How To String A Bow Without a Bow Stringer (3-Method Guide)

The safest and easy way to string your bow is to use a bow stringer. What if you don’t have one? Then you’re left with no other option but to do it the old-school way and string your bow with your hands. 

I’ve got you some quick stringing methods for your bow without a bow stringer. And trust me, knowing how to do it will really help you in the long run.

Essential Information About Bow Strings

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Bowstrings are traditionally made of sinew, plant fibers, and animal hides, but they are now made of high-tech synthetic materials. Bows shoot faster, more reliably, and accurately thanks to these advanced fibers. (1)

Now, let’s get you a quick overview of the importance of bowstrings to get you started:

  • Bowstrings are bound to fit into the notches on the ends of each bow.
  • The larger loop, the bowstring’s top loop, is attached to fit on the bow’s limb.
  • Serving material is used to bind the center of your bowstring. This section primarily helps to protect your bowstring from wear and strain. Also, you will find the nocking points on the material of your bowstring. These will assist you in determining if you are aiming your bow correctly.

There are three common bow types which are longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows. When you string these types of bows, you need to pay close attention to the proper methods if you don’t have a bow stringer.

Recurve and Longbow Strings 

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When replacing and buying your bow string, knowing your bow’s length is essential. Here’s the recurve bow string length chart to help you determine your bow’s length. Once you know the length of your bow, then you’ll know your bow string’s length too. And it depends on the type of bow you have. If it is a recurve bow string, it should be 4 inches shorter than your bow’s length. You can check this guide on how to string a recurve bow. If it’s a longbow, your bowstring should be 3 inches shorter.

Recurve bows and longbows have two variations of bowstrings; one is a flemish twist and the other is an endless loop. A Flemish twist has braided loops on each end that give it a lovely, traditional appearance. On the other hand, loops are formed on an endless-loop bowstring by wrapping serving material, which is a braided string, around the bowstring.

Compound Bowstrings

man using his compound bow

Compound bow strings are made up of several parts. The cams are linked together by the main bowstring and one or more cables. The lengths of your bowstring and cables will be written on your bow or in your owner’s manual. Once you’ve determined the lengths of your string and cable, you need to choose your colors. You can go with a single solid color or a multicolored string.

Method 1: Push/Pull

This method is one of the most common methods, and if you practice it often, it could be the easiest stringing to apply. It requires your strength to pull and push your bow at the same time. Also, it is ideal for longbows but is risky for recurve bows due to a chance of damaging your bow.

Step 1: Examine your bow and make sure it is not damaged. This step is crucial as pushing and pulling the bow while attaching the strings may cause issues.

Step 2: Hook one end of the string to the bottom end limb of the bow while holding the other end of the line in your hand.

Step 3: Support the bow by putting one limb into the instep of your foot with your dominant foot. If you’re right-handed, then your right leg is your dominant foot.

Caution: Don’t fully step on the limb of the bow. It’ll break if the applied pressure is too much.

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( Video | Clay Hayes )

Step 5: Grab the bow’s handle with your right hand and the top limb with your left hand. (The opposite stance should apply to dominant left-hand archers)

Step 6: Use your right hand to pull and your left hand to push.

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( Video | Clay Hayes )

Step 7: Use your left thumb and forefinger to slide the string up the bow’s limb into the grooves.

If you don’t have enough strength to pull and push the bow simultaneously, you can anchor yourself on your hip with your right elbow for a little more power.

Now I said that it is risky to recurve bows, but it is still possible. String a recurve bow in this manner by placing the curved area beneath your foot. Put no weight on it, but keep your foot angled up to keep the bow in place. You don’t want the tip to come into contact with your instep, as this can cause the recurve to twist.

Method 2: The Step-Through Process

This is the best way to string your bow without a bow stringer. In this method, you must apply attention to detail, stamina, and patience. You should exercise caution before attempting to do it. Otherwise, you could damage your bow or injure yourself.

