Before You Shoot

By Wendy Wilson 

Photos: John Hafner Photos courtesy of TenPoint Crossbow Technologies

It’s the start of archery season, but you haven’t pulled your crossbow out of its case since last year.

The bow’s cables appear strong, its screws remain in place and the scope and accessories look to be in working order, but it’s not ready to hit the woods until you perform some pre-season maintenance.

Although you should always follow your bow manufacturer’s instructions for specific details on how to maintain your crossbow, here are some tasks you should complete before you hit the trail to make sure your weapon is ready—and safe. 

Check Your Strings

 First, says Barb Terry (customer relations, training and education head at TenPoint Crossbow Technologies in Suffield, Ohio), enthusiasts should inspect all the strings on the bow, replacing frayed or worn strings or cords prior to shooting or using. Also, look carefully at the center serving on the string, she says.

“If the current string was improperly installed (without the required amount of twists), the serving may separate and the actual bow string may be exposed, which could cause the string to break when the crossbow is fired,” she notes.

She adds that frequently used strings, cables and cords should be replaced annually or every other year, while those used occasionally should be replaced every three to four years.

“Change the string and cables at the same time, since they will all stretch over time, decreasing the crossbow’s performance,” she advises. “And yes, the steel cables found on a few of the models will also need to be changed, since they actually will stretch more than the synthetic cables.”

Wax Those Strings

 Next, enthusiasts should condition their strings and cables with wax, advises Kodabow co-founder Chuck Matasic, of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“Each manufacturer will provide specific guidance, but one of the maintenance items that we emphasize is waxing the center serving of the bowstring,” he says. “This will greatly increase string life.”

Terry says that users should wax the length of the crossbow string and cables every 75 to 100 shots, burnishing it in with their fingers. However, don’t wax the plastic-coated steel cables, she advises.

Lubricate the Rail and Box

Next, crossbow enthusiasts should lubricate the bow’s moving parts, says Rob Dykeman, sales and marketing manager for Excalibur Crossbows, in Kitchener, Ontario.

“A shot of good gun oil lubricant in the trigger and safety mechanism once a year is a good idea,” he says.

Doing so will prevent corrosion, notes Jim Kempf, president of Scorpyd Crossbows in Coralville, Iowa.

“Gun oil lubricant will help make sure you don’t get any corrosion developing while the crossbow is sitting,” he says.

Terry notes that hunters should lubricate the bow’s rail, or the barrel, every 75 to 100 shots with a light oil every 150 to 200 shots when using Microlon’s Precision Oiler.

“Add one small drop to each side of the rail and rub it in completely,” she says. “Don’t use a Vaseline-like substance or wax on the rail or in the trigger box. The Vaseline will only collect dirt and debris, deposit it in the trigger box and eventually keep the bow from cocking altogether. Too much lube will saturate the string’s serving and break it down, making it gummy.”

Tighten the Screws

 Kempf says that one of the most important maintenance chores is to make certain that all the bow’s bolts and fasteners are tight.

“And you want to visually inspect your limbs,” he says. “If you’re shooing your bow and it makes an odd noise, really check it; you could have a string that’s fraying or a bolt that’s coming loose.”

Vibration will naturally loosen screws, Terry says, so hunters should get out their screwdrivers and check all the fittings. “Check tightness of the foot stirrup setscrews, main assembly bolt and setscrew, stock screws and barrel screws,” she says.

The full story is in the Crossbows Fall 2011 issue, on sale now!

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