Bowstring Maintenance & Replacement

P1230461In the last blog, we discussed the purpose and application of bowstring wax as a part of proper string maintenance. Another way to prolong the life of your string includes proper storage. Obviously, you should store your string in a safe dry place, and protect it the best way you can to prevent damage. However, you spend time tuning your bow including adding the “perfect” number of twists to the string, therefore you should store your string to maintain this tuning.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to interlace the teardrop loops together as shown here.


Although, proper maintenance and storage of a string can help a string last years, every archer will eventually need to change their string. Before any shooting sessions or tournament, it should be a part of your regular routine to check your equipment for damage. Where your string is concerned, if there are signs of damage such as signs of fraying or one or more strand breaks you should consider changing your string.

Although as string materials have evolved, the strength of individual strands have far exceeded where they need to be in terms of breaking under strain.  The number of strands impact the nock fit and when shooting with the extra strands added, it was found that it could help make the bow a bit more stable. Competitive archers rarely will shot with even a minimally damaged sting since it may impact the performance and therefore, any competitive archer should have two strings for tournaments. The two strings should be exactly the same, ideally created at the same time, on the same day, on the same jig, by the same person; this way you can swap them confidently. Personally if a single strand breaks, I immediately switch to my backup string or alternatively during a tournament to my back up bow.


Strings are so important that some archers schedule string changes so they can maintain the same performance, since strings can stretch over time, and also not worry too much about potential damage.  Depending on your budget this may or may not be an option. Another option includes custom strings and making your own using a string jig however that is the topic of another blog.

Archery: One of the Safest Recreational Sport… No Really!

safety-firstThere is often a misconception that archery is very dangerous. Although a bow and arrow can be a lethal weapon, archery is actually one of the safest sports because there is a culture of safety. Statistically, archery is one of the safest recreational sports there is with only 0.65 injuries per 1000 participants as outlined in the USA National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and represents the hospitals which actually record the information. Check out the Archery Safety report from Arizona State and Fish Department from 2004.

This is largely because of the culture of safety that encompasses the sport. All coaches start by instructing their students with the fundamentals of archery safety. I remember my first lesson was about safety first. Nowadays, I regularly shoot through my house for practice and we never worry about danger because of the culture of safety within my house. Everyone follows the basic archery safety rules. For archers there are two basic areas of safety that you should maintain, personal safety including equipment and field or range safety.

Personal Safety

  • Always shoot with well maintained equipment and arrows
    • Always inspect your equipment and arrows before shooting
    • Before shooting each arrow inspect the arrow and nock for damage
    • Cracked or bent arrow must never be shot.
  • One should always use a bow-stringer for longbows and recurve bows. This will reduce the possibility of damage to the bow and injury to the person.
  • Shoot with good archery form ensuring you wear proper attire and a properly positioned arm-guard.
  • Never, ever shoot while intoxicated or with anyone who is.

Good Rule of Thumb: If in doubt, stop and get it checked it out.

Field and Range Safety

  • When shooting…
    • Do not shoot with ANYONE in front of the shooting line
    • Do not nock an arrow while anyone is in front of the shooting line
    • Only nock an arrow whwn you are on the shooting line and after the signal to start shooting
    • A loaded bow is only pointed at the assigned target
    • NEVER EVER point an arrow at anyone, whether on a bow or not.
    • Arrow must never be shot straight up into the air
  • When not shooting
    • Pay attention and be respectful of other archers
    • Once finished shooting you must be behind the shooting line and paying attention
  • When retrieving arrows from the target
    • Leave your bow behind the shooting line (hang-up your bow), you will need two free hands to collect your arrows from the target
    • Always walk forward to collect the arrows, never run.
    • Always pick-up arrows on the way first. Whether they yours or not.
    • Always walk up to the side of the target butt, so as to not to accidentally walk into the rear of the arrows lodged in the target.
    • One person at a time should withdraw their arrows from the target.
    • When withdrawing arrows from the target, ensure no-one is standing behind you. Pulling arrows may require a lot of force and they can come out of the target suddenly and could hurt someone standing behind them.
    • When carrying arrows, always hold them to your side with the points down.
    • Make sure that EVERYONE has returned behind the shooting line before starting the next shooting end.

Individual ranges may have additional rules specific to their courses, all ranges will adhere to the basic archery range safety rules. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional archer, if we all continue to practice the culture of archery safety we can enjoy the sport for many years to come.

