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Band Deterioration

Band Deterioration

Band Deterioration

What are bands

Most spearguns are powered by large latex bands that are stretched out to load the gun and rapidly retract to their original position when firing. Band options commonly include color, thickness, and internal diameter (ID) size.  Most brands are designed to stretch to 350%.  This means the optimal band length for a speargun is the distance from the band slot to the loading notch times two (the bands go on either side from the muzzle) then divided by three and a half (the stretch ratio). In formulaic terms, the calculation for band length is as follows: (Distance x 2)/3.5 = Optimal Band Length.

Band Thickness

Different band thicknesses exist because each thickness has an optimal amount of energy it is capable of storing. 9/16” (14mm) bands are capable of storing approximately 90lbs of force per band, 5/8” (16mm) are capable of storing approximately 110lbs of force per band, and 3/4" (19mm) bands are capable of storing approaximately 130lbs of force per band.  Range on a speargun is largely determined by the length of the speargun, where power(penetration) is mostly determined by the number and thickness of the bands. Thicker bands will usually not extend your range by much, but they will increase the power of the gun. 


Causes of Band Deterioration

Latex degrades over time, but some things impact it and cause it to degrade even more rapidly.  Other than some chemicals like petroleum, the greatest impacts to bands are temperature and sunlight.  Bands should not be exposed to high heat.  Storing your bands in your hot garage may make your family happy, but your bands are suffering for it. Sunlight is also a major cause of band damage, which mostly happens out on the boat.  The best way to prevent sun damage is to keep them covered with a Neptonics Band Cover.  These also help prevent abrasion and punctures of bands while at the same time keeping your spearguns organized in transit.  


Myths of Band Deterioration

There are many myths about how to store bands when they are not in use.  The biggest myth is that you should keep your bands in the freezer.  This is not a good idea once they have been in the water.  Once bands have been submerged and exposed to pressure, water pushes past the wishbone knots and goes into the inner tubing.  Water crystalizes and expands when it is frozen, which causes small abrasions inside the bands and actually causes them to degrade quicker. Refrigeration is a better option than freezing. Simply keeping them in a climate controlled location away from sunlight will also ensure an extended life for your bands.


The Truth About Band Deterioration   

Most speargun bands will degrade in about eight months to a year whether they are used frequently, taken care of, or not.  More frequent use will cause them to degrade more rapidly, and you may have to replace your bands every six to nine months. The two biggest signs of band deterioration is gumminess or cracking. Gumminess occurs all over the band, and gives the band a sticky feel. This is a result of significant exposure to fuel, sun, or heat.  Alternatively, bands can grow cracks as a sign of aging near the wishbone or the muzzle.  Once you start to see these signs, it may be time to look at replacing your bands.

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