September 13, 2021
By Brad Fenson
A computer hack is something malicious that nobody wants to be a victim of. The hack is the foothold you brace yourself against on the curling circuit to gain momentum to throw a 44-pound granite rock down the ice. A hack is a shortcut, quick-and-dirty fix, or example of ingenuity beyond general comprehension in the modern world.
The internet is full of modern hacks that show you time-saving tips to the desired end. Peel a hard-boiled egg flawlessly every time. A cooking hack might include poaching an omelet in a zipper bag in the dishwasher during the hot water cleaning cycle. Alternatively, making a grilled cheese sandwich wrapped in foil placed on the exhaust manifold of your vehicle.
There are lots of shortcuts and quick fixes in archery that would also constitute a modern hack. Being creative, thinking outside of the box, and using good old ingenuity can make a hunt better or keep you in the field when it appears as disaster has struck.
An excellent example of an archery hack is to use a bar of soap to rub a thin layer of the cleaning agent on a carbon or aluminum arrow. When you shoot the arrow into a target, it will release as quickly as if you had put arrow release fluid on the shaft. With the speed of modern bows and crossbows, some arrows create a lot of friction when coming to a sudden stop in a foam target, often cooking the material to the arrow. The soap prevents the need to clean or scrape material off your arrow, and you can typically find a bar of soap at home, in your camper, at a hunting camp, or in a motel.
Tighten Nock Hack
Using the correct nock is essential, especially with crossbows. It is equally vital when shooting systems in vertical bows. Upgrading or replacing arrows often means not having the correct nock. If you have been an archer for decades, you have undoubtedly experienced a loose-fitting nock. There is a danger that the nock could fly out of the arrow and cause a catastrophic failure with the bow. To solve the problem, pressure fit the proper nock into the arrow using a plastic grocery bag. Put the nock in the bag and insert it into the arrow. If it still isn’t tight enough, use two bags. The nock may need to be pushed with force and wiggled to seat the entire way into the shaft, but it works. Cut off the extra bag with a sharp knife and burn any extra off with a lighter. Loose nock? No problem.
If you have trouble removing a nock, try dipping it in boiling water to help release any epoxy or glue. If it still doesn’t budge, screw a drywall screw into the end, so there is something to pull with, but make sure to pull straight, so you don’t damage the arrow.
Create F.O.C. Arrow Hack
Upgrading arrows can be expensive, and picking the right one can often be confusing. Easton Archery defines F.O.C. — which stands for “front-of-center” — as the percentage of the arrow’s total weight in the arrow’s front half. The more weight located in the front half of the arrow, the more forward is the arrow’s center-of-balance. There are advantages, like having a front-wheel-drive vehicle. The extra weight helps steer the arrow and keep it straight. It can also provide energy benefits when harvesting an animal. Create your F.O.C. arrows using electrical heat shrink tubing. Weigh your arrow and add 10- to 15-percent weight with the shrink tube on the front half of your arrows. If you don’t like the results, cut it off and try more or less weight to make the final determination for best results.
Lighted Nock Hack
Lighted nocks improve the visibility of an arrow in flight. The battery-operated devices do have a shelf life and can be an expensive add-on to the arrow. A great hack for better visibility is to use glow paint or nail polish on your existing nocks. Having the arrows in the sun during the day will charge the paint and allow you to see the rear of your arrow in flight, especially in low-light conditions. Paint used on fishing jigs is ideal, as it is durable and can be charged with the flashlight from a cell phone. If you lose an arrow while target shooting or hunting, the arrow is much easier to find once darkness falls.
Bow Press Hack
Anyone that has bowhunted any length of time knows that string failure or derailments happen. If you are in the middle of a hunt and need a bow press to keep hunting, there are a couple of options. Find two trees growing close together that will line up on the outer portions of the bow limbs when held horizontal. Hold the bow in place while pulling the handle of the bow toward the trees. An ATV winch is ideal, as you can slowly pull or release the tension, but ratchet straps will also work. The bow limbs bend slowly against the trees, just like in a press. Remember — this hack should only be used if desperate to continue hunting, and there is no other solution to get your bow shooting again.
Note: If you shoot a bow with parallel limbs, this will not work. You are going to need a bow press.
