How To String a Compound Bow – Easy Guide

| Last Updated June 15, 2021

Being able to string a compound bow is a valuable skill for any archer or hunter, as it’ll give you an easy way to repair one of the most sensitive and dangerous parts of your bow.

Restringing compound bows might seem intimidating due to the tight tension and the importance of your tool, but knowing how to restring is a great way to make sure you can take care of it well, both mid-shoot and between hunts.

Photo credit: tacticalhuntr.com

Quick Questions Before Starting

Before anything else, there are a few quick things to know about how this process will go. It’s not an entirely easy task, but it’s still plenty accessible to inexperienced compound bow users and is refreshingly inexpensive for both amateurs and experts.

How Difficult Is This to Do?

Medium

How Long Does It Take?

Approximately 10 minutes

How Much Do Materials Cost?

$20-$40

Items Needed to String a Compound Bow

For the most part, there’s not too much you need to string a compound bow. Many tools may have come with your bow. The main things you’ll need are the replacement string, an Allen wrench to loosen your limb bolts, and a work area to restring your bow comfortably.

The cost can vary based on the quality of your tools and new string, but either way, you should be pleasantly surprised how low the cost usually is for restringing a strong compound bow.

  • Allen Wrench: $10-$20

  • New Bow String: $10-$20

  • Clean Work Area: Any large and empty table or floor space.

Photo credit: bowhunting.com

Do I Need a Bow Press?

While a bow press can help with the process of restringing compound bows and will involve less stress and challenge on your part, you don’t inherently need one. It simply helps hold the bow in place while you restring it, making it a convenience rather than a necessity. It’s also worth knowing how to restring without a bow press since this skill can help you restring your compound bow in the middle of a shoot or hunt if needed.

When and Why Restring a Compound Bow?

Much like any equipment, bowstrings are exposed to wear and tear. How long will they last depends on a number of factors, including how often you shoot and how you maintain and store them.

That said, it is important for every archer to learn how to spot signs that a compound bowstring needs replacing.

To Prevent Your Bow String From Breaking Mid-Shot

This is the prime reason you should restring your compound bowstrings, as an unexpected break can quickly mean the end of your shoot. You can usually tell that your string needs replacement when it starts fraying at certain points in the notches or center, as that means it’s received enough pressure to start deteriorating.

That said, you also will need to replace your compound bow string in rare instances across its lifespan, as every 2-3 years it’ll usually just degrade over time with and without use. Even before fully breaking, your bowstring will often decline in performance, tension, and accuracy with use, meaning it’s important to know if your string is at risk well before a shoot.

Photo credit: archershub.com

To Save Money Restringing By Yourself

The other reason you should learn to restring a compound bow is that it is costly to have it done professionally. They’ll be able to restring your compound bows effectively, but it can cost a lot if you use your bow frequently due to most shops charging service fees for repairing and replacing certain parts like strings.

The tools themselves are quite inexpensive, and it doesn’t take very much time or challenge compared to other forms of compound bow maintenance. If you’re a dedicated user of compound bows, you’re better off learning how to do this yourself to avoid pulling out your wallet with every broken string.

How to String a Compound Bow

For the most part, many of these different styles of restringing compound bows will be quite similar in style, but some variations are worth describing in detail. This is the best and easiest way to restring a compound bow, as well as some variations to consider depending on whether your compound bow has teardrop attachments.

How to Restring a Compound Bow Without a Press

1. Loosen Your Limb Bolts

Using your Allen wrench, you’ll want to unscrew any bolts along the upper limb and lower limb of your bow, which usually are intended to maintain the pressure of the strings and loosen when screwed in an anti-clockwise direction. This will help you loosen the bow so that removing and adding new strings is easier, but you won’t be removing the first string until the new one is installed.

2. Position Your Bow

If you’re not using a bow press, you’ll now want to use your feet as a way to keep the bow drawn and stable. Put your feet over both the old and new strings and lift the bow vertically, pulling it to its full draw position if you were to be firing directly upwards. This will tighten your bow to a more tense position, letting you easily remove the old string and put on the new string.

Photo credit: wikihow.com

3. Begin Replacing Your Bow Strings

At this point, you want to start removing your old string, but do not take it off altogether. You’ll instead want to take it off of a single string loop at a time, starting with the looped end of your bow's string and going through the bow, following the old string part-by-part. This will prevent you from stringing it improperly since a fully missing string might make it hard for you to remember how your strings loop through your bow. 

This will let you put on a loose new string, while the old string keeps the bow tight and compact. You can also overlap the new string with the old string to make this easier, but be careful not to tangle your bow's string in this process. You want the old string to be easy to remove, otherwise, you’ll have to potentially start over. 

