how to string compound bow

Step-by-Step Guide: How to String a Compound Bow Safely

Compound bows have become increasingly popular among hunters and target archers for their accuracy, power, and adjustability compared to traditional recurve bows. However, their complex design means the proper stringing technique is critical for both performance and safety.

Trying to string a compound bow without the right tools and know-how risks damage to the cams, cables, and limbs. At worst, you could end up with a dangerous dry-fire situation or physical injury.

In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to string compound bow using a bow press and proper technique. With the right approach, you can minimize wear and tear on your equipment while avoiding potential accidents.

Why Stringing a Compound Bow is Important

Stringing a compound bow correctly is a critical step that many archers overlook or try to shortcut. However, proper stringing technique is vital for performance, safety, and avoiding expensive equipment damage.

Unlike more basic recurve bows, compound bows have a complex set of cables and pulleys that create leverage to allow for higher draw weights in a more compact frame. But this pulley system also means the bow limbs are under extreme tension when drawn.

Trying to muscle a compound bow into the strung position without using a bow press risks twisting limbs, bending axles, or cracking the riser. The forces involved can easily overpower human strength. That’s why every compound bow manufacturer specifies using a bow press for stringing.

Equally important is ensuring proper string alignment in the cam tracks. If the string is not seated fully before tension is added, it can derail and cause dangerous dry fires. Taking the time to verify string/cable alignment prevents accelerated wear and tear.

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Improper stringing is a leading cause of compound bows developing issues like broken cables, warped limbs, and misaligned cams. This requires expensive professional repairs and compromises accuracy.

By using the appropriate tools and techniques, you can string your compound bow safely and correctly for optimum performance. The small upfront investment in a quality bow press and following proper procedures pays off through added years of accurate shooting and avoiding costly damage.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to String or Restring a Compound Bow Safely

Step 1 – Inspect the Compound Bow

Inspect the compound bow

Before string your compound bow, it’s important to thoroughly inspect it for any issues or wear that could impact the process or your safety.

Look over the limbs carefully for any cracks, warping, or splinters – compound bow limbs are under immense pressure when drawn, so any damage or weakness here poses a major risk.

Examine the cams, cables, and bowstring for fraying or broken strands. Make sure the axles are straight and turn smoothly. Look for cracks or stripping on the flight grooves.

Any abnormalities, such as twisted limbs, misaligned cams or peep rotation, should be addressed before attempting to string the bow. Routine inspection and maintenance help prevent bigger problems down the road.

Step 2 – Use a Bow Press

Bow press

One of the biggest mistakes people make when stringing a compound bow is attempting to do it without a bow press.

Unlike recurve bows, compounds have a pulley system that requires significant draw weight just to attach the string. Trying to muscle the limbs into position manually risks twisting or damaging the axles.

A quality bow press takes all the tension out of the limbs so the string can be safely installed and seated in the cam grooves. There are a few types available:

Portable Bow Presses – Lightweight options that often use a ratchet system to provide the draw weight needed. Great for travel or remote use. May have size limitations.

Shop Presses – Heavy-duty presses that mount to a workbench, providing the stability for larger bows. Ideal for pro shops or avid archers. Take up more space.

No matter what style you choose, always make sure the press is properly adjusted for your bow size and set up according to the manufacturer’s guidelines before use.

Step 3 – Attach the Bow String

Attach the Bow String

With the bow secured in the press and the tension released from the limbs, it’s time to attach one end of the bowstring.

Most right-handed shooters will start on the bottom limb, using the following process:

  1. Rotate the bottom cam so the string groove is fully exposed and the draw stop post is pointing straight up. This locks the cam in place.
  2. Slide the bow string loop completely into the groove. The loop should fit snugly with no twisting.
  3. Align the string post on the cam with the hole in the bow string loop and insert it fully.

For left-handed shooters, reverse the process by starting with the top limb. Always take care to properly seat the bowstring in the cam grooves before proceeding.

Step 4 – Draw the Limbs Back in the Compound bow

draw the limbs back in bow

With the lower string end attached, you can now use the bow press to slowly draw the limbs back into the locked position. This allows the string to settle into the cam grooves on the top limb.

  • Turn the press handle/crank gradually to increase tension on the limbs. Move slowly and carefully.
  • Watch for the cams to roll into their maximum draw position, around 75-80% let-off on most compound bows.
  • The bow will be at full draw when the draw stop posts make contact. Do not overdraw.
  • Verify the string is properly seating in the upper cam as you crank. Go slow through the final stage.

Drawing the limbs too quickly or forcing them past full draw risks damaging the cams, axles or limbs. Take it slow and smooth.

