How to String a Recurve Bow

Recurve bows have been around for ages. These wonderful bows are perfect for those looking to shoot arrows like our ancestors did many years ago. They may not be as powerful as compound bows and crossbows, but they are definitely fun to use.

Their simple vintage design is one big factor why they are so fun to use. Not a single recurve bow comes with a complex mechanical design in which you shoot your shot by simply squeezing a trigger. You need to use your own strength to shoot arrows using a recurve bow.

Many people love the idea of shooting arrows accurately or far away using their own strength. This is the reason why recurve bows have a huge market despite the existence of more powerful bows such as crossbows and compound bows.

In this post, you will learn how to string a bow with and without using a bow stringer.

Let’s begin.

how to string a recurve bow

When you make an order for a recurve bow, it will arrive in a compact package. In the package, you will find all the parts of the bow plus instructions on how to put the bow together.

After connecting the limbs of the bow to the riser, you will have to attach the bow string. This is what exactly you will learn to do in this post.

This skill will be helpful to you when you receive your bow for the first time, and when you want to reassemble your bow after taking it apart for storage or maintenance.

How to string a recurve bow using a recurve bow stringer?

The easiest and most popular way to string a recurve bow is using a stringer, also known as a bow-stringer. A stringer is a special tool designed to safely and properly attach a bow string to a bow. It can also be used to remove a bow string from a bow.

So when you are purchasing a recurve bow, you should make sure you also purchase a bow-stringer. Probably the best place to get one is in a physical archery shop. This is because most archery shop owners will be happy to show you how to use a bow-stringer if you ask them to.

While all bow stringers are designed to do the same thing, they do not all have the same design. So when getting a bow stringer, you should make sure you get one that is compatible with your recurve bow.

After getting a recurve bow-stringer, follow the steps below to string your recurve bow.

Step 1: Prepare your recurve bow

The number one thing you need to do before you even attempt to string your bow, is to prepare it. If your bow string is not yet attached, it probably means that it is new and, therefore, not yet assembled.

If this is the case, you should first assemble your bow. We recommend you by doing it according to the manufacturer instructions. You will find the instructions on how to assemble your bow in the owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

Once you have properly attached the bow limbs to the riser, your bow will be ready for stringing. The next thing you want to do is to identify the string grove near the end of each limb. Each string grove will hold one end of your bow string.

After identifying the two string groves, you should identify the top loop and bottom loop of your string. The top loop is usually larger. Slide the top loop onto the top limb. Don’t secure it in the string grove. This will allow you to slide the bottom loop of the string onto the bottom limb and to secure in the bottom string grove.

At this point, your bow is prepared and one end of your bow string is attached in the right place.

Step 2: Attach the stringer

The typical bow stringer will have two pockets (one larger than the other) and a string in between. It will work by holding and pulling the opposite ends of your bow toward each as if trying to make it form a semi-circle. This will allow you to easily slide the unattached / unsecured end of your bow string into its string grove (the top string grove).

Attach the small pocket of your stringer by securing it on the top limb tip. Then place the larger stringer pocket over the bottom limb tip.

Your stringer is now properly attached on both ends of your bow.

Step 3: String your recurve bow

After attaching both ends of your stringer to your recurve bow, it is time to string it. Step on the stringer with both your feet. Make sure the center of the stringer is between your feet and then move your feet about five inches apart.

With your feet on the stringer, hold your recurve bow by its grip and pull it directly upward to flex its limbs. This will draw the limb tips toward each other and allow you to attach the unattached bow loop in its grove. Of course you will need to wear thick-soled shoes to execute this step without injuring your feet.

Also note that you do not need to flex the limbs too far to attach the unattached side of you bow string. So be careful not to over-flex the limbs of your recurve bow.

Step 4: Remove the stringer

With your bow string attached, it is time to remove the recurve bow stringer. After you removed the bow stringer, turn your bow into the shooting position and make sure the string is totally secure on both grooves.

Checking if your bow is secured with your bow in the shooting position is safer, because if one end becomes unstrung, both ends will fling themselves safely away from you.

If you find that you have properly attached your bow string, it is time to get out there and start using your recurve bow.

How to string a recurve bow without a recurve bow stringer?

Stringing a recurve bow without using a stringer is not an easy undertaking. Even though it is doable, this is not a simple task. It is, in fact, a risky task that could result in injuries to yourself and/or damages to your bow. For this reason, newbie archers should always work with experienced archers when stringing their bow by hand for the very first time.

Keep in mind that stringing a bow by hand is much simpler to do on a lightweight and flexible bow than on heavier ones. The heavier your bow, the more challenging it will be to get the task done. Having this information in mind will help you to decide if you will go ahead to string your recurve bow without a recurve bow stringer.

If you are still interested in stringing your recurve bow without stringer, follow the steps below to do it perfectly.

Step 1: Carefully inspect the bow before stringing

Before you proceed to string your bow, it is advisable to first give it a thorough inspection. Take a close look at the bow and the string.

Carefully check to make sure there are no cracks on the bow’s riser and limbs. In addition, look to ensure that the string is not worn out or fraying. If you happen to notice any issue, make sure that it gets fixed before the placement of a taut string on the bow’s arms. If you don’t fix issues, you could end up with a dangerous situation in your hands.

Step 2: Put on the necessary safety gear

There are a few safety measures that need to be observed when stringing your bow without using a stringer. First, put on heavy-duty shoes or shoes with thick soles. These shoes will protect your undersoles.

Second, you should put on an arm guard. It will offer protection to your lower arm in case the string snaps while stringing your bow.

Lastly, you should put on gloves that offer sufficient protection and good grip. You also need to protect your arms with long-sleeved clothing and put on pants made using a heavy fabric.

Step 3: The step-through technique

This is regarded as one of the best ways to string a recurve bow by hand. This method has been used for ages to string bows.

To string a bow using this method, you should attach the top loop of the bow string to the top bow limb. But don’t put this large loop in its notch. Just move it as far down the limb (as close to the center of your bow as it can get). This will make it easy for you to slide the small bottom loop of your string into bottom limb string groove/notch. 

Now to slide the top loop into the top limb string groove, simply put your bow on the flow and step into the middle of the bow with your right leg. Then pick up the top end of the bow so that your right leg is trapped in the middle of the bow with the bottom bow limb behind your leg (touching your calves) and the string in front of it.

With the bottom bow limb touching the backside of your right leg, move your left leg close and position it behind the bottom bow limb. At this stage, you can easily pull/ flex the top limb towards the front of you when you stand a bit upright and slide the unattached bow string outward to its notch.

Final remarks

There are two ways to string a recurve bow – you can string it with a stringer or without a stringer. Stringing a bow using a stringer is the recommended way to string a bow because it is safer and faster. However, if you do not have a stringer, you can still string your bow but you will have to be careful.

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