Why does a bowstring come off? You want your bow to keep operating at peak performance, and you have multiple reasons for why a bowstring might keep falling off. It looks horrible and sounds horrible when it happens, but most of the time, the bow sustains no major damage from the bowstring coming off.
Reason #1: Torquing the Strings Left or Right
The bowstring is only meant to be pulled backward. Pulling it off to the left or the right can cause the string to come off the bow. This ranks as the number one reason that bowstrings pop off. To remedy the problem, pull straight back on the bowstring, never to the side.
Reason #2: Release Aids
Some archers use release aids to shoot their bows, but you should understand how this can cause the string to pop off. Ask yourself how tightly you gripped the bow while using the release aid. If you’d like to learn more about release aids, I wrote an article on it here.
Reason #3: Bowstring Improperly Seated
You have cases where the bowstring will pop off the bow because of how it wasn’t put on properly to begin with. In most cases, you feel it as off on the bowstring, especially on a recurve.
Expert Tip: With a recurve bow, take the string off the bow at the end of each use because recurve bows endure constant heavy pressure. The limbs will weaken over time if you don’t remove the string. Removing it avoids damage to the bow and possibly an injury to you. Don’t take this lightly.
With that said, putting the string on and off the bow can sometimes lead to it not being seated properly. Usually, you can tell this, however, because it feels off.
Reason #4: Defective Bow
Don’t leave the shop until you have shot the bow at least 30 to 40 times. You can weed out the issues with a defective bow and spot any problems before you buy it. Watch out for this from the start through examining the limbs closely and looking at the bowstring.
Reason #5: The Bowstring Went Bad
You have cases where the bowstring starts to fray. On average, you want to replace the bowstring every three years. Pay attention to the condition because this matters more than the time frame. It could be more or less. The lifespan of your bowstring depends on how much you shoot the bow, the draw weight of the bow, how well maintained it is and the conditions it faces.
Expert Tip: If you see a frayed or broken strand, replace the bowstring. Failure to replace a damaged bowstring can lead to serious injuries or damage to the equipment.
Some of the signs that you need to replace the bowstring include:
- Dry bowstring
- Stretched bowstring
- Age and use of bowstring
- Frayed bowstring
- Bowstring serving separation
Reason #6: Same Bow, Different Hands
I had a buddy who had a bow for over four years, and he never had problems shooting. He sold the bow to a friend who had the bowstring come off the track twice in a single week. Some archers do an excessive cam lean, which can lead to the bowstring being more prone to coming off. It depends on the archer sometimes and how they shoot it.
Reason #7: Watch the String Silencers
New archers especially don’t know about it, but when you drawback on the bow, watch the string silencers. If the silencers move up into the cam, they can pop the string right off the cam. To mitigate the problem, you can have a bow shop tie down the silencers so that they don’t move around as much. Unfortunately, if this happens, it can damage the cam, so you especially want to watch for it.
Reason #8: Damaged Equipment
Never shoot damaged gear because it can cause injury. Whether a damaged bowstring or a damaged limb, you put the bow under immense kinetic energy when you pull back on the string. Releasing the energy will send the arrow straight forward into its target. In the case where the bowstring snaps or the bow itself explodes, you have a dangerous scenario.
Check out this article that I wrote previously on bows exploding and the dangers it can cause. Luckily, you can generally avoid a bow exploding through good archery habits.
Reason #9: Improper Maintenance
You have to wax the bowstring from time to time to keep it in good condition. On average, every two to three weeks is a good time frame for waxing it. A bowstring that has been waxed will feel smooth and tacky. If it hasn’t received waxing for some time, this can lead to it fraying, which can make your bow dangerous to shoot.
If the forecast is for rain, you may want to wax your bow beforehand because the rain can wash away the wax on your bowstring. Hairs sticking up from the bowstring are a classic sign that you need to wax it.
Expert Tip: You want to maintain the bowstring because it can lead to other problems with the bow if the string breaks. Proper maintenance ensures the lifetime of your bowstring. The price of strings range anywhere from $20 up to $200. You would likely get the most value from a good middle-ranged bowstring at $100 because the quality of the string will affect the performance.
What to Do if the Bowstring Comes off the Bow
If the bowstring comes off the bow, what to do depends on the type of bow that you have. With a recurve, you won’t struggle too much to put it back on.
With a compound bow, putting it back on becomes more difficult, and you’d be better off taking it to a bow shop to have them do it.
They have the knowledge and necessary equipment for putting the string back, and it usually only costs you around $15. Typically, they will use a bow press to take the tension off the string and cable for easier maintenance.
Someone who has a bow press could do it themselves, but for many people, buying a bow press isn’t practical. A regular bow press can cost you upwards of $100, and pressing bows can be dangerous without the proper knowledge. You should wear safety glasses if you go this route. However, it probably isn’t necessary, and you can just take it to a bow shop to have them put the string back on it.
Having a bowstring come off the bow can be a scary experience, but it isn’t as scary as what can happen if you dry fire your bow. Like with a dry fire, understanding why your bowstring can come off can mitigate the dangers. Staying vigilant against these reasons reduce the risk that you will go through it.