As you advance in archery you will need to gather some essential spares to cover the inevitable mishaps, breakages and losses which occur just before you take to the line.
Archers are a helpful bunch – someone will always lend you something you need if misplaced or broken but as in most sporting endeavour, being self-sufficient is key – you need to have spares of essential items, and have them close to hand.
Download a basic list of spare equipment here (.doc).
(Note, the opinions expressed in the article below are the editor’s own, refer mainly to recurve archery and should be challenged!)
Get a small/medium size toolbox and outfit it with the following basic items – you’ll be glad you did (just don’t leave the toolbox at home!)
Allen Keys - the bow is a sophisticated piece of kit, covered in allen keys for major and minor adjustments. Ensure you have a range of allen keys in both Imperial and Metric sizes! Risers, for instance (especially if from the US), are often adjusted with Imperial allen keys while sights and other bits are Metric (this is a common gotcha!)
Pliers – useful for all kinds of things.
Flat head & Phillips screw drivers - various sizes
Bow String – same length/strand count and material as your ‘main’ string. Make sure it has the centre serving in place and nocking points fitted accurately so it can be swapped quickly with the main string if it snaps. As with some of the other items, alternating shooting between your spare and main string/tab etc will make sure it works as expected.
String wax and cloth/piece of leather (to rub wax in with, although a piece of paper will suffice). Regular light waxing of your string will keep the material supple and moisture resistant. Apply the wax along the string and, using cloth/leather/paper, rub along the length of the string to warm the wax slightly so that it seeps into the strands. Don’t make the string too hot (a good reason to use paper - your fingers will get burnt if you rub too much!) as heat will damage the fibres. Clear off excess wax by slowly dragging a loop of serving material or dental floss down the string.
Sight Pin – these can be quite fragile and are easily damaged/bent. Replacements are usually quite cheap and can be a real shoot-saver if you’ve got a spare in the box.
Nocking Points – brass nocking points can work loose, so have a few spares available. Consider making your own with dental floss (lighter, smaller, cheaper) or serving material (more durable). I prefer Korean-style nocking points: basically serving string – or even polyester sewing thread – tied onto the string and ‘back-served’, resulting in very stable, very durable and very low profile nocking points.
Bracing height gauge – bracing height is an key variable to maintaining a good tune with your bow/arrows. Strings sometimes stretch a little, or twists may come out of the string over time. A gauge (measuring the distance between the string and riser/handle) will ensure the bracing height is constant and should be used regularly when shooting.
Arrow rest/s – rests are often fragile and susceptible to damage, especially the small wire-armed adjustable types. For this reason, it is wise to have an entire spare unit and spare adhesive pads so they can be swapped out if necessary. If you’re using the adjustable rests, don’t forget the tiny allen keys, too! It should be noted that some of the world’s best archers are happy to use one of the cheapest, most basic rests available (remember to snip off most – not all – of the rising hook on the rest arm, though…)
Fletchings/Vanes – you will lose fletchings while shooting: targets can often get crowded. Be careful which fletchings you use: some require preparation before adhering to the arrow shaft. Consider using high performance spin-wing type vanes: these are often easier to maintain in the field as they use adhesive tape to stick to the shaft. Be warned, however, that the original Spin Wings are pretty fragile so unfortunately will need more regular maintenance.
Fletching glue or tape. Tape is more convenient for competitions, allowing you to reflect quickly.
Nocks – nocks take the brunt of impacts from incoming arrows on target so having a good quantity of spares is wise. Consider getting an alternate colour: if another archer has the same nock/fletching combination as you it can be very difficult to see your own arrows on the target at distance (through scope/binoculars etc). Being able to quickly change your nocks to a different colour is a real benefit. Practice shooting with both colours so that they are familiar.
Finger sling – very easy to lose so have at least one spare. Consider making your own out of shoelaces: cheap as chips and you can get more creative with colours, thickness etc.
Platform tab – have (at least) two tabs in regular circulation. They should be near-identical (down to the thickness of the leather facing) and well shot-in. Alternate between them in all your shooting.