Compound Bow Problems & Customer Service Issues

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customer service issues discussion highlightBOW INDUSTRY WEATHER PATTERNS`   This section might seem more like customer service notes than compound bow selection advice, but as we've learned, these issues are tightly interlaced. The smallest glitch in a bow buyer's experience can often metastasize into a total nightmare. Trust us. We know. Problems happen. Sometimes the bow is at fault, sometimes it's not. But fault hardly matters once a problem occurs. Problems have to be fixed - and fixed fast!  Nobody buys a new bow so they can hate it and be disappointed with the purchase. When something goes wrong, the fun and excitement of the whole experience can evaporate. Even worse, this can put the customer, the archery store and the bow manufacturer on an adversarial path (which is decidedly bad for business). Nobody wants that outcome. So rather than waiting to react to storms after they occur, we think it's better to have an open discussion on the topic of severe weather in the bow business. We're just going to put it all out there in this section, including some of our most difficult customer service challenges - specifically those related to compound bows. The insight might save us all a few squalls and future disasters. We hope you find this useful.


THE CLOCK IS ALWAYS TICKING!  Before we discuss mechanical problems, we should take a moment to recognize an important fact. Our customers aren't cyborgs. They're just enthusiastic people with a passion for archery. We love 'em! But with enthusiasm and passion comes emotion, and this is where things can get messy. Sometimes a stripped-out fastener or a bent cam is the easy problem to fix. The more difficult task is to remedy customer irritation and frustration. We understand. We've learned that fixing a broken bow is no big deal - we do it all the time. Fixing a broken promise is another matter all together. So we try very hard to make sure that doesn't happen - but sometimes things don't go as planned. It turns out, we're not cyborgs either. But we do try to learn from our customer service successes and failures. And after 16 years, we have at least one thing figured out. The granddaddy of all customer service issues is TIME. Time is easily our most difficult and persistent customer service matter - the source of virtually every incident and conflict. No other single issue even comes close. We've been keeping an archive of our email complaints and compliments for over sixteen years, and while no two emails are just alike, they all seem to have one thing in common ... the predictable mention of time. It's practically universal throughout our email archive - good and bad. If there is a sure-fire way to get off on the right-foot, or the wrong-foot, with a customer, it's with time. If we get off on the right-foot, it seems we can do no wrong. But if we get off on the wrong-foot, it seems we can't do anything right. 
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“Just wanted to say thanks. My bow arrived faster than expected so I had a chance to try it out last night. Fantastic job. I love the bow. I only had to make one small adjustment to the 40 yard pin and I was dead on. I'm telling all my friends I love Hunter's Friend ...”
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“I finally got my bow which was supposed to be here on Thursday. There is no way anyone tuned this bow. It's shooting all over the place, and one of the practice tips was even loose. This is not what I expected from you guys. I'm going to tell all my friends how much your whole company lies. Hunter's Friend stinks ...”
service based business model highlightSERVICE BASED BUSINESS MODEL`  There are some legit reasons why a real archery pro-shop can't match the Amazon-style delivery times you might get when ordering a book or a blender.  Books and blenders don't require technical service and tuning, compound bows do (or at least they should). We don't sell bows like most internet and mail-order archery suppliers, because we're an archery pro-shop first. We service virtually everything we sell before it leaves our facility. Less than 1% of the compound bows we sell are "bare bows" in a sealed box. So we don't just smack a shipping label on a box and send product out the door. We have work to do first. Every custom compound bow package we prepare - from the cheapest to most expensive - gets our very best technical service and support. Does this mean we're too slow? To customers who expect Amazon-style delivery times, yes. A service based business takes a little more time. Fortunately, we still run a pretty tight ship. The great majority (about 94%) of our custom pro-shop orders are processed, built, inspected and shipped in 2-4 working days. In the slower months (Jan-July) we usually beat that average by a day. In the busier months (August-December) we tend to run an extra day. So all things considered, our posted 1-5 day lead time on compound bows is pretty accurate. Considering how much work we put into our products, we think that's pretty speedy. Nevertheless, some customers aren't impressed. Nobody likes to wait - we get it. So despite our posted lead times, we sometimes find ourselves getting off on the wrong foot before the first arrow is ever fired. Nevertheless, real service work is done by real people and it takes real time. So if you want a new compound bow and you want things to be done right, don't begin judging the whole experience on the shipping and tracking data. It can set a unnecessarily bad tone and sour your whole attitude about your new bow. Just breathe. It's coming ... 

