Don’t go straight from the case to the range. If weeks have passed since your last shooting session, heed these tips before pounding foam.
Maybe you didn’t shoot through the winter. You’re not a turkey nut and spring bears aren’t your jam. No worries. You still have a solid grip of time to dust off the vertical rig and develop a shooting program that will have you deflating lungs in the coming months.
Before you step on the range and start slinging carbon, though, there’s a few things you need to do. Your bow is a machine and may need a little TLC after a long winter’s rest. Here’s a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross to make sure your bow is ready for your bowhunting boot camp.
String and Cables
They looked like dental floss used to clean the teeth of a northern pike. I cringed when he pulled the bow back. Then, snap! The bottom cam went into the dirt just missing my friend’s foot and the top limb split. Not only was the repair expensive, but it could’ve been avoided.
You don’t have to be a bow mechanic to care for your string and cables. Inspect them for signs of fray and broken strands. Fray can be fixed. A little massaged-in string wax and you’re good to go. After applying the wax and massaging it in, wrap a piece of serving around the string, cross the ends, make a loop, and slide the loop gently along the string. This will further push wax into the string while removing excess gunk. Broken strands cannot be repaired. If you find a broken strand or two, you’ll need new string and possibly, cables.
Side of fray and strand inspection, a serving exam is also in order. Check all serving areas for signs of wear. If the serving is severed in any area, you will need to use a serving tool to re-serve or take your bow to a trusted pro shop.
If you’re string and cables passed inspection and they’ve been glazed with a fresh coat of wax, you can move on to your D-loop. Tip: D-loops are made from material and weren’t designed to last forever. Trust me, I’ve pushed mine to the limit and all it ever got me was a bloody nose.
If your D-loop is damaged, replace it. Look for serious fray, cuts and the like. If any are detected, mark your string just above the top and just below the bottom knots of the loop with a silver Sharpie to mark the placement of your loop and use a razor blade to remove it. (Be careful NOT to cut your bow string.) Once removed, you may notice serving separation or damage. If this is the case, take your bow to a pro-shop to have new serving installed. In the event you need to re-serve, make a mark with that same silver Sharpie on the string where the serving starts and ends. Measure from each mark to the top and bottom knot of the D-loop and record the measurements. This way you can get your loop back in the exact right locale.
If your bow has modules in the cam, you need to check them. Why? Multiple reasons. First, make sure nothing shifted while you were using it last and the bow is still set to your exact draw length. Second, the last thing you want is a loose module. Not only will it create game-spooking noise, but the screws will eventually loosen completely, and the bow will spit the module out. Use a sized-correctly allen wrench or other device that matches your module screw head and make sure all module screws are tight.
In addition to your modules, sit down with a set of wrenches and check for screw tightness in your sight, rest, stabilizer and the list goes on. Be sure not to forget about your bow’s Stealth Shot bar. I see archers neglect this screw a lot and have seen throngs of bows shed a Stealth Shot bar in 3-D tournaments and while a hunter is walking through the woods.
Chances are you’re shooting a drop-away. Good. Load an arrow on your string, aim the bow at a target and have a spouse, friend or any warm body tell you if the rest arm lifts when the bow is drawn. I know some rests on the market suggest the launcher arm be cocked before the shot, and this is fine. Just be sure to load an arrow, lock the arm and make sure the rest is functioning properly.
If possible, without shooting the bow, disengage the rest arm. Many of today’s popular drop-away models remain in the cocked position until the bow is fired. No biggie. You should still (by hand) be able to manipulate the rest and get it to fall.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s bow noise. If I draw and my bow creaks, clicks or pops, I’m not a happy camper. Often, these noises are from non-use. A few draw and let-down motions typically eliminate the problem. If not, you may need to add some cam lube or take your bow to a pro-shop professional and have them go over your rig.
You’ll need to paper-tune your bow before you start shooting for spot-on accuracy. Just don’t jump to the process too soon. If it’s been months since you’ve shot, get close to a target and spend time executing. Why? To get familiar with your bow again. Take time to perfect your shot process. Focus on your grip, draw, anchor and release. Get comfortable before you start sending arrows through paper. Many times, poor paper tears are a result of a less-than-perfect grip, jabbing at the trigger or other shooting mechanic issues.
Let Her Eat
You’ve done your due diligence. Your rig is ready to roll. Now it’s time to develop a shooting routine that will help you fill the freezer this fall. Do me a favor; don’t step back to 60 yards and start jabbing at the trigger. Archery is a close-range game. Perfect practice makes perfect. Get close to your target and stay there until you learn to let your release fire your bow.
I spend weeks shooting at ranges from 20-40 yards. I want to perfect my process and train my body and mind to relax and execute. Trying to do too much too soon will lead to target panic issues.
It’s go time! Get after it and have a great bowhunting boot camp and an even better fall.