Home Bow Mechanic Know-How

By Darron McDougalJuly 19, 20173 Comments

Do you have the knowledge and equipment to service your own bow gear?

As an avid archer and bowhunter, I’m thrilled with all facets encompassing this sport and lifestyle. A do-it-yourselfer by nature, I get satisfaction from setting up and servicing my own bows and other archery equipment. Plus, it’s far more convenient for me to understand and perform these tasks myself at home in lieu of running to a pro shop every time something requires tinkering. Yes, I save time and money by being a home bow mechanic.

bow vise work

Another reason to develop archery-mechanic skills is that, should equipment break down in the field, you can fix the problem or at least limp through the rest of the hunt by being your own tech. It could spell the difference between success and being forced to end your hunt early.

Now, before you start tinkering on your bow, make sure you know what you’re doing and have the right equipment.

Developing the Skills

Learning how to tune, service and fix archery equipment doesn’t happen overnight. You must utilize resources and immerse yourself fully in all archery operations to become truly knowledgeable and proficient. Many resources are available online. Study hard and often. Always be sure to use reputable resources offered by experts. If you prefer in-person schooling, consider PSE’s Archery School (http://pse-archery.com/pse-archery-schools/). Robinhood Videos’ NFAA Shooter’s School Volume 6 “Facts & Fiction” Tuning Tips is another worthwhile resource (http://www.robinhoodvideos.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=58_63&product_id=89).

home bow mechanic

Before you begin working on your own bow(s), learn and know how to identify equipment flaws/problems and how to correct them. (Photo by Rebecca McDougal)

Part of becoming a proficient archery mechanic/technician is first understanding your equipment, how it works and how to tune it. Most fixes are often simple – installing a peep sight or correcting peep-sight orientation using a bow press. Others aren’t so simple. You may have heard terms like “cam lean” and “cam synchronization,” but don’t understand them or how they affect your bow’s performance. I’ll now discuss how to identify and fix them.

Cam lean is when one or both cams aren’t perfectly vertical. Identify this either with a laser tool or by eyeballing. If you identify lean, it’s easily fixed if that end of the bow is equipped with a split buss cable; simply tighten or loosen one side or the other to even the load and therefore straighten the lean. If your bow doesn’t have a buss cable, you might swap bow limbs end for end and hope it resolves, or you might utilize shims/spacers on the axle between the cam and limb.

Cam timing or synchronization problems can be identified when your cams don’t roll over simultaneously, which results in the shooter feeling a double wall at full draw (hybrid- and two-cam bows). Not only is it uncomfortable, but it messes with your bow’s tune, causing the arrow to depart poorly, therefore magnifying any other problem(s) you and/or your setup have. This is fixed by loosening or tightening one cable or the other, maybe only a twist or two.

Single-cam bows aren’t as problematic – in my experiences with them – when the timing or cam orientation is off. But, most are equipped with timing marks for easy reference, which makes correcting it easy.

For the purposes of this article, I’m not going to delve any deeper on service operations. I just wanted to get you started and stress that for safety and positive results, you must fully understand your bow’s technical workings and how each contributes to its performance. Again, study up and know your stuff. Even consider developing a relationship with your local bow technician so that you can ask questions and even watch him/her service bows. Learn everything you can.

Granted, all the knowledge in the world won’t suffice. You still must have the right equipment to service your bow. Let’s discuss three products that are vital to setting up a home bow shop.

The Equipment

A bow press is the central item to most bow-service operations. If you’re unaware, a bow press simply “presses” the bow until the bowstring’s tension releases, allowing you to perform work such as installing a peep sight or adjusting cam synchronization, among others.

Most of the market’s bow presses are designed for commercial use in archery retail stores. Thus, they’re often large and cumbersome. Last Chance Archery’s EZ Green Press ($399) solves the dilemma.

last chance bow press

A bow press is a central ingredient to the home bow shop. The lightweight EZ Green Press from Last Chance Archery was designed to be a bench-mounted option for your shop workbench.  (Photo by Rebecca McDougal)

It’s more affordable than most bow presses of equal craftsmanship, but it’s remarkably compact and incredibly convenient. Plus, it can be accessorized to streamline your bow shop. Many clever add-ons that include tool trays and several mounting options are available.

The EZ Green Press is designed for home users and can be mounted to a bench.  One of the more advanced presses from Last Chance can be bench mounted or used with Last Chance’s Floor Stand (sold separately) or Hitch Mount (also sold separately), which slides into your vehicle’s hitch receiver (convenient for traveling archers/bowhunters).

Last Chance bow presses utilize a patented finger system that presses the limb tips just as if the bow were being drawn back, which doesn’t stress or torque the limbs and riser. And, limb adapters are available for most compound bow makes so that limbs aren’t damaged while pressing your bow.

An integrated measuring tape allows you to easily adjust the press for your bow’s axle-to-axle length prior to pressing. Pressing the bow is nearly effortless; hold your bow’s limb tips against the press’ fingers, then simply wind the hand crank clockwise until the bowstring’s tension releases to the point where you can perform work.

last chance bow vise

A bow vise allows you to perform hands-free work, such as checking nock height or installing a D-loop. (Photo by Rebecca McDougal)

Convenience is necessary for performing two-handed bow work. Last Chance Archery’s EZ Green Bow Vise ($90) mounts to a workbench, and it inflexibly grasps the bow. An intuitive 360° axis-adjustment system means you can position the bow specifically for various tasks. The vise’s fingers are rubber-cushioned to hinder limb scuffs. I’ve serviced bows with and without a bow vise, and a vise undoubtedly allows a bow mechanic to perform work more precisely with hands-free convenience. For the price, the EZ Green Bow Vise is a no-brainer.

While working as a bow technician at a pro shop, I learned that few customers knew their bow’s draw weight. They’d guess, but be staggered when we’d reveal that it was significantly higher or lower than they’d guessed.

The Handheld Bow Scale ($30) simplifies draw-weight checks for consumers; simply insert the device’s hook into your string loop and draw back. The greatest digital reading as you draw is your peak draw weight, but you can also continue to full draw and hold there to determine the holding weight.

One-Stop Home Bow Shop

The products I’ve outlined here will get you started with a home bow shop. Many more accessories and devices are available—grain scales, fletching jigs and advanced-grade bow presses, among others from Last Chance Archery and other manufacturers. Once you get your home bow shop set up, you’ll understand just how convenient it is to perform your own bow work without making dozens of trips to the local pro shop.

For more information on these products or to order them, visit lastchancearchery.com.

Darron McDougal
Darron McDougal is a full-time freelance outdoor writer/editor who lives in Antigo, WI with his bride, Becca. He's hunted in 12 states and successfully taken elk, bear, hogs, turkeys, pronghorn, whitetails, and mule deer, most with archery equipment on DIY hunts. The McDougals enjoy all things hunting and shooting. They believe in God and love to travel.
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