archery industry is small niche discussion highlightIT'S A SMALL, SMALL ARCHERY WORLD` Many archery customers have the impression that the archery business is a large-cap industry, full of giant corporations with huge warehouses stocked to the ceiling with inventory. This isn't so. Archery manufacturers are small - most of them very small independent operations. A typical archery accessory manufacturer has annual revenues of under $3M, and even the biggest and mightiest bow companies are lucky to hit $30M in a good year. The entire archery manufacturing industry represents less than $400M in total annual revenues. By comparison, revenues for gun and ammunition manufacturing are around $16B. Even the recreational fishing industry makes us look small. The truth is, there are no mega-players in archery. There are no bulging warehouses with millions of compound bows on-hand. Most bow companies only build their popular sizes and models "to stock" and build everything else upon request. That means archery retailers seldom have access to all sizes and variants of a given product. Some compound bows are always "special order" from the factory, and that often translates into delays at the retail level. So if you want a particular bow in a particular size and color, it may or may not be on hand in the stores. As an authorized dealership for multiple bow brands, we're happy to obtain special items for our customers, but truthfully ... we cringe when someone orders a bow we don't stock. We know with some degree of certainty that our customers judge us on TIME above anything else, and a special order compound bow is just asking for trouble. Bitter experience tells us it's a bad way to start our relationship.


archery industry is small niche discussion highlightAUTOMOTIVE STYLE WARRANTY PROGRAMS`   Compound bows are surely less prone to breakdowns and malfunctions than your family sedan, but there is one thing you should know. The compound bow industry uses an automotive style warranty model. That is - to repair rather than replace. In the same way a dealership wouldn't just replace your misfiring Chevy, don't expect your bow dealer to outright replace an ailing bow. In almost every case, compound bows get "repaired under factory warranty" when something goes wrong. That's just how it works for authorized pro-shops and servicing dealerships. The process goes like this (you're surely familiar with it). If a problem occurs, the customer returns the unit to the dealership for diagnostics. If the problem is deemed a warranty problem, repair parts are ordered (if not already on-hand). When the parts are in, the dealership performs the work and the repaired unit is returned to its owner. Sounds familiar, right? And to most of us, it seems quite normal ... for fixing a car. But is that same process reasonable for fixing a compound bow? Many archery customers (and dealers for that matter) might say no, noting the process is slow and inconvenient.  And more to the point, this warranty repair strategy causes a lot of customer service drama in the store. The customer doesn't always make the distinction between the dealership who provides the warranty service and the manufacturer who actually warranties the product. Understandably, the customer just wants the problem fixed, and he doesn't really care how that process is financed and administrated behind the counter. He wants his bow back, now!  We get it.  And if we could just exchange a malfunctioning bow like a bad Crock-Pot at WalMart, our world would be a better place. Yet, there is a process. Compound bows aren't throw-away products. There are significant production costs - particularly in those risers. So we don't just pitch broken compound bows into a return bin like a bad small appliance. We actually have to fix them and put them back in service - automotive warranty style. 

DEALERS DON'T MAKE WARRANTY POLICY` If it were up to us, we would instantly replace every malfunctioning bow with a brand new unit, no questions asked. Unfortunately, archery dealers don't get to make those decisions (nor could many of them finance such a policy). Just like in the automotive industry, the factory sets the rules for warranty programs, not the dealerships. As long as a bow's riser is still intact, it's more economical to repair it than replace it. So that's what dealers are obligated to do. Of course, we don't mind performing warranty repairs - it's noble work for an archery pro-shop. Nevertheless, it's another situation where TIME often becomes the true enemy. When a customer is already irritated by having their bow in for repair, delays only add insult to injury and make the situation worse.  And we hate to admit this, but bow companies seem to take their time processing warranty claims and sending out repair parts. Don't expect the factory to make a mad scramble and hurry to express ship your parts. A week's wait would be considered a fast turnaround for most warranty repairs - most take two.  Of course, this delay doesn't really present a big problem in the off season, but if a warranty problem happens during bow season, a hunter can find himself sitting on the sidelines. It doesn't take long until patience starts to wear thin and someone's head spins around three times. We hate it. But that's the way it goes. It takes time to order repair parts.  It takes time to make repairs and return a bow back to its owner. And even if the whole process is covered under factory warranty for free, we recognize there are still costs (shipping, inconvenience, lost hunting time, strained relationships, etc.). Bow repairs are seldom a good time. As a potential bow buyer, you should be aware of how compound bow warranties are administered. Chances are, you'll never need to use your factory warranty, but if you do, it's best to know what to expect. And try to be nice to the people at the pro-shop. They're on your side.


