Can a Compound Bow Get Wet?


You grab your bow and your gear. You pack your lunch. You strap up your boots. You’re all ready for an adventure-packed day with your bow out in the wild wilderness. You walk out the door with a spring in your step and your bowstring…and it’s raining!

Your fun-filled plans are suddenly dashed to pieces by the falling rain. Your excitement for the day disappears. Now, what do you do? Your compound bow can’t get wet…or can it?

Even if your compound bow gets wet you can still enjoy a day of bowhunting or target practice. There may be some complications and extra maintenance you’ll have to take care of, but you can still use your compound bow as you would on a day without rain!

It may be a little scary taking your bow out into the rain, but with the proper care and preparation, you can still shoot like normal! If you follow this advice and educate yourself about the impact of rain on your bow and your performance, then there is no need to worry.

What the Rain Does to Your Bow

Fortunately, the rain does not damage the bow itself! Most of the times, compound bows made currently are created from materials such as plastic that can get wet and be perfectly fine, so, therefore they won’t be damaged by the rain.

Even longbows or other bows made out of wood are generally oiled or waxed, so as to create more durability and be more resilient in the rain, so they generally aren’t damaged by the rain either!

The compound bow has many individual parts, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with them so that you can know which parts need maintenance and special attention in or out of the rain.

The riser, limbs, axles, and most of the main body of the bow is made out of rain-resistant materials, so those parts are generally fine in the rain! The parts that you will need to pay special attention to are the smaller parts of the bow.

The smaller parts of the bow, like the screws and bolts that are holding it together, or the sight, can rust easily and then prevent optimal performance and aim.

Most archers should also know that bow strings are waxed in order to increase maximum performance and the most accurate shooting. The wax also prevents water from getting into the string and ruining its shape.

In addition to that, if water gets into your bowstrings, then the string gets heavier, which then prevents the arrow from leaving the bow at the appropriate speed and can damage the other pieces of the bow.

What the Rain Does to Your Arrows

Like your string, once water hits your arrows, they add extra weight to the arrow, which then makes the arrow more difficult to shoot.

Arrows that become heavy due to rain or water require more energy to be shot than a normally dry arrow, which then affects their speed and the accuracy of your aim.

In addition to this, the type of arrows you’re using can further complicate a situation. If the fletchings on your arrow are feathers instead of plastic, the feathers will soak up water and then make it even heavier than it was just with the rain.

What the Rain Does to Your Performance

As you can probably tell from the sections above, rain can definitely make things much more complicated and more difficult than when you normally go out with your bow.

When strings are not properly taken care of, they can become heavier and make a more clumsy shoot than normal in the downpour.

Arrows gain water weight and can cause a more difficult shoot. Accuracy in shots may not be as up to par as normal, and it can be a much harder process persuading your arrows to shoot as straight as you would like them to.

But that’s not it. Rain can obscure your vision and make you have to adjust in order to see properly and shoot at the correct target. It’s hard to see!

Not only does rain affect your eyesight, but it can mess with your bow’s sight as well. Rain can build up and conceal more of your vision, and can definitely be a deterrent in shooting correctly and accurately.

Now don’t get me wrong, rain can make your shooting experience a little more difficult and add some further hindrances to the fun, but don’t worry! Not all hope is lost! With some careful and proper preparation and maintenance, it is possible to still have an enjoyable time with your bow out in the rain!

Preparation Before Shooting in the Rain

First of all, make sure that you wax your bowstring! A drenched bowstring does not perform as well as a clean and dry bowstring! It becomes heavier and the shot becomes less precise than it could have been. The proper twist of the bow can also lose its shape from water damage, which further impedes performance.

If you’re unfamiliar with the proper process of waxing your bowstring, World Archery has a wonderful step-by-step article (with pictures) explaining the process and equipment that is required in order to correctly wax and prepare your bowstring for shooting.

But essentially, you want your bowstring to look smooth and have a “slightly tacky feel.” If your bowstring is feeling dry, get your wax out and get waxing!

This step is fairly simple, you can do it easily! Don’t be lazy and neglect this step! You will regret it later when your bowstring’s life is not as long as it could have been.

Archery Boss recommends that you might try plucking your bowstrings a couple of times before shooting so extra water that may be gathering on bowstrings is removed.

Second, I recommend that you bring plastic bags. Sandwich bags, Ziploc bags, garbage bags. Bring them! You will be so grateful that you did!

First off, use them for your arrows. Cover your arrows in your quiver with a Ziploc bag, or you can individually wrap them in sandwich bags if you feel like you have time for that.

Doing this will help keep your arrows nice and dry, all prepped for shooting, so as to avoid that extra water weight that might come from leaving them out.

Archery Boss also suggests that when you are using your arrows, and that it’s best if you don’t dilly-dally and shoot quickly so as to avoid rain gathering on your arrows and making them more difficult to shoot. Shoot when it counts!

