LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
Written by Bowhunting.con contributor Brodie Swisher of thrutheseason.com
The 2013 bows have hit the pro shop racks (new bows) and diehard bowhunters are finding plenty of reasons for an upgrade in equipment. With spring turkey and bear season’s right around the corner, now is the time to ensure that your equipment is in tip-top shape for the rugged use and abuse it will endure in the days ahead. Despite the incredible integrity and toughness built into today’s bows, there are still a multitude of things that can go wrong with your equipment. This month we’ll take a look at a few steps that will help you avoid having to run to the archery shop when minor tech issues arise. We’ll also help shed some light on how to be better prepared for “in-the-field” disasters that would normally take you out of the hunt altogether.
A good quality Bow Press will be the most expensive thing to purchase when becoming your own bow tech but without it nothing else really matters.
Paul Roush and Matt Alwine are a couple of guys that I not only consider friends, but are also the “go-to” guys when it comes to bow tuning and deadly accuracy for precision archery competition. Paul has run a number of archery shops including his own archery center, as well as lead archery tech for Sportsman’s Warehouse and Wholesale Sports. Matt has run his fair share of archery shops over the years as well, and has continued to be one of the top shooters across the northwest. I recently had the opportunity to pick their brains a bit and take a closer look at how they keep their bows prepared for the moment of truth.
Q) What are some of the basic things the average shooter can do to keep his or her bow in check and tuned without the aid of someone from the local archery shop? Roush: “One of the biggest things bowhunters overlook, or simply don’t know the importance of, is string wax and taking care of the strings and cables. It is also very important to keep your bow out of the heat. Heat is the number one reason for string and cable stretch. The material that strings are made of is tested at 85 degrees. More extreme temperatures will make strings and cables stretch excessively. Alwine: “I think one of the most useful things you can do is take a silver-colored Sharpie marker and mark where your site and rest is set (both windage and elevation), where your peep is set, and where your cables lay along your cam. This will allow you to quickly check for any timing issues that you might be experiencing. That way when something does go wrong, you can look at all your markings and know where to start.”
If you’re really in a jam and need arrows fletched quickly there is nothing better than NAP’s Quickfletch system.
Q) What are the basic points to check on a bow to see whether it’s in tune or not? Alwine: “Cam timing, cam lean, nock point, center shot, and having your broadheads tuned are always among the first places to check for tuning issues. Each broadhead should be tuned and spin-tested (broadhead tuning tips) to make sure they are all straight and then shot to make sure each arrow/broadhead combination shoots like a dart.”
Q) What do you gain by using a high-quality custom bowstring on your setup? Roush: “I can’t say enough about investing in a high-quality set of custom strings. They help eliminate so many tuning issues. With quality custom strings, you’ll have less stretch in your string and cable system, less peep sight rotation, as well as less chance of your center serving moving, which can change your loop height.”
Q) What are some of the must-have tools every archer should have in his or her tool box to help keep their bow in check? Roush: “The basic tools I feel every bowhunter should have are a quality set of Allen wrenches, string serving material, extra loop material, and pliers. Learn to use each of them competently and you’ll be able to fix many common problems that arise.” Alwine: “Never leave home without Allen wrenches, string-wax, super glue, string loop material, needle-nose pliers, and duct tape (shop for tools)…and we’d have to include a safety warning if I actually explained what all I’ve used duct tape for to make emergency bow repairs in a pinch!”
Q) Give me a quick checklist every hunter should go through to make sure their bow is in top shape prior to opening day. Roush: “Look over every inch of your string and cable prior to opening day. This includes the center serving and end servings. Also, make sure your string loop doesn’t show any excessive wear. Next, check your serving around your peep sight. Any movement in this area will cause your accuracy to go downhill quickly! If you’re using a fall away rest, make sure that the activation cord is in good shape and shows no sign of wear.” Alwine: “Know your bow. The more time you spend working on it, shooting it, and playing with it, the better you will know how it all works. In turn, you will be more prepared to repair it when things go wrong.”
A good set of Allen wrenches and some duct tape can save an otherwise blown hunt. Remember, there is nothing wrong with quick, temporary fixes.
Q) What are the common mishaps that tend to occur with your bow while in the field? Roush: “Believe it or not, cutting your string with a broadhead continues to be a hunt-killer year after year for many bowhunters. Despite all the excitement of the hunt, hunters must pay attention to their equipment and avoid careless mishaps in the field.” Alwine: “I have a lot of guys complaining about their sight or rest coming loose while on a hunt. This is simple fix if you’ve got the tools mentioned above. However, the majority of bowhunters hit the woods without the tools in their pack for such repairs.”
Q) What are your top tips or secrets for in-the-field bow repair for various parts of your bow? Roush: “I always carry a bottle of quality super-glue. This can allow you to make some quick fixes in the field that may save your hunt. I also like to carry a few extra screws that fit your sight, rest, and quiver for quick and easy replacement…if you have your Allen wrenches! If you’re on an extended hunt, far from any archery shop, I always recommend that you carry an extra set of strings and cable that you’ve set up prior to the hunt. Knowing how to replace the strings by way of a portable bow press will keep you in the game when others would be stuck in camp with broken equipment.”
Q) What do you recommend for the archer wanting to do his or her own “tech” work from their home or garage/shop? Roush: “A good bow press is a must to be able to perform most tech tasks on the bow. Last Chance Archery makes the EZ Press, which I feel like is the best bow press made in the last 20 years. Aside from the press and an arrow saw for building arrows, the other tools enabling you to be your own bow tech are pretty simple and fairly inexpensive”.
Building your own arrows is one way to ensure consistency in your setup.
Q) What are your favorite tools for arrow building both in the shop and on the road? Roush: In the shop and at home, I still use the Bitzenburger fletching jig for building my arrows. It’s simply the best of the best, in my opinion. And after many years, I’m still using Goat Tuff glue to build my arrows. It’s a super strong adhesive…perfect for all my arrow building needs.” Alwine: “I still think the Bitzenburger fletching jig with helical clamp allows me to build the most consistent and accurate arrows possible.
Q) What tips can you provide for building more accurate arrows? Roush: Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things as you attempt to create that perfect set of hunting arrows (arrow building tips). I go to great lengths to ensure that my first and last arrows are exactly the same. Consistency is the key.” Alwine: “When cutting your arrows down, try to cut off each end of the shaft. If there are any inconsistencies in an arrow shaft it tends to be on one end or the other. So I always try to cut an inch or two off each end.”
There is a satisfaction and freedom that comes with knowing your equipment well enough to service and keep it in check throughout the changing seasons. Whether you’re seeking the know-how to conduct all your own bow-tuning and tech needs, or simply wanting the knowledge of how to salvage your hunt when disaster strikes while in the field; the previously mentioned advice is sure to keep you in the hunt regardless of what the elements throw your way.
Tech Gear to Keep You in the Hunt:
Last Chance Archery – EZ Press Deluxe – www.lastchancearchery.com
Bitzenburger Fletching Jig – www.bitzenburger.com
Pine Ridge Archery – Allen wrenches, tuning tools – www.pineridgearchery.com
Winner’s Choice Custom Bowstrings – www.winnerschoicestings.com
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker.