When to Change Your Bow’s Strings and Cables

Releasing arrows and executing consistently great shots makes archers feel like they’re in a near-meditative state. The shooting process feels peaceful; almost therapeutic.

Meanwhile, your bow’s strings and cables endure incredible stress during the shot process. As the string propels the arrow into motion, it unleashes tremendous amounts of energy. And once the arrow is in flight, the string keeps oscillating violently before coming to rest. All those forces are easily seen in high-speed video. After seeing the abuse your bowstring takes shot after shot, you’ll understand why it’s critical to maintain the string and replace it periodically.

When Change is Needed

Your bowstring might also need replacing if your bow has tuning or performance issues. Strings stretch over time, and eventually affect your bow’s timing. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Archers should inspect their bowstring and cables before each use. If the bowstring looks dry or fuzzy, simple waxing usually resolves the issue. However, if any bowstring strands look frayed or its serving has separated, you might need a new string.

Your bowstring might also need replacing if your bow has tuning or performance issues. Strings stretch over time, and eventually affect your bow’s timing. Most modern compound bows have visual reference points on their cams, which are called timing marks. If these marks are off, take your bow to a pro shop for a professional inspection.

With recurves and longbows, you’ll feel the effects of a stretched bowstring when drawing the bow. A too-long string causes slight reductions in draw weight, making the bow feel “soft.” A qualified bow tech will take measurements at specific places on the bow, and compare the results to factory specs to determine if the stretched bowstring took your bow out of tune.

How to Prolong String Life

With average use and proper care, a set of cables and bowstrings should last two to three years. Proper maintenance means regularly waxing your bowstring to prevent it from drying. Apply wax and work it into the string fibers with your fingers or a piece of leather, which warms the wax so it penetrates into the string. Keeping your bowstring waxed increases its longevity.

How and where you store your bow also affects the bowstring’s life. Select a place where the temperature remains consistent, and avoid storing your bow in hot places like car trunks for any extended period. When storing recurves and longbows, remove the bowstring to relieve the tension.

Changing the String and Cables

Apply wax and work it into the string fibers with your fingers or a piece of leather, which warms the wax so it penetrates into the string. Keeping your bowstring waxed increases its longevity. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

Changing the strings and cables on your bow requires a bow press and professional know-how. When it’s time for a new set, or you’re unsure of your string’s condition, visit a pro shop to ensure the job is done right. During this process, ask your bow tech about string options, such as custom colors. Choosing a set whose colors represent you and your tastes is a fringe benefit of replacing the bowstring.

What to do After Changing

Today’s bowstrings usually come prestretched from the manufacturer, but break-in periods are still required. To break in new strings you’ll need to shoot them 100 to 200 times to ensure they’ve finished stretching. After breaking in your strings, return to the pro shop for a final tuneup and timing inspection.

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How Young is Too Young for Archery?

“Start ’em while they’re young.” It’s a sentiment you hear when signing your kid up for a new sport, including archery. The earlier they start, the more time they have to learn, adapt and improve their skills. But how young is too young for archery?

Ultimately, it comes down to a child’s maturity, strength and ability. Can they understand and follow safety instructions? Can they lift and shoot a bow? Can they focus and set goals? Consider those factors before introducing your child to archery.

If you want to enroll your child in a program, USA Archery recommends starting at age 8. Guy Krueger is USA Archery’s education and training manager. He said by the time children are 8, they usually have enough strength to safely handle a beginner’s bow. They’re also psychologically mature enough to follow instructions and pay attention. It’s important they can draw the bow and safely release it.

A Good Place to Start

In general, the younger the child, the shorter their attention span. Gold suggests making the learning process enjoyable while easing them in. Photo Credit by ATA

Why does your child want to take up archery? Josh Gold is the Archery Trade Association’s education programs manager. He said knowing where the interest originates might help set realistic goals.

Are they interested because they saw it on their favorite TV show or movie? Or is an older family member already involved and they want to join in? Whatever the initial reason, Gold suggests building on that interest while keeping it fun and simple.

In general, the younger the child, the shorter their attention span. Gold suggests making the learning process enjoyable while easing them in. Archery is meant to be fun! Build a bow from a stick and string to learn its basic parts and how they work. Set up a range in the backyard to review safety rules and procedures.

Stretch bands and other learning tools can help youngsters learn the shooting steps without picking up a bow. Small, safe steps lead up to time on the range. Once you’re on the range, make it fun and keep them engaged by adding balloons or breakable objects to the target.

Regularly review safety rules, shooting steps, and the equipment to hold and rekindle their interest in archery. Archery practice provides great opportunities to bond with your child while developing and tweaking their learning styles. This is also an opportunity for you to improve as an instructor and learn new teaching skills.

Archery Clubs and Programs

How Young is Too Young for Archery? Photo Credit: Trosper Archery JOAD club

Age limits are a bit clearer with clubs and programs. Most are open to kids 8 or older, but it can vary. Brad Fiala, USA Archery’s event development manager, said clubs and programs make exceptions, depending on the youngster’s strength and maturity.

