Pre-Season Crossbow and Bow Tuning Checklist

Crossbow and Bow Tuning Checklist

Fall is in the morning air, and deer season is closing in. Gun hunting affords the ability to put off preparation and practice, but not for the bow hunter; preparation is critical for success in the field. It’s not only imperative that you practice early and often, but it’s also necessary to make sure your bow or crossbow is in working order. This article will cover a simple checklist to make sure you are ready to hit the range before opening day! If your local or within a reasonable drive to Kinseys Outdoors, be sure to come in and have our experts check your equipment before deer season arrives!



Limbs and Riser Condition

Multiple things can happen during bow season that could damage the your bow, or at least send you into the shop for repairs. Anytime you are busting brush, hauling the bow 20 feet in the air, or just sitting it down—damage can occur. The first place to look is the condition of your limbs and riser.

Things to cause concern and head to the shop:

  1. Deep Gouges 
  2. Cracks 
  3. Splinters coming off your limbs 
  4. Cracking or popping when you come to full draw 
  5. Any physical damage that causes you concern

While not all of these are life-threatening concerns for the health of your bow, it’s a good idea to check and make sure everything is in top shape before the season begins. If your limb does happen to break, you are going to be waiting for new limbs or left discouraged with your bow altogether and wanting something new. It’s best to go ahead and get any of the above issues squared away before hunting season arrives.


You pull your bow out to shoot, and day after day, your shots are inconsistent. You try moving the sights, playing with the rest, but nothing seems to bring consistency to your groupings. If there is one place on your bow that can conceal damage and cause you shooting issues, it’s the cams. There are a few areas of concern here that we’ll briefly touch on and that you should be aware of:

Cam Lean: This is precisely what it sounds like and sometimes can be spotted by visually inspecting your cam by holding it out in front of you and looking to make sure the cams are not leaning” one direction or another. If they are, that means the load of the string will not be evenly distributed and it will be impossible for you to shoot accurately or consistent.  Sometimes this can be hard to spot, but if you suspect this to be an issue, it’s time to get to the shop.

Timing: A close cousin to cam lean, is timing. This problem is hard to spot on your own if you don’t have a draw board, but you can have someone help or bring out a video camera. To inspect this aspect of the bow, you watch to make sure both cams are coming to a stop at the same time upon your draw. If there is a difference, you have issues that need correction.

Nicks on the cam: This is the easiest to spot, but the most dangerous. If you happen to notice a sharp edge on your cam, made from damage, there is the chance you could cut your string and eventually your string is cut and leaving you with a bad day!

While cam issues are rare, they do happen and if in doubt—go check it out!


If there is one mistake hunters make with the archery equipment, it’s not correctly maintaining or understanding when there might be issues/changes with the string. The first thing we should consider when purchasing a new bow is that not all strings are created equal. Strings, over time, will stretch and when this stretch occurs, shot placement will change. Some strings may not stretch until hundreds of shots have been placed, but one this is for sure: it will stretch.

Before shooting your bow, it’s also imperative to check the string for any spots that might be cut or where fraying is occurring. If your string is broken (even one strand) — you must change it immediately. Fraying is different, and also understand there is a difference between the serving and the string. Your serving is more likely to fray before the string, and if it does you can re-serve the string.

Maintaining your string is simple: use wax, and use it often. You are not going to over-wax” the string or cause any damage by applying too much. The best schedule is to wax your bow after every hunt or practice session, or if it gets wet. Wax will be your bows number one ally, so don’t hold back using it, but just a small amount will do the trick.


Bow and Crossbow Accessories

One area not to neglect is the accessories on your bow. This is the easiest of all checks, but a lot of us are guilty of not taking the time to make sure everything is in working order. The first, and most straightforward of checks is to feel or listen for any loose parts; then simply take a hex key and make sure all accessories are tight. The main components of concern are your sight and rest. If either of these is off, then you will be making adjustments on the range. If either happens to be loose and you need to make changes, a good starting point is to line up your arrow, and sight pins with the string of your bow. You can do this by holding your bow out in front of you and making sure everything is inline. After that, start taking shots and micro adjustments.

SHOP Bow & Crossbow Accessories 

Hunting Arrows and Bolts

One typical error hunters make, is not shooting a consistent arrow or bolt. Many times, you’ll see hunters shooting different weights, lengths and even brands of arrows through their archery equipment. This is a recipe for inconsistency on the range, or in the field. It’s a great idea to purchase a dozen or more of the same arrows from a certified pro; they will help you make sure that your weights, lengths and even broad-heads are the correct dimensions before the season begins. When those arrows are lost, re-load with something similar for a long lasting fun on the range.

Another area to check with your arrows before the season begins is the health of the spine. After every shot, or before the first shot of your practicing session; give you arrow a slight flex. You are checking to make sure there are no cracks to the spline, if there are, you’ll hear a pop and crack. Those arrows should be discarded immediately for your safety and others around you. An arrow through your bow hand is a quick way to end deer season before it begins.


Final Checks

While many failure points could occur with your archery equipment, it’s unlikely anything drastic will happen with proper maintenance, inspection, and care. Your bow is your ultimate tool in the field, and one where problems could ruin your season. Treat it better than your car and almost as good as family—you will not regret it! Good luck this season and shoot straight.

Remember, local bow shops and experts like the staff at Kinseys Outdoors can make quick work of this checklist and spot potential issues that you might have looked over. They can also offer the latest and greatest bow hunting accessories to upgrade your bow or crossbow.

Tired of your old bow or crossbow? Let Kinsey’s buy your bow! Payment is made instantly in the form of a Kinsey’s Outdoors gift card. Or get more and let Kinsey’s sell your bow for you on Ebay. Payment is in the form of a Kinsey’s Outdoors gift card and will be provided after your bow has sold. Kinsey’s gets 15% of the total amount the bow sold for unless it falls within a “No Consignment Fee” promotional period. If it falls within the “No Consignment Fee” period, you get a gift card for the full amount your bow sold for. 



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