archery discussion support photo compound bow limbLIMB FAILURES`   With all this talk about warranty repairs, we don't want you to get the wrong impression. Compound bows are pretty tough. Serious repairs, of any kind, are statistically rare.  You shouldn't get the impression that mangled bow parts are splayed all over the shop. It isn't like that. Nevertheless, anything on a compound bow can break. We've seen bent risers, collapsed cams, torn cable bosses, cracked limb pockets, you name it. But those kinds of problems happen once in a blue moon. In our experience, the most common warranty claim is for basic limb failures. Most of the hard surfaces on a compound bow are made from aluminum and steel, so it makes sense that fiberglass composite limbs (the weakest and most abused material in the bow's construction) would be the source of most problems. As such, fixing limb failures constitutes the bulk of our warranty repair work (though limb failure rates have dramatically improved the last ten years). Limb failures come in several flavors: the crack, the split, the splinter, the delamination and the "Holy-smokes! You guys get your safety glasses on!" varieties. We've seen everything from tiny cracks we can barely identify with a magnifier, to bows that have undergone complete catastrophic kabooms. The most frightening failures are the partial-kabooms, where a limb has failed but the bow is still being held in-tension by the strings. It's no joke. Compound bow limbs are under enormous pressure, even when the bow is at rest (brace). A limb failure can be quite dangerous. If you see or suspect a problem with the limbs on your compound bow, DON'T DRAW OR SHOOT THE BOW AGAIN until it can be examined and repaired at the dealer. It's a serious thing, but you needn't lose any sleep. If a limb failure is caused by a defect in materials or workmanship, then it's covered under your factory warranty. As long as replacement limbs are (still) available from the manufacturer, your bow can be returned to healthy condition like it never even happened. Make sure the dealer checks your bow over carefully. Limb failures often result in collateral damage to nearby parts (axles, spacers, strings/cables, draw-stops, etc.), but if a warranty limb failure is to blame, those parts are covered too. No problem.

bow selection support photo 900LIMB FAILURE POLITICS`   Limb failures are kind of a big deal for bow manufacturers. An isolated incident here or there doesn't really mean anything, but if a manufacturer has a systemic problem, or if they start to get a reputation for repeated limb failures - it's pretty devastating to their business. Buyers will drop their brand like a hot rock. If you scan around on the archery forums, there are plenty of people who post photos of their limb failures. And most of them aren't too happy about it. Unfortunately for companies trying to minimize bad publicity, that kind of bad news travels fast, especially in the information age. So we commonly see bow companies use one of two strategies to manage limb failure backlash. Either they play dumb and pretend it's a rare anomaly which could have been caused by something else (e.g., "We're very sorry to hear about your trouble. Our limbs are made with XYZ Technology and have been tested to survive ten million cycles with only a .0001% failure rate. Always check your limbs after an impact.")  or they will simply ignore the matter all together and pretend they didn't hear it.  But rest assured, bow manufacturers watch those forums. If someone is badmouthing them on a forum, they know about it. Now and then a manufacturer will try to embrace a problem with a technical explanation online, but consumers really don't care about manufacturing processes. They just want a bow that works reliably. So brands with a bad reputation for limb failures get the cold shoulder.

