How to String a Recurve Bow

If you are an archer who is new to the art of stringing a recurve bow, you are going to want to invest in a bow stringer. Expert archers recommend bow stringers because the simple tools offer archers the safest method for stringing and restringing a bow for use. What’s more, a bow stringer is an inexpensive investment: One that can protect an archer from accidental injury as well as unintentional damage to the bow in question.

Bow stringers usually cost under $20.00, but some of the pricier models can go as high as $40.00. The stringer is manufactured with leather and cord, surgical tubing, or plain cord. At the end of each cord, the archer slides a flexible, soft limb gripper onto the limb until it is firmly in position. The unit is often fitted with a tension slider so that it will fit an array of bow lengths. Alternatively, some bow stringers come with a limb cup (pocket) made of durable, but soft materials: The cup slides over the tips of the bow and remains firmly in place.

The tool causes the limbs on the recurve bow to bend so the archer can put the string into the groove (nock) on the bow with greater ease, and with no risk of self-injury or equipment damage. The stringer also helps in preventing the undesired twisting of the upper and/or lower bow limbs, which can ultimately result in the development of a crack or fracture in the bow’s structure. Before bow stringers, archers would rely on the step-through method in order to string a recurve bow, which worked, but came with considerable risks. The innovation of the stringer now ensures stress reduction on the upper and lower limbs of the bow as well as on the archer’s body.

There is considerable resistance when an archer is attempting to string a bow using the step-through method; a sudden, unexpected interruption in that resistance can lead to undesired injury. A good deal of body strength is needed to string the bow using the step-through method, whereas a bow stringer makes it far easier for the archer to string a bow, even when dealing with the tension and resistance the bow structure creates initially. What’s nice about a stringer is the equipment is lightweight, which lends to its ease of portability.

Buying a Stringer versus Making One

Some archers choose to forego buying a bowstring for the act of making one. Making a bow stringer is easy. The archer will need some cordage or a Nylon rope measuring over six feet long and a piece of leather measuring a minimum of four inches by three inches. The archer cuts up the leather material into separate strips measuring 1.5 inches by 4 inches. Once the archer cuts the strips, the individual can use a Phillips-head screwdriver for the purposes of poking two holes into each cut strip of leather. The safest method for doing this is to position the leather fabric on a piece of scrap wood and to use a hammer to tap the screwdriver just hard enough to drive it through the leather material. The archer positions and centers the holes at the short ends of the leather strips. The holes the archer creates will have to be large enough in order to allow the rope or cordage to pass through the holes with ease.

The archer will also have to cut the rope to length, and it should be no shorter than six feet. The archer then seals the ends of the cord by taking a match or lighter to it and heating it up. Once you pass the Nylon rope through both holes on the leather piece, it creates a loop that forms a handle. The archer has to tie the rope off with an overhand loop knot to ensure the durability of the tie. Once the rope is tied, the archer can pull on the rope to check the security of the knot. The same process is repeated for the other piece of leather and the opposite end of the Nylon cord. The end result is a bow stringer made of Nylon rope and leather. Ultimately, the newly made bow stringer requires testing to ensure it is secure. Herein lays the difference between the manufactured bow stringer and the one an archer makes at home: If it is made incorrectly, it could result in damaged equipment or possible injury when used, and for the homemade stringer the archer is entirely responsible for ensure its secure structure. A manufactured bow stringer is ready to use when it comes out of the box and many are sold with a product guarantee.

Using the Bow Stringer – Step by Step

Today’s bow stringers are manufactured in two distinct styles: The Double Pocket Bow Stringer and the Saddle Type Bow Stringer. Both of the latter kinds of bow stringers are fitted with durable Nylon cord. The stringers are also fitted with a pocket made of leather or rubber. The pocket slides over the tip of the bottommost bow limb when you are using the Double Pocket Bow Stringer. In contrast, the Saddle type Bow Stringer the unit has leather or rubber saddle featuring a rubber, dimpled surface. No matter what type you choose, the bigger pocket is for the lower limb tip: Once in the position, it will maintain the bowstring’s position inside the groove cut into the end of the bow.

With the Double Pocket Bow Stringer, the other pocket slides over the tip of the uppermost limb on the bow and lets you put the string inside the bow’s groove or slot. When using the Saddle type bow stringer, it will fit behind the bowstring that is then looped around the bow’s uppermost limb. Position the bottom loop and make sure it is fit in the string groove of the bottom limb. The large pocket on the bow stringer is then slid over the tip of the limb, the string, and the loop.

Hold the bow with the structure of the bow horizontal and parallel to the floor. When restringing your recurve bow, find the upper string loop (the larger of the two), slide it over the uppermost limb, and tip when using the double pocket model. When using the saddle type model, you have to slide the saddle (dimpled surface) over the uppermost limb and beneath the bowstring’s loop. Slide the saddle on the limb and position it right behind the uppermost string loop.

Grab the bow by the center or riser where the handle grip is located. Position the saddle piece with the opposing free hand. You want the bow stringer’s cord to make contact with the ground. Put the ball of each foot onto the cord. Refrain from placing the arch of your foot on the string: This can cause string slippage if the cord moves from under the arch of the foot.

Pull up any existing slack. Put your index finger and thumb behind the string loop on the outer edge of the limb, and make sure all the slack is pulled up. Draw up the bow using the hand you are holding it with: Do this in a single motion to force the upper and lower limbs to move in a downward direction simultaneously. While you are doing the latter movement, slip the bowstring upward on the limb with the opposing hand until you get it inside the nock for the string. Take one finger to ensure the security of the string inside the nock.

Move your feet off the cord. Turn the bow around and put the string toward your body with the upper and lower limbs directed from your body and perpendicular or vertical to the floor or ground. Taking the latter stance ensures your safety. Do a thorough inspection of the string’s positioning to make sure it fits in the notches, there are no frays, and that the tension is good. Once you are certain the bow is the way you want it, you can remove the bow stringer.


Archery Exchange’s “Using a Bow Stringer.” Website. URL:

Wolf and Iron’s “How to Make a Bow Stringer.” Website. URL:

Archer’s Talk: Archers Helping Archers. Website forum. URL:

Field & Stream’s, “Bow Hunting.” Website. URL:

Reddit. “Why Should I Always Use My Bow Stringer?” Website. URL:

JT’s Bearfoot Outdoor Adventures’ “How to Use a Bow Stringer for a Recurve Takedown.” Video. URL: