How To String A Recurve Bow With And Without A Stringer

Written By Ron Parker 

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Hunting with the recurve bow is a throwback to more primitive times that many hunters enjoy. This practice can make you feel more aligned with the environment around you while keeping the atmosphere quiet. You may even want to start learning how to string a recurve bow without a bow stringer, for similar reasons. It’s the old-fashioned way of doing things that leaves you to your own devices. 

Learning the skills of bowstringing and unstringing is a necessity for maintaining your favorite archery equipment. In the event that you haven’t yet built up the arm strength for such a task, using a bow stringer is necessary for your safety. We wanted to share a few methods you can try to discover what works best for you. 

How To String a Recurve Bow With a Stringer

Whether or not you’re using a bow stringer, preparing the recurve bow beforehand is step one. Check the bow for any cracks or fractures in either bow limb or the grip. Inspect the string for any signs of fraying or thinning. If you find any damage, be sure to get it repaired before you begin stringing. This will keep you and your bow safe from damage while you string and use it.

If you’re new to archery or using a recurve bow, you may want to enlist a friend with more experience to help you through the process. A bow  with a higher draw weight makes the job more difficult than a lightweight bow. If you should slip during the process, you could damage your bow or harm yourself. 

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You can string your recurve bow in a few simple steps with a stringer. First, find the larger of your string loops and slide it onto the top bow limb. Slide the smaller loop onto the bottom bow limb so that it sits snugly in the notch. Take your stringer and slip the pocket end onto the lower limb. Get the loop or saddle at the stringer's end and put it over the top limb of your recurve bow. Make sure you place it behind the string. 

Finally, hold your bow so that the stringer touches the ground. Place one or two feet on the stringer so that you can only pull it up to just below your waist. You want enough tension to keep the bow bent slightly.

The last step is to slide the loop on the top limb onto the notch at the limb tip and tighten it. Then, you can remove the bow stringer easily. You are now ready to go hunting with your freshly strung recurve bow.

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How To String a Recurve Bow Without a Stringer

Stringing the recurve bow without a stringer can be difficult, especially if you’ve never done it before or haven’t built up the arm strength necessary to complete it. Having someone experienced show you the ropes first is the best course of action in these cases. Remember to inspect your bow and place pressure on the correct limb tips. Here are two methods on how to string the recurve bow without the assistance of a stringer. 

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Step-Through Method

The step-through method is the quickest way to string your bow without using a stringer. It also utilizes more leg and torso strength, making it ideal for people with less chest strength who are trying their hand at stringing their recurve bow without the help of a stringer. Just like with the method using a stringer, you will slide the larger of the string loops over the top limb and the smaller loop over the lower limb and into the bottom notch.

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First, hold your bow in an upright position. Place your right foot in between the bow and the string with the lower limb pressed against your left calf. The bow should be threaded between your legs in such a way that the top limb sticks out from behind your right leg. The lower limb should rest over the front of your left calf. 

Pull the top limb towards your body to create the tension to curl the bow. You should be able to easily slide the top loop into place and tighten it. Once you’ve tightened the loop so that it sits securely in the notch, unthread the bow from your legs. If you’re left-handed, you can use this method by placing your left foot into the bow and string first. Use your right calf for leverage instead.  

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Push-Pull Method

Like the step-through method, the push-pull method is a relatively simple process. It’s considered easier and therefore ideal for beginners. As with the other methods, you’ll start by sliding the larger string loop over the top limb and the smaller string loop over the lower limb. Slip the small loop into its notch until it is secure. 

Next, sit the bottom tip on the inside of your right foot (or left foot if you’re left-handed). Do not put any weight on the bow when you do this. You can also put the bow tip behind your ankle to hold it in place. Hold and pull the grip with your right hand as you push down on the top limb with your left. The string’s top loop will begin sliding down to the top notch until it is in place. 

Use caution when using this method. If you push down too hard or quickly, the string could pop and hit your eye or inflict other facial damage. Slow and steady is the phrase when stringing your recurve bow.

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What Is the Best Way To String a Recurve Bow?

Each method takes time, patience, and practice to fully master. But using a bow stringer is the safest and easiest way to go. You have less of a chance of cracking your bow, popping your string, or injuring yourself in the process. Even though it may not seem as impressive and requires that you use an extra tool, the sole purpose is to have a good time hunting deer and other game. You can’t go bowhunting if your bow is damaged or you pop it and hurt your face while stringing it. 

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If you’re new to archery or hunting with the recurve bow, you may have a few questions about handling, storing, and maintaining your equipment properly. Below are a few commonly asked questions and their answers from seasoned bowhunters. You can use them to inform the way you jump into your new passion.

Should you leave a recurve bow strung?

No, you should never leave a recurve bow—or any bow—strung when it isn’t in use. Doing so puts too much stress on the bow, which will warp the curve to make it a few inches shorter. It causes unnecessary stretching of your string and increases the likelihood of your bow cracking, fracturing, or snapping. 

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Is it OK to store a recurve bow with the string on?

No, never store your recurve bow with the string on. Just like with leaving the string on for long periods, leaving the string on keeps your bow under constant stress. Stress causes cracks and breaks that leave you without a bow at best and injure you at worst. 

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How often should you restring a recurve bow?

If you use your bow regularly, you should replace the string every couple of years. Three years is the longest you should wait before restringing your bow. Inspecting your bow and string carefully before using them will also help you gauge whether you need a new string. Fraying ends or thinning areas of your string are signifiers that you need to purchase a new string before you use your bow again.  

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Should I twist the recurve bow string?

The short answer is yes. Twisting the recurve bow string can improve performance. It's especially important for hunting purposes, as it reduces the amount of noise that comes from the bow when you release an arrow. The long answer is to use caution and keep your brace height at the manufacturer’s recommendation. Twisting increases brace height. When your brace height is longer, your arrow will move more slowly. 

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Try These Stringing Methods at Home

Whether you aim to string your recurve bow by yourself or continue using a convenient stringer, this guide will help you understand each step in the process of how to string your recurve bow and take care of your bow now and in the future. Remember, the main point is being out in nature and happy hunting. What better way to achieve that than with one of the oldest known weapons in human history?

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The key to stringing your bow properly is doing a safety inspection, ensuring that the right loops go over the appropriate limbs, and having just enough tension to slide the top loop right into the top notch. Ask seasoned archers if they will teach you their preferred method.

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When you’re finished hunting or practicing with targets, always remember to destring your recurve bow after each use and before storing it in its bow case. This will keep your recurve bow in good, safe shape for years to come. 

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Ron Parker

Ron is an archery instructor and expert bow hunter that lives with his wife and kids in central Ohio. When he is not teaching archery or in the woods bow hunting deer, he is writing informative articles for

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