the target … the plastic will fail at some point. This is the reason that international archers check their arrows after EVERY end. So, unless you have a quiver full of arrows for replacements, having some spare nocks on hand will mean that you won’t be without that favorite arrow for long. Hopefully you have pliers get the damaged bugger out and arrow turners to get the new nock in and seated correctly. Being proactive here will stop dry fires which your bow will appreciate, and you’ll never run out of functional arrows.
Strings: The bowstring takes an incredible beating every single shot. It’s under tension from the second you string your bow. The tension ramps up as you draw. The potential energy held in the bow is transferred to the arrow (now kinetic energy) when you release excepting the excess potential energy. Thats transferred into the bow causing it to vibrate. The end loops wear a little coming into contact with the limb tip/notch and the vibration will infinitesimally loosen every piece of serving on the string. The string may also come into contact with your bracer, post shot, adding a little wear to the central serving. Strings don’t break due to this, but servings do wear through and/or come loose over hundreds or thousands of shots. As a result, you should always have a spare string to hand. Ideally you bought two at the same time and have shot them alternatively. This way the strings are equally broken in, neither will stretch anymore and already have their nock point in the perfect place. Replacing both strings at least once a year is a wise move but always inspect your strings for signs they are getting worn or elderly. Hopefully we don’t need to tell you to wax them regularly and while end serving failure means time to replace .. central servings can be easily fixed with a serving jig and some thread!
Sight pins: A much less likely scenario (but devastating if it happens) is your sight pin failing or breaking. A standard recurve sight pin is extremely durable but is exposed to damage if you drop your bow (it happens). Smashing the ring will likely render the sight pin useless. A spare pin on hand will never go wrong and they aren’t expensive. Still pretty unlikely is metal fatigue causing the threaded screw on the pin to snap. This is at its most common on larger sight pins. Mainly due to these pins, such as the Gehmann iris sight pin, being ‘heavy’ and the 8/32″ screw being inadequate to support the weight when affected by vibration over thousands of shots. Metal fatigue due to the vibration will eventually cause this screw to fail just at the sight block. At £16 this simple screw is expensive but better than buying a whole new sight pin at £80+! A normal sight pin like the one at the bottom of the picture will cost you under £10.
There are other things you can pack as spares, but we’ll let you decide what might be best for you and worth humphing about in your pack. While it’s true the chances of something failing are small on any one shot, we can shoot a lot of arrows in a day and wear is cumulative. Unlike certain GA archers, the gods of entropy don’t lose count of arrows shot.
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Note: The above is primarily for recurve and somewhat useful (nocks and strings) for barebow and traditional. There is almost no point in listing EVERYTHING you might need if something goes wrong with a compound. Why? Because no-one can carry the full Formula One style workshop plus pit crew and spares required to get those puppies functioning WHEN (not if) they go wrong!
“The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer USS Enterprise