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How to (Re)String a Crossbow

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crossbow string upclose

When it comes to crossbows, there are a few reasons why you would want to restring.  The first is when your string begins to break down. This is normal wear and tear, although lubricating the rail and waxing the string will help slow the natural process.

Another reason to remove the string is when you won’t be shooting for a while. Taking the string off between hunting seasons will help preserve your crossbow. However, you have to restring it before your season begins. Finally, you may want to upgrade your string and therefore need to restring it.

Types of Crossbows: Different Methods

crossbow press
Restring with a bow press.

The three types of crossbows are recurve and compoundreverse compound.

For the two compound crossbow styles, there are a couple options.

The first is to take your crossbow to a pro-shop and have them restring it for you. The second is purchasing your own bow press to learn how to do it yourself.

However, you can restring a recurve with your bare hands and one simple tool called a stringer. This is the process we are going to cover next.

With a Stringer

A stringer is a string with a loop on both ends, and it is longer than a crossbow string. It isn’t made as durable as an actual crossbow string, so you may need to replace it when it shows wear.

  • Set your crossbow, with or without a string, on the floor.
  • Take out your stringer and place the loops onto both ends of the arms over the nocks.
  • Cock the crossbow using the stringer for your string. As you do this, your crossbow string will become loose if you are using this process to take off a string.
  • Put the safety on. It is important to do this step so the crossbow doesn’t accidentally fire as you work on it.
  • Remove your crossbow string now if you are taking it off during this sequence.
  • Take your new bowstring and thread it through the stinger loops. Guide it through the gap and wrap around the arm. At this point, your bowstring should be through and under the stringer. This allows the stringer to come off and not be pinched by your string!
  • Put into fire mode and slowly lower the stringer. The bowstring should now hold the stress of the bow.
  • Remove the stringer. Depending on the brand and style that you purchased, it should come off easily. I have seen a couple of pinched stringers that required effort to remove. However, that isn’t very common.


Without a Stringer

The ability to string a crossbow without a stringer is based on your strength, your weight, the poundage of the bow, and your ability to pull and string at the same time. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable with this method, or you think your poundage is too high, then do not attempt it. The higher the poundage the more likely it will not be possible or safe.

  • Take your crossbow and place the string loop over one nock. Then, place that arm end of the crossbow onto the floor as well as on the edge of the stirrup. At this point, the angle of the stock should look close to 45 degrees.
  • With soft and clean shoes, take one foot and rest it on the other arm of the crossbow right up against the stock. The arm to use is the one extending up.
  • Keeping your balance, place one hand on the butt of the stock and the other on the string to hold it steady.
  • Press the butt of the stock towards the ground with your hand and at the same time press down with your foot to bend the crossbow.
  • While under the stress of this bend, place the stringer onto the other nock.
  • Slowly let up with your hand and foot.

Keep in mind this method should only be done on low poundage crossbows and only if you are willing to accept the potential risks.


Finishing Touches

crossbow string on rail

Inspect your string and make sure that your service is centered along the rail. If it is, then you will get consistent shots. If it isn’t, you need to remove the string. You can do this by using our stringer directions. You can even do it without a stringer if that’s the method you are comfortable with. Having a hard time? Try adding twists to the string to get it perfectly centered!


Everyone needs to remove his or her crossbow string once in a while. If you have a recurve, then you are able to do this process in one of two ways. You can use a stringer or tackle it barehanded. If you have a low poundage crossbow and feel comfortable removing the string without a stringer, then go for it! Just remember it can be dangerous so don’t take it on without knowing the associated risks.