How long has it been since you replaced your bowstring and/or cables?
If you have to think about it then you need to replace them now. This
is true regardless of what type bow you are shooting be it modern or
Most bow manufacturers suggest that you do it once a year. That may
seem too often to some archers but it is actually the best insurance
you can buy against a ruined hunt or ruined bow caused from a string
failure. I have many examples, some of which I will discuss later.
The time period between the fall/winter hunting seasons and the
spring hunting/ 3D shoots seasons is to me the optimum time to replace
your strings and cables. It allows you the time to shoot in the set up
and get it fine tuned and consistent before heading out hunting.
My strings and cables look fine, why should I replace them?
Modern string material for the most part is very different from
older material used years ago. The older style material would show
definite signs of breaking down, not so with most modern bow string
material. You can have a bowstring now that looks very good but in
reality is on the verge of a catastrophic failure.
I once had a person bring me their sonís bow and they asked what
I thought about the string and cables. I asked them how long it had
been since they replaced them. They told me they had bought the bow
used, had it for a few years and had never changed them in that time.
Before even looking at the bow I told them they needed to
definitely replace them. They asked me to look at it, which I did. The
string material was discolored and fraying which I showed to them and
explained to them that this was signs that the string was well into the
breaking down stage.
They told me to just replace the serving and they would try to
limp it through bow season. When I pulled off the serving, underneath
there were less than half the strands of string still in tact. The
other half were completely broken. Out of twenty strands there might
have been 4 or 5 that were completely together.
This is why some people have bows explode even though the string
appears okay to them. The best thing that can happen when this occurs
is that it is going to hurt really bad. It just gets worse from there.
You will generally break things and loose things which are a part of
your bow set up.
Another scenario I have seen many times is that when a person
goes to get their bow out and start practicing for the fall hunting
season they get a big surprise. When they open the bow case the string
or cables are broken and the bow is in pieces. This is because the bow
string is under constant pressure and the string material is constantly
breaking down. Sooner or later something has to give whether you are
shooting the bow or not.
This is not a problem that effects only modern bows. I had a
recurve string break on me while I was shooting. The string looked fine
but was over a year old, it snapped under the serving. Luckily I had
another string already set up and broken in, I installed it and went
about my business. While it wasnít nearly as painful as a modern bows
wrath when the string breaks, it still sent a shock wave through my
arms and shoulders that I felt for quiet a while.
Replacing the cables is just as important, if not more important
than replacing the bow string. When you draw the bow and it hits the
let off point the weight which you no longer feel is transferred to the
cables. Cables are made of the same material as the bow string and so
they break down just like the bow string. When a bow is at full draw
the cable has the maximum amount of weight put on it. If the cable
fails, believe me itís not pretty.
Strings and cables have a life span that goes something like this.
New - Break In Stage
This is the period from installation of the new strings and cables
to when they stop stretching. Depending on what exact string you get it
may take only a small amount of shooting or it may take several days of
Measuring the brace height is one way to keep track of this. Adjust
the brace height by twisting the string and cables then shoot it again.
When the brace height remains constant for a few days this period is
A good technique for this is to put just enough accessories on the
string to be able to shoot an arrow out of the bow. Stand a short
distance from the target and shoot without worrying about exactly where
the arrows are hitting. The object is to shoot the bow until the
strings are where you want them, then completely rig it out and set it
This period shows the importance of not waiting until two weeks
before hunting season starts to install new strings and cables. You can
set your string up and shoot it but until the stretching stops you will
be readjusting things everyday which is frustrating to put it lightly.
This is the time immediately after the string stops stretching (to
the extent you canít detect it) until the string starts to break down.
During this period you can get your string set up to be extremely
consistent. The loop or nocking point and peep should not have to be
readjusted, brace height should remain consistent. It is basically a
draw and shoot operation with nothing else to consider except where you
want your arrow to hit. This is exactly the way you want your set up to
function when hunting.
This period, barring some strange occurrence, should last throughout the hunting season and beyond.
Break Down Stage
This is the point at which things start moving around and the
brace height starts dropping. This is due to the fact that the string
material is actually breaking down and separating. This is also the
point at which you need to install new strings and cables again.
If you donít have a local shop, or you just want to do it yourself it is not extremely difficult to install strings and cables.
This portable Ratchet Press which can be used for most any bow repair job.
Other than the strings and cables youíll need a bow press for
modern bows. There are several bow presses for the consumer, both
portable and not so portable presses are available. Follow the
instructions, if applicable and take your time. Taking up close digital
photos of your bow before you start is also a good idea. You can use
the photos as reference material when you are installing the new bow
strings and cables.
There is a wide array of bow strings and matching cables
currently available. There are basic endless loop strings, higher
quality strings like the Zebra and still higher quality strings like
the Barracuda or Winnerís Choice strings.
Regardless of which you choose youíll be a step ahead for next
hunting season and will have one less thing to worry about when you
draw on an animal.