STRING ABRASIONS`   Second only to limb failures is the pesky issue of string abrasions. Some bows have a tendency to chew-up their string and cables prematurely. We commonly see abraded strings/cables at the cable slide or roller guard and around the module sides of the cams. Sometimes it's just harmless serving separation mistaken for premature wear - but other times it's real. Either way, it drives bow owners bananas - particularly because it may take several hundred shots to get the problem to repeat. So even when we all think a string abrasion problem is resolved, it can show its ugly face again later. Unfortunately, replacing string and cable sets can get expensive ... which brings us to another sticky issue. Bow manufacturers specifically EXCLUDE strings and cables from their warranty coverage - much like Chevrolet would exclude tire wear. String and cables are consumables. They wear out. You're supposed to replace them every season or two. So they're not subject to a lifetime warranty, understandably. But string abrasion issues often result from small defects or an improper setup on the bow. Sometimes a cam groove and the string's path don't quite jive, or a pulley in the roller guard might have a lip that's a bit too sharp. Sometimes there's a tiny burr in a track or a little cam lean that's to blame. The problems can be varied, subtle and difficult to detect upon inspection, and the bow might still perform flawlessly. So it's nothing like the major malfunction of a limb failure.  It's tricky.  But whatever the technical reason, if the bow chews-up its strings and cables, there's going to be trouble. Neither the manufacturer, the dealer or the customer want to absorb the costs of repeatedly replacing string and cable sets. In the end, it invariably turns into a fight and everyone blames one another. So when we encounter a bow with mysterious string abrasion issues, we discontinue that bow post haste and remove it from our inventory. We don't need that kind of trouble around here, we have limbs to check.

bow selection support photo module screwsYOU ALWAYS HAVE A SCREW LOOSE SOMEWHERE`   The next time you have a compound bow in your hand, give it the pluck test. Grab the string between your thumb and forefinger and give it a firm little pluck - basically pull it back about an inch and let-go quickly. Don't worry, that's not a dry-fire. It's just a pluck. Listen to the sound it makes. Keep plucking and listen. You should only hear a dull thud - a thump. If you hear anything else (a rattle, a jingle, a squeak, a twang, any high frequency sound, etc.) you have a screw loose. Well ... some fastener on your bow or your accessories is loose. You may find this hard to believe, but we get many bows in for repair for "noise issues" which turn out to be the fault of loose fasteners. A loose fastener can make your $1,000 bow belch out a harmonic train-wreck with every shot. If you want your bow to be quiet, all the screws have to be tight (but not over-tightened, you don't want to strip-out the holes in the aluminum). A fully rigged compound bow can have over a hundred individual fasteners between the bow and its accessories.

YOU NEED LITTLE TOOLS OR ELSE`  If you don't have a hex key set and a torx bit set, you're going to need to make a tool run. Virtually every fastener on a compound bow has a hex or torx head - most of them very small. Any one of these fasteners may loosen up during normal use of the bow. When one does (and it will), you'll hear its rattling noise (greatly amplified) every time you shoot. Maintaining fastener torque is a bow owner's responsibility, and there really isn't a good shortcut method. You shouldn't Loctite them. You mustn't over-tighten them. You just have to maintain them as needed. But as you might imagine, many bow owners neglect this task. If the neglect goes on long enough, it can result in a major bow malfunction. Cam module screws are notorious for loosening up. If those screws get loose enough, the module of the bow can literally fall out, rendering the bow non-functional and putting you out of business. Even worse, sometimes modules are positioned in such a way that loose screws can strike the inside of the limb, gouging a trench across the surface of the limb every time you shoot. A limb that is damaged in such a way would NOT be subject to warranty replacement, and that means a guaranteed customer service conflict nobody will enjoy. If you're going to join the brotherhood of bowhunters, you're going to have a screw loose. Make sure it's the right one.


