For some archers, when the temperatures drop, so does the amount of time they spend shooting their bow. If winter weather drives you to press pause on practicing, don’t fall into the trap of “set it and forget it.” Be sure to properly store equipment. If your winter plans don’t include archery or you plan to shoot a different bow during the indoor season, follow these steps to properly winterize your equipment.
Even if you primarily shoot inside all year, it’s important to routinely clean your equipment. Ideally, this should happen more than once a year. A great time to give your bow a thorough cleaning is before putting it away in storage. Shooting outside exposes your gear to Mother Nature’s elements like wind, rain, dirt and grass. Use a damp cloth to wipe off any grime that’s accumulated. For hard-to-reach areas, use a damp Q-tip. Wipe down every inch of the bow including any accessories. Allow the bow to air-dry or use a dry cleaning cloth to remove moisture. Don’t put the bow in a case until you’re certain it’s free of moisture.
Check for rust, and use steel wool or a Q-tip to remove it. If it doesn’t come off, archery shops carry rust removal products. Just be sure to check with a bow technician to make sure it’s safe to use on archery equipment.
Compound bows have a lot of moving parts. Something as small as a loose screw can cause poor shooting or damage to equipment. Check to make sure all the screws and bolts are tight on your rest, sight and more. Check the bowstrings for damage. Look over the cams for dings. Examine the limbs and risers to make sure there’s no bending or cracking. If you find something that doesn’t look quite right, take it into a shop and have a bow technician look it over.
Wax keeps your bowstring from fraying and twisting. Before storing your bow for the season, be sure to give it a good waxing. Wax the strings, cables and servings. This is an important step in keeping your bow shooting at its best and the string safe from breaking, which can lead to serious damage and injury.
Compound bows should be stored with the bowstring on. However, if you don’t plan to shoot for several months, experts recommend against storing the bow “maxed out.” A maxed-out bow means the draw weight is at capacity, which means the limbs hold the most tension. Maintenance techs recommend maxing out the bow by screwing the limbs all the way down, and then backing it off by two or more turns.
Recurve bows should be stored with the strings removed. Unstring the bow when it’s not in use. With the string on for a prolonged period, the bow can fatigue or crack.
Arrow storage is frequently overlooked, but improper storage can lead to cracks or bends in your arrows. While carbon and aluminum arrows are easy to maintain, it’s never a bad idea to give them a checkup. Use a damp cloth to clean dirt and grime. Check for loose fletchings. Store arrows in a quiver, case or arrow divider. Be sure to keep them in a dry place, free of extreme temperatures. Extreme cold or sun can make the glue brittle.
Wooden arrows require a bit more maintenance. They need to be coated with a varnish or oil. Feathers should be kept dry and waterproofed.
Too many archers wait until the season starts to get a bow tuneup. Why not take it in at the end of the season? Winter is typically a slower season for many archery shops. Having a technician look over the bow ensures everything will be in working order. You can put it away knowing that when you’re ready to shoot, it will be too.
Many archers choose to keep their bow in a soft or hard case. This makes the equipment easy to transport and keeps it dust-free. Find a safe space in the house, garage or shed. Don’t store anything on top of the case. Be sure to keep it in a climate-controlled area, free of giant temperature swings. Make sure the area is dry. A damp environment can cause equipment to warp or rust.
Some archers choose to display their bow instead of putting it inside a case. Never hang by the string. Be sure to hang by the frame. Keep it out of the direct sun. Use a hook that’s padded.
Winter weather doesn’t mean you need to stop shooting. There are plenty of opportunities to shoot year-round. Many archers move indoors. Archery shops typically offer leagues and tournaments. Some communities have indoor archery ranges. Some archers even choose to set up a target in their homes. Just be sure to follow important safety protocols.
Whether you choose to shoot through the winter or take a break, routine bow maintenance will keep you shooting for years.