Keep your arrows dry by leaving them uncovered only when you are going to shoot. Otherwise keep them covered and dry.

Not only can you use the bags for your arrows, but you can also use it to cover your bow and any other equipment for that matter! Wrap your bow, as well as any other gear that you are bringing with you in a garbage bag to keep it dry for the time that you’ll use it.

If you’re out bowhunting, rain can make the terrain harder to navigate, with plenty of mud and more danger of slipping or damaging your equipment. If you take the time to pack some plastic bags to protect your gear, you will have less of a difficult time using your equipment, as well as prevent damage caused by the elements.

They’re cheap, and they can prevent a lot of the hassle that comes from bringing all your gear out with you in the rain.

The third is to bring the right equipment to help you stay dry! Yes, I know that’s obvious, but we all have times where we say, “Oh no, I don’t need extra socks,” and then you regret it when you’re feeling cold and miserable out in the downpour of rain, and you’ll wish you were home.

Bring an extra change of socks! Everyone knows that having cold, wet feet is the most miserable thing in the world! And what else can put a damper on your day out shooting more than a pair of damp, frozen feet?

In addition to that, bring a towel to wipe your sight and bow down to get a better grip on your bow and to assist your visibility and shot accuracy. You might want to bring more to wipe yourself down as well!

For the archer wearing glasses, bringing a towel or cloth to wipe your glasses down can really be beneficial in the long run, since rain will collect on your glasses and obscure vision. It can be especially frustrating when you’re unable to see and there’s not much you can do about it!

Make sure to use the towel to keep your sight dry as well.

In addition to towels and extra socks, think about even bringing an umbrella with you! It may seem a little silly at first, but it can make all the difference in your experience. If you are hunting with someone else, then they can hold the umbrella for you, or if you have a big enough umbrella, then shooting mobility should be no problem!

Bringing a hat can make all the difference as well. The hat can help keep your face dry and also prevent rain from shrouding your vision.

Because grip may become more slippery due to the rain, archery gloves or gloves, in general, may be beneficial to promote extra firm grip.

Remember, that of course, you should bring the proper jacket or coat to provide proper warmth. Because extra cloth can sometimes get in the way of proper aim, it might be good to also bring some rope or some way to securing the extra cloth from your jacket.

There are also special jackets with removable sleeves for such times as these, and if you and your bow are frequently out in poor weather, then it may be a good investment for you to try!

If there is anything else that if you brought made your experience more comfortable, the better! It’s really the little things that can make all the difference!

My fourth and final tip for preparing to shoot in the rain is, have a positive attitude!

There are two types of archers: those who are easily deterred by the weather or other obstacles and decide not to go out and shoot, and those who go out and shoot in rain, snow, or hail to go enjoy themselves!

It can be difficult to shoot in the rain, but if you pretend that you’re a kid again, playing out in the rain with no inhibitions, then your experience will be all the better for it! Rain or shine, you can still enjoy yourself with your bow!

Maintenance After Shooting in the Rain

Okay, so you brought all the proper equipment with you to go shooting. You’ve had a great time, despite the poor weather, and your feet are still nice and dry. It wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be!

But now that you’re home, what do you do? Despite all the equipment you brought to keep you warm and dry, your bow still got a little wet.

Now here’s where the proper maintenance is important.

Never, ever, ever, store your bow and other equipment when it’s wet.

Make sure that you dry everything. Everything.

First off, make sure you to wipe down your bow, and if it’s still pretty wet, then leave it out to dry.

Once your bow is dry, it’s very important that you take some time to take care of all the little parts in the bow.

Compound bows are a lot more complicated than a recurve bow, with lots more little parts. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain and care for the little screws and bolts that make up the compound bow. Once they’ve dried, take a paper towel or a toothbrush with some oil and lubricate them. Focus on the sight, limb, and rest bolts.

Don’t forget that after the bowstring has dried to re-wax it and make sure that it’s tacky and ready to shoot again!

If any of your other equipment has gotten wet during your archery trip, make sure to clean and dry everything. Wash your clothes. Lay your arrows out and let them air-dry. Clean and dry your quiver, bow stand, etc.

Especially make sure that if you store your bow in a case or bag, that the bag or case is also completely dry. Even if you’ve properly dried and taken care of your bow, if the case is wet, the bow will still rust.

And that’s it! I know it may seem a little bit daunting preparing or taking care of your bow after or before a day out in the rain, but I promise, it’s not as bad as it seems.

Yes, shooting in the rain is not the easiest. And yes, it does take some preparation and time on your part.

But, you can still do it. You can still overcome the rain!

You can STILL have an enjoyable time with your beloved bow out in the drizzle, and if you take care of it, with the proper equipment, your compound bow will still be intact!

Happy shooting!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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