When To Replace Bow String (Recurve-Compound)

Written By Ron Parker 


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Knowing when to replace a bowstring is essential to maintaining your compound bow or recurve. There are a couple of reasons why giving your bow the proper care is important. 

Safety is the biggest reason for keeping up with your bow’s maintenance and changing its strings regularly. If you don’t replace your bowstring in time, then it can break when you’re using it. An unexpected break can damage your bow and injure you or others who are nearby. 

Another argument for changing your bowstring is that it will stretch over time. Some stretching is a normal part of breaking in your bowstring. However, you don’t want it to stretch to the point of becoming less effective because it will negatively impact your hunting performance. 

Here, we break down when to replace compound and recurve bowstrings, how long they usually last, and indications that your string life may be coming to an end. 

When To Replace Compound Bowstring

It’s usually best to replace your compound bow strings every two to three years, depending on how often you use them. However, you should replace them sooner if you notice any damage or visible wear. 

Beyond looking at the bowstring, it’s also important to pay attention to the cables that connect the cams on a compound bow. If any of them show signs of wear and tear, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible. 

Unless you’re a professional, don’t try to replace compound bowstrings or cables yourself. Instead, bring your bow to a compound bow technician at an archery store. 

When To Replace Recurve Bowstring

Recurve bow strings can usually last upwards of three years, depending on how often you use your bow. You may be able to go even longer with proper care and infrequent use. 

If you notice any fraying or damage, you’ll need to replace your bowstring sooner. When it’s time to do so, be sure to use a bow stringer. If you don’t have one, you should take it to a professional who specializes in stringing recurve bows. 

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How To Tell When To Replace A Bowstring?

Frayed Bowstring

Ideally, you’ll replace your bowstring before it gives out or breaks. A few visual cues indicate a bowstring is nearing the end of its life. They include: 

  • Severe fuzzing or fraying
  • Extreme stretching 
  • A notable cut
  • Several knicks
  • Serving separation

Inspecting your bow will help you catch any of these signs of wear and tear so you can have a better idea of when to replace the bowstring. Be sure to check your bow’s end loop connections, as well as strings coming out of the cam system, if you have a compound bow. In addition, check along the yoke for any fraying. 

Beyond looking for these visual signs, also pay attention to how your bow is shooting. If your shot grouping or shot placement suddenly becomes inconsistent and you are using proper form, it’s a sign that you may need to replace your bowstring.

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How Long Do Bow Strings Last?

On average, a bowstring will last about three years. However, that number can vary depending on several factors, including how often you use it, the climate where you use it, how you store it, how you care for it, and what materials it consists of. Let’s look at each factor in more detail: 


Bowhunter still hunting

The way you use your bowstring will have a significant impact on how long it lasts. If you only use your bow during hunting season, it will last longer than if you use it year-round or participate in archery tournaments. 

Some recurve bows may come with a less than ideal bow string. For instance, the Southwest Archery Spyder comes with a dacron bow string, but it is much better suited to a FastFlight Bow string. In cases like this, you may want to replace the string right away.

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The type of weather you hunt in will also make a difference in the life of your bowstring. Hunting in extreme temperatures, high humidity, rain, or snow can wear out your bowstrings more quickly. 


Carrying a bow with a bow case

Proper storage will help your bowstrings last longer. Choose a cool, dry place to store your bow, and never store it outside its case for long periods.

Avoid extreme temperatures, moisture, and excessive light when storing your bow, and use a hard-sided case for protection. Never set anything on top of your bowstrings, and don’t lean your bows against anything unless they’re in a bow case

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Not all bowstring materials are the same. Modern bowstrings made from synthetic materials are more durable, and those made from natural materials don’t usually last as long.

A custom bowstring with a strategic blend of materials and manufacturing methods will likely last the longest. Custom bowstrings are more expensive than standard ones, but the benefits outweigh the cost for many hunters. A bespoke bow is much more dependable and delivers better performance. 

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Waxing A Bow String

How you care for your bowstrings makes a big difference, as well. If you want them to last longer, you should use a high-quality bowstring wax. The wax ensures the individual strings stick together and helps to protect them from any elements that may cause damage.

You should wax your strings any time they look dry or fuzzy. To do this, clean the bowstring and then rub string wax into it with your fingers or a soft cloth. Try to avoid using too much wax: you just need to use enough to lubricate the string fibers. 

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Final Thoughts

With the proper care and storage, your bowstrings can last a few years. However, it’s essential to put the work in to protect your investment in your equipment.

Changing your bowstrings on a regular basis is an integral part of hunting. Not only will it keep you safe, but it will help ensure top hunting performance. It can also help you protect your bow and save money on repairing damages from snapped strings. 

If you’re doing everything you can to maintain and inspect your bow, then you won’t need to worry as much about when to replace a bowstring, however some bows, like the Samick Sage, come with a bow string that is less than ideal. In cases like this, you may want to replace the bow string right away.

When it comes time to string your bow, whether it’s a compound or recurve, consider having a professional do it. This will ensure it’s on correctly and help the bowstring last to its fullest extent. You can usually find a qualified technician at your local archery or sporting goods store.

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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 DeerHuntingGuide.net.

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