THE CAR AND THE LIGHTPOLE`   Imagine if you bought a new car, and a week later you accidentally backed into a light pole. Upon returning to the dealership for a repair estimate, the service manager would be able to deduce most of the story just by looking at the car. He would note the shape and location of the dent. He would see the scrape marks. He would notice the paint transfer from the pole and so forth. No big deal - he's seen this kind of damage a hundred times. With you standing there nervously watching him work, the service manager jots down notes on his clipboard and fills out his estimate worksheet. As he kneels down to get a peek behind the bumper cover, he nonchalantly asks you, "So, what did you hit?" Of course, he's just making conversation to be nice. The service manager already knows the car impacted some kind of hard cylindrical object that's about six inches in diameter (a light pole, a fence post, a parking barrier, etc.). He looks over at you, expecting to hear you regale him with the story about how the accident happened.  But instead, you don't mention the light pole at all. The whole encounter takes a wildly unexpected turn when you say ... 
"What do you mean?  I didn't hit anything.  I was just driving my car and I heard this little clicking noise from the back, and then the whole back bumper just suddenly caved-in all by itself. I'm lucky I didn't lose control and wreck or get hurt. They must have sold me a defective car. I hope you're gonna' do something about this because I am very upset."
bow selection support discussion highlight SINKING HEARTS`   Sounds ridiculous, right?  In every business, there are moments in time when the needle scratches across the vinyl and the music suddenly stops. Everyone is stunned into a petrified blank stare, and we stand there, motionless, silent, trying to absorb the gravity of the moment. In the archery business, THIS is the moment we all know as the DRY-FIRE DENIAL, the nastiest customer service nightmare of them all. In 16 years of doing business in the archery industry, these rare incidents represent the only customer service cases that give us night terrors. If we ever find ourselves in a bitter customer dispute, it's guaranteed to be a dry-fire denial case. It's horrible! We hate it. And despite our exhaustive efforts to educate and warn bow buyers about dry-firing their compound bows, people still do it. But that's not the worst of it. Dry-fire damage is NEVER covered under any bow's factory warranty - no matter how the story is told, just like backing into a light pole isn't covered under your car's factory warranty. A dry-fired bow isn't a warranty claim, it's just damaged - no different than if the bow were set on fire or dropped off a cliff. Of course, most people know more about car accidents than bow accidents. So nobody would expect a spontaneous dented bumper story to be taken seriously.  But a few people do expect to get traction with a spontaneous bow damage story. Some shooters do not realize the damage caused by a dry-fire is obvious and unmistakable. An archery professional can literally spot it from across the room. There is no mystery to unravel or alternate explanation to entertain. So an angry customer diatribe claiming a bow "just mysteriously broke" is received as pro-shop theater. Everyone knows better. Nevertheless, a few bow owners assume a certain level of technical ambiguity must exist, so they're willing to give the alternate story a try.  This is when dry-fire cases take those wildly unexpected turns.

dry-fire warning signA DRY-FIRED GUN GOES CLICK. A DRY-FIRED BOW GOES BOOM!   If you're not entirely sure what the term "dry-fire" means, it basically means to shoot the bow without an arrow. The compound bow MUST have the resistance of the arrow mass when you let the string go. If there is no arrow, all that stored energy has nowhere to go and the bow practically self-destructs. During a dry-fire incident, string pressures spike astronomically, and the resulting damage is usually determined by what parts break first. A "lucky" dry-fire results in a broken or derailed string. An unlucky one results in collapsed cams, warped cam tracks, cracked limbs, axles torn from their limb pilots, etc. Fortunately, all the commotion tends to be directed away from the shooter, so dry-fire kabooms don't always result in major damage to the shooter, but they frequently result in major damage to the bow. And the whole thing can happen in a just one second. One second your compound bow is in perfect condition, the next second it's a pile of mangled parts. You won't like anything about it. In our experience, some bows seem to have a little more dry-fire tolerance than others, but you probably won't get a second chance (especially not on the faster bows with skeletonized cams). The reality is, if you dry-fire your modern compound bow, it's probably going to break. This naturally begs the question, "Can't they make bows to withstand dry-fires?" Yes they can ... but the bows would weigh twice as much, shoot half as fast and nobody would ever buy one. So the point is moot. The concept of a dry-fire proof bow is no more feasible than a crash proof car bumper. We simply have to accept the proper-use protocols. Don't back your car into a pole. Don't dry-fire your compound bow. Easy enough, right?

DRY-FIRE TESTING ILLUSION!   There are a couple bow companies who try to market the concept of "dry-fire testing" to showcase the toughness of their bows. We want you to be especially cautious when you see this kind of marketing. We think it's a reckless way to make a point, and the deceptive presentation of this nonsense can give consumers the wrong idea. No bow manufacturer would suggest their bow can survive 1,500 dry-fires without coming apart. Even if some components could endure dry-fires (say the riser or the limbs), the eccentrics, hardware, strings and other components could not. In the end, it's all the same. Parts fail and the bow comes apart. Don't be bewitched by anyone's claim of dry-fire durability, and certainly don't "try this at home" when you get your new bow. Compound bows aren't supposed to be dry-fired, ever, period, no matter what an advertisement suggests.
WHY DO DRY-FIRES HAPPEN?  We've been fixing dry-fired bows for many years, and it's safe to say that most dry-fires are just accidents. Now and then we'll hear about a newbie who didn't get the NEVER DRY-FIRE message, but usually it's a combination of unexpected circumstances that cause the accident. Here are the common ones.
(1) FORGETTING: Yes, forgetting. Perhaps the most commonly reported dry-fire story is the shooter simply forgetting to load an arrow. It sounds absurd, but it can happen to anyone. Many people really get absorbed into the sport and while practicing (or competing) they shoot one arrow, then draw back and shoot again without remembering to nock a second arrow. Someone dry-fires their bow at virtually every major 3D competition. Guys get so focused on the competition, their scores and their shot strategies - nocking an arrow simply slips their mind.  They place their foot against the stake, take aim, and dry-fire their bow. In many cases, the other competitors are so focused on the event, they don't notice either.  But everyone knows that "whack" sound of a dry-fire.

