By Shane Chuning

For a lot of us, this is a time to get excited about the upcoming archery season or just a good excuse to get out and shoot our bows in general. For me, I shoot all year, but still get very excited about spring time. With the snow melting and weather warming, my plans for this hunting season start rolling through my mind, whether it’s tags that you put in for or just plain having fun at your local 3D shoots. We need to start thinking about our archery set-ups and what we can do to better them or just make sure that the proper upkeep and maintenance is being taken care of on them. Let’s look at a few things that will ensure you better success in the field or just more enjoyment with less frustration in your archery set-up from damaged or worn equipment.

This shows timing on a single cam bow where the cable is crossing in the center of the circle on the cam. There will be differences in reference holes depending on year, make, and model of bow.

First off is your bow string and cables. Many of us go way to long, in my opinion, before we look to replace our strings and cables. Worn strings and cables can cause injury and create unwanted frustrations, especially when we should be enjoying our time shooting our bows. We need to make sure we look them over for any stands that may be cut do to broadheads, branches, rocks, etc. Even if we don’t have physical damage, another thing to look for is excessive peep rotation. This can be caused by poor string quality to begin with or from the strings’ fibers breaking down. We have all experienced peep twist from time to time and when it gets excessive, nothing can be more frustrating. A lot of this can be prevented from just having a good set of quality strings and cables put on our bows.

For some of us we might not need anything but a good cleaning and proper waxing of our strings and cables. I have heard of some people applying string wax with a lighter or blow dryer and to be honest I would not recommend putting excessive heat to your strings and cables. This will increase your chance of damage to your bow or worse, to yourself. I like using a soft piece of leather when rubbing in string wax and that is more than sufficient for waxing your bowstrings.

Another thing to consider this year is just a good quality “tune” job for your bow. It will just make you a better archer and make for a more enjoyable time with less frustration when it comes time to start shooting your bow.  Remember, don’t be afraid  to ask questions when taking in your bow for any service.  One of those questions would be, “Am I using the proper spined arrow for my set-up?”  When they are paper tuning, ask them if they can shoot through paper at multiple distances of 6, 10, 15 and 20ft. This is simply giving you a snap shot of your arrow in flight and doing so at one distance and calling it tuned does not do it justice. I see in many cases that paper tuning is done at one distance all the time and they show the customer a bullet hole and call it good. Nothing could be farther from the truth in regards to a properly tuned bow. This starts with the proper spined arrow and I can’t stress that enough.  Another suggestion is a complete breakdown of the axles, cams and limbs. Having everything relubed can do wonders for your draw cycle and will just make your bow quieter and more hassle free for the coming season. Don’t be afraid to ask a few questions, it will make you more knowledgeable in regards to your equipment and it will hold archery shops accountable as well.

Part of the tuning process will involve cam timing. For dual cam bows, this is where both cams start and end their rotation at the same point. You might not think single cam bows need to be timed, but nothing could be further from the truth. They will have a correct starting location that needs to be addressed as well in the tuning process to get the optimal performance out of your bow. Some of you might have purchased a new bow recently and might think there is nothing special that needs to be done.  You need to take into consideration that new strings and cables settle into their tracks and might have slight initial stretch. This is referred to as your break-in period.  In this case, it is quite common to lose the correct synchronization of your cams (referred to as cam timing) meaning one cam can be out of synch with another or for single cam bow it might have lost its correct starting rotation in the bottom cam.  When these things aren’t corrected it will change the vertical nock travel of your bow and in return make for a bow that just might not be as forgiving as you would like.

This is a picture of a draw board and really the only true way to get the correct timing on a dual cam bow. This is really the only way to be truly accurate when making adjustments to get your cams in proper synchronization and a great way to check actual draw length.

Let me give you an example of this. I was just working on a new Mathews Heli and had noticed the starting rotation of the cam was off. I proceeded to make the proper adjustments needed to correct it. You might think, “OK everything is back in line with the cam timed and ready to go”. Well on this particular single cam bow it was designed to be nock level and by changing the starting rotation you are in turn changing the nocking point slightly as well. When these things aren’t corrected it will make for a bow that is out of tune and won’t perform to its ability. Whether  you have a single cam or dual cam bow, cam timing matters and when it is correct it will lead to a more accurate and shooter friendly bow.

These are just a few things to think about as we prepare for the upcoming season. These preparations just might make for a better overall shooting experience for you and your bow. And again, do not be afraid to ask questions.  More understanding will make you a better and more knowledgeable archer in the long run.