Archery targets are expensive, heavy, and challenging to move around or have with you in the field. Making a target may sound easy, but you need stopping power for bows and crossbows shooting upwards of 500 fps. How many pieces of plastic would your arrow have to travel through to lose momentum and stop? A roll of plastic or Resonite wrap can be unspooled and stuffed into a grain bag or burlap sack. The hundreds of layers of plastic wrap are incredibly efficient at stopping an arrow. Draw aiming points on the bag, hang it from a tree, or set it on the ground and practice all you want. The bag is lightweight or can be made at a remote campsite whenever needed.
Anyone using a peep sight that uses rubber tubing has experienced a malfunction. The rubber dries out and eventually breaks, or some other disaster strikes where the tubing is compromised. The peep will not operate properly without the tubing, so there needs to be a way to fix it to keep hunting. Most hunters wear underwear, and with the razor-sharp knives available today, you can cut a thick strand of the waistband off. The latex in the band is stretchy and can be used to tie to the short piece of tubing still left on the peep and back to the cable for an anchor. Tie both ends off securely and replace them with silicone tubing when you get back to civilization. The good news is that you can continue to wear your underwear with a portion of the waistband missing.
If you need to adjust a peep that does not want to offer a straight-through view, draw the bow and have someone safely and carefully make the adjustment without putting fingers or hands inside the path of the string. The string has less tension with the bow drawn, allowing for adjustments that may typically require a bow press.
Wrist Strap Hack
Make a custom wrist strap out of paracord by braiding or using daisy chains. A quick search on YouTube will provide plenty of inspiration to start braiding and making paracord treasures. The wrist strap may not seem significant or even that big. However, suppose you take it apart in the field. In that case, you will have enough paracord to hang quarters of game, tie things to your pack, or deal with other emergencies where you need to be creative and tether, tie, bind, or stabilize.
String Wax Hack
If you do not regularly maintain your bow and string, there will be times when you will need a quick fix. If your bowstring is starting to fray or is dry and it is starting to rain, you have to think quickly to wax the string. Chapstick is the best option if you have let the maintenance slide and see that you have a concern. The beeswax balms are best, but most have some wax and moisturizers. Try not to use the scented products, as it could give you a way to a keen-nosed game. Remember, this is a hack and is not a replacement for proper wax. Some chapsticks or lip balm can contain products that could shorten string life, so only use them when you are in a pinch.
A D-loop on your bowstring holds an incredible amount of pressure but offers consistent arrow release. In the old days, archers shot with fingers and non-mechanical releases, and the release of the string was one of the biggest wild cards in arrow flight. If a D-loop fails, there are several options to consider. Find some material that will offer enough strength to allow drawing the bow. Baler twine, parachute cord, or even a bootlace can work. Remove one end of the existing D-loop at a time and tie the replacement material exactly where the knot was located on the string. Do the other end of the D-loop the same way. By using the existing knot points, your draw and release shot continue to be aligned.
Another option is to try shooting your bow with fingers on the range before you go hunting. The way most D-loops are set up, you will have to grab the string with three fingers, under the D-loop and not above and below. Knowing you arrow flight with the traditional method using fingers provides a great option to keep on hunting if a failure occurs.
Know Hacks and Tips
There is a difference between a hack and a general archery tip. Marking your sight, peep, and even arrow rest adjustment points with a marker or a dot of paint can be a great visual reference to see if anything has moved. A peep can slide up or down the string a bit, which has a big impact on arrow trajectory and your aiming point. Dental floss can be a great hack for tying a peep in place.
String serving that is unraveled can be saved if rewound tight, tied off, and cut or burned off. However, the serving left to work with needs to be in good condition and refastened tight and secure.
A self-tapping screw can be used as a single sight pin. The self-tapping screw can be used through the housing of the sight and extended far enough into the housing to ensure a centered shot. Move the screw forward or back to get the perfect alignment, then use it as the reference point for shooting various ranges.
A screw extractor can be used to remove adjustment screws that may have been stripped by using the wrong sized Allen key. You can replace the screw or purchase replacement sight pins.
Archers are typically a creative bunch, so there are rarely any real problems — just extra challenges to deal with. Finding ways to solve problems in the field means staying in the game and hunting longer. It is impossible to head afield with a complete repair kit for everything an archer uses, so start thinking of your own hacks that can be used to save the day and bring home the venison.
There are good hacks, but there are also bad hacks. Never compromise the safety of yourself or others by creating an unsafe situation! Be smart, think it through, and get to know your bow and arrows intimately. The more you know about each component, the more likely you can resolve challenges when they arise.