Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Blistery bows: Proper archery shooting technique during a bitter Midwestern winter

Tony PetersonA hunting buddy texted me late last night to say that his bow had developed a serious creak during the draw cycle. I told him to bring it over this morning so I could look at it, and he said it only happens when the bow is cold. He has been hunting through the Arctic-like weather we’ve experienced lately and the potential game-spooking noise has just started. I told him to leave his bow in his truck overnight, then bring it over and we’ll draw it outside.

A good practice to engage in when planning on bowhunting the late season is to leave your bow outside for a few hours and then take a couple of shots. This will simulate a real-world hunting situation and let you know if the cold affects your bow in any way. Something as simple as a cable guard not functioning correctly in freezing temperatures can result in a much louder draw cycle or shot. This is exactly what we did and he was not over-exaggerating when he said that he was worried it would spook a deer. Having just wrapped up the various firearms seasons in Minnesota, our deer are on edge. Combine that with the cold, pin-drop silent woods of this time of year, and you can't afford too many mistakes.

So we brought his bow inside, and after drawing it several times I realized that the cable guard, which is designed to flex inward during the draw cycle, simply wasn’t moving. The part is designed with flexible metal, and its purpose is to reduce torque by bringing bring the cables in line with the string, riser, cams, limbs, etc. Essentially, it’s designed to increase accuracy, which it does. Unfortunately, it seems that the metal used isn’t the best for single-digit temperatures, and when that cable guard refuses to flex, it creates extra stress and torque on the limbs and riser. This is what was causing the new noise.

I’ve run into a pile of issues with bows in cold weather, so this didn’t surprise me too much. We can remedy most issues with a little maintenance and attention to detail. If you find yourself with the itch to take advantage of the remaining days of archery season, consider leaving your bow outside for a few hours, then shoot it. This will simulate a real-life situation should you get a chance at a deer, and will tell you whether your bow is suddenly much louder than it was during the much-warmer days of earlier season. It’s a little exercise that just might help lead to a short blood trail through the winter snowpack instead of a frustrating encounter that ends with a lot of snorting and glimpses of white tails bouncing through the woods.

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