How to Maintain Crossbow

Proper maintenance on your crossbow is key to optimizing its performance and extending its lifespan. There are a number of ways you can maintain and care for the various parts and components of the crossbow to ensure that it can be used for many years. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the important focus areas related to crossbow maintenance and some of the things you can do to keep your crossbow in the best possible shape. 

String Maintenance

The crossbow’s strings are usually the first component to fail or become damaged. It’s always a good idea to liberally apply wax to your crossbow strings, especially after every 100 or 200 shots. In order to properly apply the wax, use your hands to work the wax material into the string’s fibers. 

If you notice any part of the string becoming frayed or worn, replace it immediately to avoid the danger of it breaking while in use. Be sure to regularly check the serving on your crossbow and repair or replace any section that’s showing signs of wear or loosening. 

Rail and Scope

Pay special attention to the crossbow’s rail and scope before and after each use. It’s crucial to clean the rails regularly, especially after shooting it, using purified water or rubbing alcohol.  Failure to clean the rails will result in wax buildup which will usually include dirt and grime that will wear down your string much faster. It’s recommended to use rail lube to preserve the life and quality of your string. 

The scope is one of the more overlooked areas of crossbow maintenance. Most shooters assume that the scope on their crossbow will remain intact as long as it isn’t seriously impacted or dropped. Crossbow scopes can loosen or be knocked off zero for a number of reasons, which can lead to lost bolts and wounded game animals. 

Be sure to tighten the screws that hold the crossbow in place before and after each shooting session. Replace any screws that appear damaged or rusted to ensure the scope will remain in place. It’s also recommended that users re-zero their scopes on a routine basis to ensure accuracy. 

Cables and Limbs

The crossbow’s cables and limbs are a crucial aspect and failure to maintain these parts can result in serious damage or injury. Shooters should always carefully inspect their crossbow’s limbs under bright light and look for cracks or chipped areas. 

Another crucial component to check on a routine basis is the cable slide. Be sure to inspect the cable slide very often before, after and during shooting sessions to make sure the slide is not worn or damaged. Never shoot the crossbow without a cable slide as it will severely damage the string. If you notice the cable slide becoming worn, broken or cracked, have it replaced immediately to avoid serious issues. 

Lubrication Points

Crossbows are engineered with multiple points in which friction can become a serious concern. It’s vital to maintain these sections with lube, which will protect the crossbow’s parts and also prolong its lifespan. 

It’s important to apply proper lubricant to the trigger mechanism inside the string slot, as well as the area near the string latch and safety slide. If the crossbow gets wet for any reason, be sure to dry the trigger housing with a blowdryer before applying lube to the housing, as well as the safety knob window to prevent rust from forming. 

Other areas where crossbow lube should be applied is around the pulleys as these sections are constantly under significant pressure. Rail lube is very often overlooked by casual crossbow shooters and it’s one of the main causes of wear and fraying on the string. Apply rail lube before each time shooting your crossbow, as well as after every 10 or 15 shots to ensure best results. 

Storage and Transport

The overall health and longevity of a crossbow depends on the level of care that’s taken in using, transporting and storing it. A hard-shell case is highly recommended for transporting your crossbow and protecting it from damage. Scope covers are also important for preventing scratches or debris from accumulating on the lens. 

When preparing to store your crossbow, it’s important to avoid leaving the string in the cocked position. Users are recommended to fire an arrow or use a decocking mechanism to release the string’s tension. It’s also important to unload the bolts and store them separately to prevent damage. 

Soft shell cases are better than storing or transporting a crossbow than not having a case or covering of any type. A soft shell case won’t guard against impacts, but it will prevent moisture and debris from contacting the crossbow. A hard case is ideal for providing adequate protection from both impacts and external elements. 

Regular Shooting

Regular practice shooting your crossbow does more than sharpen your own skills. It actually helps the crossbow function more efficiently as the many moving parts are operating as designed. A crossbow that’s sitting idle will only collect dust and debris while the strings and cables dry out and become more susceptible to damage. 

As you are shooting your crossbow on a regular basis, you should develop a routine or habit of the maintenance points we’ve mentioned. By regularly inspecting the crossbow, you will be able to recognize and identify any potential issues and repair them before they grow worse. 

When to Seek Help

If you’ve done all of the recommended maintenance on your crossbow, but you still experience significant accuracy issues, it’s a good idea to take it to a bow shop or sporting goods store that has a qualified expert on staff, along with the tools needed for extensive crossbow repair. 

Another reason to take your crossbow to a professional bow technician is if you notice any cracks or damage to the limbs or other parts. Most crossbows feature complex engineering and components that make it dangerous to attempt any DIY repairs. There are also instances when you may need to send the crossbow to the manufacturer for major issues. 

Shop Crossbows and Accessories at Optics Force

Optics Force carries some of the top crossbow brands in the industry for both hunting, target shooting and recreational use. We also have a sizable inventory of crossbow accessories to help you keep your weapon in proper working order. Click here to browse our selection of crossbows and find the one that best fits your needs. 

Contact our team of Optics Force experts to receive your free crossbow maintenance guide. 


How often change crossbow strings?

It’s recommended to change your crossbow strings and cables every two years. Regularly waxing the strings and cables can help prolong the lifespan and strength of your strings, but it can be dangerous to continue shooting a crossbow with worn or frayed strings and cables. 

What oil should I use?

It’s best to use the lube or wax that’s made by the crossbow brand, but companies like Ravin and TenPoint make crossbow lube and wax that can be safely applied to any type of crossbow. Never use WD40 or any other type of oil on your crossbow as this can cause significant damage to its components. 

Is dry firing bad?

Never dry fire your crossbow for any reason. We recommend investing in a decocking bolt or specialized decocking mechanism to properly release the kinetic energy without causing damage. 

What maintenance tools needed?

Most of the necessary crossbow maintenance tools are string wax and conditioner, flight rail and trigger lube, allen wrenches, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, as well as cotton swabs, cotton balls and a small toothbrush for cleaning and debris removal.


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