When to Change Your Bow’s
Strings and Cables When to Change Your Bow’s Strings and Cables

Releasing arrows and executing consistently great shots makes archers feel like they’re in a near-meditative state. The shooting process feels peaceful; almost therapeutic.

Meanwhile, your bow’s strings and cables endure incredible stress during the shot process. As the string propels the arrow into motion, it unleashes tremendous amounts of energy. And once the arrow is in flight, the string keeps oscillating violently before coming to rest. All those forces are easily seen in high-speed video. After seeing the abuse your bowstring takes shot after shot, you’ll understand why it’s critical to maintain the string and replace it periodically.

When Change is Needed

Your bowstring might also need replacing if your bow has tuning or performance issues. Strings stretch over time, and eventually affect your bow’s timing. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Archers should inspect their bowstring and cables before each use. If the bowstring looks dry or fuzzy, simple waxing usually resolves the issue. However, if any bowstring strands look frayed or its serving has separated, you might need a new string.

Your bowstring might also need replacing if your bow has tuning or performance issues. Strings stretch over time, and eventually affect your bow’s timing. Most modern compound bows have visual reference points on their cams, which are called timing marks. If these marks are off, take your bow to a pro shop for a professional inspection.

With recurves and longbows, you’ll feel the effects of a stretched bowstring when drawing the bow. A too-long string causes slight reductions in draw weight, making the bow feel “soft.” A qualified bow tech will take measurements at specific places on the bow, and compare the results to factory specs to determine if the stretched bowstring took your bow out of tune.

How to Prolong String Life

With average use and proper care, a set of cables and bowstrings should last two to three years. Proper maintenance means regularly waxing your bowstring to prevent it from drying. Apply wax and work it into the string fibers with your fingers or a piece of leather, which warms the wax so it penetrates into the string. Keeping your bowstring waxed increases its longevity.

How and where you store your bow also affects the bowstring’s life. Select a place where the temperature remains consistent, and avoid storing your bow in hot places like car trunks for any extended period. When storing recurves and longbows, remove the bowstring to relieve the tension.

Changing the String and Cables

Apply wax and work it into the string fibers with your fingers or a piece of leather, which warms the wax so it penetrates into the string. Keeping your bowstring waxed increases its longevity. Photo Credit: USA Archery.

Changing the strings and cables on your bow requires a bow press and professional know-how. When it’s time for a new set, or you’re unsure of your string’s condition, visit a pro shop to ensure the job is done right. During this process, ask your bow tech about string options, such as custom colors. Choosing a set whose colors represent you and your tastes is a fringe benefit of replacing the bowstring.

What to do After Changing

Today’s bowstrings usually come prestretched from the manufacturer, but break-in periods are still required. To break in new strings you’ll need to shoot them 100 to 200 times to ensure they’ve finished stretching. After breaking in your strings, return to the pro shop for a final tuneup and timing inspection.

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