Step 1: Connect the bottom string loop, the smaller one, into the bottom limb’s string groove.

Step 2: Step into the bow while holding the top recurve in one hand and the other hand to the top loop of the string.

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Step 3: Hold the bow with the bottom limb’s recurve resting on your shin and the grip resting on the back of your other knee.

Step 4: Bend the top recurve with the hand holding the bow to the other hand holding the top string loop.

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Step 5: Make the final adjustment after double-checking that the top string is in its groove. Finally, try shooting some arrows.

This technique is best suited for longer bows or very subtle recurves. Traditional recurve bows are more difficult to use because the tips are sharper and uncomfortable to place on your instep.

Method 3: Foot Bracing Process

This method is quite simple, and you will be stepping on the string itself. In this method, you must have significant arm strength and stamina to maintain string tension. It’s best to use for lightweight bows. (2)

Step 1: Holding the top loop, slide a bowstring over the nock and down to the limb. Then, hook the bottom loop of the string into the bow’s nock.

Step 2: Step on the string with your left leg, assuming you’re right-handed. Make sure your bow’s curve is pointing downwards.

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Step 3: Hold the top of your bow with your left hand while remaining in position.

Step 4: Hold the bow closer to your chest with your left hand. Now, with your right hand, slide the string upward, looping it through the bow.

Step 5: After stringing the bow, slowly step off the string and test it. If it creates the desired level of tension, you’ve succeeded!

Important Precautions When Stringing Your Bow By Hand

Check Your Bow Before Stringing

Before you begin stringing your bow, it is a good habit to check it thoroughly. Ensure that it has no cracks in the arms or the grip. Also, if the string is not brand new, be sure that it’s still in good condition if force is applied when shooting. If you detect anything, correct it before you proceed.

About the Limbs

Are you unsure which limb is upper or lower? The bottom limb is the bow’s heavier part. The draw weight of a bow is sometimes marked on the lower limb, depending on the type.

Gears to Wear when Stringing Your Bow by Hand

It is helpful to prepare yourself when stringing your bow. For an additional layer of safety, I advise you to wear these things:

  • Heavy-Duty Footwear – wear boots or shoes with thick soles. The increased weight of the shoes will assist you in maintaining the bow’s bottom limb in position. It’s important, primarily while stringing with the maximum stress. 
  • Arm Guard – to have some protection on your lower arm if the string snaps during the operation. 
  • Gloves – to have a firm grip and good protection at the same time.
  • Long Sleeves and Slacks – should have thick cloth such as denim or tough cotton will. It helps to keep your arms covered.

Take Care of Your Bowstrings

You can extend the life of the bowstring by properly maintaining and storing it. Bowstring wax, which is available at archery stores, should also be applied on a regular basis. Prior to the shooting, inspect your bowstring for any fuzzy spots and run your fingers up and down its length to see if it feels dry. If your bowstring feels dry or fuzzy, rub the wax into the fibers with your fingers until it melts completely into the string.

Also, you can prevent string stretch by storing your bow in a climate-controlled environment. Remove the string from your recurve or longbow between shooting sessions to extend the life of the bow.

Bow stringing by hand is an excellent addition to your archery skills, but it requires practice as it could damage your bow or injure yourself. With proper knowledge and execution, you will master it. But at the end of the day, it still depends on your personal preference. Whether you string your bow by hand or with a bow stringer, you’ll still come up with the same result, and you’ll be shooting arrows in no time. 

(1) synthetic materials –
(2) stamina –

You may want to check the video below;

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About Andy Ryan

How To String A Bow Without a Bow Stringer (3-Method Guide) 8Certifications: Sc. Kin. - Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
Education: University of Denver
Lives In: Denver

My name is Andy and I am the author and creator of Archery Power, I have been in the archery industry for many years and it’s my true love and passion. I am an instructor and maintain a Certification. It all started as a kid where me and my dad used to go hunting with a crossbow, since that time I have been obsessed with the sport.