Investing in a bow, you hope that it lasts for years, and you may wonder when it might need replacement. The type of bow that you use will have an impact on how long it lasts—for example, compound bows will last different from a recurve bow. Several factors will influence its lifespan.
How long does a bow last? Most bows last between 20 to 30 years and possibly longer, depending on multiple factors like time spent shooting, the mechanicals, proper maintenance and the type of bow. Many archers report shooting a 30-year-old bow without any loss of power—in which case—you can keep shooting.
In the following article, we will cover how long a bow lasts and look at the multiple factors that influence this. Truth be told, this isn’t a hard rule, and I have heard of shooters who have a bow that will last for over 50 years. Keep reading to learn more…
Proper Storage: The Bow Lasts Longer
If you want your bow to last longer, proper storage will influence how long it lasts. Don’t store your bow in direct sunlight because the sun’s UV rays can break down the materials. On recurve bows, you also want to remove the bowstring. Recurves remain under constant pressure with the string on them. Removing the string takes away the pressure from the bow limbs to prevent it from damaging the bow or injuring someone. As an old proverb goes, “A bow long bent at last waxed weak.”
Put your bow into a climate-controlled location where it neither deals with too hot nor too cold. Doing this alone will prove beneficial for many bows, and they will last longer.
Hard cases add extra protection to ensure that your bow doesn’t sustain damage in a way that would keep it from lasting its lifetime. Hard cases especially make sense for bowhunters who take their bows into harsh environments because the bow may not last as long otherwise.
Whether you have a crossbow, recurve or compound bow, all require good storage for them to last for years. If you’re interested in a good bow case, check out the Plano 108110 Bow Guard AW Bow Case. The manufacturers made this bow case with the patented PillarLock system, which provides crushproof strength over the long term. Your bow will be safe in here.
What Can Shorten a Bow’s Lifetime?
Some of the common things that can impact the lifespan of your bow include:
- Mechanical damage
- Cracks in the body
- Improper maintenance
- Poor shooting form
- Bad storage
We will cover each of the things that can impact a bow’s lifetime here.
When we say mechanical damage, we mean dents, dings, gouges, holes or severed members. Over time, this damage adds up to cause more issues with the bow. One of the hardest-hit areas of a bow is the bowstring. While a bow may last for 30 years or longer, you need to replace the bowstring every three years or as soon as you see signs of fraying or broken strands. If you continue to shoot a bow with a damaged bowstring, it can lead to a broken bow and a serious injury.
Cracks in the Body
Once the body sustains a crack, you can’t shoot it without the risk of severe injury. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about this problem. You might try superglue and a wrap over it, but once cracks form in the body, it won’t be long before you need a new bow. Superglue and a wrap will work better for longitudinal cracks. It doesn’t help much with the lateral ones.
If you decide to do this, I would highly advise that you keep an eye on the body of your bow to make sure that it remains in good condition. Inspect it after each shooting session. You may hear a creaking or a popping sound when this happens to your bow. Personally, I would recommend buying a new bow, rather than shooting a possibly damaged one. In some cases, even repairing it won’t help with this problem.
Anyone looking for a replacement bow may want to check out the Bear Archery Cruzer G2 Adult Compound Bow.
Good bow maintenance can go a long way to making your bow last longer. You need to inspect your individual bow for damage and wear. One of the biggest warning signs that your bow may have reached its lifetime is when you shoot it and feel vibrations or hear a strange sound coming from it. Take that as a warning sign to stop immediately. You don’t want to risk your bow exploding. I wrote about that here if you’re interested in learning more about what happens.
Inspect the bow for obvious signs of damage. If you can’t find anything, don’t shoot it. Take it to a professional archery shop for a second opinion. In some cases, it may prove difficult to spot the damage, but it will continue to worsen if you keep shooting it. The sooner you fix a little problem, the fewer problems you experience later.
Some of the things that you need to do for proper maintenance include:
- Apply bowstring wax
- Inspect the bowstring regularly
- Keep the cams synchronized
- Lubricate the axles
Bows don’t require a lot of maintenance, but they do require some to keep working. A compound bow requires a little more maintenance than a recurve because of how it has more components that require the occasional inspection.