4. Ensure Your New String Is Secure and Toss Your Old String

Once the old string is replaced and the new string is loosely looped around the compound bow, you may toss the old string to the side and begin lowering the bow closer to your feet to let the string tighten as the bow itself is less tense, and you’ll be able to see if your string is properly fitted and strung.

5. Tighten Your Limb Bolts

Once you’ve tested drawing your bow with the new string, you may remove it from your drawn position under your feet. You can now tighten the limb bolts to make sure your bow remains at proper tension when it’s used, and as a result, double-check your string will remain fully secure thanks to the bow returning to its naturally tighter state. Once the bolts are retightened, your string replacement should be complete.

How to Restring a Compound Bow With a Bow Press

The main difference between stringing with and without a bow press is how you pull your bow into the drawn position. Any of the steps above will instead require you to insert the bow into the press, tightening and loosening the bow using the press rather than respectively lifting it upwards and downwards. 

This makes it substantially easier to replace since you’ll get a better view of the strings, but if you’re following these steps correctly you should have the same result with either route.

Unsure about the process? Check the video below for visual aid.

How to Restring a Compound Bow With a Teardrop Attachment

If you have a more modern compound bow, you’ll likely see a teardrop-shaped piece of metal or plastic to loop the string through. This is essentially a way to attach a new string without getting deeper into the bow’s cable loops, providing easier access and replacement. With a teardrop attachment, you can replace the string without replacing the cables, making it a much quicker process.

How to String a Compound Bow Without a Teardrop Attachment

If you don’t have a teardrop attachment, you’re more likely going to have to attach the string to points on the actual wheel-shaped loops on the bow. This will be slightly more work since these are usually deeper in the bow, but this also means you can fully attach the new string before removing the old string, making it just as easy and not changing the steps listed above.

Tips and Safety Considerations When Stringing a Compound Bow

Apart from your bowstring breaking midshot and ruining the game, another reason you should restring your compound bow concerns your safety. A string breakage could cause serious injury not only to you but also to the others around you. So to avoid accidents and damages, here are some of the tips worth noting.

Check Your Bowstring Regularly

This might seem obvious or tiring for certain compound bow users, but it’s important to always ensure the quality of your string before any shoot or hunt. Compound bows are quite durable, and their strings don’t need to be replaced often, but if you miss any frays or breaks before going on a shoot, you can often have it fail in the middle of a shot. 

Sudden breaks can result in a missed shot and also can cause injuries from the string snapping. To prevent this from happening, it’s extremely important to be aware of your bowstring’s quality so that you can restore it before an accident could happen.

Always Watch Your Draw Length

One of the easier ways to tell if your string needs a replacement is by checking its draw length, which will often increase when a string is overused and aging. You can easily find diagrams online or with any instructions that came with your bow to know how it should look and feel, and if it’s ever seeming concerningly long, it can be totally fine to replace even when there are no clear frays or breaks.

Photo credit: rockcreekarchery.com

This is also quite important while restringing the bow itself, as you will be sure that you’re stringing it tightly and properly. Poorly stringing your compound bow will simply cause you to restring it later, but often not without some poor shooting and handling before you recognize your mistake.

Check the Nock Point

Not only will strings fray and break in the center, but they can also stay somewhat hidden in the nock points where the strings are attached. This is another unexpected way to tell you need to replace your string and to determine whether or not your string is poorly attached. It’s good to double-check these when replacing your strings.

The tension of your bow is going to be the key way to tell whether it’s correct, but tenseness alone does not guarantee it’s properly installed. Always make sure all points of the string are properly attached, as well as guaranteeing it draws and fires as smoothly as you’d expect from a new string.

Conclusion

With these safety tips and instructions in mind, you should be plenty equipped to replace compound bow strings at a moment’s notice.

It’s still preferable to do this between shoots since this can sometimes be difficult or frustrating when not on a flat surface or with the pressure of time, but either way, double-check you’ll be thankful to know how to replace it before it breaks, as poorly maintained compound bows can be a major risk to your safety and shoot. 

Photo credit: outdoortroop.com

People Also Ask

Still uncertain about something? Below we answered some of the commonly asked questions that might help. 

How Long Can a Compound Bow Stay Strung?

Theoretically, most compound bows can stay strung indefinitely, rather than many recurves and longbows which only last about three weeks or so. This is because compound bows don’t experience as much tension on the bow's limbs due to their more technical design, and while you’ll have to replace strings when they become damaged from use, you don’t have to destring them between shoots or when putting them in storage.

Should You Unstring a Compound Bow?

Since there’s no risk to the health of your compound bow when it remains strung, you don’t have to unstring your compound bow. You still should ideally remove it to replace damaged or old strings, and it might be easier to travel with it unstrung, but you’re usually better off keeping your compound strung through travel and storage to avoid unnecessary restringing.



My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.