How to Restring a Compound Bow

Compound bows use a complicated system of pulleys, cables, and strings attached to their stiff limbs. Regular bows don’t have stiff limbs; they have bent limbs instead, which don’t provide as much force as you’ll find in a compound bow. This creates a complexity in the compound bow that makes them an attractive and effective tool for everything from simple target practice up to hunting in the field.

Bus cables, control cables, and strings can all stretch out too much, releasing tension and not making your compound bow as effective. Your bow model will have a certain combination of these cables and strings, so when you’re shopping for replacements, pay specific attention to the manufacturer’s instructions.

With the proper materials and equipment, it will take you about 20 minutes or so to fully restring your compound bow. It’s not a difficult procedure, and the only word of warning is to make sure the bow is compressed enough while working with it.

Did you know you can find information about the best bows for beginners and for woman here on our site, just a click away.

1. Gather Your Equipment

To start, you’ll want to gather the tools that you’ll need: the new bus cable, control cable, and strings for your bow. There are many models of these available.

You will also want a bow press, which will hold the bow in place while you restring it. If you don’t have a bow press, have a partner help you compress the bow and hold it while you perform the cable restringing. It’s not advisable that you try to restring a bow either by yourself or without a partner to help. You can’t both compress the bow in one hand and restring it in another.

Okay, with those tools ready, it’s time to get started!

2. Positioning the Bow for Restringing

A bow press holds your bow steady throughout the entire restringing process, so first you want to insert your bow into the press. Having the bow in the press also takes tension off the strings, so that they hang slightly slack, with a little bit of movement.

Position it and tighten the vise grip so that your bow is upside down and facing towards you, with the cable slide in the center and perfectly vertical. The cables shouldn’t be slack enough that they don’t stay inside the cable slide, though.

3. Replacing the Bus Cable

You can start your restringing from either end. In this tutorial, we’ll move from left to right. Starting on the left-hand side of the bow on the bottom cam, take the bus cable off the top axle. Pull it gently towards you to remove it from the cable slide and then take it off the bottom cam on the right-hand side of the bow. Set the bus cable aside.

To put on the new bus cable, attach it to the same place on the top axle of the bottom cam located on the left-hand side of the bow. Pull it and attach it to the cable slide in the middle, then pull it towards the cam on the right-hand side. It might be shorter than the previous cable because it’s not as stretched out. Use the bow press to move the two cams closer together, and you might have to compress it quite a bit. Affix the end of the bus cable to the axle on the bottom of the other cam.

4. Replacing the Control Cable(s)

Depending on the cam setup, you might be using more than one control cable. On a single cam setup, you’ll have two control cables. You’d simply follow the instructions twice for replacing both cables.

Remove the control cable from the cam on the left-hand side of the bow, detach it from the cable slide, and remove it from the cam on the right-hand side of the bow. The control cable has a short serving on one end and a long serving on the other end. You’ll want to place the new control cable on the bow in the same position as the old one you removed it, with the ends lining up properly. Keep the short serving and long serving on the exact same sides that they were.

Hook the control cable’s serving end to the left-hand side of the bow, attach it to the cable slide in the middle, and then hook it into the cam on the other side. The cam setups vary depending on the bow model. You might also need to use the bow press (or the assistance) to help you compress the bow for this cable attaching process.

5. Replacing the String

With the cables replaced, now it’s time to do the same for the string, which is not attached to the cable slide. Starting on the left-hand side, gently unwind the string end from the cam to remove it. Then gently unwind the other end from the other cam. This is probably the easiest step, to get this string off.

Now, take your new string and locate which is the top of the string and which is the bottom. Some manufacturers include a tag for this purpose. The top is the one that’s going to go on the top cam, so we’ll be restringing starting with that cam.

Place the string into the cam and gently wind it in the same direction you unwound the previous string. Then pull it to the bottom cam and, using the press or a partner to help compress the bow, gently insert it into the cam and wind it. It should pop into place.

6. Final Adjustments

With the bus cable, control cable, and main string replacements in place, you’ll want to take an extra minute or two to just double check and make sure each cable and string are securely in their new proper locations.

With that final check over complete, your bow now has its new cables and string. You can remove it from the bow press, or have your partner release it from its compressed state.

The bow is now fully restrung and ready for both timing and tuning.