Like all hunting equipment, a bow requires regular maintenance; especially with the bow strings. Most archers recognize the need for this all-important necessity, but some may not, especially those new to the sport. While experienced bow hunters may have their own established process for bow maintenance, new bow hunters may be at a loss as to what they should be doing to take care of their bows.
The first archers made bow strings out of tenuous strands of animal sinew. As technology advanced, strings were woven from plant fibers, such as flax, hemp, or were even made from linen. Today’s bow strings are made from high tech polyethylenes, though the principles of construction are basically the same. Strands of fibers are bound together and wound to form a “string.” Regardless of how advanced today’s bow strings may be, they still require careful maintenance.
Waxing the String
In order to ensure a string’s longevity, it needs to be lubricated with a wax specifically designed for bows. Anything else can potentially be harmful, and have the opposite effect.
- Clean the bow string first, using only a recommended cleaning agent.
- Always use proper wax.
- Rub wax into the string with your fingers. The idea is to get it “inside” the string, to lubricate the strands.
- Wax is not needed on service areas of the string, and can be harmful to the bow’s mechanics.
- Wax prevents fibers inside the bow string from rubbing together, which causes them to fray.
- Wax keeps strands “bundled” together.
- Wax keeps strings lubricated, and keeps water out. Moisture and extreme temperatures are bad for strings.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
A good rule of thumb is to replace bow strings annually. The same wax used to protect the string will eventually become saturated with abrasive dirt. If a string snaps on a compound bow, it could damage the limbs as well as injure the archer. Check the nock whenever inspecting or cleaning the bow string. A cracked nock can spell bad news. Regular maintenance will ensure your bow is working correctly, but it’s good to have it checked by a professional from time to time. Make sure you always use waxes and lubricants specifically made for your bow. Don’t take chances. A lot of people make the mistake of using WD-40 on the axels–it wasn’t made for bows! Bow maintenance products are not too expensive, so you shouldn’t feel pressured to use anything else.
Your bow is an investment. Treat it right. Take care of it, and it will take care of you when it counts.