With bowhunting seasons looming it is time to ready your equipment. Once festivities kick off you certainly don’t want to experience even the smallest malfunction! Bow season can be hard on equipment—it’s being used hard, derricked into treestands, dropped, fallen on, bungee-corded onto ATVs and tossed into pickup beds. Setting up so tuning and settings remain rock solid heads of potential problems down the road.
This starts with quality accessories. Life is too short to settle for delicate gear. If an arrow rest, bow sight or other important piece of bowhunting gear requires gentle handling it deserves no place in your bowhunting arsenal—not in today’s market of better-designed and rugged products. After assembling a nail-tough rig a handful of preseason precautions can save heartache and time-consuming breakdowns down the road.
The first step in creating a reliable bowhunting outfit is proper break-in. This pertains mostly to strings and cables, as nothing proves more aggravating than hitting full draw on a season-making critter only to find your peep turned at some crazy angle and unusable. Your peep should come back square to the eye every time you hit anchor—no exceptions. There is not always time to nudge a peep into alignment with your nose or lips during a fleeting shot opportunity.
Bowstring and buss cable material has improved meteorically, but things like a hot vehicle cab or strapping a bow onto an ATV rack with tight bungee cords can cause issues if your string isn’t thoroughly broken in. This should come automatically, because you are investing in plenty of preseason shooting practice, right?
If dealing with a new bow or if you have replaced string sets in anticipation of a new season, run at least 50 arrows through that bow before installing your peep (use the time to engage in beneficial blind-bale shooting that helps calm target panic). This assures fibers and individual strands have thoroughly settled before your install your peep.
This should start a month before season opener. After a few weeks of dedicated shooting you might notice your peep begins to turn slightly, especially in hot weather. A couple weeks before season remove anchoring serving, press the bow and bring the peep back into square by rotating single bowstring strands from one side of the peep to the other to bring that peep back around. This is tedious trail-and-error work, but necessary. Don’t quit until the peep rotates perfectly each and every time you hit full draw. If unable to perform this task, give the job to an experienced bow technician.
Just prior to season also give your bowstring and cables a thorough waxing with something like Atsko’s U-V-Block Beeswax Formula or Scorpion Venom products to protect against eventual abuse.
After your peep is rotating reliably make sure to properly lock it into place. This doesn’t mean a couple wraps of dental floss above and below the peep, as this approach can result in a slipped peep. Securely serving the peep in assures it stays in place, even after thousands of shots. There are two approaches. The first is to tie an overhand knot with thin serving material above the peep, tightly wrapping around the string and loose tag end (remembering to wrap with the established string twist). After five or six turns pull the tag aside and continue wrapping another five to six turns around the string material only. When you reach the peep split, take four or five turns around the single split side (depending on split angle), then twice around the peep aperture. Start another set of four to five turns around the opposite split bundle, and then five or six turns around the entire string, maintaining firm tension all the while. While holding everything tight lay a loop of spare serving material flat against the string and wrap tightly over that loop, another five to six turns. Thread the tag end through this loop and then pull the tag beneath and through the overwrapped serving. Use smooth-jawed pliers to pull each tag tight, toward the peep from each end. Trim each tag to about 1/16 inch and carefully melt the tag to create a locking ball of material with a butane lighter. Keep flame away from string fibers, as some are temperature sensitive. Apply the smallest drop of “super glue” to each serving knot and peep corners and rub in. If serving the peep pulls it out of square, start again, removing serving, adjusting peep and re-serving.
Once your bow is broken in and peep sorted out, it’s time to address stealth. You’ll need some adhesive-backed felt, foam or fleece and sharp scissors. If there is anything a nocked arrow might contact, creating a click while drawing or setting up for a shot, pad it. This includes the obvious arrow shelf and arrow-rest launcher arms (if the manufacturer hasn’t addressed that already) but also the rest loading gates, the bottom of sight apertures, the edges of arrow quivers and the like.
You might also deploy adhesive-backed padding around release shanks and heads in case they contact a bow riser or stand ladder. Laser rangefinder housings that might contact release heads while ranging also receive this treatment.
Just prior to season is also the ideal time to grab a hex-wrench set and go over your bow and accessories top to bottom. Check every single bolt and set screw, including bow cams, and set screws anchoring cable guard, string stop and limb pockets. If you have been shooting a lot you will most likely find a screw or bolt that is slightly loose. If a particular bolt/screw loosens frequently, remove it, give it a dab of Lok-Tite and reinstall it. Move on to accessories, checking every screw you can find on rests (especially drop-aways with moving parts) and sights (especially movers), giving them the Loc-Tite treatment as necessary.
It would not be considered excessive to remove and Loc-Tite every single important bolt and screw on your entire outfit, especially if traveling by air, driving long distances or participating in extreme bowhunts like elk or backcountry mule deer. This simply provides peace of mind.
Obsessively ferreting out any excessive vibrations, buzzes or pings should be your final step. Most modern compounds include string stops, which do an admirable job of taming bowstring twang and introducing dead-even nock separation. This does not make string silencers obsolete. There is no such thing as a bow that is too quiet. Rancho Safari’s Cat Whiskers, applied with a simple overhand knot, prove easiest, as they won’t upset peep rotation by wedging parts between string strands. After snugging them tight apply a drop of superglue to keep knots tight.
Also listen to your bow with a critical ear. Let a friend shoot your bow to give you a different perspective. Any accessory that pings, buzzes or hums should be addressed. LimbSaver mini dampeners (superglue into place to assure they stay in place through the season) are ideal here, adhered to sight brackets, rest housings or quiver hoods to soak up excess vibrations that might cause string-jumping critters. Adhesive-backed foam, fleece or felt is also an option here. Wrapping sight apertures (take care to avoid covering extended fiber housings), sight brackets or quiver hoods with thick rubber bands can also help destroy excess vibrations.
There is no such thing as a bow that’s too quiet, or a bow that is too reliable. A little precaution can go a long way to saving your season.