How long do bow strings last?

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Whether you’re new to archery or a seasoned pro of the sport, you’ll likely be aware that your bow string being in good condition is crucial to being able to fire off a shot properly. If you don’t have a lot of experience in bow and string maintenance, you might find yourself wondering how long your bow string is likely to last before you need to replace it.

In short, the longevity of your bow string will depend on a number of factors, including the kinds of wear and tear that you subject it to, as well as how you look after it. Read on for our comprehensive look at how long bow strings last, and how to keep them in better shape, for longer. 

Also don’t forget to check our roundup of the best recurve bow strings and the best bow string waxes.

Typical Longevity for Bow Strings

A common ballpark figure for the lifespan of your average bow string is anywhere from three to five years. However, in reality, this can vary pretty widely, depending on how often you shoot your bow and how well you maintain the bow string itself.  

There’s no major difference to the longevity of bow strings for compound vs. recurve bows. Generally, the main factors that determine how long your bow string lasts is the amount of use that it gets, as well as the draw weight a given bow has. A higher draw weight means the bow string is exposed to more force, which, in turn, causes it to wear out faster.  

How Often Should I Restring my Bow

Another question worth asking is how often or how frequently you should generally replace your bow strings. Even if your bow string isn’t completely falling to pieces, that doesn’t mean you can still use it safely.

There’s no real consensus as to how often you need to replace bow strings. Most bow manufacturers recommend that you replace your bow string every year if it’s on a target bow, or every second year for a hunting bow. However, some manufacturers recommend that you replace your bow strings every two to three years, depending on the type of bow you’re shooting with.

Ultimately, the more often you shoot your bow, the more frequently you’ll need to restring it. And, it’s crucial that you don’t keep shooting with a bow that has a string in dire need of replacing. Worn out strings can cause serious injury if they snap when shot, for example.  

Common Signs You Need to Replace your Bow String

Even if you wouldn’t expect to need to replace your bow string just yet, it’s wise to keep an eye on the kind of condition it’s in. We’d generally recommend that you inspect your bow string before each use. Depending on the poundage and wear and tear you subject your bow to, you may need to replace it sooner than anticipated.

One sign you might like to keep an eye out for is fraying of the string. Keep in mind that dryness of the bow string can also occur, and you can usually remedy this by waxing the string. However, if the bow string or serving is actually starting to fray, you’ll likely need to replace the string, or at the very least get it repaired.

Subtle changes in the tuning or performance of your bow may also be a sign that you need a new bow string. As bow strings stretch with use, they can feel less responsive and their timing can start to feel ‘off.’ If you notice this happening to your bow, then your best bet will generally be to get it inspected by a bow technician.  

How to Extend your Bow String’s Longevity

So, we’ve established the importance of properly maintaining your bow string if you want to extend its longevity. But, if you don’t have a lot of experience in bow maintenance, you might be wondering how to best take care of your bow string.

Easily the most important aspect of bow maintenance when it comes to your bow string will be waxing it regularly. The main purpose of waxing your bow string is to stop it from drying out. Waxing the bow string should also provide some form of protection from the elements in the case of harsh wind or sunlight, for example.

It’s also important that you store your bow in an environment with a stable climate. If you were to keep your bow in a room without much insulation, your bow would likely be subject to fluctuating temperatures. These changes in the temperature of the environment can disturb the tension in the bow string. You’ll want to be careful not to expose your bow to intense heat in particular.

If you shoot with recurves or longbows, then another great way to extend your bow string’s lifespan is by unstringing your bow when it’s not in use. This limits the amount of tension that your bow string is subject to and can help to dramatically extend its lifespan. 

Given how important the bow string is in archery, it’s only natural that so many new archers worry about the implications of replacing and maintaining their bow strings. However, with proper maintenance, you should expect your bow string to last at least three years or so, though certain manufacturers will recommend that you replace the bow string before then. 

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