(2) UN-NOCKED ARROWS: Sometimes a dry-fire occurs because a nocked arrow comes off the string before the shot is complete. If the arrow is not nocked securely on the string, or if something unseats the arrow nock before the draw cycle is complete, the arrow can separate from its nocking point on the string. The shooter simply doesn't notice it and fires (dry-fires) the bow. Most arrow nocks have an audible "two-click" procedure, specifically so you'll always know that your nock is firmly seated.  Be sure to hear or feel both clicks before you draw and fire the bow. Your arrow nocks should fit snugly on the string.  If they are freely sliding up and down the string, something is wrong - have someone look at your setup.
(3) FINGER-DRAWS: Some people just can't resist drawing back an unloaded bow with their fingers. Frankly, it's a very instinctual thing to do. When we show customers bows in our pro-shop, they often immediately begin drawing them back with their fingers (unless we instruct them not to). Finger drawing any unloaded bow is a particularly dangerous practice we strongly discourage. High let-off bows are deceptive. At full draw you are only holding back a few pounds, so it's easy to let your grip relax once you're back there. You quickly forget that the full 70 pounds is waiting for you, just an inch or so away from that full let-off position. So when you begin to let the bow down, your grip isn't firm enough to control the transition and the string slips out of your fingers. Bam! Dry-fire.  

(4) FRIENDS & RELATIVES: Bow owners often overlook the risk of allowing non-archers to have access to their equipment - even casual access. We hear many dry-fire stories where neighbors or cousins or older kids get their hands on one of our customer's cool new compound bows, and promptly dry-fire it. Remember, everyone (basically) knows how to draw a bow. Even someone who has never touched a bow has at least seen it on TV. Everyone knows the basic motion. But not everyone understands the safety rules. So don't assume your bow is safe from dry-fires just because YOU know the safety rules. Protect your bow from being handled by other people - or at least make sure everyone knows the rule.
dry-fire discussion topic highlightNICE GUYS FINISH FIRST`   A dry-fire victim is never happy about it. We understand. But once someone digs-in their heels and denies an obvious dry-fire, it really limits our options for a good outcome. You should know that inside the industry, much is made about "admitting" a dry-fire (it's considered a signal that you're an honest and decent person). When a dealership calls in their parts order to repair your dry-fired bow, the manufacturer usually asks if the customer admitted the dry-fire or not. If the answer is yes, the parts are often shipped out at wholesale/factory cost (or sometimes even for free). The idea is to reward the honest and decent customers by minimizing their repair costs (several bow manufacturers do this). We know dry-fires really stink. Most of us have dry-fired bows ourselves, so we're sympathetic to the pain. We want to help - the whole industry wants to help out the good guys. So although dealers can't just even-exchange a bow like a broken Crock-Pot, if we can just cover our costs and get you fixed back up, we usually will. So when a customer is cool and honest about it, a catastrophically dry-fired bow can often be fully rebuilt back to specs for around $75-150, depending on what all is broken.

ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR, BOY?  On the other hand, the blustery dry-fire denier gets the opposite treatment - particularly if he has gone out of his way to be mean and nasty to everyone. If he wants his bow repaired, he gets to pay full price. In the end, the guy who tells the truth gets his bow fixed cheap and he's back in business. The guy who lies and acts like a jerk gets to pay double and go away mad. We didn't design the system, but we must admit it does have some merit. We doubt any bow manufacturers will confirm this unwritten policy, but that's how it works nonetheless. What is it about a dry-fire that brings out the worst in some people? We're just not sure. Maybe people are simply embarrassed. Maybe they're afraid they can't afford the cost of repairs. Maybe they're too proud to admit making a mistake. Maybe they really believe their bow "just broke," never even realizing a dry-fire occurred. It's hard to say. We honestly don't know, but once someone digs-in and holds their ground on a dry-fire and deny claim, it usually becomes a dark customer service impasse that ends badly. Obviously, the best way to avoid this drama all together is by never dry-firing your bow. But life happens. If you were to accidentally dry-fire your bow, it isn't the end of the world. Take a deep breath and give us a call. We can fix it for you.


