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Preseason bow prep checklist

Preseason bow prep tips

Opening weekend is almost here! The time to get your bow completely dialed is now. Photo credit: Brady Miller

Late summer is finally upon us and bowhunters across the West are sharing a lot of the same thoughts: velvet antlers, hot days, bugles and the excitement that arrives with every archery season. In the coming weeks, many of these archers will be shooting their broadheads and putting the final touches on their setup. 

Hunters, and particularly those who hunt the backcountry, spend a lot of time throughout the year ensuring their gear is dialed and up to their performance standards for the hunt. When spending time in the woods with your bow it’s incredible how many silly issues can pop up that can easily ruin an entire day's effort. What's more, a lot of these annoyances can commonly be avoided, or quickly fixed, with some forethought. 

Marking your accessories

Marking archery sight bar with silver line

Other photo credits: Dave Barnett

One of the first pieces of advice I give to hunters just before the season is to sit down and mark anything and everything on the bow that can move with reference marks. This can include windage and elevation adjustments on your sight and rest and cam timing marks and a lot more. The primary premise behind this is to establish the absolute zero for each accessory—your starting point. Even with thread locker and properly torqued bolts and screws a hard spill can easily tweak, move and otherwise incapacitate your bow. A silver permanent marker is perfect for this.

Marking arrow rest with silver line

The simple fact is no matter the amount of pre-season prep you’ve done, the odds of an unforeseen accident occurring is always probable. In the case of a minor accident, the prepared hunter can take 10 minutes to reset everything back to zero and take a test shot while the unprepared hunter is heading to the truck with his or her day completely ruined.

Bow repair kit

Along with marking your accessories, having a first-aid kit for your bow in your pack at all times will allow you to quickly rectify any small issues that may pop up quickly and efficiently. For such a simple piece of insurance, there is a decent amount of thought process that needs to go into selecting exactly what needs to be included in your kit. For a detailed breakdown on this as well as a list of what I carry you can check out a recent article I wrote on bow repair kits here.

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Threadlocker is another one of those tips that makes perfect sense, but is often overlooked. I can deal with a hard spill moving something on my bow—accidents happen—but a loose screw will drive me up a wall. Before the season arrives, I always take 15 minutes to run through the important accessory screws to add a small drop of threadlocker or a small pinch of string wax to the threads. Either one of these items will help ensure that everything stays tight on my bow while scrambling through the hills. 

Checking bow screws before a hunt

Some of the more important areas I normally concentrate on are:

  • Rest mounting screws
  • Sight mounting screws
  • Windage and elevation adjustment screws (rest and sight)
  • Dovetail locking screw (if applicable)
  • Strip stop screw
  • Draw length module screws
  • Limb-stop screws
  • Stabilizer weight screws
  • Back bar/sidebar mounting and adjustment screws

The biggest factor here is to just sit down with your bow and inspect the various screws and accessories. When removing screws for this process, I always warn archers to pay close attention or even take notes to ensure that everything gets re-installed to its correct location. As an added step, I’ll also add string wax the threads of my broadheads to ensure they stay tight throughout the year.

Slider sights

Spot Hogg fast eddie XL archery sight tape

Backup sight tapes are very important. Photo credit: Brady Miller

Sliding and adjustable sights have been making their way into the hunting scene for a number of years now and many archers are heading this direction for various reasons. On top of the obvious importance of a bow sight, one of the most important features of a sliding sight is the sight tape. Most companies are now sending their sights with pre-made tapes printed on mostly waterproof materials, but anyone who is creating custom tapes with archery programs are often forced to use generic printer paper. Some hunters have even gone to the extent of using laser printers to print their sight tapes on clear plastic sheets, but, obviously, this option isn’t available to everyone.

One of my go-to tricks is using clear packing tape both under and over the sight tape. This can prevent surface water from penetrating the tape while also protecting the backside from any moisture that may work its way in there. Really, the easiest way to test your current setup is to simply pour some water over your tape and let it sit. Did it get soaked or did it stay dry? As a word of caution, be sure to have a backup or spare tape before trying the water trick. 

Practice makes perfect

The last piece of advice for preseason prep will be the same last piece of advice I give on most of my articles—practice! Just like all of our other gear choices, the times to practice their use is not when you're in the field and the timer is running. Practice these skills and tricks on your bow—or even an old bow—during the offseason to reduce the possible downtime while hunting for quick repairs.

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Dave B.
Dave B. - posted 6 months ago on 08-12-2019 07:35:09 am
Cedar City, Utah
goHUNT Team

@Jeff A - Thanks for checking out the article and great tips with the photos! Best of luck to you this fall!

Jeff A. - posted 6 months ago on 08-10-2019 09:26:48 am
Woodinville, WA

Good article, thanks for writing!

I take close up pictures of my sight and rest and everything else showing how everything lines up on the tic marks. Leave them on my phone and i can always get back to a baseline. If I change something I can just delete the old pictures and take new ones and not have a bunch of silver marks on my housings. Marking does work good on limb bolts (surprised that manufacturers don't provide some sort of index for those).

Dave B.
Dave B. - posted 6 months ago on 07-29-2019 07:43:56 am
Cedar City, Utah
goHUNT Team

@Matthew- I get exactly what you're saying. I did some more digging and found a few answers, with the clear vinyl sheets people are laying down a base "sticker", if you will, to provide a colored background. Generally, the clear vinyl is then attached with packing tape, super glue, etc.. I've also heard of clear nail polish working for this. Additionally, while searching I also found that people were printing onto colored vinyl with an adhesive backing, the same materials used for arrow wraps. There is also a polyester-based waterproof shipping label from the Avery company that many people are printing on. I hope this gives you some options/insight, thanks!

Matthew T. - posted 7 months ago on 07-27-2019 05:52:25 pm
Providence, RI

Thanks Dave for replying - I guess I'm wondering, what then? Black toner on a black sight housing doesn't seem to make sense. Is there a transfer process to another medium? I guess that's the part I'm confused about. FWIW I do print my own tapes using AAO. Interested in this process since I'd love to find a way to make truly water-proof tapes.

Dave B.
Dave B. - posted 7 months ago on 07-26-2019 10:01:09 am
Cedar City, Utah
goHUNT Team

@Matthew T- most people I’ve seen online have used the laser jet printers to print on plastic sheeting similar to what you’d see with a projector from school. These tapes would be generated via a few archery programs such as TAP or Archers Advantage. Hope that’s answers it for you, thanks for checking out the article!

Matthew T. - posted 7 months ago on 07-24-2019 07:51:43 pm
Providence, RI

I realize it's a little off topic, but when you mention "using laser printers to print their sight tapes on clear plastic", can you explain how this works? Maybe my Google-fu is weak, but I can 't find anything on why/how this would be done.

Josh O. - posted 7 months ago on 07-22-2019 04:27:34 pm
Boise, Idaho

Good article.! Thanks