How to Unstring a Recurve Bow (8-Step Guide)

By Andy Ryan


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recurve bow on a black background

Recurve bows are one of the main shapes that a bow can take in archery; the bow’s limbs curve away from the archer when it is unstrung.

Professional archers like using recurve bows because of their designs way of storing more energy, and delivering it more efficiently than other bows. Recurve bows provide arrows with a great amount of speed and energy that helps in hitting the mark.

In the recurve bow, reflexed ends accelerate with more speed than the bow’s limbs; that’s why professionals prefer it more. Energy is stored in recurve bows when they are strung, this energy is later released for a powerful shot.

The tension generated in recurve bow makes it harder to handle during unstringing and stringing a bow, as the loose bow limb can shoot out with force, snapping the bow, which is dangerous.

A cheaper bow stringer can help unstring a bow safely, and it is much easier if not rushed. Bow stringing is an important skill of recurve archery, and bowstring removing will extend the life of the string and bow alike.

The process of unstringing a recurve bow is very much like the process of restringing recurve bow – the only difference is that you’re simply doing it in reverse.

1. Get a Bow Stringer

There are two common ways of stringing a bow: without a stringer or with a stringer. This article will explain how to unstring a bow using a bow stringer.

A Bow stringer helps archers to easily and safely unstring and restring a recurve bow. A bow stringer is considered one of the safest methods for stringing and unstringing a bow.

The first thing is to get a stringer. Bow stringers come in several sizes, colors, and shapes. The most commonly used ones are those that consist of two ends and a lace. The other common bow stringer has a pocket or cap at one end and a saddle or loop at the other end of the bow stringer.

Some bow stringers even have two laces and two caps. The Double pocket stringer comes with two pockets, and one pocket is larger than the other one. Using a bowstring can be dangerous sometimes as it can easily break the bow because of the continuous tension that is provided while unstringing a bow; it can also cause injury if one step is done wrong, the bowstring can come out of the bow and hurt the person badly, or it can even twist the limb of the bow. You can easily purchase a bow stringer from any archery shop, or you can buy it online, or you can make it by yourself. (1)

2. Apply the Pocket to the Bow’s Lower Limb

The limbs of the bow come in a variety of pounds. Place the pocket of the bow stringer over the bow’s lower limb. Make sure that the bow stringer pocket is snugly placed over the lower limb of the bow.   

3. Apply the Other Pocket (or Saddle) to the Upper Limb

Now place the other pocket if you are using a double pocket stringer or saddle if you are using a bow stringer with a pocket at one end and a saddle at the other end. Loop the saddle end over the bow’s upper limb and then rest the saddle pad against the bow curve below the string nock. Depending on the type of stringer that is being used, apply pressure on the end. Some bow stringers also require holding the stringer saddle in place by using the hand for the rest of the unstringing process. (2)

4. Step on the Cord

The cord is that part of the bow attached to both limbs of the bow and transforms the energy stored from the limbs into kinetic energy that helps provide energy to the arrow so that it hits the mark. 

The next part is to hold the bow horizontally so that the string is facing downwards; the string of the stringer will hang from the bow.

Now start lowering the bow until the stringer’s string is touching the ground; step on the cord when the string touches the ground. Some people prefer stepping with both feet, while others use one foot for stepping on the cord. It depends on the choice of the person.

If someone is stepping with both feet, they have to make sure that the gap between both legs is not too much. Don’t spread them. Just leave them close. The best way is to keep feet at a shoulder with distance.

5. Lift the Bow

After stepping on the cord, lift the bow upward using one hand so the bow limbs will bend. When pulling the bow, make sure by the freehand that the stringer loop is close to the tip of bow stringer length as much as it allows. This is done to make sure that the bow stringer is pulling the bow limbs from the ends. This part is dangerous as the bow can snap if you put a lot of pressure on it.

Don’t feel scared while pulling the bow as the bow is used to remove the pressure. By lifting the bow, the bowstring will slack as the stringer takes up the tension.

6. Remove the String

Lift the bowstring that is slacking out from the upper nock. To prevent the string from dragging on the floor, leave the string hanging slack on the upper end of the limb. Now unhook the string from the lower end of the limb nock and remove it.

7. Lower the Bow

By keeping the feet firmly on the cord of the stringer, slowly lower the bow. By doing this, the stringer cord will become slack, and the bow’s limbs should remain in a relaxed position. Lowering the bow will release all the tension. Now the bow stringer can be removed from the bow, and the bow is ready for restringing. You may want to wax the bow when done, check out our guide for waxing your bowstrings.

8. Contact Professionals (if needed)

If it is hard for you to follow these steps of unstringing a recurve bow, contact a professional who knows how to unstring or restring a bow. You can even hire someone who can teach you how to unstring a bow. If you are a beginner, we recommend you contact a professional as unstringing a bow can hurt you or even break it. 

Shooting with a recurve bow requires a lot of dedication, many hours of practice, and patience. Recurve bow is also considered one of the best learning shot process methods that can make a person a professional archer. Professional archers like using recurve bows as it stores the great amount of energy and also helps in providing arrows with speed and energy.

Unstringing a bow helps an archer handle the bow maintenance. Because recurve bows are under constant pressure, it is also important for its maintenance to remove old strings properly so that danger that can be present on the bow if its maintenance is prolonged can be prevented.

(1) buy it online –
(2) pressure –