Keeping your crossbow stored properly is one of the most important crossbow archery lessons you’ll ever learn. By following the tips bellow, you can be sure of a crossbow that is ready and efficient to use - even after long periods.
To break it down simply, to store a crossbow follows these steps:
- Having a safety-first mindset.
- Making sure you decock it.
- Inspecting and cleaning your crossbow.
- Finding the best place to store your gear, out of the reach of children.
- Double-checking your crossbow storage procedure with a checklist.
We hope you get to store your crossbow right!
Why take great care when storing your crossbow?
Why should you read up on how to store a crossbow properly? Simply enough, it's because you want to make sure that everything is in working order once you're ready to shoot again. Especially during the off-season, you want to have that peace of mind that your crossbow is safe from any harm. After all, your archery equipment is probably very near your heart - whether you use it for target shooting or hunting.
Safety is Paramount: - Decock!
In what may be the most important step in safekeeping your archery gear, always make sure that your crossbow is NOT cocked when storing it. Let's find out more on why a cocked crossbow may spell disaster:
Tension in the Limbs Will Lead to Damage
Out hunting, a crossbow can remain cocked for hours depending on how long you chase your prey. After all, most hunters would want to be primed and ready whenever a shot needs to be made. But there is a drawback with keeping your crossbow cocked - as the tension remains in the strings, cables, and limbs on the crossbow, the shot could be less powerful than expected by the time you get around to firing.
Now, imagine your crossbow cocked during the offseason, the tension in it will slowly wear it down. Chances are, you're going to have some damaged gear once you get it back for your next archery session!
Dry Firing is Even Worse - Never Do It!
Worst case scenario for a cocked crossbow during storage is the possibility of injury. And never would you want to experience your gear breaking apart and hitting you when you need to get it ready.
Note, never-ever dry-fire your crossbow to decock it. Dry firing will result in damaging your crossbow's axle or string! So, how can you decock your gear? Invest in getting a rope cocker instead. In as much as pro archers can use their hands to decock a crossbow, you'd want to keep it safe instead and decock properly! Use one hand to hold the cocking rope tight, and the other to fire your crossbow while holding on to the rope. Once fired you can slowly release the rope and with the string slowly sliding forward.
Save the Limbs! Remove Your Crossbow's Cables and Strings!
In line with keeping tension away, removing your crossbow's strings and cables while in storage allows it to stay relaxed and far from harm as possible. And this practice is emphasized even further if you're shooting with a recurve crossbow - this type tend to have more tension on its limbs, so it is really for the best to take out the strings when safekeeping your gear!
Smoother and Polished: Inspection as an Essential Step!
And since you're storing your crossbow (whether this would be for short-term or long-term storage), do take the opportunity to clean and inspect it as well. A good and simple cleaning practice is to always have a lint-free towel - wiping your crossbow, especially after usage, is an easy way to keep it clean and safe from various dirt that you may get out in the range or in the wild. It's also a quick way to find out if there are any defects on your gear!
And when it comes to the various crossbow parts, here's a short cleaning and inspection checklist that you can do before actual storage:
Waxing the Cable
Give your crossbow's cables and strings some cleaning love with some bow wax. Depending on your crossbow's specifications, waxing may be done after a certain number of shots. As such, always refer to the instructions or documentation that comes packed with your crossbow (if there are none, a simple visit to an archery pro shop should do the trick!).
Always have these quick and helpful tips in mind when waxing crossbow cables:
- Apply wax on the crossbows string, the whole length of it. Disregard the portion right above the arrow rail as waxing this portion will only mess up the crossbow's trigger box!
- Coat the cables and strings with your fingers. The heat generated from your hand's friction will allow the wax to spread evenly.
- Silicone-based wax is recommended when coating crossbow strings!
- After coating, remove any excess wax. You are doing this because you do want to add more weight to your string. More weight will affect your crossbow’s arrow speed.
- DO NOT wax the central serving of your crossbow. Doing so may lead to it being frayed easily.
Wax on, wax off, does the trick on a crossbow’s strings and cables!
Checking the Bow String
Besides keeping your strings or cables waxed, make sure to inspect your crossbow's string for any wear and tear. A good area to check first is the central section, where the bolt is nocked. At an average, a crossbow's string will last for up to 1,000 bolts fired. However, strings that aren't waxed periodically tend to wear quite easily (it’s lifespan could be reduced by 80%). As such, if you do find any visible defects or breakage on your string,consider replacing it.
Oiling the Rail
A well lubricated crossbow rail means better shots. This is because you're creating smoother contact between the crossbow's bolt and rail sections. Similar to the crossbow cable coating process, always refer to the manufacturer's specifications on how often the railing needs oiling.
A few more tips for lubricating your crossbow's rail:
- Start oiling in the middle section of the rail, then work your way towards the ends. Doing so will spread the coating evenly.