JUMPING THE TRACK`   If dry-firing your bow is the felony, derailing your bow string is the related misdemeanor. A string derailment is pretty much what it sounds like - a situation where the string seems to "jump the track" and come off the cams. It's a pretty shocking experience actually, as derailing the string instantly relieves much of the preload in the bow. The limbs violently flop in both direction - the string goes limp in your hand, and the bow looks like it's been destroyed. Fortunately, string derailments usually look worse than they really are. In many cases, fixing a string derailment is just a matter of putting the bow in a press and resetting the string (like getting a derailed bicycle chain back on the sprockets). But string derailments can cause collateral damage to other parts of the bow - sometimes minor - sometimes extensive. And just like dry-fires, string derailments generally aren't covered by your factory warranty. Most manufacturers classify string derailments as user damage, but since some bows are more easily derailed than others, the industry provides a little more leeway on derailments.
RUNNING OUTSIDE THE BASELINE` String derailments are basically caused when the center of the string is shifted side-to-side and out of the cam track path (like a baseball player running outside the baseline). You've probably heard the term "torque" thrown around in the archery industry. This normally refers to the way a shooter grips his bow, and the amount of twisting force his grip technique imparts on the bow's riser. If you stand behind someone and watch them shoot, you'll sometimes notice their string isn't perfectly centered when they get to full draw. Sometimes the shooter appears to be holding the string slightly to the right or left of the bow's centerline. This shooting form glitch is commonly called "torquing the grip" or "hand torque" and it can really affect your accuracy. Conscientious shooters work to develop better grip technique and eliminate this torque. And normally, a little torque at the grip causes no other drama or technical malfunctions.
FROM BAD TO WORSE` Sometimes this common technique flaw can get out of hand. Every once in a while we'll see a shooter who is REALLY REALLY torquing their grip, pulling the string several inches off center at full draw. This is the classic recipe for a string derailment. The string is pointed one direction - the cams are pointed another direction - so when the cams rotate, the string simply rides out of the cam track and derails. For the record, any modern compound bow can be derailed in this fashion. You just have to draw it - twist the riser really hard to one side - and let the bow back down - Bam! Derailment! Don't do it! A string derailment has almost nothing to do with the brand or model of the bow, and it's generally not the result of a bow malfunction. It's just the result of really poor technique.

BUT IT JUST CAME OFF` As you might imagine, a string derailment can also cause a major customer service drama - particularly if there are significant repair costs. The bow owner will commonly claim the string "just came off" as if describing a thrown fan belt on a car. Some bow owners will even go as far as to provide their own forensic analysis about how and why the string unexpectedly derailed. But much like with a dry-fire, such discussions tend to be moot. Unless the cams & string were grossly misaligned by a major event (unseated cam bearing, failed inner/outer limb, bent riser, etc.), a string derailment isn't a malfunction of the bow, it's a malfunction of the operator. As you might imagine, some people object to this presumption. Consequently, bow owners will often assume their repair costs are covered by the bow's factory warranty, but this generally isn't the case. Fortunately, string derailments don't normally result in catastrophic damage, so it's a little easier to resolve these cases amicably. Nevertheless, when someone digs-in on the "just came off" story, it again limits our options for a good outcome. We understand the point of conflict though. From a customer's perspective, the string really did just "jump the track" and it shouldn't have. The customer can feel like he was sold a lemon, that is, until he understands how and why string derailments happen. So, in the end, most string derailment disputes can be diffused with a little dialogue on the subject. Plus, the bow owner is only admitting to a misdemeanor. What should you do about string derailments?  The same basic rule applies. Just don't do it.  But if you were to accidentally derail your bow string, it isn't the end of the world. Take a deep breath and give us a call. We can fix it for you.


