How to String a Compound Bow & When to Consider Replacing It

Video how long does a compound bow string last

Compound bow strings and cables are a consumable resource on a bow: They wear out over time and eventually need to be replaced, not only for safety but for performance. If you want good results in the field, you need strings in good condition. So, how long does a compound bow string last?

As a bow string manufacturer, the most-asked questions we get are:

  • “How often do my bow string and cables need to be replaced?”
  • “How do I know when it’s time for a compound bow string replacement?”
  • “What’s the best process for how to string a compound bow?”
  • “Do I need to replace the string only, or do I need a whole new bow string and cable set?”

This article will help you understand when it’s time to replace compound bow string and cables. And do you know how to string a compound bow properly? We’ll cover that too.

Different Factors Affecting Bow String Lifespan

Generally, needing a compound bow string replacement depends on:

  • How often you shoot
  • Your shooting environment
  • How your bow is stored and maintained

These factors all play a big part in how long your bow string and cables will last.

Shooting Environment & Shooting Frequency

How long does a compound bow string last in general, assuming you use your bow fairly regularly? We recommend that you change your bow string and cables:

  • Once a year on target bows
  • Every two years on hunting bows

The main difference here is that target bows usually see more shooting than a comparable hunting bow. A lot of target bows will also be shooting lighter target arrows that exert more force on the bow string and cables, compared to a heavier hunting arrow.

Very Frequent Shooting

How long does a compound bow string last if you’re shooting it much more often? If you are caring for your bow and string properly, a lifetime of 2,000 – 2,500 shots is typical. If you go through that many shots in a few weeks, then you’ll need a new string every few weeks, and you’ll never forget how to string a compound bow properly.

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Bow Storage & Maintenance

In addition to the shooting environment and shooting frequency, your bow storage and maintenance will significantly affect the lifespan of your bow string and cables, altering the intervals for a compound bow string replacement. The initial stringing also matters: If you know how to string a compound bow properly and do everything correctly, the string’s lifespan will improve.

To improve your bow string’s life while the bow is in storage:

  • Keep your bow string fully waxed while in storage.
  • Keep it free of dust and debris by storing it in a dedicated case.
  • Keep your bow out of direct sunlight.
  • Avoid exposing your bow to mildew, mold, and dank condition.

The string on a properly stored bow should last two to three years. And how long does a compound bow string last if you store it poorly? That time could be cut in half, or if conditions are really poor the string may be ruined in a matter of weeks.

Compound Bows Always Remain Strung

Compound bows don’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) unstrung between uses like most other bows. The composite materials are built to permanently withstand the tensile forces. This is incredibly convenient for you, though it can backfire if you go so long between stringings that you forget how to string a compound bow.

But keeping your bow strung means that every day your bow string and cables are under extreme tension—even if no shots are being fired. Over time, this constant tension will break down the bow string material, causing it to stretch, fray, and wear out. This is why your compound bow strings will eventually need to be replaced — even if you don’t use them.

How to String a Compound Bow

The exact process for restringing a compound is going to vary by make and model. We have some general guidelines for you here, but for more specifics, Peter Campbell over at Archers Hub has a comprehensive step-by-step guide explaining how to string a compound bow for both the older compounds with teardrop attachments and the newer, non-teardrop types of compound bows, as well as instructions for hand-stringing.

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However, like him, we highly encourage you to visit your local archery shop or club if you have any questions or aren’t feeling like you can tackle this on your own yet. Always remember: Bows are weapons, designed to kill. If you aren’t comfortable or don’t know what you are doing, get some assistance.

Using a Bow Press

It is almost always preferable to string a compound bow using a bow press when you’re planning out how to string a compound bow. This keeps the bow secured while you are working on it and gives you more control over the process, increasing both safety and the ease of the work.

Exchanging the Strings

Once the bow is secured in the press you can loosen its restraining bolts, and from there you can use the cams and wheels or the teardrop attachments to remove the old string and install the new one (for the non-teardrop types) or install the new string and then remove the old one (for the teardrop types).

Finally, you can restore the restraining bolts and remove the bow from the press.

Then, you’re done! Again, this is only the basic outline for how to string a compound bow properly, but it should serve as a helpful roadmap.

Don’t Skimp on Proper Maintenance & Storage for Your Bow

An archer at a shooting range takes aim

Every year we hear the same stories from our customers. “My bow string is only 5 years old and I haven’t shot it much, but when I opened my bow case this season it was broke.” Sometimes the question “How long does a compound bow string last?” is really about you and your caretaking skills.

I like to compare replacing compound bow string and cables to changing the oil in your car. You change your oil every 3,000 miles in order to keep your car running better and lasting longer. Since you’ve invested hundreds of, if not over a thousand, dollars in your bow setup, why not spend $100 on a compound bow string replacement every couple of years to keep it at top performance and lasting longer?

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Restringing your bows on time is just one piece of the puzzle. Get in touch with us if you have any questions about how to string a compound bow or store it properly that haven’t been answered here.

We are archers ourselves and are happy to help you. We can also answer your questions regarding bow strings for specific brands, cable sets, or accessories and archery tools. At 60X Custom Strings, our experienced staff is always available to help you step up your performance.

Treat Your Bow Well & It’ll Show Up When You Need It

So, how long does a compound bow string last, really? The true answer is that, as long as you keep up with your maintenance, store the bow properly, learn how to string a compound bow properly, and keep an eye out for any warning signs of deterioration, the string health will never be a problem for you. Your bow will be there when you need it.

Stay tuned for future archery articles that can help you understand exactly how to unlock the full potential of your bows. Next week we will cover in depth the warning signs and some other indicators that it’s time to replace your compound bow string and cables.

And that should just about answer your questions on how long a compound bow lasts and how to restring it. Need more help with finding the right bow strings and choosing custom color combos to get your strings looking great? Check out our Bow String Guide.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>