Technical Stuff: Looking After The Bow

Excluding the strings, we can break this down into six areas. But don’t forget to dry your bow thoroughly if you have shot in the rain. That means actively getting water out of it. Corrosion will come back to bite you just when it is most important. It’s your problem. Do it with care and as soon as possible after shooting. If necessary use a hair drier on low heat.

SCREWS

Your bow is held together with screws. Many of them are hexagon socket head screws. Some that the manufacturer does not mean you to remove may have locking compound on the threads. In some cases self locking nuts may have been used.

You need to check all screws. Things do work loose, and they will catch you out at the most important time. In addition you should check for damaged heads and corrosion. Replace anything that is damaged or corroded.

Make sure that you can remove those screws that you may need to during a competition; e.g. to replace a trigger.

TRACK

Carefully inspect the track for damage. In some cases you may be able to dress out minor damage as a temporary measure. It is not essential that every fraction of the bolt is supported on the track. If the area extends out to where the string bears on the track you have lost the track. The string exerts a downward pressure onto the track. It will therefore drop into any imperfections, which will disrupt smooth movement and damage the centre serving.

Remove any wax/dirt build-up. Use polymerising gunstock oil, such as BIRCHWOOD CASEY TRU OIL, as a coating for non metallic tracks. Some shooters lightly coat the track with petroleum jelly before each shoot. The practice is not advised. You do not know what it may do to the string, and the wax on the string is there in part to lubricate the track. The alternative is to use furniture polish.

Some manufacturers advise putting oil on aluminium tracks. They also supply that oil. The problem is that the advice is usually to apply oil once a year. This statement is made on the assumption that the shooter is hunting. The number of shots made in a year will be small in comparison to our form of shooting. You need to oil the bevel on which the bolt rests to eliminate wear. If you can smell a metallic burning scent it’s your bow, not a fire in the building or someone burning toast, and the track needs attention.

TRIGGER

Your trigger should be removed and cleaned on a regular basis. Remove any dirt and wax and ensure that there is a light, and I do mean light, covering of oil to protect against rust. Some manufacturers will supply oil for the purpose. You could use sewing machine oil, as suitable “gun” oil is rather expensive. An alternative is to wash the trigger with lighter fluid. Once the volatiles have evaporated a very thin film of lubricant left behind.

Use a hair drier to dry out a wet trigger. Don’t forget to replace any screws that are damaged.

If your trigger comes with a warning not to take it apart LEAVE IT ALONE. Dry it but do not take it apart. It will need special jigs to put it back together.

BOLT RETAINER

In addition to ensuring that it is secure, check that the wear land on the retainer is no longer than 5mm. This is the maximum contact permitted. Make sure that you have spare bolt retainers. Change the retainer and shoot with it before you go to a competition. Also take spares.

PROD

Check the prod for tiny signs of the surface breaking up. Major damage is obvious, but you need to catch break-up of the laminates early.

This is particularly the case with solid fibre glass prods, which usually start to fail at the corners of the cross-section. The pieces that stick out from the prod are sharp and brittle, and therefore dangerous. You can dress out minor splinters, but these must be sealed with nail polish or something similar to prevent further degradation.

Ensure that the prod is securely seated on the prod block and that the retaining screws are tight.

SIGHTS

If you use a telescopic sight do not try to take it apart. Many are gas filled and disassembly will wreck them. You will also allow in dirt and water vapour that you do not want in the scope. Clean the scope and ensure that the mounts and optimiser are secure.

When it’s not in use protect your scope. If it is dropped or hit some of the internal parts may move. This can wreck the scope.

If you use an open micrometer adjustment sighting arrangement inspect for damage and alignment. Ensure that all screws are secure and adjustment mechanisms move freely. Lubrication may be required.

If you shoot with rear and fore sight elements mounted in tubes you must take account of the distances(s) that are to be shot. Short range and long range Target shooting require different setups because differences in the height of the front sight mean that the tubes will not align properly when changing between short and long range.

You should have one set up for 18 & 25m and another for the longer distances. For the three longest distances you should set your alignment for the middle of the three. Obviously this will not be optimal for the other two but the error will be minimal.

Even without the tube if you use a ring foresight it may appear elliptical rather than round. Without the tube arrangement this is easily rectified.