Inspect your bow and make repairs to keep your prized possession in tiptop condition. Photo Credit: Bowhunters United

A Comprehensive Bow Maintenance Checklist

  Cassie Gasaway   FeaturedGear   June 20, 2023

What’s the most important bowhunting tool you have? Easy, it’s your bow! You can’t hunt without it, so it’s important to keep it in tiptop condition. That state of being requires inspections, maintenance and occasional repairs by a professional bow technician.

Regular inspections and maintenance, along with proper storage, keep your bow performing efficiently. Checking for wear and tear and giving your bow a little love and attention can also increase the longevity of strings, cables and other parts. To help you evaluate your bow, use this maintenance checklist. Check it twice to ensure your bow is in the best shape as you approach bow season.

  • String and Cable


Bowstrings need to be replaced when they’ve frayed, or abut every two years, whichever comes first. Photo Credit: ATA


Cables and bowstrings can fray, break, stretch and dry out. Closely examine every inch. Applying a water-resistant wax protects the string from water, dirt, debris and wear. If your string is two or three years old, consider taking it to a bow shop to be replaced. A new bowstring will help ensure your bow functions at peak performance.

  • Serving

The serving is the protective wrap around the string that acts as a buffer from the arrow nock. Generally, serving needs to be replaced more often than the string itself. If you see signs of fraying or unwrapping, have the serving replaced.

  • Limbs

Limbs are susceptible to cracking, chipping and getting deep scratches that can affect their integrity and cause them to fail when drawn. Run a cotton ball along the limb’s surface to check for defects. The loose cotton fluff will hang up anywhere the limb is compromised.

  • Cams and Wheels

Dented or chipped cams or wheels won’t perform properly, and can fray a bowstring. Look for wear and ensure the string is set correctly in the wheel and cam. You can also check the timing of dual-cam bows by drawing your bow and having a friend watch to see if the cams roll over and hit the cam stops simultaneously. Find the cam hole or mark on a bow with one cam and ensure it lines up with the cable. Individuals can likely spot significant discrepancies in cam timing, but a bow technician can check cam timing more accurately with a draw board.

  • Screws and Bolts


Make sure any screws and bolts are properly tightened and are rust-free. Photo Credit: ATA


Over time, a bow’s vibrations can loosen screws and bolts. Tighten and secure pieces that give or wiggle, usually on attached accessories like the sight, arrow rest and stabilizer. You can also apply a lubricant or water-displacing product to screws, nuts and bolts to prevent rust from developing.

  • Rubber Components

Look at dampeners and stops for cracking or dry rot. Replace them if they seem brittle or worn.

  • Peep Sight

Check that your peep sight is tightly secured and doesn’t slide up or down. It shouldn’t rotate when you draw your bow, either. A peep sight that does rotate or seems to be out of position could be a sign of a string that’s stretched.

  • Arrows


Check your arrows to make sure they’re not splintered or cracked. Photo Credit: BU


Arrows aren’t part of the bow, but your bow’s not much good without them. Inspect your arrows for dents, breaks, cracks, splinters and bends. Discard or repurpose arrows that don’t pass quality control. Also, check the nocks for cracks, breaks or stretching, and ensure they’re securely fastened to the end of the arrow.

Know Your Limits

Anyone can do an at-home bow inspection, but not everyone can fix bow issues as well as an experienced bow technician. Some equipment tasks require an archery expert. If you need to replace a cable or bowstring, tune or adjust your setup, or update an accessory such as a sight or arrow rest, head to an archery pro shop and work with a professional. They can hook you up and solve your bow problems the first time without hesitation.

If you’re uncomfortable checking your bow for wear or simply don’t have time, take it to an archery pro shop for inspection. Beat the preseason rush and take your bow for a checkup in June or July when most archery pro shops have more time than customers. The price for a basic bow inspection and checkup varies by location so ask your local technician for an accurate rate. Click here to find a nearby archery pro shop.




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