Poor Shooting Form
Poor shooting form will put extra pressure on the bow, and this can cause it to break down faster over time. Your bow won’t last as long if you don’t practice good shooting form. Where you place your feet is the foundation of your shots. To keep better consistency, you might place archer’s tape on the floor to understand where to put your feet. You want to keep this consistent.
Practice good form because your bow will last longer if you do.
We already covered this subject, so we won’t go too much into depth. Suffice to say, good storage will help your bow to last longer and prevent accidental damage. Along with doing a bow case, you might choose a bow rack if you plan to collect bows. It can hold multiple bows at the same time, and it includes a peg to hold the quivers. You don’t want to leave your bow on the ground because you could step on it or trip over it.
Wooden bows will often break down much faster than the materials from bows used today. This happens because of how wood warps to moisture and becomes brittle in cold weather. All of this combines to make it more susceptible to damage. You can find many bows made from aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium alloy. They also use fiberglass to make recurve bows. Pay close attention to the bow material used because this can make a big difference.
How Long Does a Compound Bow Last?
With the proper care, a compound bow should last anywhere from 25 to 30 years. The issue with a compound bow comes with finding the replacement parts for the bow once various components wear out. Depending on how well you care for it, a compound bow can last a lifetime. In some cases, the bow may have defects, which can cause early splintering or snapping of the compound bow while in use. Because compound bows aren’t made from wood they tend to last longer because they aren’t as susceptible to damage.
Most people are more likely to buy another compound bow before it breaks instead of having it until it breaks. They last that long.
Pay attention to the quality of the bow that you purchased as well. If you buy a cheap compound bow, you may get less use from it than one that costs more. You may pay more upfront, but you wind up saving money later.
How Long Does a Recurve Bow Last?
In fact, recurve bows last longer than compound bows because of how they have fewer moving parts. This makes it less prone to breaking down. You can usually get a recurve bow to last anywhere from 30 to 50 years, depending on how well you take care of it and the materials used to make it. Keep in mind, you still need to store it well and maintain it.
Another thing that adds life to your recurve is unstringing the bow after you finish using it. In particular, you should do this if you have a wooden bow because it will keep its shooting power.
Don’t worry about unstringing a recurve bow made from carbon or synthetic foam. The modern material makes it so that you don’t need to worry about unstringing it, but keep in mind that you still want to unstring traditional recurves to ensure that they last the longest.
With most recurve bows, many people will tell you that they last a lifetime. Fiberglass recurves, for example, have a reputation of lasting a long time.
Let’s say that you’re currently shopping for a recurve. In a takedown recurve bow versus a one-piece recurve, the takedown recurve bow will last longer because you can replace the limbs. In addition, they store easier and cost nearly the same amount. Recurve bows contain fasteners that connect the riser to the limbs. Pay attention because the metal can corrode or work itself loose over time. If you feel rattling while shooting, stop immediately. The metal fasteners may have worked themselves loose.
How Long Does a Longbow Last?
Longbows often last for 30 years or longer. I have heard of people who shoot a 60-year-old longbow. How long the longbow will last depends on how well you take care of it and whether they were built correctly. Let’s say that you happened to buy an older longbow that hadn’t been shot in a while. You may want to string and stretch it a while before shooting.
The one thing that you need to understand with any bow is that this only gives you a general rule. Not all bows will last as long as outlined because some came with defects that were unknown to the manufacturer. Because of this, they break down much sooner than other bows. Also, pay close attention to the manufacturer. I’ve heard of many Hoyt bows going on over 30 years or more. Other manufacturers may not fare as well.
Longbows don’t have as many components that can break down. When properly maintained, they can last as long as the best of them. Keep in mind that if you buy a wooden longbow, you will need to protect and care for it more than if you bought a synthetic bow. Wood as a material for a bow requires more care.
How Long Does a Crossbow Last?
Provided you care for it correctly, a crossbow will last anywhere from five to 10 years. Why does a crossbow not last as long as bows? Part of the reason has to do with the components. A crossbow consists of 16 main components, and when you have that many working parts, it leaves room for things to go wrong. In most cases, your crossbow will last around 10 years, but this also depends on the brand and how frequently you shoot it.
If you’re interested in how long a crossbow lasts, I wrote more about that here.
Tips to Make Your Bow Last the Longest
You have several things that you can do to ensure that your bow will last the longest. You also have things that you want to avoid because it ensures that your bow will last longer.
Tip #1: Don’t Draw the Bow Back Too Far
For one thing, you don’t need to draw the bow back past what feels like a comfortable range. The arrow will shoot equally as well if you draw it back to a normal range. Drawing it back too far, you risk damaging your bow limbs over time, and it won’t last as long. Beware of people larger than you who want to shoot your bow because this usually is what causes this issue. Given enough time, it will start to damage the limbs.
Tip #2: Don’t Store It on Its Ends
You see this plenty where bowhunters will store the bow by leaning it up against the wall. Granted, you may not think of it as causing harm to your bow, but this can wear out the ends of your bow faster. You want to store your bow either in a case or on a rack. It may sound small, but this can lengthen your bow’s lifespan.
Tip #3: Don’t Dry Fire Your Bow
When we say dry firing a bow, we mean firing it without an arrow. It may sound like a small thing, but dry firing your bow can lead to serious injury. At the same time, it damages your bow so that it doesn’t last as long. With an arrow, the kinetic energy stored in the limbs gets transferred to the arrow, but without the arrow, the energy has nowhere to go. Your bow may survive a dry fire once, but if you keep doing it, you can suffer a serious injury. The limbs can break off and smash you in the face. To learn more about that, check out the article that I wrote here.
Tip #4: Inspect It for Damage
You can get your bow to last longer by simply inspecting it for damage. Check for cracks, bubbling or other signs of damage to the bow. Many times, the damage starts small, but it multiplies when you don’t respond to it. Take the bow to a professional archery shop to have it looked at. They can also perform the necessary repairs.
Tip #5: Tighten Loose Screws and Bolts
Over time, the vibration from the kinetic energy in the bow will start to loosen the metal screws and bolts. You want to take active measures to tighten these pieces. Another hint here: If the screws or bolts seem to come loose often, you may not be tightening them enough. You may want to tighten them further to ensure that you get it right. To prevent damage, you may want to keep the screws and bolts lightly oiled.
Take Care of Your Bow and It Will Last
The general consensus for the bow was that it will last for however long you make it last. Provided you take good care of it, your bow will last a long time. Now, you do have the occasional bow that will have defects or issues with it, but most can go well above and beyond the 30-year mark if you take care of them. I’ve heard of bows lasting for 50 to 60 years.
On top of that, some people have said how they had a bow that was over 100 years old. How long your bow lasts will depend on how well you take care of it in most cases. Still, you also have to take frequency of use into consideration. Heavy shooters will go through bows more frequently than shooters who only pull their bow out for deer hunting season.
Can a bow last a lifetime? You can get bows to last for your lifetime provided you take good care of them. A bow that receives proper maintenance regularly may last for up to 50 years or longer, which sets it right at the lifetime mark.
What bows last the longest? Recurve bows typically last longer than the compound or longbow because of fewer components. Pay attention to the material that the bow is made of. In particular, fiberglass bows have a reputation for lasting the longest. Many can last for up to 50 to 100 years when well taken care of.
How long do composite bows last? The average composite bow will last between 20 to 30 years before you need to replace it. This tremendous bow has a vicious range of up to 400 yards, and many archers who shoot it report that they don’t experience a shortening of shooting power over the years. In other words, it will last.
How long a bow lasts ultimately depends on you. Granted, sometimes things go wrong with a bow to where it doesn’t last as long, but the biggest factor is how well you take care of the bow. In addition, a lot of archery enthusiasts will feel drawn to keep collecting bows. It becomes a fun game where the old bow won’t satisfy them. They see the new perks of another bow and want to try it out.
I would say to adopt the latter approach with archery. Have fun shooting your bows and don’t worry how long they last because they will go a long time. Your greater danger is that you’ll see another bow that you like and decide to add it to your collection. This is common.