Wet weather happens, especially in the spring, from surprise storms to gray days that just won’t go away. You don’t have to let precipitation put a damper on your archery game, but if your equipment does get wet, it’s important to care for it properly. Here’s how.
Most archery equipment is made to weather the elements without being ruined. Modern compound and recurve bows are typically built using aluminum and carbon fiber. Most wooden bows, like longbows, are oiled, which protects against moisture. Modern arrows and bowstrings are also moisture resistant. However, just because gear can withstand getting wet doesn’t mean moisture can’t cause eventual problems if precautions aren’t taken.
Be prepared if wet weather is in the forecast, especially if you’re shooting an outdoor tournament. Preparation keeps you comfortable, gives you confidence and prevents any potential interference with equipment.
Pack towels that you can use to wipe down your gear. If you use a finger tab or glove, store it in a dry pocket between ends. Many archers “pluck” the string to get it dry. Never set your bow on a surface where it could get muddy between ends.
Scopes can be problematic in wet weather. Some archers carry cotton swabs to gently clean the lens. Others use lens-cleaning cloths, anti-fog cleaner or a manual air blower to remove rain droplets.
During the 2014 Archery World Cup, Sara Lopez lost the final after a miss because she couldn’t see through her peep sight properly during rain. She developed a smart solution that she shares with other archers.
“Many people know about my problem with my peep because of the rain. It used to get wet and messed up everything,” Lopez told World Archery. “I now try to cover it with a small towel, keeping it in place with two magnets. This way my peep never gets wet and the towel never falls off, even when I walk around the field.”
World Archery has additional tips for shooting in the rain.
While it’s not a big deal if your equipment gets wet, never let it stay that way. The biggest mistake archers can make after shooting in the rain is storing the bow and accessories without properly drying them first. Shoving a wet bow and arrows inside a case can lock in moisture and cause serious damage including rust on accessories, stretched strings and cables, and even warped limbs.
Carefully wipe down every surface of the bow with a towel to remove moisture. Set the bow somewhere safe and allow it to air-dry for several hours before putting it back in the case. If you had the case in the rain, or even if the wet bow was inside, keep it open without anything inside to allow it to air-dry. Once the bow is dry, wax the bowstring, and apply a lubricant that’s approved for bows to any bolts on the bow and its accessories. If you have questions about what type of lubricant to use visit an archery shop or refer to your bow’s manual.
Arrows made of aluminum or carbon fiber shouldn’t be affected by rain. Properly sealed wooden arrows should also hold up to the rain. That’s also the case for plastic vanes. However, feather fletchings may have problems. Wet feathers lose their shape, clump and flatten, which can affect arrow flight. To combat this, apply a water repellent ahead of time. You can purchase these types of products at archery shops. While this treatment can provide some protection, if you’re using feather fletchings in wet weather it’s best to go a step further and cover them in between shots.
Wet feathers may not reshape properly after drying, and sometimes it’s best to just replace them. But there are some other tricks to try first. Steam is a great way to reshape arrow fletching. Try using a kettle or clothing steamer. Just be sure to check it before shooting, as steam can weaken the glue.
Don’t let damp weather dampen your day. With the proper preparation and some preventive care, you can keep shooting your best and keep your equipment in working order.