USA Archery’s youth programs are tailored to a child’s interests, whether their dream is to master recreational archery, or compete in the Olympics, Paralympics or World Championships.

“We recommend a minimum age of 8, and Explore Archery or JOAD is a great place to start,” said Mary Emmons, USA Archery’s chief of sport performance and organizational development.

Explore Archery and the Junior Olympic Archery Development Program are introductory programs that help kids develop skills, find archery’s fun through games, and prepare for all archery disciplines. It’s a structured way to ease them into the sport at their own pace.

You can also check with local shops to locate archery camps nearby. Camps let kids focus on the sport a few days while building friendship and community.

Simplicity and Safety

Whether your child is on the younger end of the beginners’ spectrum or a teen, learning takes time, patience and supervision. Be supportive, knowing they’ll have ups and downs during the early learning stages. Photo Credit by ATA

If you’ve already been introduced to archery, you probably didn’t take your first shot with a fully tricked-out bow. That simplistic approach to learning archery also works for youths. First, focus on safety and proper shooting form. Introduce other equipment as they progress. When looking at equipment for the first time, start with the basics, which means visiting a local retailer who can properly fit the beginner to a bow based on draw weight, length and adjustability.

“The most important factor for a young kid just starting out is ensuring they can comfortably and safely shoot it,” Gold said. “Beyond that, don’t be surprised if the next important factor for them is the color and the designs on it.”

Therefore, choose a bow your child can handle and learn from. It can be a recurve or a compound that comes with a complete package. Most importantly, let them choose the fun stuff, like color.

Whether your child is on the younger end of the beginners’ spectrum or a teen, learning takes time, patience and supervision. Be supportive, knowing they’ll have ups and downs during the early learning stages. Gold suggests starting with short, quick practice sessions so they stay interested and excited about the sport

If you’re also in archery’s beginning stages, visit a shop or work with a coach to guide you and your child. This is an opportunity to start a new hobby, learn together and lead by example.

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How to Calculate Arrow Weight and Why

How much should your arrow weigh? That’s a loaded question. An arrow’s weight helps determines how it flies. An arrow’s path from bow to target seems simple, but arrow weight partly determines the physics of each shot.

Arrows are propelled by kinetic energy produced by drawing a bow. That energy transfers to the arrow when the archer releases the bowstring. An arrow’s weight helps determine its speed, drop rate and target penetration. Beginners, bowhunters and competitive archers all try to maximize arrow performance by trying different weights.

Arrows come in three weight categories: light, midweight and heavy. Lighter arrows fly faster and can group more tightly, but they’re often harder to tune. Heavier arrows fly slower but resist wind better and penetrate deeper.

Shooting the wrong arrow weight for a bow can damage equipment and harm the archer. That’s why manufacturers design bows for specific minimum arrow weights.

How do you calculate your arrow’s weight to ensure you’re shooting the right setup for your bow? It isn’t as simple as setting the arrow on a scale. Let’s review how to calculate arrow weights.

Grains Per Inch

The GPI number does not include the nock, insert, point or fletchings. Manufacturers provide details about the arrow’s GPI on their website and product packaging. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

Grains per inch is the industry standard for measuring arrow weights. An arrow’s GPI determines the arrow shaft’s weight. It includes the arrow’s length, diameter, wall thickness and shaft material. The GPI number does not include the nock, insert, point or fletchings. Manufacturers provide details about the arrow’s GPI on their website and product packaging.

Using GPI calculations, a light shaft weighs 5 to 6 grains per inch, a midweight shaft weighs 7 to 9 grains per inch, and a heavy shaft weighs 10 or more grains per inch.

Grains Per Pound

A light arrow has a finished GPP of 5 to 6.5 grains for each pound of draw weight. A midweight arrow weighs between 6.5 and 8 grains. Heavy arrows weigh over 8 grains. This information can be important when shooting a recurve, barebow or compound. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

GPI is often confused with GPP – grains per pound – but these calculations differ greatly. GPP is the arrow’s total weight divided by the bow’s poundage for shooting that arrow. The GPP total includes the weight of the shaft, nock, insert, point and fletchings.

A light arrow has a finished GPP of 5 to 6.5 grains for each pound of draw weight. A midweight arrow weighs between 6.5 and 8 grains. Heavy arrows weigh over 8 grains.

Front of Center

The arrow’s point is heavier than its fletchings. A front-of-center number describes the percentage of an arrow’s total weight in its front half. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

To further complicate arrow-weight calculations, you must know how weight is distributed across the arrow. The arrow’s point is heavier than its fletchings. A front-of-center number describes the percentage of an arrow’s total weight in its front half. FOC determines an arrow’s accuracy and is critical for long-range shots.

