CARE AND FEEDING OF CROSSBOWS
Now that you've bought a crossbow, there's little chance you'll read all of this before trying it out, so we'll hit the most important points first:
Be careful of the long trigger! Until you've gotten used to it, you'll find it easy to fire off the bow by accident.
Don't Grab the stock around the trigger. Don't put a drawn (spanned) bow down on your thigh, or put it on the ground, especially if you have a projectile in place. It will go off when the trigger hits your leg or the ground. If you have to ground your bow, unload it and let the string down slowly and carefully.
When shooting, be careful not to get the fingers of your forehand in the way of the string! Watch your fingers, and make sure they are below the table and string path.
Do not dry-fire the bow (release the string without a quarrel) You will damage the string, strain the mounting, and shorten the life of the prod.
Set the head of the bow (stirrup end) on the ground.
Put your foot in the stirrup.
Check that the lock is set and the trigger engaged.
Being careful not to lean on the trigger, grasp the string with both hands, one hand on either side of (and against!) the stock. Draw the string back with both hands simultaneously, and slip it under the keeper spring and over the lugs of the nut (lock). Keeping the draw evenly balanced will keep the flight of the bolt straighter.
Slowly relax your pull on the string, observing that the nut has firmly engaged and is supporting the string.
Pick up the bow by sliding your hand down the stock, with your fingers between the stock and the trigger, being careful not to grab the after part of the stock around the trigger (thus setting off the bow).
Point the bow down range.
Select a bolt and slide it under the keeper spring and between the lugs of the nut, making sure the butt of the bolt is Right Up Against The String. If your bolts are too wide to fit between the lugs, take a sharp knife or file and trim them on the sides, just behind the feathers, until they DO fit! You are now ready to shoot.
To shoot, sight down the stock. If you have a long straight stock, rest it atop your shoulder, or perhaps atop your collar bone. If you have a short stock, particularly with cheekpiece, rest the rear, after part of the stock alongside your cheek. The butt is actually held free of the shoulder. Now being careful Not To Get The Fingers of your forehand in the way of the string, sight down the quarrel, and pull the trigger up smoothly. “TWUNK” See, that was easy.
Close range shooting is rather straight forward. You can quickly learn to hit targets at 20 yards or so. Longer ranges and really accurate grouping require careful practice and excellent quarrels.
The most important factors that deliver quick improvement in accuracy are using a sight and holding the limbs of the bow level. If you consistently shoot right or left, incline the limbs of the bow slightly in the direction you would like your bolts to go.
To maintain the bow, the most important maintenance operations are:
Frequently check that the servings of the bowstring are not frayed or broken. If they are, repair them by removing the frayed serving section and winding new cord of the same thickness in their place. The servings at the end of the string keep it from being worn through by the ends of the prod (bowstave.) The serving at the center prevents wear to the center of the string, where it rides atop the stock. All of the servings should twist about the string in the same direction. The center serving should not be frayed, fuzzy, or lumpy, or your accuracy will be reduced. You could stitch a line of colored thread around the exact center of the string. This will help you to see if you have the string centered in the lock. This can aid accuracy.
Make sure the bowstring has sufficient brace height (the distance from the string at rest to the inside surface (belly) of the bowstave (prod) This distance should be between 3 and 4 inches. If the brace is too small, take one end of the string off the prod and twist the string a few turns. This will shorten your string.
Make sure the bow mounting is tight. See that the bow does not wriggle in its mountings. If you have a bow-iron bow, you may tighten it by driving in the wedges. If you have a bound in bow, use length of stout cord on a heavy needle to take a couple of HARD stitches on each side of the binding, where it is wrapped up tight. When you are through, a cord binding should be HARD and not give at all to finger pressure.
Your stock is finished with linseed and/or tung oil. You could add another coat of this or any good furniture oil after about 6 months. If you over-oil the stock it will become sticky. Should this be the case, remove the excess oil with alcohol on a rag. You should not oil the wood more than about once a year, as too frequent oiling will actually damage the wood. Furniture wax shouldn't hurt either.
Have fun with your bow. It is guaranteed. If you have problems with it, call or write me:
David R. Watson, New World Arbalest,
201 W. Crestland Drive
Austin, Texas, 78752.
(512) 453 - 2628