Opening day of bow season is already here for a few hunters, and it will be here fairly soon for most of the rest of the Carolinas. It’s time to get your bow setup ready.

As a manager of an archery shop, it never ceases to amaze me how many people spend endless time scouting and preparing their properties for the season but neglect to get their equipment in order and practice to become proficient, waiting until the last minutes before they go into the field.

Most archers require at least a month of practice to build back muscle memory and strength lost over a long offseason. Also, it often takes several hundred shots before a new string set “settles” and final tuning and sight adjustments can be made. Even new bows have a break-in interval of several hundred shots.

Here are some things to think about when taking your bow out of storage.

First, inspect your string and cables for any nicks, frays or other signs of obvious wear.  One thing to be mindful of is serving spacing or wear, which can occur on the end servings by the cams, as well as in the center serving where you nock your arrow. Most manufacturers recommend replacing strings and cables once a year, but with proper maintenance, they can last longer. If you see any obvious signs of wear or if your string set is more than two years old, have them replaced. It costs some money but is well worth it to avoid a blown hunt, or worse, a string breaking in your face. 

Carefully inspect your D-loop for wear. A small burr or rough spot on your release can wear it prematurely, and a broken D-loop can lead to an accident.

Next, check the measurements on your bow to make sure they meet factory specifications. String and cable stretch can cause these measurements to change, robbing you of performance and making your bow louder.

All of your bow’s bearings or bushings should be inspected for wear and lubricated as necessary. Many manufacturers now use sealed bearings, so check with a dealer or manufacturer before lubricating them yourself. A bow press is necessary to do this properly.

Be sure to wax the string and cables. Apply wax to the unserved (unwrapped) areas, and then gently rub the wax in with your fingers. Wipe away any excess, because it will only attract and hold dirt.

A good archery shop will do all of these things for a reasonable cost; I recommend you bring your bow to one each year before starting to practice.

Once you’re done with equipment maintenance, practice with your setup as much as possible. Concentrate on your shooting form and being consistent. When you become tired or lose focus, don’t continue to practice; that will only lead to bad shooting habits.

As you gain confidence in your shooting, practice more-realistic hunting scenarios. I have arrowed very few deer standing up on the ground at precisely 20 yards. If you plan to hunt from a tree stand, practice shooting from an elevated position. Practice at different yardages and angles. Wear your hunting clothes to check for any clearance issues or changes to your form. You might feel silly putting on a heavy coat when it’s hot outside, but finding out whether it restricts or changes your form now will prevent nightmares down the road.

Practice shooting at a 3-D target with no aiming point. I have never seen a live deer with a dot marking its vitals, although I keep hoping.

If you take these simple measures to ready yourself and your equipment, you’ll be well on your way to a successful season. I’ve often heard it said that success is achieved when preparation meets opportunity.

Make sure you’re prepared when that opportunity comes your way in the field this season.