Drying Feathers

Now that we are in the outdoor season there is an opportunity to shoot in all kinds of weather. Weather itself effects the way we shoot, and you can read my earlier blog about different weather conditions and their effects on shooting. As competitive archers, we love our equipment. We have invested time, money, and countless hours in finding the perfect setup for us. So,once the tournament is complete we need to care for our equipment. We need to have our equipment in perfect condition for the next tournament.

Perfect shooting conditions rarely require additional maintenance, however not all tournaments are shot in ideal conditions and rain has the potential to do the most damage if not dealt with immediately since metal rusts, wood warps and fletching matte.

Once out of the weather, take the time to properly and thoroughly dry all your equipment. Using a clean dry cloth, wipe down your limbs, riser and stabilizer. Carefully dry your sight making sure not to lose your sight marks or damage your scope. If you use a spotting scope or binoculars make sure no water has damaged or fogged up the lens.

Finally, carefully dry your arrows by wiping the shafts dry. Plastic Vanes can be dried using a clean dry cloth however feather fletchings will need to be air dried so that are not squished. If your fletchings, plastic or feather, are matted, you need to open them up again and allow them to air dry by following the following guide:

How to dry your feathers

You will need: your arrows, a pot, water, and an oven/stove

  • Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil
  • Hold each arrow’s fletching over the steam
  • Patiently wait for the fletching to start to open up. Remember the fletchings will open the rest of the way as they dry.
  • Place the arrow in a clean dry spot with the points facing down until dry.
  • Repeat for all your arrows and turn off the stove.

Taking the time after a rainy tournament to attend to your equipment, can save you money and grief.

Pulling Arrows

One of the first things every archer has to do is pull their arrows from their target. As an archer develops and increases in draw weight, arrows can become lodged deeper and deeper into a target making them more difficult to pull out. Additionally, new target materials make this more difficult since they are denser, more rigid, and designed to last longer.

Arrows should be removed on the same angle at which they entered the target and while twisting an arrow can help loosen the arrow, it can also crack the shaft and damage it, so this is not a recommended approach. So, if an archer is struggling retrieving their arrows they can unintentionally bend or break them.

This can be a problem, especially for younger archers, who have bows that drive the arrow deep into the target but have not yet developed the strength to retrieve their arrows.

Generally, pulling arrows doesn’t have to be difficult with a little preparation before shooting.

First, apply arrow lube to your arrows. By lubricating your arrows, it makes it easier to pull your arrows from the target. Alternatively you can use bar of soap.

Next, get yourself an arrow puller. An arrow puller wraps around the arrow providing a better grip to help remove a stubborn arrow.

Every archer should have an arrow puller, so when selecting one, make sure it is large enough to wrap around your arrows, yet small enough to work within tight groups of arrows. Check out Cartel Doosung’s new Midas arrow puller, it is small, inexpensive and very effective, and it is the one I use.

Sometimes, an archer can miss the target and the arrows find themselves in more difficult material for removal such as the wooden target frame, a tree stump or even a concrete wall.  Although arrows stuck in concrete wall are lost, arrows stuck in wood sometimes can be retrieved by loosening the wood around the arrow with a sharp knife or a hammer and chisel. If attempting such an extraction, remember to work slowly and avoid damaging the arrow or point.

Avoid Damage

A bow is an investment and an archer’s most prized possession. A competitive archer wants their equipment in prime condition for any competitions they attend.  Every archer needs to inspect his or her equipment before every use. Damage to your bow or limbs will result in inconsistent shooting, translating lower scores and can be hazardous.

For take-down recurve bows, it is important to protect the individual pieces of the bow including the riser and the limbs. Minor damage such as a knick, small splinter usually does not affect the limbs performance and can be addressed with sandpaper, nail polish or epoxy.  However, you need to keep a watch on them as they can lead to larger issues. Large cuts, loose laminates, or splinters can result in broken limbs or worse and should not be used and replaced immediately.

You can minimize the risk of damage by purchasing simple protection for your limbs and riser. Some manufacturers provide sleeves to protect limbs and risers however not every riser or set of limbs have this necessary option. Riser and limbs sleeves are a minimal investment with huge benefits and are especially important for soft cases where equipment can move around more easily. If you want to provide some great protection for your riser and limbs without breaking the bank, check out the Cartel CR-102 bow covers.

When you buy an iPod, you buy a cover to protect it.  The same should apply to your limbs and riser.