For beginners, knowing when to replace crossbow strings can be a challenge. I’ve gotten this question a lot over the years, and my answer has remained the same, “it depends.”
The truth is everyone uses their crossbow differently, so while I might need to replace my string once a year, you might need to do so less often. As frustrating as it may be to hear, there is no exact equation that can tell you how often to replace your bowstrings.
The good news is, although there’s no formula, there are some key factors and signs that can help you decide when it’s time to swap strings. In this post, we’ll discuss some of those factors and other tips to help you know when it’s time to replace your crossbow strings.
What do you use your crossbow for?
When it comes to replacing your crossbow strings, what you’re using your crossbow for can make a big difference. A crossbow used for target shooting should be restrung more often than one used for hunting.
According to 60X Custom Strings, it is recommended that a crossbow used for target shooting has its strings replaced once every 12 months. Crossbows used for target shooting will most likely be shot much more than crossbows used for hunting, so naturally, their strings will wear out more quickly.
On the other hand, if a crossbow is being used for hunting, replacing the strings after 2 years is more appropriate. In comparison to target shooting, the number of shots you’ll take during a hunt are few.
Another factor to consider aside from the number of shots taken is the average draw weight you shoot with. Target shooting doesn’t require a heavy draw weight or heavy arrows.
But, to effectively kill an animal such as a whitetail deer, you’ll need a draw weight of about 40lbs. For game such as elk, the draw weight will be even higher. A heavier draw weight equals more stress on your bowstring and more frequent string replacements.
Change your strings according to hunting seasons
For those of us who prefer simple and clear guidelines, you can also schedule your string changes around hunting seasons. On average, you should replace your crossbow strings after every 2-3 hunting seasons.
If you’re a serious hunter, get into the habit of regularly giving your strings the love they need from season to season. Regular maintenance can help extend the life of your bowstrings.
The age of your crossbow strings
If you’re not a hunter and still want an easy way to gauge when it’s time to change your strings, you can also use your strings’ age as an indicator. According to Fearless Tactician, if you give your babies a little TLC regularly by waxing them consistently, you can use them for as long as 5 years.
Although the lifespan of a bowstring will depend heavily on how you maintain it, maintenance cannot prevent it from getting old and worn out. With time, the quality of the string will degrade and impact the performance of your crossbow.
Simply put, strings should be used for a maximum of five years.
Telltale signs that your string is worn out
In previous sections, we’ve used durations of time to measure when your strings are due for replacement. However, to get the best use out of your strings, it’s much better to develop an intuitive sense of when your strings have had enough.
Instead of mindlessly waxing your strings during your maintenance routine, try actively assessing the extent of wear and tear on your strings.
Use this time to see if they’ve had enough and relieve them of their duties. For beginners, it may be difficult to tell if a string has passed its prime, so here are a few things to look out for when assessing your strings.
1. Frequent dry strands
For the best performance, a bowstring should be slightly waxy to the touch. As we discussed earlier in the article, regular waxing of your bowstring will extend its lifespan.
However, eventually, you’ll find that you need to wax your bowstring more and more often to keep it from feeling dry and fuzzy. This can be an early sign of excessive wear on your strings.
Fuzzing or fraying occurs when the string fibers become unraveled at the edges. Fuzzing of a string is usually caused by the friction between the bowstring and arrow when shooting.
Light fuzzing is nothing to get worked up over. But, over time, you’ll start to notice heavier fuzzing in specific areas such as around the cable slide or under the center serving.
When heavy fuzzing is evident, take caution. Many archers will mistakingly believe that applying wax will be enough to solve the issue and continue shooting with a heavily frayed string. The problem is, fraying indicates that there are weak points in the string fiber.
No one can predict at which point those weak points will turn into breaking points. And if a string breaks during a high tension pull, the result might result in a broken bow or hospital trip, or maybe even both.
3. Broken strands
If fuzzing is a warning sign, then broken strands should be considered a red alert. Numerous broken strands are a sign that it’s time change strings.
A usual place for broken strands is under the center serving where you nock arrows. The constant friction from on and off knocking will cause wear and tear in this area.
Broken strands can be extremely dangerous, it can lead to arrows being fired in the wrong direction and injury to yourself and your bow.
4. String stretching
It is natural for bowstrings to stretch, and with each shot, strings will stretch more and more. Noticeable stretching happens incrementally.
After every 50-100 shots, you may start to feel a little more give in your strings, this is what archers call creep.
When bowstrings have too much give, they absorb energy that should be transferred to the arrow. This causes a loss of speed and accuracy during your shoots.
If you feel that your string has become overly stretched, it’s time to replace it.