How to String a Recurve Bow Without a Stringer

How to String a Recurve Bow Without a Stringer

Are you an archery enthusiast who's ever found yourself in a pickle, without a bow stringer in sight? Fret not! In this article, we'll walk you through how to string a recurve bow without a stringer like a pro. We'll explore some time-tested techniques, their pros and cons, and answer some frequently asked questions. By the time you're done reading this, you'll be a dab hand at stringing your recurve bow, even if you're left high and dry without a stringer. So, let's dive right in!

Old-school Techniques: Back to Basics

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – or in this case, when you're without a bow stringer, turn to old-school techniques. Here are two tried-and-true methods to string a recurve bow without a stringer:

1. The Step-Through Method

This age-old technique is as simple as its name suggests. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you string your recurve bow using the step-through method:

  1. Hold the bow horizontally, with the lower limb tip touching the ground and the bowstring hanging loose.
  2. Step through the bow with your dominant leg while keeping your other leg on the outside of the bow.
  3. Grab the top limb with your dominant hand and the bow grip with your non-dominant hand.
  4. Push the top limb forward with your dominant hand while pulling the grip towards you with your non-dominant hand.
  5. As you bend the bow, slide the loose end of the bowstring onto the upper limb's string groove.
  6. Make sure the string is seated properly in both limb grooves before releasing the tension.

2. The Push-Pull Method

This method is a piece of cake once you get the hang of it. Here's how to string a recurve bow using the push-pull method:

  1. Hold the bow vertically, with the lower limb tip resting against your instep.
  2. Place your non-dominant hand on the bow grip.
  3. Hold the top limb with your dominant hand, ensuring your fingers are wrapped around the string's loose end.
  4. Push the top limb away from your body while pulling the bow grip towards you.
  5. Slide the loose end of the bowstring onto the upper limb's string groove.
  6. Double-check that the string is seated securely in both limb grooves before releasing the tension.

How to Check Your Bowstring for Correct Tension

Checking the tension of your bowstring is essential for maintaining the performance, accuracy, and safety of your bow.

A bowstring with incorrect tension can cause damage to your bow or lead to inaccurate shots. Here are the steps to check your bowstring for correct tension:

  1. Inspect the bowstring visually: Before you do anything else, take a good look at your bowstring. Look for any signs of fraying, wear, or damage. If you notice any issues, it's best to replace the string before proceeding.
  2. Check the brace height: The brace height is the distance between the deepest part of the bow grip (handle) and the bowstring when the bow is at rest. To check the brace height, measure this distance using a ruler or a bow square. Compare your measurement to the manufacturer's recommended brace height, which can typically be found in the bow's manual or on the manufacturer's website. If the brace height is outside of the recommended range, you may need to adjust the tension of your bowstring.
  3. Draw the bow: Ensure that you are using proper technique when drawing the bow. The bowstring should be drawn smoothly and consistently, without any excessive vibrations or erratic movement. If the string is too tight or too loose, you may experience difficulty drawing the bow or notice inconsistencies in your shots.
  4. Listen for any unusual sounds: When drawing the bow, pay attention to any unusual sounds such as creaking, snapping, or excessive vibration. These can be indications that your bowstring tension is incorrect and needs adjustment.
  5. Check for correct string alignment: When the bow is at full draw, the bowstring should run straight down the center of the bow's limbs. If the string is off-center, it could be a sign that the tension is incorrect, and you may need to adjust your bowstring.
  6. Use a bow press (compound bows only): If you have a compound bow, you can use a bow press to check the tension of your bowstring. Place your bow in the press and compress the limbs. Inspect the cables and bowstring for proper tension and alignment. Refer to your bow's manual for the correct specifications.
  7. Make adjustments if necessary: If you've determined that your bowstring tension is incorrect, you may need to make adjustments. For traditional bows, you can twist or untwist the bowstring to increase or decrease tension. For compound bows, you may need to adjust the cables or cam timing. Always consult your bow's manual or an experienced archer for guidance on making adjustments.

Remember to perform these checks regularly to ensure the longevity and performance of your bow. Proper maintenance and care of your bowstring can help prevent issues and keep your bow in optimal condition.

Pros and Cons: Every Rose Has Its Thorn

While these methods have stood the test of time, they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  • No need for a bow stringer: With these methods, you can string your recurve bow even if you don't have a stringer handy.
  • Time-tested techniques: These methods have been used for centuries, proving their effectiveness.
  • Easy to learn: Both the step-through and push-pull methods are simple to learn and execute.


  • Potential for uneven limb pressure: Without a stringer, it's more challenging to apply equal pressure to both limbs, which may lead to limb twist or damage.
  • Risk of injury: Improper execution of these methods may result in injury to yourself or damage to the bow.
  • Not ideal for all bows: These techniques may not be suitable for recurve bows with high draw weights or fragile limbs.

FAQs: No Stone Left Unturned

Q: How often should I string and unstring my recurve bow?

A: It's a good practice to unstring your recurve bow when you're not using it, especially if it's made of wood. This helps maintain the bow's shape and prevents limb stress. So, essentially, you'll need to string and unstring your bow as often as you use it.

Q: Can I use these methods for all types of recurve bows?

A: While the step-through and push-pull methods are applicable to most recurve bows, they may not be ideal for bows with high draw weights or delicate limbs. In such cases, using a bow stringer is highly recommended to avoid damage or injury.

Q: What can I do to minimize the risk of injury or damage to the bow?

A: To reduce the risk of injury or bow damage, always ensure that you're using proper technique and applying even pressure to both limbs. Additionally, inspect your bow and bowstring for any signs of wear or damage before stringing.

Q: Can these methods be used for compound bows as well?

A: No, these methods are not recommended for compound bows. Due to their complex cam systems and high draw weights, compound bows require specialized tools and techniques for stringing and maintenance.


Stringing a recurve bow without a stringer is indeed possible, and with the right technique and some practice, you'll be able to master these old-school methods. However, it's important to remember that while these techniques can be lifesavers in a pinch, they come with their own set of drawbacks.

Using a bow stringer is still the safest and most reliable way to string a recurve bow. Nonetheless, knowing how to string a recurve bow without a stringer can come in handy in those rare situations where you find yourself without one. Just ensure you take proper precautions and execute the methods with care to avoid any mishaps. Now, go forth and conquer the world of archery with your newfound skills!