How To Tell If Your Bowstring Is Bad

If your bowstring is not fully intact and working correctly, this can have an effect on your shot and that is the last thing you will want if you want to remain consistently on target.

People who have not been practicing archery for a long time may be unfamiliar with the signs that their bowstring is beginning to wear. For this reason, it is important to learn how to check your bowstring and replace it when the time is right.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the most common signs that your bowstring is bad and needs to be changed.

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Why Do You Need To Monitor Your Bowstrings?

Every time you draw your bow, there is tension and pressure on the bowstring. Fortunately, these are relatively durable components of a bow and don’t need to be replaced all too frequently, however, you do need to keep your eye on the string to make sure that it is not damaged, frayed or otherwise not perfect.

That’s right, perfect. There is no use in trying to use a bowstring that is anything less. Archery is a sport based on accuracy and consistency and without a functioning bowstring, neither of these things can be achieved.

What’s more, you may notice that you lose poundage when attempting to shoot with inferior bow strings. Replacing your bowstrings is not an expensive venture and should always be done as soon as you notice that it is time.

Some might compare shooting a bow with bad strings to driving a car with bald tyres; you would never do it.

When Do You Replace A Bowstring?

You might think that because your bow gets some heavy use that the bowstring will need to be replaced quite often. But this is not true.

In the main, the bowstring will only need replacing every two to three years and this is even the case if you are shooting every day.

The only time that it would need to be replaced more frequently than this is if there are signs of damage. In this case, address the problem as soon as possible.

You can take your bow to be restrung at your local archery shop or, if you are able, you can do the work yourself. At most, you can expect to pay around $150 for the strings and fitting, so it won’t break the bank.

Signs That Your Bowstring Needs Replacing

The first time that you need new bowstrings, you may not associate the problems you are having with worn equipment. A lot of new archers may find themselves searching the internet for articles like this to find out why their aim is suddenly off or their arrow groups are not consistent.

The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on the signs that your bowstring needs to be replaced and keep your eye on this, inspecting your bow after each use.

Age And Use

The first thing you should consider is how old the bowstring is. There may not be any signs of wear or damage, but if the bowstring has been in use for some time, age may have had an effect.

Much like any other type of equipment, your bowstring won’t last forever. So if you have had the same one for more than two years, you should schedule a replacement regardless of how good the condition appears to be.

Broken Bowstring

In days gone by, bowstrings would have been made from natural fibres but in today’s archery industry, they are made from durable synthetic material. But whilst this is strong, it can be broken.

If you are using a compound bow, you will notice that there is a main string and some connector strings. If any of these break, they will need to be replaced; you will not be able to use the bow with a broken string.

Server Separation

The serving of the bowstring is a thread that is tied around the synthetic material of the amin string. On a compound bow, you will notice that wherever a string makes contact with a roller guard, string stop or cam, there will be a server.

These servers should be tightly wound and neat however, they won’t last forever. Over time, you may notice that the server begins to separate and this is a clear sign that your bowstring needs to be replaced.

The String Is Dry

You will likely be familiar with the concept of waxing your bowstring, this is probably something that was discussed at the archery shop when you purchased your bow. In order to work to its best, your bowstring must have a slightly waxy texture.

If you notice that your bowstring has begun to dry out, this could be one of the first signs that it is on its way out.

To begin with, you would get away with applying a little extra wax, this would smooth down any fibres that were starting to lift.

However, this is a short-term solution to the problem. Eventually, the strings would begin to fray so it is best to replace them now before it gets any worse.

The String Is Stretched

Of course, a bowstring needs to be stretchy, a stiff string would be useless when trying to draw the bow, but you don’t want the string to stretch too much.

As you continue using the bow, energy is absorbed into the string and this causes a degree of overstretching. If you carry on using the string at this point, you will notice that your accuracy is adversely affected.

You might be tempted to believe that if you haven’t used your bow for some time, stretching would be impossible. But this is not true. Bowstrings can also stretch if they have been left unused for some time, particularly if they were stored in extreme temperatures.

The String Is Frayed

One of the most common problems faced by archers where their bowstrings are concerned is that the string can become frayed. You will notice that the fibres of the string begin to unwind and there is popular belief that a bit of string wax will fix the problem.

However, whilst this may make the bowstring look better, it will not solve the issue of fraying. It can be tempting to shoot just a few more arrows with a frayed string, but we would recommend sorting out a replacement quickly.

If you continue to use a bowstring that is frayed, you run the risk of it snapping entirely, and this could happen in the middle of a shot. If the sting were to snap at full draw, you stand to be seriously injured; it simply is not worth the risk.

General Bow Maintenance

Taking care of your bowstring as well as the bow itself will mean that you get a lot of use out of your equipment. This is a complex piece of kit that cannot merely be brought and ignored. It is important that you pay special attention to the maintenance of your bow.

Let’s take a look at some quick tips for keeping your bow working to its best.

  • Regularly check your bow for damage. Cracks in the body or damage to any of the components could signal that your bow needs repairing.
  • Make sure that all strings and screws are tight. If any are coming loose, you should address this issue immediately.
  • When you are not using your bow, be sure to store it in a hard protective case.
  • Also, when you are storing your bow, be sure to keep it in a dry environment where the temperature is moderate and stable.
  • Take your bow to your local archery shop at least once a year to be serviced. The technician will be able to diagnose any issues and give your bow the once over to make sure it is in good working order.
  • If you have any accidents with your bow such as a dry fire or your bow is dropped, you should take it to be looked at by a professional. Even if the bow doesn’t look damaged, there may be something that you don’t pick up on.


Bowstrings are surprisingly durable and while some people may think that they need to be replaced a lot, every two to three years will be sufficient.

But if you are new to archery, you may not be familiar with the signs that your bowstring has come to the end of its life. It is essential that you are aware of what might happen to your bowstring when it is bad and these handy tips will help you understand your equipment better.

If you notice any of the things we have talked about in this article, it is important that you take your bow to an archery shop to be a replacement string. This will make sure that your accuracy and consistency are not affected.

About Brad Harris