Congratulations, you just bought your first ILF bow! Maybe you chose an ILF bow for it’s ease of break down and set up; maybe you wanted a specific color; maybe a metal “techie” look is more appealing to you than a wood bow; maybe you like the versatility of limb choices; maybe you like the mass weight compared to a wood bow (or maybe you got the best of both worlds and bought an ILF wood riser). Whatever your reason, you now need to know one thing about your ILF bow: there are lots of little screws and nuts & bolts that can and will rattle loose with the shock of shooting your bow. More important – many of those little screws, nuts & bolts and parts & pieces to which they are attached are hard to replace – some are irreplaceable! If you are not “mechanically inclined” this may be a problem for you. But hey, you built that IKEA desk didn’t you? So don’t sweat it; read on and look closely at the pictures!
The bow example is an SF Archery Axiom Plus Light and a set of SF Archery Axiom Plus Recurve limbs. Other bow models may have more or fewer screws, nuts, & bolts than this one.
The focus of this post is for newbie SAFETY and keeping your riser in one piece. If you want to know exactly what these screws, nuts & bolts do, and why, read this “manual” for the SF Archery riser: SF Archery Axiom Manual. Your bow can become very unsafe if most of these screws, nuts & bolts come loose – please get help from your pro shop if you are reading this too late. Also, find your nearest local SMALL hardware store – they will be more helpful to you than a big impersonal store in finding that one little .08 cent screw that means the difference between you being able to shoot your new bow or not. Otherwise, read and learn.
Clicker Blade Screw – Remove It
This little screw allows you to mount a blade style “clicker” onto your bow. You probably don’t know what that is yet. Forget about it. If you decide to get a clicker of any quality later, it will come with a screw. But because this one is there for no good reason, it will fall out one day and freak you out. Someone will see it fall off if you don’t, and you’ll be, like, Oh No! A screw fell off my bow! Is it important?!! Remove it and throw it away. I remove these from the bows I sell, yet I frequently find them on the floor of my shop – what does that tell you?!
Grip Screws – periodically check and tighten if necessary
We’re going to start easy and build up to more scary things as your confidence builds.
These two little screws mount your bow grip to the bow. Your bow grip is your most important interface with your bow – equal to the string. If the grip screws become loose the bow grip will shift under the weight of the draw – it could cause erratic shots. It will almost certainly cause weird creaking noises that will drive you nuts. There should be one on each side of the grip. On the example bow, there are Phillip’s Head screws – on some bows, they are small hex head screws.
Limb Bolts – periodically check and tighten if necessary
Your ILF Bow is designed to allow you to increase or decrease the draw weight by a minor degree, maybe 1 – 1.5 LBS in either direction depending on draw length. This is accomplished by loosening a lock screw (2nd photo, the one on the back of the riser), then turning the shiny flat bolt on the front of the riser either clockwise to increase draw weight, or counter-clockwise to decrease draw weight. If you are a newbie and/or not mechanically inclined, FORGET THIS – it’s complicated and potentially dangerous to mess with this. However it is very important to periodically check both of these bolts for tightness and tighten them down if they are loose. Notice the nice little pack of hex head wrenches that came with this bow in the 3rd photo. Also notice the two “multi tool” sets in the photo – these do not come with the bow, but you need them. One metric and one SAE (American). Many, many risers and bow accessories have half metric and half SAE nuts & bolts holding them together! In the SF Archery riser featured here, the 5mm hex head wrench in the 1st photo that is supposed to fit that bolt doesn’t! It’s too small and any moderate force would result in you stripping the bolt! Take charge, get yourself two multi tools.
Block Bolt – periodically check and tighten as necessary
This limb flange “block” is 50% of what holds that limb safely and securely in place after you magically snap that limb into place. The other 50% is that rod/bolt under the shiny disk bolt that you checked and/or tightened in the previous step. I’m focusing on safety here. If that sucker works loose and you don’t notice, very bad things can happen. Check it. Tighten if necessary.
Limb/Riser Adjustment screws – frequently check and tighten as necessary
If you look closely at the block bolt in the previous photo, you will notice two screws on either side of it. These screws allow you to shift that block left or right to best “align” the limbs in the riser. For some reason, these rattle loose more than any other screw/bolt on the bow. CHECK THEM MORE THAN PERIODICALLY. I’ve also found them hard to replace for a couple of bows – CHECK THEM AND DON’T LOSE THEM! There is one on each side of the top and bottom limb bolt pockets for a total of at least 4 (I came a cross an ILF Traditional riser that had TWO on each side for a total of 8 screws – CHECK THEM!).
The ILF Limbs Themselves – frequently check and tighten as necessary
OK, here’s the one that catches everyone off guard. That slick little magic disk that slides into the limb pocket block is made up of many parts that can and will rattle loose! There is a screw or hex head bolt that holds everything in place. There is a pin that “floats” with pressure from a small spring that allows you to snap that limb into place, and most importantly, pull it back out without a lot of effort and no tools! There is sometimes a little collar that the screw nestles into. If you lose any of these parts you will most likely need to buy a whole new set of limbs. My supplier scrounged up a set for me ONCE for a customer – we made a set of Frankenlimbs that worked.
Now here’s the part where the moderate to severely mechanically inclined can stop screaming at me. Get yourself some “Threadlocker” also known as “Locktight.” It’s a little tube of gel that you can apply to the threads of most of the screws, nuts & bolts I’ve identified. It will “lock” them in place. That can be good and bad. I can see no reason not to apply it to the limb flange screws – can’t imagine why you would ever WANT to take those apart. But you may at some point WANT to adjust all the other screws I’ve shown you. Putting thread locker on those other screws may make it difficult for you to loosen them when you want, so defer to checking and tightening periodically (or frequently as noted).
Sorry to be a buzz kill after you felt so good about buying that new bow – but I want you to enjoy it forever. With great bow comes great responsibility 🙂