Do Bow Strings Go Bad? (Find Out Here)

Do Bow Strings Go Bad

Archery is a sport that highly depends on the quality of your gear. For that reason, it’s essential that you always keep an eye on your equipment and make sure that they’re providing you with the highest level of performance. 

If you’ve noticed that you’re missing your target a little more lately and everything seems in good condition, there’s a good chance that you’ve overlooked checking your bow string.

So, do bow strings go bad? Bow strings won’t last you a lifetime. In fact, among all the parts of a bow, they’re usually the first to malfunction, and there are plenty of signs to tell that it’s time to replace your strings.

In today’s article, we’ll take a quick look at the lifespan of a bow string and how long you should expect it to survive. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

How Long Do Bow Strings Last?

As previously mentioned, bow strings don’t usually last for a very long time, and they can go bad in a variety of ways.

As a rule of thumb, even with proper care and maintenance, you should expect your bow string to last anywhere between 2.5 to 3 years. However, even before that time, several factors can also cause your bow strings to malfunction and require replacement.

To avoid running into these problems, you need to check your bow strings regularly, especially at the most common sites where damage can occur. If you notice any signs that your bow needs replacement, it’s definitely time for a new one.

In fact, you should apply this rule to all your archery equipment, including your archery targets. They can live long, but not forever.

Signs That Your Bow Strings Need Replacement

Signs That Your Bow Strings Need Replacement

I’ve previously written a detailed article about all the 6 signs that your bow strings have gone bad. These signs include:

  • Broken String: The clearest sign of damage a string can have and should always be replaced immediately when spotted.
  • Dry String: If the fibers of the string are starting to come off giving a furry look, it’s a sign that your string needs to be waxed and needs replacement in the long run.
  • Frayed String: A sign of an overworked or old string that isn’t broken yet but is very close to rapture. You can wax it but eventually, you’ll have to replace it.
  • Stretched String: Another sign of overworked string but can also occur to bows that are left strung for a long time.
  • Separated Serving: This happens when the layer covering the threads of the bow string starts to separate, and is usually a sign that you need to change the strings as soon as possible.
  • Degraded String: If the string looks inconsistent in terms of diameter across its length, it’s a sign of a very old one that should be immediately replaced for safety.

If you want to find out more about these signs and how to check them thoroughly, check out this guide about all the signs

However, If you’re unsure about the fitness of your bow string and would like to stay on the safe side, you can always visit an archery store and request a professional to check your gear for safety.

Is it Safe to Use an Old Bow?

Safety is always dependent on the reliability of the equipment to do their job properly. If you haven’t used your bow for a few months to a year, chances are they should function properly and are fine to shoot.

However, if by an old bow you mean one that hasn’t been used for several years, you might need to check the bow and the string thoroughly to make sure that they’re not damaged or frayed before using them, especially if the bow has been left strung for that period.

Ideally, I’d highly recommend that you let a professional from your local archery shop check your bow and make sure it’s safe before you use it, as there might be some tiny cracks and broken parts that you might miss while checking.

Why Should You Replace Old Bow Strings?

There are plenty of reasons why replacing your bow strings is important and can even be critical if you’re into archery. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to replace your old bow strings whenever it’s time for it:

For Your Safety

Whether you’re into archery or bow hunting, safety should always be your number one priority because, at the end of the day, bows and arrows are quite dangerous and can cause some serious injuries if you’re handled incorrectly.

In fact, according to a 2017 study by The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, about 83.3% of all injuries that occur during archery sessions are actually due to the failure of equipment.

Since bow strings are among the first things that heavily impact the trajectory of an arrow, they can add a major risk of injury when they’re bad or worn.

For Improved Performance

As a sport that relies greatly on the equipment used, using the right kind of gear while shooting arrows can give you a significant edge in terms of speed, maneuverability, and accuracy.

As bow strings get older and start to dry up or fray, their elasticity level changes and they may not provide the same drive force as they used to when they were brand new. This results in slower, less accurate arrows that don’t travel as far as they used to.

For Longevity of Your Equipment 

This may not cross a lot of people’s minds but damaged bow strings can cause further potential damage to the rest of your archery equipment. 

In other words, by maintaining a fresh bow string every couple of years, you may extend the lifespan of the rest of your bow.

How Often Should You Check Your Bow?

How Often Should You Check Your Bow

The best possible practice while using a bow is to check it once before and after every session to make sure that there are no cracks or frays.

This way, you’ll be able to find and spot any form of damage that requires repairs or replacement in your local archery shop.

If you only use bows during hunting season, it would also be a good investment to check your archery equipment in a local archery store once before and after the hunting season.

Wrap Up

There you have it! A brief guide with everything you need to know about bow strings and whether they can go bad.

As you can see, bow strings have a pretty limited lifespan and need to be replaced every couple of years to ensure your safety as well as maximum performance. 

There are plenty of signs that your bow requires maintenance or replacement and some of them can be extremely tiny and unnoticeable to the untrained eye. 

For that reason, unless you’re 100% certain that your strings are good to go, it won’t hurt to double check them by a professional from your local archery shop.

If you want to learn more about archery physics and how arrows fly in the air, check out my guide that answers the question “do arrows spin in flight?”.


My name is Roland, and I have over a decade of experience in archery, both with bow and crossbow. I want to share the best tips and tricks about archery and help you reach the next level. So, browse through the blog and find relevant information about archery and stick around.

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