February 04, 2014
By Tony J. Peterson
Proper bow function requires a litany of parts to do exactly what they are supposed to do during every shot cycle. When one piece of the puzzle falls out of place, the entire process is compromised.
We often focus on major tuning issues and perfect bow setup when discussing how to get our hunting rigs into shape and how to keep them there. This is fine for the minority of bow owners who possess a pro shop-grade press and the knowledge to use it.
However, for most bowhunters this is out of reach, and quite frankly, not something they're interested in. Shelling out a grand or more for a quality press and then devoting serious time to learning how to use it is simply too much for most of us, but that doesn't mean that all aspects of bow tuning and setup are out of your grasp.
Every year I encounter fellow bowhunters who have no idea how to tie a string loop, serve in a peep sight, or even replace a nock set. It's not that these folks are incapable. It's that they don't have the simple bow tools necessary and the knowledge to put them to use.
If you're in this category, consider taking a step in the right direction by investing a minimal amount of money into the basics, and then spend some quality time on the Internet watching tutorials on how to perform these simple tasks.
This is a good idea for hunters who never hunt anywhere other than their favorite close-to-home whitetail haunts, and it is crucial for those who hit the road in search of hunting adventure.
It's just common sense that if you're in elk camp and notice your string loop is frayed, that the fix is up to you and only you. I've been in hunting camps with friends who didn't even bother to bring along a set of Allen wrenches. Of course, those homebody hunters who figure they will just take their bow into the shop if something goes wrong can be in for a rude awakening.
Imagine shutting off the alarm two hours before sunrise and getting ready to hunt a stand you've been saving all fall for the rut and the right conditions, only to realize that your nock set is missing.
You might only miss one hunt to get it fixed in a pro shop because it will take them a matter of seconds to remedy the problem, but what is more important is that it could have been the sit where everything was happening and the bucks were chasing does nose-to-the-ground and oblivious to any danger.
For most of us, hunting time is too hard to come by to miss it over something trivial that you could have fixed yourself in minutes.
It can be intimidating to dive into the world of the bow mechanic, but that doesn't mean you can't pick up a few simple tools and start off by dipping a toe in the waters. It will quickly become clear that simple fixes are well within your reach, and more complicated tasks will soon follow.
Throughout this process you'll accumulate more tools and more confidence to tackle issues head-on when they crop up, often at the worst possible moment. A few tools and some skills can save you valuable hunting time.
Archery Accessory Box
ols, you'll realize that they are easy to misplace, which is why a storage system like the Archery Accessory Box
from Plano Molding
is a good idea. The Archery Accessory Box is designed with a see-through top, one lift-out tray, up to 16 adjustable compartments, and is compact enough to throw in your vehicle when you hit the road in the fall.
Archers Allen Wrench Set
If you want to boil down tool needs to a granular level, the jumping-off point for all bow work involves a quality set of Allen wrenches. I emphasize the word quality because I've had sets completely explode on me the first time I've used them. I don't know why it's so hard to make a set of Allen wrenches that will last, but a lot of companies seem to have trouble with the task. Fortunately, Pine Ridge Archery
has it figured out with their Archers Allen Wrench Set
. This set has all of the wrenches you're likely to need, and it contains them with a bolt and nut assembly that doesn't allow them to flop all over the place like lesser-quality sets. I keep a set in my shop, my truck and my daypack, so I'm covered no matter where or when I hunt.
Another tool that has found its way into my shop is the Bowsmith
from Real Avid
. The Bowsmith contains needle-nose pliers, a string spreader, knife blade, fletching stripper, nock crimp, string loop setter, and a bevy of other tools (28 in total). This handy tool set is small enough to stow away in a pack as well, and it can be invaluable in bow camp when the nearest pro shop is far away.
Allen Company Compact Bow Tuning Kit
I also used my Allen Company Compact Bow Tuning Kit
. Since I had to redo my center serving, I also needed to tie on a new string loop, which necessitated the use of the contained bow square. Although I didn't use a nock set, the Compact Bow Tuning Kit comes with nock pliers and three nock sets.
Digital Bow Scale
An often-overlooked tool that is simple and can be used by every bow owner is a bow scale. I like Cabela's Digital Bow Scale
, which features a backlit LCD screen and automatic weight lock, and is accurate up to 110 pounds in case you plan to shoot deer hiding behind concrete walls. It amazes me how often I talk to bowhunters who simply guess at their draw weight after cranking their limbs in or out a few turns. It's much better to know exactly what your bow is set at, especially if you're getting close to either end of your bow's recommended weight spectrum.
Pro Archery Pliers
If you're in the market for a pair of pliers that will last longer than any bow you're likely to buy and features a nock set crimper and remover, a D-loop stretcher and scary sharp side-cutters, look no further than the Pro Archery Pliers
from Easton Technical Products
. These needle-nose pliers are extremely durable and can make home bow fixes a breeze.
Bohning Mini Server
Considering potential bow fixes, it would be wise to not ignore serving issues. Last fall I was sitting in a treestand in north-central Wisconsin, when I happened to glance down at my nocked arrow. The angle looked off, and upon closer inspection I realized that my center serving had slipped and my entire string loop had crept up my string, throwing my entire bow tune out of alignment. Back at the cabin, I busted out my Bohning Mini Server
and re-served my string. The Mini Server is perfect for the home bow mechanic because it eliminates the need for a cable spreader and is extremely easy to use. However, that wasn't the only tool I used to get back to shooting.
After putting the above tools to good use at home or in deer camp, it's inevitable that you'll realize something is missing — a vise. The option to clamp your bow into a quality vise and work on it with both hands free is important, which is why I've started using an Economy Vise
from Apple Archery
. Plastic-coated jaws provide a secure grip on your bow's limb without causing any damage to the finish, while the Economy Vise allows for 360 degrees of left-to-right and front-to-back rotation. Just like using a lineman's belt to hang a treestand for the first time, when you use a vise like this to work on your bow, you'll wonder how you ever functioned without it.