How Often Should You Change Bow Strings? Maintenance Guide

Just like a car that requires its treads and tire pressure to be monitored on a routine basis, your bow also needs maintenance to perform at its peak. But how often should you change bow strings? That’s a tricky question. 

In this article, I will reveal some key factors and signs that can help you decide when is the best time to replace strings. Keep reading to learn more! 

The Average Age Of Bow Strings

As mentioned, deciding on when to swap your bowstrings is quite complicated since the lifespan of a string depends on various factors. I’d suggest asking yourself these questions: 

  • How often do you shoot? 
  • How well do you take care of your bow? 
  • What is the climate you are shooting in? 
  • What is the quality of your string? 

All of them have a say in how long your string lasts. There are archers that spend very little time shooting. They can go with their bowstrings a lot longer than tournament archers who shoot hundreds of arrows every day. 

So, how often should you change your bowstring? Generally speaking, if you take proper care of your baby and wax it frequently, it can last around 3 years. For novices, though, it might be difficult to tell if a bowstring has reached its limit. 

Nonetheless, the key is to keep an eye on the string and recognize any damage as soon as possible. Shooting with a worn-out bowstring doesn’t only keep you from performing your best but also contributes to safety issues. 

How Often Should You Change Bow Strings? Telltale Signs

Frequent Dry Strands

To function smoothly, a bowstring should feel slightly waxy when you touch it. Regular waxing of your string, as I covered earlier, will make it last longer. 

However, at some point, you will need to wax the string more frequently to keep it from drying out. It’s an early sign that the bowstring has had enough: Dryness will soon turn into furriness and, eventually, fraying. 

Aside from checking if the strings have gone dry, it’s also a good idea to keep track of how often you wax it. Keep a record on the calendar or on your phone. This helps you determine how long your bowstring can last overall. 

Fuzzing And Fraying

The friction between the arrow and string often leads to fraying or fuzzing. A fuzzed string isn’t broken yet, but you can notice the fibers becoming unraveled at the edges.

Having a little fuzzing isn’t a big deal. As time goes on, though, you will notice more severe fuzzing in particular areas, like underneath the center serving or around the cable slide. When the fuzzing and fraying become noticeable, my advice is to replace your bowstring.

Many archers try to combat heavy fraying by applying wax, which is a fatal mistake. Keep in mind that fraying signals weak points in the string strands. Nobody can tell when those weak points will finally break. If your bowstring snaps during a high tension pull, the outcome can be a trip to the hospital.

how often should you change bow strings

Even if you see a single broken strand, consider changing the string. Shooting won’t be safe, and it’s best to unstring your recurve bow immediately to free the string from the load. Perhaps one strand cut is not enough to cause harm, but it’s better safe than sorry. 

Broken Strands Or Knicks

Numerous strands are woven together to form a bowstring. The number of strands used has been carefully calculated so the string can bear the tension and function effectively for the bow style. 

With that in mind, consider broken strands a huge red flag. It poses a serious threat to both the archer and the people around because it may lead to arrows being launched in the wrong direction. 

A common place to look for broken strands is right below the center serving. Since it’s the so-called nocking point, the repeated friction will wear this area out. 

Knicks can be harder to notice, and a tiny scratch on a strand shouldn’t be a big concern. When you spot a knick, though, your bowstring’s days are numbered. Soon, it will begin to fray, so pay special attention to it. 

String Stretching

Unless you don’t touch your bow at all, it’s inevitable that your string will stretch. After all, it’s the most crucial part of archery: If you can’t stretch your string, you can’t shoot your arrows. With each shot, it will stretch more and more, and the stretching will become more noticeable as time goes by.

So when does stretching become a bad sign? Well, you have to pay close attention to the bow’s performance. An overly stretched string will result in weak and inaccurate shots. 

Archers refer to this problem as “creep”. Most of the time, it’s a natural part of shooting, but creep can happen faster if you store your bow poorly in a hot location. 

The only way to deal with a stretched bow string is to replace it. Before practicing your archery, draw back the string several times to make sure that it’s as taut as it should be. If it isn’t, you should get a new one. 

Again, unless it’s caused by objective factors such as storing, how fast your bow string gets stretched all boils down to how often you shoot. Enthusiastic archers should always keep extra strings with them when they go out to practice, just in case.

Read More: How Far Crossbow Shoot? The Best Way To Improve Shooting Range

Final Thoughts 

How often should you change bow strings? You’ve got the answer now! For amateur archers, the average time to get a new one is up to 3 years. 

Still, it’s best to actively assess the wear and tear on your string instead of mindlessly applying wax. That way, you can prevent any accident and keep yourself safe.

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