Step 5 – Secure the Upper String In Compound Bow

Now that both cams are locked into the drawn position, you can attach the top end of the bow string. This process is very similar to step 3:

  • Rotate the top cam so the string groove is fully exposed and the draw stop post contacts the buss cable appropriately.
  • Set the bow string loop into the cam groove until it seats completely. No twisting.
  • Line up the post and hole like on the lower cam, and insert the string.

Double-check that the upper string is properly attached and aligned before going to the next step.

Step 6 – Release Tension

With the string attached at both ends, you can now slowly release the tension on the bow using the press. This allows the limbs to relax while keeping the string in position.

  1. Gradually turn the press handle counter-clockwise to relieve tension. Do this in increments, not all at once.
  2. As you relieve tension, check that the bow string is tracking properly on the cams and centered on each limb at rest.
  3. The limbs should relax into a slightly curved, neutral position.
  4. Remove the compound bow from the press.

Releasing tension too quickly can displace cables and cause derailment. Take it slow. If you notice any issues with string/cable alignment as you go, stop and re-load the compound bow into the press to fix it.

Step 7 – Install Peep Sight In BowInstall Peep SIght

If your compound bow will use a peep sight, now is the ideal time to get it installed, while there is no tension on the string.

  1. Pick a peep sight and serving tool suited for your draw length.
  2. Position the peep appropriately above or below the nocking point so it will align with your eye at full draw.
  3. Use the serving tool to separate the bowstring strands and insert the peep while twisting to orient direction.
  4. Once inserted, run the serving tool evenly around the peep to close the strands and hold it in place.

Getting the peep sight installed with the bow unstrung allows proper positioning and alignment. Make sure it turns smoothly.

Step 8 – Check String Alignment

Check String Alignment

Before shooting, it’s vital to check the string alignment and that the peep sight is oriented properly.

To verify:

  1. Inspect the cams for level nock travel. The string grooves should be mirror images.
  2. Look down the string from both cams to ensure it tracks straight over the limbs.
  3. Confirm the peep is facing the proper direction. Rotate it if needed.
  4. Draw the bow back a few times with no arrow to test the string alignment throughout the draw cycle.

Take a photo of what proper alignment looks like for future reference. Fix any issues before shooting, as misalignments can wear cables faster or impact accuracy.

Step 9 – Safety Check and Tuning

As a final safety check before normal use, go through this process:

  1. While the bow is still unloaded, draw it back a few times and listen for any unusual sounds like grinding. Make sure the draw is smooth.
  2. Inspect the bow again. Check limbs, riser, cams, and string track. Verify no damage or alignment issues.
  3. Apply string wax liberally and work it into the string to lubricate. This reduces friction and wear.
  4. Install an arrow with a field point on the string and do a dry fire test. Make sure the arrow remains securely locked.
  5. – Adjust your arrow rest, nock point, sights, and other accessories as needed to tune the bow.

It’s also wise to re-verify that your draw length matches the bow’s specifications to prevent equipment failures or injury.

You should now have a safely strung compound bow ready for tuning and shooting. Maintaining proper string alignment and replacing worn cables annually will extend its life and performance.

By using a quality bow press and following the right stringing methods, you can avoid compound bow damage and dangerous dry fires. Be patient during the process, double-check your work, and take a safety-first approach.

With practice, stringing a compound bow properly only takes a few minutes while providing the peace of mind that your equipment is tuned for accuracy and security. Always feel free to consult an experienced archer or pro shop for guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do I need to string a compound bow?

To string a compound bow, you’ll need a bow press, a bowstring, a set of Allen wrenches, and string wax. A bow press is essential for safely compressing the bow’s limbs.

Is it possible to string a compound bow without a bow press?

While some experienced archers use alternative methods, using a bow press is the safest and most recommended way to string a compound bow. Attempting without one increases the risk of injury.

How often should I restring my compound bow?

The frequency of restringing depends on usage and bow condition. However, a general guideline is to restring every two to three years or after 10,000 shots, whichever comes first.

What are the signs that my compound bow needs restringing?

Signs that your compound bow needs restringing include frayed strings, inconsistent shooting, and visible wear and tear. Regular inspection is key to maintaining optimal bow performance.

Can I use any type of string for my compound bow?

No, it’s crucial to use a string specifically designed for compound bows. Using the wrong type can lead to poor performance and may even damage your bow


Stringing a compound bow requires specialized tools and techniques compared to traditional recurve bows. Skipping steps or using unsafe methods risks equipment damage and serious accidents.

By using a quality bow press and carefully following this 9-step guide, you can safely string or restring your compound bow for optimal performance. Taking it slow, verifying alignment, and performing safety checks will give you confidence in your equipment.

Regularly inspect cables, strings, and axles for wear. Replace any degraded components promptly. With proper maintenance and stringing methods, your compound bow will last for seasons of accurate shooting and hunting.

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