Equipment failure during a hunt can end the hunt, especially when one your essential tools fails, like your bow. Today’s compound bows have a lot of pieces working together to provide incredible accuracy. However, if one component fails, it can mean the end of your hunt — especially if you’re hunting in the backcountry where a good pro shop is pretty hard to come by.
The most important part of caring for you bow in the backcountry is knowing how to setup/tune each of the components of your bow. If you rely completely on a pro shop, you won’t have the skills to repair your bow in the field. Here’s a list, and brief explanation of a few items that can literally make or break you bow hunt.
You’ll need to understand a few things about tuning and bow setup — just in case. I would recommend (at minimum) becoming familiar with the following:
Center shot: “Center shot” essentially means that your arrow is pointed in the same direction that the string travels in your bow and aligned between your cams. When you, or your bowtech tunes your bow, the center shot will be the first thing they likely set. Center shot is set by your rest position, and then tuning occurs after that. While you can’t really paper tune your bow in the backcountry, you can get your center shot very close with a tape measure and/or some “eye-balling.” If you place your arrow on your rest and measure from the inside of your riser to the arrow at the back and front of your riser, you can be very close. The arrow should also be perpendicular to the string. By marking or measuring the location of your d-loop to your cams or string serving and making marks on your rest, you should be able to set things back to where they were if they get knocked out of place.
Rest Timing: Most of us shoot a drop-away rest. Most drop-away rests function by attaching to one of the bow cables, or limbs. Understanding how to set up and time your rest so it activates properly is a good thing to understand — just in case you have to do it in the hills. Other rests, like whisker biscuits or fixed prong-style rests do.
Marking Accessory Positions: Many sights and rests with micro adjustment features will already have small marks on them for fine tuning. There are a few ways to mark these, so if they get bumped and move, you can move them back. I prefer to make a physical mark on my rest on any moving parts with either nail polish, a silver or white marker, or a scratch on the metal so if my rest or sight moves, I can easily slide it back to where the marks meet. You can also take a photo on your phone, but then you will need to rely on your phone to fix any issues.
In order to repair, or make adjustments in the field – you’ll have to carry a few items with you. I suggest the following lightweight materials to be assembled to fix common issues you may run into while hunting:
- D-Loop Material: D-loop material is used with most drop away rests to tie into the cable or limb of the bow, so carry enough to be able to replace the string from your rest to your cable, or enough to tie a new d-loop should yours break. This is a very light item and it is very easy to carry a little extra just in case.
- Cable Clamp: Most drop-away rests (most common rests used today) will be served (tied) or clamped into the downward moving cable on your bow. I prefer to serve the string into the cable, but a press is required. So carry an extra cable clamp just in case. These can easily be attached to new d-loop material and used to activate your rest.
- Serving Thread: Carry a few feet of serving thread. Serving is used all over the strings and cables of your bow to prevent wear, but is also used to prevent peep movement and sometimes d-loop movement.
- Extra Peep Sight: If something happens to your bow, the peep is typically the first thing to get loose. Peeps are small enough that you’ll easily lose them in the grass.
- Allen wrenches: Carry a few small L-shaped Allen wrenches. Typically you’ll only need 2-3 of these to work on the components of your bow — specifically your cam modules, rest and sight. They’re extremely light, and come in handy if something wiggles loose.
- Note/paper with important measurements: Keeping a small not with important measurements written on it can be very important. Write info about your cam modules if applicable, the distance from your cam to your d-loop, and the distance from your d-loop to your peep sight. If one of these items breaks or falls off, you can replace it and get very close by measuring. You could also save this information on your cell phone if you take it with you on your hunts.
- Tape Measure: I’m not talking about a 25′ Stanley here, just a small plastic measuring tape, or a something lightweight can help make necessary measurements to set your center shot, peep and d-loop placement, etc.
- Blunt/Small Game Head: If you need to sight in your bow in the backcountry, you’ll want something like a small game head or a blunt to shoot that won’t penetrate and ruin one of your arrows. I recommend finding an old stump to shoot that isn’t too hard and won’t ruin an arrow. Note: this is not a substitute for having your bow sighted in. Blunts and small game tips may shoot differently than your broadheads. I recommend shooting them before you go in the field to see how far off they are.
Inevitably equipment can fail, but being familiar with your equipment, and being able to make a minor repair in the field might keep you from coming out early!