I’ve often said that Murphy of Murphy’s Law fame was a bowhunter. How else do you explain the million-and-one things that can go wrong with a compound bow at exactly the wrong time? If you’ve shot a compound much you know exactly what I mean. You’ve got it perfectly tuned with your hunting arrows, the sight pins are dialed in like a laser bomb, it draws smoothly and quietly — and then, BAM! For reasons hard to fathom, all of a sudden it isn’t shooting where it needs to be shooting, something has rattled loose, something has broken and needs a quick fix.
That’s no biggie if you’re on the practice range back home, but if you’re in the field, even the littlest problem can ruin a hunt — all for the want of a horseshoe nail, as the old Benjamin Franklin saying goes (you can check it out here).
Skookum bowhunters are able to make quick repairs to minor troubles with their bow-and-arrow set-up on the spot. To do so requires having the right tools and parts on hand. Many archers use a small fishing tackle box to store and keep their repair stuff organized. There are even pre-assembled bow-repair kits available from Cabela’s and others, and these make a great starting point. However, be sure to customize these kits with accessories unique to your particular bow set-up. Finally — and this should go without saying — tools and parts do you absolutely no good if you don’t know how to use them properly. Watch online videos, or hang out at your local archery pro shop and watch how they do it. That way when something goes out of kilter you can fix it right now, and not waste precious hunting time.
Here are my Top 10 bow repair kit essentials:
10. Super Glue
How did we ever function without this wonder product? Super glue can fix just about anything broken, in a big hurry. In a pinch you can even use it to staunch serious bleeding. I buy it in those little micro-tubes you can get in a three- or four-pack from Walmart for about five bucks.
9. Stick Tape
For those of you who know nothing about hockey, this is the tape hockey players wrap around their stick blades. It’s a little tacky on the surface, but strong as heck, you can tear it with your fingers, and best of all, it doesn’t freeze so it works really well in bitter weather. I use it for repairs and also to wrap around hard objects to help deaden sound. It also comes in white as well as other colors, making it great for winter camo jobs. For the record, my kit also contains a roll of black electrician’s tape.
8. Dental Floss
Back before buying BCY string serving in small amounts I used unwaxed dental floss to serve my peep sights into my bowstrings. It still works great and is cheaper than actual string serving. Both are good for a number of small repairs.
7. Spare Peep Sight/String Separator
Have you ever had a peep sight pop right out of your bowstring before? I have. When that happens it usually flies off into the Bermuda Triangle, never to be seen again. That’s why having a spare peep and the little plastic tool designed to let you separate your string’s fibers and install the peep are both always in my repair kit. I look at both like fire insurance — a big waste of money until you really need it.
6. Magic Markers
I mark lots of things on my bow and sight with magic markers, including the position of my peep in the bowstring so I’ll know instantly if it’s slipped up or down, the position of my sight in its bracket once I’m sighted in, and so on. Before you could get Magic Markers in colors like white and silver — which stand out against a black bowstring — I used Wite-Out, a brand of correction fluid used back in the ancient days before computers when I wrote stuff like this on a typewriter.
5. Drop-Away Rest Pull Cord
Many of today’s drop-away arrow rests rely on a pull cord to cock the launcher arm into place. These cords can fray or be sliced through, and if that happens, the rest is useless. Bringing along a spare cord, and knowing how to change it out, makes fixing this problem a snap.
4. Bowstring Wax
String wax helps keep your bowstring from wearing and fraying prematurely. I am a string waxing fanatic, working wax into my string and cable system at least once a week.
Bonus Tip: If you’re having trouble pulling your arrows out of a 3D or other hard target, wax the front 6 inches of the shaft before shooting. That will make arrow removal so easy you won’t believe it.
3. String Loop/Nock Sets
The string loop can also fray, especially if you have a rough spot on your release jaws. You can buy pre-cut loop string with directions for tying it for five bucks or less. If you still shoot brass nock sets, bring several spares, along with a nock set pliers.
Stick-ion moleskin helps pad — and thus, quiet — everything from the bow’s shelf to the bottom of your bow sight bracket and more. I’ve even been known to pad my entire laser rangefinder with moleskin so it won’t “clank” when — not if, but when — I carelessly bang it on something.
1. Allen Wrench Set
One of my pet peeves with bow and accessory makers (yes, you, bow sight builders!) is that they seem to think they need to use Allen screws and bolts with at least a half-dozen head sizes. That means you need a set of Allen wrenches that covers all your bases. Perhaps no tool in your repair kit is more crucial! However, it is critical to make sure your Allen wrench set does indeed have everything you need. Not all sets have the same size wrenches on the big and little ends of the spectrum. You can always cover the tool’s gaps with individual wrenches. When I need to do that, I make sure I have two spares.
The aforementioned is all stuff for my bow, but my repair kit has more. I always have some spare arrow points (field tips, judo points, bludgeons, etc.), arrow nocks, some stick-on target spots, and a small lighter. Some folks even bring along a small portable bow press like the Bow Medic — available for under $35 from Walmart — in case serious repairs need to be made. My own little kit has so much stuff in it that at the end of every season I take an hour or so to go through it, eliminating old stuff I’ll never use and replacing essentials that have been used up.
Our Readers Respond
From: Glen Hill
To: Bob Robb
Subject: Fwd: 10 Must-Haves for Your Bow Repair Kit
Great list, but no bow string?
(or did I miss that)
From: Bob Robb
To: Glen Hill
Subject: Re: 10 Must-Haves for Your Bow Repair Kit
Glen, thanks for the note! My thinking here is this is a quick repair kit, and if you pop a string you need to go see the bow doctor nearest you! Been there done that! What else do you pack along??
Cheers, Bob Robb
From: Brad Love
To: Bob Robb
Subject: Bowhunters Repair Kit
Check out this Bow Medic Kit from Vista…
Almost matches everything you described in you article today!!
Keep up the great articles!
How about you? What do you carry along, “just in case?” Has your repair kit saved your bacon on a hunt before? Please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear your stories!
Featured photo: Nick Trehearne photography