archery slander the competition topic highlightEVERY EXPERT KNOWS BEST`   The various "experts" in the archery industry are rather like sheriffs of the Wild West. Anybody who wants to put on the badge can take the job. Same is true for archery technicians. The process of becoming an "authorized" archery dealer is entirely unregulated. There is no nationally recognized process by which technicians are trained or certified (like the ASE). There are no applications to fill out or state exams to pass, but the consumer often assumes he is working with a certified professional. This is never the case. There is no such thing in the bow business. Despite sporadic efforts from a few bow manufacturers and distributors to host "dealer schools" and "bow technician" workshops, it's still the Wild West in archery stores. And that means anybody behind the archery counter is the local "expert", no matter what they actually know or don't know about bows. So with regards to proper bow setup and tuning (among other things), every archery dealer sets most of their own technical standards. As a result, most "experts" are convinced only they know best, and all the other "experts" are idiots. If you buy a bow at store A and later take the bow to store B for service, the very first thing you'll hear is an assessment of all the things store A did wrong. Archery dealers are notorious for slandering the work of their competitors - and it causes a lot of unnecessary customer service drama. Keep this in mind when you are shopping for a new bow, and later when you need string changes or adjustments. Don't get drawn into the battle of the "experts" in counterproductive ways. You'll usually just end up wasting your time and money. Remember how we said the archery industry is really small? We weren't kidding.

MY BUDDY SAYS ... There is an implied rule among every group of golfers. The low-handicap golfer is permitted to give unsolicited advice to the higher handicap guys, right? And the higher handicap guys almost feel obligated out of courtesy to try the helpful tips the low-handicap golfer suggests. Well, it's almost the same among groups of archers. The most experienced guy is always dishing out free advice.  Of course, if you're new to the sport, this can be an asset, or it might not. For some reason, experienced shooters tend to immediately suggest altering and tinkering with a new bow's settings (whether the bow actually needs any more tinkering or not). So rather than helping a new shooter with his technique or strategy, the first thought is to pull out the Allen wrenches and start adjusting things on the bow. As you might imagine, this doesn't always end well. Over the years, we have seen many well-intended tips from a buddy ultimately morph into unnecessary customer service issues. Most often, a buddy suggests you move your arrow rest, or that you change your cam settings, or twist around on the limb bolts. Other times the buddy questions the wisdom of your bow's brace height, or even the brand you picked. As a good friend, you feel obligated to heed your buddy's advice. You play along and take it all to heart. And before you know it, your bow really is out of whack, and you're soon unhappy with the whole purchase ...
"My buddy says you really should't have sold me this bow. It's my first bow and he says I probably shouldn't have gotten a hybrid cam, plus my arrow rest was too far in and the cam needed to be adjusted some more, and now it's not even shooting right. So I'm thinking I should send this back and maybe go with something else."
We've seen versions of this scenario play out many times over the years, and it's a frustrating exercise. We can't speak for every archery shop, but if your bow has been professionally prepared here, the technical settings have already been optimized. Tinkering with core adjustments, even at the direction of a trusted buddy, will only have a negative impact on the bow's accuracy and efficiency. If you have a good buddy who has pledged to help you settle in with your new compound bow, ask him to leave his Allen wrenches at home. Just enjoy shooting your bows together.
do not modify a compound bowPORTING AND POLISHING` Since we often draw convenient parallels between the bow industry and the automotive industry (because it's familiar to most of us), it's fitting that we end our guide with some performance-enhancing porting and polishing work. If you're not a hot-rod and performance car enthusiast, the phrase refers to the process of modifying the intake and exhaust ports of an internal combustion engine to improve the air flow and horsepower. It's a time-honored practice of old school hot-rodders, and a fun way to take standard factory parts and make them better.  All you need is some elbow grease, a few tools and some ingenuity. What's not to love about that? For many of us, the spirit of "hot-rodding" cars has leaked into our greater consumer culture, such that we sometimes believe all products can be "tweaked" for better performance. This leads a few customers to constantly tinker-with or disassemble their bows in an attempt make "mods" which improve performance. We really wish this kind of hot-rodding worked - because porting and polishing a compound bow sounds like fun.  But the truth is, a compound bow isn't a very "tweakable" product. In almost every case, user-alterations turn out badly (and they can void your bow's warranty). If you're thinking of trying some of those "mods" you heard about on a forum, please don't. You'll likely just make your bow less safe to use. If you want to hot-rod something, buy an old '69 Chevelle SS with the 396.

Compound Bow Selection & Research Guide  |  Chapter 5
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