Easton Archery’s website helps determine your arrow’s FOC:

  1. Divide the arrow’s length (distance from the bottom of the nock groove to the shaft’s end) by 2.
  2. Find the balance point. This is where the arrow balances perfectly. Mark the point, and measure from there to the nock’s throat.
  3. Subtract the center of the arrow measurement (calculated in Step 1) from the balance point (calculated in Step 2).
  4. Multiply Step 3’s answer by 100.
  5. Divide the answer from Step 4 by the arrow’s overall length. This number is the arrow’s FOC measurement.

Properly balanced arrows have an FOC of 7 to 15 percent.

Light vs. Heavy Arrows

Lighter arrows are also more forgiving on longer shots because they drop more slowly than do heavier arrows. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

Now that you know how to calculate an arrow’s weight, it’s important to determine what weight class or arrow best suits your bow and shooting needs. Deciding whether to shoot lightweight or heavy arrows depends on several factors.

Lighter arrows fly faster than heavier arrows. That increased speed helps arrows fly straighter, which can create tighter groups. Lighter arrows are also more forgiving on longer shots because they drop more slowly than do heavier arrows. Lighter arrows, however, can be more difficult to tune and less forgiving on windy days. Follow your bow’s guidelines for arrow weight because arrows that are too light won’t absorb enough energy from the bowstring, which causes bow vibrations that can damage equipment.

Heavier arrows are slower but absorb more of the bow’s kinetic energy. Bowhunters often choose heavier arrows for deeper penetration and better wind-bucking traits. Because heavier arrows absorb more energy, they’re also quieter to shoot.

If you have questions about arrow weights or want to explore which arrows are right for your bow, visit a nearby archery shop.

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Variety is Archery’s Ever-Lasting Spice

If you’re looking to spice up practice with something new, try field archery. This exciting challenge includes shooting uphill, downhill and at widely varying distances.

Most field-archery ranges in the United States are National Field Archery Association courses. World Archery’s field discipline is less popular but equally enjoyable. You can learn more about it here.

NFAA field-archery targets are set on a 28-station outdoor course that archers must hike. They then pause at each station to shoot targets 20 feet to 80 yards away. Those varying distances test the archers’ skills and make for fun shooting in natural settings.

Check out this video to learn more about field archery.

To try field archery, ask an archery shop about nearby courses. You can also click here to find a nearby archery club.

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Shoot Often and Close To Home Using These Archery Resources!

Summer is usually the best time of year to shoot your bow for much of the country. Warm weather and long days provide great excuses to shoot outside, and when the heat gets unbearable you can visit an indoor range.

If you want to spend more time at the range this summer but aren’t sure where to start, check out some community and possibly make new friends. You’ll find no shortage of shooting opportunities at parks, camps, archery clubs, archery shops, or shooting events organized by city or county recreation programs or state wildlife agencies. These varied venues attract like-minded archers all summer. Odds are, they’ve scheduled events you’d enjoy.

Archery Shops

If you’re looking for a place to practice or compete, start with an archery shop. Photo Credit: Lester Photography.

If you’re looking for a place to practice or compete, start with an archery shop. Its professionals can help you master your bow, and steer you to ranges – including their own – that are open to the public. Some shops even offer weekly leagues all summer where archers can shoot a 3-D course, paper targets, or interactive video games. These events increase your skills and expand your circle of friends! To find a nearby archery shop, start here!

Archery Clubs

Don’t assume your area has no archery clubs. USA Archery has a helpful search engine for finding clubs based on distance and individual interests. Photo Credit: Lester Photography.

Archery clubs are great places to meet people. They’re controlled environments, so you seldom have to worry about people or pets wandering into the shooting lanes, and   you’ll shoot alongside familiar faces each week. Whether you like to shoot traditional equipment or compound bows, or 3-D targets or paper bull’s-eyes, clubs unite people with common interests. Don’t assume your area has no archery clubs. USA Archery has a helpful search engine for finding clubs based on distance and individual interests.

Archery Parks

Contact your state wildlife agency to find archery opportunities at nearby parks or schools. Photo Credit: Lester Photography.

Some parks also have outdoor ranges managed by volunteers, which provide even more shooting opportunities. Park ranges often have daily hours, so check the specifics before leaving home or your car. Not sure if an archery park is nearby? Contact your state wildlife agency to find archery opportunities at nearby parks or schools.

Organized Shoots

Archery is an inclusive sport with wide appeal for people with different interests and backgrounds. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Summer is prime time for organized archery events. Whether you want to shoot a traditional archery match or 3-D targets in rugged terrain, like a Rinehart R100 event or the Total Archery Challenge, you’ll likely find one nearby. And if you want to pair your vacation with archery, the Archery Shooter’s Association around the country. The tour makes for an exciting way to spend time visiting new areas.

Archery is an inclusive sport with wide appeal for people with different interests and backgrounds. To get more out of archery, make new friends, and have more fun than ever, don’t waste any more time. Get involved today!

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