For recurve bow shooters, stringing is typically done with the proper equipment (stringer). But what if you don’t have one? Or, you prefer doing it old school? Worry not – we’ve got some quick and easy steps to on how to string a bow without a bow stringer.
Steps to String a Recurve Bow
Considered as a “basic” bow, recurve bows are the simplest form of bow that you may ever encounter. But don’t underestimate these archery essentials. You need to pay extra attention when stringing these type of bows.
Without a Stringer
There are two suggested methods on how to string a bow without a stringer.
How to string a bow by hand? - the step-into process
This method requires both attention to detail, patience, and stamina. You’d want to be careful before attempting this method. Otherwise, you just might damage your bow or hurt yourself!
Check the Bow and Bowstring – you'll need the attention and patience. Check your bow for any damage. Check your bowstring’s length (suggested length should be at least four inches shorter than your bow). Hook the Bottom Loop - hook the bottom (the smaller) string loop into the string groove of the bottom limb. Step Into the Bow - holding the top recurve of the bow in one hand and the top loop of the string in the other, step into the bow. Fix the Bow Position - hold the bow so the recurve of the bottom limb rests on your shin, and the grip rests at back of your other knee. Bend the Bow - now with the bow in place, bend the top recurve with the hand you are holding it to your other hand which still holds the top string loop. Adjust and Step Out - everything is in place now. Double check that the top string sits in it's groove and step out of the bow.
Foot Bracing Process
This method doesn’t involve stepping through the bowstring. This time around, your foot will be stepping on the string itself. That said, you’d need some stamina and arm strength for this!
The foot bracing process is recommended when stringing lighter or bows that are longer in height.
Preparation is the Key – again you'll need attention to detail. Check your bow and bowstring. Holding the top loop, slide a bowstring over the nock and all the way down to the limb. Next, take the bottom loop of the string and hook it into the bow’s nock. Positioning the Bow – assuming you are right-handed, step on the string with your left leg. Make sure that your bow’s positioned in such a way that its curve is looking downwards. Looping the String – maintaining the position, grab the top of your bow with your left hand . Your left hand should firmly hold the bow as close to your chest as possible. Now, your right hand can slide the string upward, looping the bowstring through the recurve bow. Test It – now that the recurve bow’s been stringed, slowly step off the string and test it. If it produces the right kind of tension (and feel), then you’ve done it!
Bonus: With a Stringer
We’d also like to share how to string a recurve bow with a 2-pocket stringer. This method is highly recommended (we’ll be sharing reasons below on why this is so!)! Do not mix up steps 3 and 4 - if you mix them up you won't be able to remove the bow stringer once done!
Place the Bottom Loop of the Bowstring - push the bowstring's bottom loop (this is the smaller of the two loops) in place on the bottom limb's string groove. Make sure it fits snugly. Position the Bottom Pocket of the Stringer - grab the bottom pocket of the bow stringer and place it on the bottom limb's notch. So this will slide over the string loop that's already in place. Position the Top Loop of the Bowstring - now get hold of the top string loop and slide it on the upper limb. You do not have to place it in the groove yet, just let it sit in relaxed position in the recurve. Position the Top Saddle of the Stringer - grab the other end of the stringer, the saddle, and place it over the top limb. Now comes the important part, you'll have to slide it behind the top loop that's on the same limb. Step on the Stringer and Bend the Bow - next step on the stringer and raise the bow. This will bend the bow, and make it possible the put the top loop in place. Push the Top Loop in Place - with the bow curved you'll find it really easy to put the top string loop in place. Make sure it fits tight! Lower the Bow - now it's time to lower the bow and remove the bow stringer. Enjoy your freshly strung bow!
Steps to String a Compound Bow
Compound bows are advanced bows. This basically means that you don’t need to string them, since these bows are already stringed! However, a compound bow’s strings do wear out. Knowing how to restring this type of bow will help maintain safety and optimum performance.
Bow Press Method
A bow press removes tension from a compound bow’s string. Using this tool will let you restring the bow:
- Position Your Compound Bow – fit your compound bow into the bow press.
- Check the Bowstring – once the tension is gone, check the compound bow’s string for any wear and tear.
- Identify if your bow has the teardrop design – determine if the string that needs to be replaced is on a teardrop. You would know this if the compound bow has two grooves for the string. If it’s a teardrop (virtually, almost all compound bows are already on a teardrop setting), you wouldn’t even need a bow press – you just need to step on string, pull up, and replace it!
