When To Change A Recurve Bowstring? (All You Need To Know)

by | Aug 29, 2022

With the bow string being an integral part of your recurve bow, its longevity is definitely something you need to take into consideration. But how do you know when to change a recurve bowstring for a new one?

In general, your bow string should last you 2 to 3 years under normal conditions. This is dependent on how often you shoot with your bow, and how well you’ve been maintaining your bowstring.

If you notice that the string is splitting, or if it has any knicks, cuts or fraying, then these are all signs that you might need to consider changing your string sooner rather than later.

Bowstring maintenance should be part and parcel of your recurve bow usage. The more you shoot, the more you should check. Let’s look at some of the specifics of how you can spot a string in need of some love and attention.

How Often Should You Change a Recurve Bowstring?

Most bowstring manufacturers will agree that under normal usage, a bowstring should last you 2 -3 years. There have even been instances of well-maintained strings lasting 4 – 6 years.

If you’re a competitive archer, then you may find that it’s not a question of when to change a recurve bowstring, but more a question of how many times per year. In most cases, an Olympic archer will swap out a string about every 4-6 months. A more casual archer, on the other hand, may even only need a new string every 1 or 2 years.

Getting into the habit of giving your bow a quick once-over every time you shoot will increase your chances of spotting the most common reasons for changing your string.

Make sure to check out this article if you’d like more information on choosing the right Recurve Bowstring

Common Reasons For Changing Your Recurve Bowstring


A bow string is made up of many individual strands, but over time and continued usage, you may see some of these fibres begin to tear.

When to change a Recurve Bowstring
Frayed Bow String

As the amount of these fibres has been calculated specifically for the draw weight of the bow, once you see some fraying occur, it means that the power of your bow has been compromised.

Light fraying of the string can easily be covered with a coat of wax, but if there are more serious tears, then you may be at risk of the string snapping.

Knicks and Cuts

Knicks and cuts are inevitable. They will happen. Most cuts and grazes on the string are nothing to worry about. There’s no real danger of the string snapping. The main concern with cuts on the string is that they can lead to fraying.

A common question that beginners tend to have is “Will my string break?”

The answer to that question is that it’s highly unlikely. The bowstring is elastic and would require a force much greater than a beginner archer could generate to snap it.

In rare cases, your string can snap, but as mentioned above, that would only occur if your string had suffered serious damage, such as a deep cut, which would be highly noticeable before that happened.

What is more likely to happen is that the end loops might give way. This is when the serving wears away through usage and the string might come off. Some cheaper bows have sharper limb tip edges which could wear away at the string.

What Is The Bow String Serving?

The bowstring serving is a protective sheath that covers the string at the three points where there is most likely to be wear and tear. These pints are at each end of the bow at the limb tips, and in the centre of the bow around the nocking point.

The string at the limb tips will be slapping the limb upon release, whereas the area at the nocking point will sometimes be slapping at the arm guard or wrist.

The serving is there to protect your string and will most likely incur more wear and tear over time. This is perfectly normal.

If the serving on your bow becomes damaged you don’t need to replace the whole string. The string itself will be perfectly fine, It’s quite an easy fix to repair the serving without the additional expense of replacing the string.

How To Increase The Lifespan of Your Recurve Bow String

In short, waxing your bow string is the best way to extend its usage. When you purchase your bowstring, it will come with a coating of wax on it, but you can purchase sticks of wax to keep the string hydrated and supple.

Failure to wax the string at regular intervals will result in the string becoming dry and brittle.

To apply the wax, first rub the string down, either with your hand or with a piece of cloth. This will warm the string up and allow the wax to be absorbed more easily.

Then apply a thick coating of wax by rubbing the block up and down the string. Next, work the wax into the string with your fingertips, making sure that each strand of the string has a generous coating.

To remove any excess wax, you can wrap a piece of cotton around your string and then slide it along the string to remove the extraneous wax. This will also help to ensure that the string has a nice, even coat of wax. You don’t need to wax the areas of the string that are covered by the serving.

How Often Should You Wax The Bow String?

If you remember, give the bowstring a quick coating of wax every time you shoot, but in reality, you don’t need to wax the string that often.

Every couple of weeks should be fine. But anytime you notice any dryness or fraying, then you can apply a quick coating.


Knowing when to change a recurve bowstring comes down to observation. As soon as you see that the string is starting to fray and split, then you can think about either buying a new string or making your own.

Either way, giving your string the best chance at a long life is fairly easy to do with regular coats of wax, unstringing the bow if you’re not going to shoot for extended periods and proper storage.