Waxing bowstrings is an important and yet often neglected maintenance routine.
Think of a bowstring as an engine of the bow — whether a recurve, compound or horsebow — that propels the arrow toward the target. If the engine doesn’t function correctly, our overall performance will go sour.
How to Wax the Bowstrings
First of all, we need to get a bowstring wax. There are many artificial string waxes available on the market, I use Scorpion Venom Polymeric Bowstring Wax, but it is not mandatory, a simple block of beeswax works just fine.
Now, we can begin to start waxing the bowstrings. There are many different methods that you can use to wax a string; the following is the method that I use (and I think the simplest of all):
String the bow.
1.Apply the wax by rubbing it thoroughly up and down onto the full length of the string (and cables).
2. Don’t wax the served sections, including the center serving or the served end loops of an endless loop string because waxing the serving will make it unravel quicker than a ball of yarn.
3. Use your fingers or a small piece of leather or fabric and rub the wax further into the string. Since the bowstring is formed from multiple strands, we try to melt the wax slightly, so that the wax melting into the twist of the string.
4. The last step is to clean the excess wax.
Here’s a good video showing to wax a bowstring:
How to Clean Wax on Bowstrings
If it is a Sunday morning, and I’m too lazy to do anything I would use a cloth to clean the excess wax.
If I wax the string to prepare for an event, I will use the following method.
DISCLAIMER: This method suits well to be used for a tournament preparation as this makes the string lighter but cleaning the wax in this way means you have to wax the string more often than if you just use a cloth.
- Take a short piece of thread or fabric cord (or leather if you want).
- Loop it around the string and hold each end tight.
- Push the thread up and down along the length of the string to scrape off any excess wax.
The Benefit of Regular Waxing
One benefit of waxing your bowstrings is it prevents the bow from fraying. Furthermore, waxing helps to waterproof the bow so water won’t get between the strands.
A wet string makes the bow heavier and thus impacting your overall shooting performance since it makes the arrow flights slower.
Drawing from a dry string is even more paramount for archers that compete in 3-D, target, hunting, or mounted archery as it is the speed of the arrow as such that often determines the end-result of the game.
Therefore, it is the reason why many top archers wax their strings before competitions in preparation for the rain that might come.
How Often to Wax Bowstrings
There many different opinions on how often you should wax the bowstrings.
Some people who take archery as a hobby might prefer to wax their bowstrings once a month while others who regularly compete in archery tournaments might prefer to wax their bowstrings two to three times a week.
The simple rule is anytime that you notice a significant number of flyaway strands on the bowstrings, that’s the time to waxing it.
Properly waxed bowstrings should be smooth and tacky not hairy.
How To Check A Bowstring For Maximum Performance?
Shooting from a damaged or broken bow and arrows can be downright dangerous and lead to injury.
Therefore, checking our archery equipment every time before and after shooting is critical and should become a habit in our everyday life as an aspiring archer.
Bowstring is a part that wears faster than any other of the bow’s component.
Even though in the end you’ll have to replace your bowstring, but with proper maintenance, you can extend the bowstring’s life. And the bowstring’s maintenance starts with checking the string.
Checking The Bowstrings: Step-By-Step Guide
The following is the steps that you need to take in no particular order to ensure the bowstring is still intact and good to use.
1.Before and after stringing, look at the string carefully and make sure that the bowstring strands does not look frayed. Check also the serving, make sure the serving is still tight.
If the bowstring appears dry, you just need to apply a bowstring wax to fix it, and the string is good to go.
However, if the bowstring has become frayed, or the serving has become separated, there is little you can do about it, you might need to replace the bowstring.
Here’s a good video showing how to check a bowstring:
Quick Tips for Stringing and Unstringing the Bow
It is recommended to use a quality stringer when stringing and unstringing your bow.
You can string and unstring your bow manually, but it carries too much risk: you could twist the limbs while bending the bow and end up damaging the bow.
Using a stringer eliminates the risk of twisting the limbs of the bow. Moreover, most bows’ warranty will be null and void if the bowmakers find out that you were not using a stringer.
Some bows come with a stringer, and some don’t. If your bow doesn’t come with one, you should get one and learn how to use it.
Here’s a good video showing how to string and unstring a bow:
2. Sift through both of the string loops and check whether the string loops are still securely seated on the bow or not.
The examination should be done in two steps: do a visual check first, then half draw the bow afterward to double-check the string loops are still secure.
If you don’t like to half-draw the bow, alternatively, you can pluck the string once or twice instead, if you prefer to check that the string is still seated well.
Regardless of which methods you’re using to check the string loops: half-drawing the bow, or plucking the string, you must remember to never dry-fire your bow.
Dry fire means shooting an empty bow without having an arrow on the string. It is dangerous and must be avoided.
Any bow, no matter what is the type, is never designed to shoot an empty air. When you dry firing the bow, all the excess energy that is supposed to be absorbed by the arrow is being absorbed by the limbs and risers instead, which will feel like a hand shock or recoil.
As a result of all those energies going to the wrong place, your bow will start to break and may lead to serious injury thereof.
But What if We Accidentally Dry Fire Our Bow?
Some people might accidentally dry firing their bow when checking the strings. If this happens to you, the first thing that you need to do is to check yourself for any sign of injuries.
If you’re ok the next step is to place the bow in a case and seek your favorite bowyer or archery shop for a quick check.
3. Take a look at the brace height to ensure the brace height is still correct. It is even better if you can measure the brace height, not by a visual check only but also using a tool like T-square.
A Short Guide to Brace Height
Brace height is the distance between the string to the inner part of the bow grip when the bow is braced.
Every bow comes with a range of acceptable brace height that you should adhere because any damage caused by shooting beyond the recommended brace height is our fault and may void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Always consult the instruction manual or write the company to ask for a recommended brace height if in doubt.
4. Check the nocking point carefully and make sure it is still properly attached.
5. Make sure the string is the right way up. Compare the string with the nocking point; if the nocking point is too low then perhaps the string is upside down.
The bowstring is one part of bow’s component that will need to be replaced at one point in time.
Sure, if you do a good job, well-maintained bowstrings can last longer than average — two to three years. After checking the string, the next step in bowstring’s maintenance consists of storing and waxing it.
Now, what is the best time to replace your bowstring?
As discussed earlier, whenever you see broken strands that’s the time to consider replacing the bowstring, this applies to compound, recurve, crossbow, and longbow string.
The tricky part, most often broken strands will happen under the center serving area at the place where you nock the arrows.
Broken strands in this area may be difficult to notice since it is covered with the serving and shooting with a broken strand is dangerous, it can severely damage both you and your bow.
This is the reason why you should check your bowstring every time before shooting and repeated after shooting.
Another critical but subtle sign is when you notice your bow’s performance may not be as powerful as it used to be. A loss in bow’s performance is most likely caused by a bowstring that has stretched over time.
When you purchase or order a new set bowstring, you should make an order according to the AMO length, which is the standard string length set by Archery Manufacturers Organization.
To determine the correct string length for your bow, check your bow’s limb and see if there is any AMO bow length listed.
If there is, use that length as a starting number, then for a recurve bow, subtract 4 inches from the AMO bow length listed on a limb, and subtract 3 inches for a longbow.
In most cases, this will be the correct string length for your bow.
If you’re unsure about the bowstring’s condition, it’s best to seek advice from your local archery shop. If it’s the time for a new set of strings, don’t forget you can choose your favorite custom colors.