How to String a Recurve Bow: Two Methods

A recurve bow is made of a curved bow arm and string that, when put together, looks like the letter “D” with the string as the straight down stroke line of the letter and the arch as the bow arm. The bow arm consists of a lower limb and an upper limb. In between both limbs, the site window is present. Directly across from a correctly strung recurve bow is the nocking point where the user of the bow connects the end of the arrow (the nock). Connecting the arrow with a nock allows you give the arrow the appropriate alignment with the bowstring.

Recurve BowThe above-mentioned description of a recurve bow is quite terse and basic. Once again, if looking at the bow at a point of rest it looks like the capital letter D. The curved part of the bow has a small part at the top and bottom of each end that curves back slightly in the opposite direction: These sections are the recurves and the areas where there is a single nock on each section for the bowstring’s placement. You will find the bow sight near the sight window and arrow rest midway between the upper limb of the bow arm and the lower limb in the area called the riser/handle. The nocking point is about 1/8 of an inch above the arrow rest that is just above the pivot point and bow grip.

There are different methods for stringing bows. If you are truly interested in learning how to string a recurve bow, it is a good idea to sample different techniques. Doing so can make it easier for you to find the method you are most comfortable using. Whatever method you ultimately decide to use, make sure you examine the condition of your bow, string, and stringing equipment (if you use any) for signs of potential damage, wear, tear, or breakage. Remedy any issues before attempting to string the recurve bow to avoid an injury.

How to String a Recurve Bow by Hand

It is possible to string your recurve bow by hand. Expert archers do not recommend the practice. You might hurt yourself and/or damage your equipment beyond repair. If you should decide to use this method, you must remember the element of risk involved in doing so. Bear in mind that if your bow is heavy this method is difficult to perform. In fact, the heavier the recurve bow is the more difficult stringing it by hand becomes.

Restring or stringing your recurve bow by hand is the Step through Method or Approach. Measuring from nock to nock, you will find a string for a recurve bow is roughly four inches shorter than the recurve bow itself. You have to put the string on backward. As mentioned earlier, examine all the parts you will be working with to rule out potential damage: Examining your bow and string is even more crucial when you are using a dangerous stringing method like the Step Through technique. Position the bottom bowstring loop inside the notch at the upper recurve section of the bow. Position the top bowstring loop over the bow itself, but also under the prefabricated notch.

Beginning with the curve of the bow pointing away from your extremities and remembering that the bowstring will be located on the side nearest to your body, place your leg through the bowstring. Doing this will cause the recurve bow to rest against the opposing foot and it creates tension. Place your hand at the top of your bow as you pull the recurve bow toward your body. You must then slide the bowstring upward and loop it through the recurve bow. To view a safe way to deal with heavy bows during the stringing process, view Scott Casteel’s video below:

Stringing Your Recurve Bow Using a Stringer

Stringers are nylon material: A desirable characteristic leading to their durability. Stringers are quite affordable, but most of all, they serve as a tool for protection against potential self-injury. It is not uncommon to receive an injury from stringing a recurve bow by hand. The string may break free from your grip and snap back at you dangerously and suddenly.

A stringer comes with a weight limitation, so you must ensure you have a stringer that can handle the weight of the recurve bow you are stringing. The recurve stringer will have two loops on it: The left loop is larger and the right loop is a bit smaller. You will slide the upper limb of the bow arm through the larger loop of the two: The arm will fit snuggly within the established groove on a small limb gripper made to wrap around the bow limb. You must slide the mildly pliable limb gripper down the bow limb as far as you can slide it until it moves no further: This is when you have established a solid grip around the bow arm.

Your bowstring will be prefabricated in a similar fashion to the bow stringer design. The recurve bowstring has a larger loop on one end and a smaller loop on the opposing end of the string. Take up the larger loop after affixing the arm gripper. You must put the larger loop of the string through the stringer’s larger loop: That is the string attached to the bow gripper and limb. Take up the same larger loop of your bowstring and position it on the upper limb’s recurve portion in the string slot. You need to bring the string down until it becomes flush to the stringer’s limb gripper.

Once you are done, working the larger loop end of your string, you can begin to do the same thing to the bottom recurve. Take up the small loop at the end of your bowstring and slide the end of the opposing bow limb through the loop. At the same time, you must make the string fit into the groove pre-cut at the recurve. Follow this maneuver by sliding the small loop of your bow stringer’s gripper over the end of the bow you are working with at the time. Again, fit the limb gripper to the bow and slide it down into position until it will move no further.

Once you have aligned, the bowstring as described above, you will need to take up the bowstring by the riser of the bow: The midsection between the upper and lower limbs. With your bowstring facing the floor, bend at the waist and lower your bow to the floor. You must place both of your feet on the bow stringer. Refrain from placing your feet on the bowstring. Once you are in position, take one arm and pull up on the bow while simultaneously taking up the bigger loop of the string and positioning it into the string groove at the end of the recurve. You can view the process through Santa Fe Archery’s video below:

The type of bow stringers you can choose from range in brand, price, color, and style. The stringers on the market today are either the saddle or double pocket style stringers. No matter which one you choose, you will still be using nylon cord. With the double pocket models, the stringer is fitted with a big pocket, crafted of rubber or leather material. When stringing the bow, the pocket slides over the limb tip to hold the bowstring into position while you are stringing the bow. The saddle type stringer differs in that the pocket that you slide over the limb has a surface that is rubber with a dimpled texture.


Santa Fe Archery’s video “Archery Tip of the Week: How to Safely String a Recurve Bow.” Youtube. URL:’s “String a Recurve Bow.” Website URL:

Scott Casteel’s “How to String an Unstring Your Recurve Bow Tutorial.” Youtube. URL:

Resources for additional reading:

Archery 360’s, “Caring for Archery Equipment

Archery 360’s videos on the art of archery.