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Crossbow Maintenance

There is a common misconception that crossbows require a lot of maintenance to keep them performing well. The truth is that they really don’t require anymore maintenance than a vertical bow or a gun would. Even if you follow every maintenance procedure every time you shot your bow, it would still only take you a minute or two to complete. Across every crossbow manufacturer, the steps to maintain your bow are pretty much the same, except when regarding lubricating the trigger assembly. We’ll get into the specifics of that in a moment. The other steps that are pretty universal require you to do such actions as, waxing your strings and cables, lubing the rail or barrel of the crossbow, and giving the bow a once over inspection before each time you shoot it. Again, doing all of these steps will only take up a few minutes of your time, and you really won’t have to do all of them every time your shoot your bow anyways. So let’s review a few of the general crossbow maintenance steps that will ensure a long operational life for your bow.
Probably the area that takes the most abuse over the life of a crossbow would be the strings and cables. The strings and cables of your bow are under an enormous amount of stress. Each time the bow is fired they are required to absorb the remaining energy from the bow that was not transferred to the arrow, while coming to a sudden, violent stop. In order to absorb this energy, the strings must have some elasticity to them or they would break. The key to allowing them to retain this elasticity over a period of time is to keep the fibers that make up the string and cables moist. We do this by waxing them. Waxing the string and cables is easy. Most waxes and or string conditioners come in a small tube similar to that of chapstick. To wax your string and cables all you have to do is rub the wax over the areas that have the exposed strands of the string. After applying a light coat of wax to the exposed strands, either with your fingers or a cloth, rub the waxed areas back and forth to create a little heat. This will in turn melt the wax and allow it to better penetrate the fibers that make up each strand. Do no wax the servings of the string or the cables. Doing so can cause a buildup of wax in the trigger housing or around your cams, creating an area for dust, dirt, or debris to collect. As a result causing your crossbow to not function correctly. Instead, inspect the servings each time before you shoot your crossbow, especially the center serving. If it is separating and you can see the strands of the string underneath, it is time to have the string reserved. It is not uncommon to have a string reserved a couple of times before actually replacing the string. Follow your manufacturers guidelines as to how often you should replace the string on your crossbow.
Lubing the rail or barrel of your crossbow would be the next step. Applying a very light coat of rail lube to the barrel of your crossbow can help reduce the amount of friction cause by the string riding down the barrel. The rule here is the lighter the better. This is so you don’t get a build up of residue to once again attract dust or debris. Depending on just how much down pressure your string has where is crosses the barrel can determine how often you will need to lube. Some crossbows have a pretty good amount of pressure on the barrel while on others, the string barley touches. Usually a quick visit to your owners manually will get you pointed in the right direction as to how frequently you should lube your barrel.
Another area that may require a periodical lube job is to the cams or wheels of the bow and the axles. This won’t be something you’ll do every time you shoot but it won’t hurt your crossbow if you do periodically give them a drop of oil every now and then. Depending on just how much you shoot your crossbow, I would suggest maybe every 500 to 1000 shots would be enough. If you don’t shoot your crossbow at least that many times throughout the year, I would say at the minimum to lube your cams and axles at the point you do start to practice before hunting season.
The trigger is the next area you may need to lube from time to time. Before doing so, check with your manufacturer. I know that Parker has what is known as a dry trigger box. Meaning it does not require any oil or lube. Doing so could make the trigger assembly malfunction. So a review of your owners manual, or a quick phone call to customer service department will let you know what you how to approach lubing the trigger on the brand of crossbow you own. If your trigger does require lube from time to time, use a good quality gun oil and just use a small amount. A drop or two goes a long way.
Inspecting each component of your bow is the last step when it comes to crossbow maintenance. Before each shooting session, check for loose or worn parts. Sometimes parts can rattle loose over extended shooting sessions. Tighten any loose screws or bolts you may find. Give the the limbs a quick once over. Look for small cracks or signs of delimitation. Do not continue to shoot if you do find signs of a cracked or broken limb.
Well, that pretty much covers the basics of crossbow maintenance. As you can see, other than waxing your string every so often and keeping an eye on some of the components of the crossbow, there isn’t too much to be concerned about. If you are going to store your crossbow in the offseason, try to keep it in a cool dry place. Excessive heat an d moisture can be a crossbows worst enemy. Also, keeping it in a case will prevent it from collecting dust when not in use. Especially for those of you that store your bow in the garage. By following these few basic crossbow maintenance steps, your bow will provide you with years of trouble free use.

Attached Image: Crossbow String Wax Maintenance.jpg

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