- Restringing Non-Teardrop Models – older compound bow models will require you to remove the old string using the bow press, by unhooking the bowstring through the cams found on the limbs. Single-cam bows need to be re-stringed on the idler wheels of each limb. Double-cam models will need to be re-stringed by looping strings on each cam.
Restringing a Teardrop Compound Bow by Hand
Let’s break down on how teardrop compound bows are re-stringed by hand.
- Find the Old String – teardrop compound bows have two distinct grooves that contain the bowstrings. This is designed so that shooters can simply and safely replace strings. Take note that the old string has to be present if you want to restring a teardrop bow by hand!
- Loosen It – once you’ve identified the old string, loosen the teardrop bow’s limb bolts.
- Step on it – with the limbs loosened, hold the bow with your dominant hand and step on the bowstring with the opposite foot.
- Lifting the Teardrop Up – next, slowly pull the bow up. You’re doing this to flex the teardrop’s limbs. But make sure not to have it on full draw! Do it in such a way that you have enough space to attach a new string.
- Slip it in – locate the empty groove (which should be beside the old string). Through the empty grooves, firmly slip the new string in.
- In with the New, Out with the Old – with the new string firmly slipped in, slowly lower back the bow to its normal state. Once on its original position, move your foot and step on the new string. Lastly, unhook the old string from the bow.
With or Without a Stringer? What’s the Best Way?
Let’s go back to recurve bow stringing. So, what’s the best way to string a bow?
Of course, it does depend on an archer’s preference. Some would say, with recurve bows (such as longbows) being traditional weapons, one should definitely know how to string it old school. Others would also explain that knowing how to string a bow without a bow stringer is an excellent way to learn an archery skill. Especially for emergencies and the like!
But going with the safety route, we are highly recommending the use of a stringer. Not only will you string your bow faster, you’ll be giving yourself as favor too! It’s safe for your gear, your wallet, and you’ll get to prevent injuries happening as well.
Restringing your bow may be need if you install a peep sight, adjust the draw weight or if your string got damaged - going the prodessional route and using a stringer will be the best in these cases too.
Factors of an Efficient Bow Stringer
Getting a high quality bow stringer is important. Here's what you'll have to look out for:
A Strong Fabric
A bow stringer should have a sturdy finish that won’t tear when you’re stringing a bow.
Flexible Limb Block
An efficient stringer will not damage your bow’s limbs. This means that the stringer needs to hold on firmly to a bow, without damaging any of its parts!
DOES NOT have Plastic Cups
Some bow stringers have plastic cups that hold onto a bow’s limbs. Avoid these products! These may just damage your precious bow!
Important Details to Know About Bow Strings
To help you out on stringing, here’s a quick overview on bowstrings:
Made to Connect to Notches
Bowstrings are made to fit into the notches found on each bow’s ends.
Know the Large Loop
The top loop of a bowstring (which is the larger loop) is designed to fit on the bow’s limb.
Serving on the String
The central portion of a bowstring is bound with serving material. This portion essentially protects the bowstring from wear and tear. Additionally, nocking points are also found on the material of the bowstring to help you find out if you’re arming the bow properly.
Precautionary Steps When Stringing Your Bow by Hand
Here are some important steps and details to help you out when stringing a bow without a stringer.
All About the Limbs
Confused which limb is upper or lower? The heavier side of the bow is the lower limb! Depending on some models, the draw weight of a bow is marked on the lower limb too!
What to Check
Before stringing, find any cracks on the bow. Also, the new bowstring shouldn’t show any visible signs of wear or tear.
What to Clothes to Wear
As an additional layer of safety, make sure you’re wearing the right clothes when stringing a bow. If you’re manually stringing, consider wearing shoes with heavy soles. This will give you a good grip on the surface. Some arm guard or a long-sleeved shirt will also offer you some much-needed protection when flexing the bow.
String Your Bow Properly Today
Whether it is stringing a bow or hand or using a bow stringer, equipping yourself with the right information will go a long way.
For more information you may want to check sites:
- Complete Guide to Archery – discusses several great reasons why you should always use a bow stringer.
- Archery 360 – explaining how to string a bow by hand in a simple and visual manner.
- Archery Australia – a nice site explaining why bow stringers matter.
- Hunt Hacks – promoting methods on how to string a bow without a bow stringer.
- If you are unstringing your bow for long term storage, check this article for more tips.