Now that it’s spring and we’re fully in the outdoor season, you’ll be out on the range with your bow. If you’ve been shooting for awhile and are a more experienced archer, here’s a short guide to archery’s essential tools and a kit to keep everything working.
Note: If you’re new to archery, your local archery shop will have everything you need – start there for the easiest route to bow and arrow fun!
If you’re a more seasoned archer, let’s discuss a few items you should store in your bow case to keep you shooting all season.
1. Hex Keys
First and foremost: Your gear is well-made, and the parts on your bow are foolproof. The parts of your bow will generally stay put when you’re shooting average levels of practice. If something’s lose, just bring your bow to your local pro shop, and they can tighten things up quickly for you!
If, however, you’re shooting constantly and wanting to learn more about working on your own bow, it’s a great idea to chat with the retailer who sold you the bow, and have them show you the different parts of the bow that will benefit from an occasional tightening down.
All bows are held together with six-sided hex bolts, so you’ll want a set of hex keys (Allen wrenches) to adjust nearly everything.
The set you’ll need depends on your bow and which manufacturer made your equipment. Therefore, you might need imperial and/or metric sizes. Archery shops sell multi-tools for the most popular sizes; just ask them which one you need. They’re inexpensive and easily stored in your quiver or bow case.
To save a little weight and space in your bow case, keep the ones that fit your setup and put them on a key ring. You can even mark individual keys with paint or sticky labels to indicate the right size key for each bolt on your bow.
Examine your bow before each shooting session and quickly check the bolts to ensure they’re tight (but not too tight), and that all stabilizer weights are firmly screwed in. Also examine your sight, and your finger tab or release aid. Again, for a quick lesson on what to tighten up and how, just ask the folks at your local archery store.
2. Fletching Glue and Spare Vanes
While today’s fletchings – the part that steers the arrow – are built for durability AND performance, as you begin to group your arrows together in the target, they may shed their fletchings. If you’re new to archery, just bring your arrows to your local pro shop; they’ll repair them for you, and they’ll be good as new. For the more experienced archer, learning to repair your vanes or feathers is a great skill to have. Eventually you’ll want to get a fletching jig, a tool that aligns fletchings on the arrow shaft. You’ll also need a tube or two of fletching glue. Visit an archery retailer and ask what to buy and how to apply it.
3. Small Pliers and Spare Nocks
Archery’s second guarantee is that you’ll keep improving your skills as you practice – and that occasionally results in broken nocks. Nocks attach to the arrow’s back end and clip onto the bowstring, and they come in endless color variations. Fortunately, they are an easy and inexpensive repair, whether you’re a newbie or a veteran. You can bring your arrows to your local pro shop for quick fixes to your nocks, or you can learn to repair them yourself.
Whenever buying arrows, seek guidance from an archery retailer to ensure they are the right fit for you, and if you want to learn how to repair them, you can buy extra nocks in the same color. Small pliers are ideal for installing and removing nocks, and they’re handy for other jobs, too.
4. Surgical Tape
For recurve archers, this is archery’s duct tape. You might find that lots of practice gives you a bit of sore skin on the fingers while you build up calluses (think of guitar players and others who use their hands for repetitive motion on a string). Sometimes called “medical tape” or “vet wrap,” microporous self-adhesive tape is great for protecting your fingertips, and like everything in archery, it comes in a host of fun colors. Keep a small roll in your bow case.
5. Wet Wipes
Most recurves and compound bows are made of materials that need little care and only occasional wipe-downs with a clean cloth. Don’t forget to wipe down your arrows, too. If you’re outdoors and things get muddy or dusty, a small pack of wet wipes comes in handy. They have many other uses, too.
6. String Wax
String wax is essential for recurves and compounds, and keeps your bowstring in good condition a long time. Applying string wax is simple. It comes in a tube, like chapstick. Rub the wax all over the string, not just the serving. Rub the wax into the strands with a cloth. When you buy wax from an archery store, ask someone to show you how to apply it.
7. A Great Case
Bow cases aren’t really a tool, but they’re essential for keeping gear in first-class condition. Bow cases range from simple bags to airline-approved hard-shell cases with spaces for multiple bows. Ask your archery retailer to show you what they stock or what they can order. Bow cases often have an insert or pockets to hold smaller items, so get into the habit of putting everything in the same place every time so you can find it when you need it. Good archers are organized.
Now that you have all of the necessary gear, head to a nearby archery range to hone your skills and make memories that’ll last a lifetime.