- To prolong your crossbow's life, never use lubricants that are vaseline-based. For best results, get oil suggested by manufacturers or archery pro shops.
In essence, get is smooth for a smoother crossbow experience!
Lube for the Trigger
Ever noticed that squeezing on your trigger seems to be really tough? Then it may just mean that it needs to be oiled! Making sure that your crossbow trigger is properly lubricated makes all the difference in keeping and making accurate shots.
When applying some lube in this crossbow part, make sure to also coat the mounting bolts. Not only are you keeping these parts smooth and shiny - coating also helps prevent corrosion to set in, a big plus if you're hunting in the wild (with the crossbow exposed to all sorts of elements).
Also, if you're shooting a compound crossbow - make sure some lube is applied on the axles and wheels. Doing so will make these move as smoothly as possible.
Spot Clean Your Scope
As much as you'd want to thoroughly clean this crucial part, consider spot checks instead. You want to keep your crossbow's scope's lens as smudge-free as possible. A simple dab with a lint-free towel or piece of cloth should work out just fine. Microfiber cloth, used for cleaning glasses, is also an excellent choice to clean your sight.
Also make sure that your scope is safe when not in use. If you don't have a case for your scope, a small bag (or even a sock) can be a good alternative to keep this equipment safe from harm's way. Always inspect to see if any dust settled in - you do not want your aim to be at risk because of some dirt on your scope!
Tighten those Bolts and Screws!
When storing your crossbow, also check the crossbows screws and bolts - they may need tightening. Check and find out if there are any loose fittings. You'd want to make sure that everything is fitted properly. At an average, re-tightening your crossbow screws should be done anywhere between 50 to 100 bolts fired. As such, have your hex key with you whenever you store your crossbow. It's a nice opportunity to get those bolts and screws tight!
Check Your Hook (and Bag!)
Of course, proper storage can only be done if you are sure on where (and how) your crossbow is kept. Conventionally, crossbows are kept in place on a hook. Hanging from a stable location will keep your gear safe and sound.
Do make sure that the surface where the hook is attached to is capable of holding the crossbow's weight. The worst case scenario would be for the hook giving in to the weight, making your crossbow fall!
But for longer periods of time when you will not use your crossbow, always invest in a good bag or case. Most archery equipment manufacturers already offer a case that comes with the crossbow. And in some cases, these crossbow bags also come with pockets or inserts for your other archery essentials.
No matter which storage option you choose, you want to make sure that your crossbow is kept safe both from falls, but from other factors as well such as dust and moisture, which may damage your gear. Storing your gear together in a safe place will make sure all the parts you need for your shooting activity stay safe.
Crossbow Storage: General Safety Reminders, both for Storage and for the Range
We also want to share some helpful crossbow safety reminders that will help you out on how to store a crossbow the right way:
Reconsider the Way You Have Your Crossbow Cocked
We've mentioned it earlier (and some do this still), but having a cocked crossbow in your hands, with no intention to shoot, is a recipe for accident. Only have your arrow cocked and ready, with a bolt on the rail, once you are ready to shoot. Even for the most experienced of us, a slight careless mistake may result in not only damaged equipment, but painful situations too!
Finger Clearance, No!
One of the most common accidents that occurs among crossbow users is damage (or even the loss) of fingers. Even with safety features that prevents archers to place a finger in the rail, some do still have this bad habit of using their fingers to get a "feel" of the bolt. You never want to get into this train of thought! Save yourself from harm by simply having a clear rail (and view of your target) by not having your fingers near the shooting parts of a crossbow.
Have a Hex Key Handy
Even out hunting or shooting targets in a range, always have a hex key on you. This way, you can be sure that you can make the necessary adjustments whenever needed. It's the easiest if you store a pack of hex keys together with your crossbow.
Prepped in Storage
Speaking more about always being ready, also consider having a tool kit (and first aid kit) easily accessible where your crossbow is stored. Doing so will save you time and effort in finding necessary parts or tools needed to inspect and maintain your crossbow. A safety kit will give you the assurance that you're ready, in case the unexpected happens.
For both in actual usage or out in the wild, always know where other people are. You do not want to encounter friendly fire, nor shoot at someone. Particularly for shooters with children in the house: have your bow kept in a place that kids can't get access to!
Be Aware of Your Crossbow Limbs
Even when you are lined up for a great shot, always make sure that your crossbow's limbs won't snag at various objects. Out in the wild, this would mainly mean branches of trees and bushes. Not only are you preventing damage to happen to your limbs - you are also making sure the shoot you fire will hit the target you have aimed for.
The Sky is Not a Target
Crossbows are known to be quick and powerful gear. As such, use these archery gear only with great forethought. Shooting a bolt up towards the sky is a no - you’ll ever know where the bolt lands, and whom it hits!
Here are more storage and safety tips to help you store your crossbow properly.