As crossbows become more advanced, regular maintenance is becoming even more important, and changing your crossbow strings is probably the most crucial of all. We are going to answer all of your what, when, and how questions in this complete guide.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to keep your crossbow in peak-performing condition at all times. The last thing you want is a less-than-perfect shot at that crucial moment in your hunt.
Probably the easiest way of guaranteeing supreme accuracy and performance is by performing some simple maintenance tasks regularly. In our eyes, the most important of these tasks is regular string maintenance.
Crossbow strings have a lifespan that will vary depending on the manufacturer. Some can be as little as 1-2 years and others can last up to 4-5 years, depending on how often you shoot! That means you can expect to shoot your bow between 150 and 600 times before you need to restring your bow.
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at how you will know when to change your strings, and what you can do to maximize their lifespan.
How Long Do Crossbow Strings Last?
We can make a pretty accurate assessment of the lifespan of your strings by knowing the brand and how often you shoot. There are still a few more factors that come into play here, like how heavy your arrows (bolts) are.
While it may sound counterintuitive, the heavier your arrows are, the less strain your strings will experience with each shot because you are diverting more energy into the arrow and not the strings.
How do I Know When It’s Time to Replace My Crossbow Strings?
Probably the best way of knowing is by keeping track of your shot count. This may sound a bit excessive—the idea of keeping track of every individual shot—but you don’t need to be quite so accurate. Just keep it within a reasonable range of about 30 shots on either side of 400, you’ll be OK.
The simplest way to do this is just taking a note at the end of each hunt or shooting session either with a pen and pad or by keeping a note on your phone.
It’s a small and tedious task to add to each session, yes. But, it will pay off in a big way down the line when you have consistent, accurate, and safer sessions with your crossbow.
What Are Signs My Crossbow Strings Need to be Replaced?
You should also check your strings periodically to make sure there are no visible signs of wear or fraying, and two other important signs to look out for:
- Serving Separation: The thinner protective string that is wound over the main crossbow string at key contact points like the arrow retention claws.
- Axle-to-Axle Not to Spec: The axle-to-axle length measurement on a crossbow is the distance between the two cam axles, one on the left and one on the right of the bow assembly. When this distance increases to more than .25” out of spec, your string is stretched.
If you are noticing issues and wear from serving separation or your axle-to-axle has moved out of manufacturer specification, it’s time to change your strings even if you haven’t hit the advised shot count.
A damaged string or out-of-spec axles can be dangerous, they can cause injury if not properly maintained so it is always better to be on the safe side. If in doubt, go to a reputable bow shop for an inspection.
5 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Crossbow Strings
So taking everything you have already learned into account, let’s get right to the real reason you’re here! You want to know what are the best ways of actually extending the life of your crossbow strings, so here are our top five:
1. Regular Maintenance
By far the most important tip is regular maintenance. That is checking your equipment before and after each session and storing your crossbow in a dry environment ideally around room temperature. Extreme changes in temperature and climatic conditions when you’re out in the elements can slowly wear away at the life of your strings so you want to be mindful of these changes.
For example, if you’re returning from a hunt, check your crossbow for debris that might have been kicked up in the forest and settled on your equipment. If it has been humid, even consider drying your crossbow with a rag and blotting the string to remove any moisture build-up.
2. Use High-Quality String & Serving Fluid
We would always recommend using high-quality string and serving fluid to maintain the strings and cables on your crossbow.
Simply put, if you use high-quality products, you will get high-quality results. When wear rate and lifespan are concerned, this is especially important. A lot of people will tend to recommend alternatives to serving fluid, but in our experience considering how little you need to apply, a small bottle will go a very long way. Therefore we would always recommend using an authentic, use-specific, and high-quality product.
If you are ever in doubt, check the manufacturing specs and DO NOT overuse products. Excessive use of products can result in increased wear so you will end up throwing away money.
3. Don’t Use Wax on Your Strings
Contrary to popular opinion, we suggest staying away from wax on strings. It can easily result in a build-up in the trigger box and it acts as a magnet for dust and dirt!
If you exercise good regular maintenance and inspection of your crossbow strings and cables, you should not have any need to use wax.
One of the purposes of the wax is to help lubricate the string and prevent fraying, but the problem is that it can also clog up the string so you will not notice when it begins to fray naturally—this is a key wear indicator and something you must be able to see.
If you use a high-quality strings, serving fluid, and conduct the simple maintenance checks already explained here, there is no need to use wax on your strings.
4. Use Heavy Arrows
Heavier arrows can help increase the life of your strings. The main reason is stability and transfer of energy from the string to the arrow. Having that small bit of extra weight adds a lot of stability to the crossbow when shooting which in turn reduces vibration on the string.
Heavier arrows also have better arrow penetration, giving you a higher rate of success in the hunt.
5. Check the Strings Before Going Out
Always make sure your strings are in good condition BEFORE a shooting session or going to the woods.
OK, this may not be a whole extra tip because it’s mentioned in the first one, but we can’t stress enough the importance of checking the condition of your equipment before you begin a session.
Can I Replace My Strings?
You can replace your crossbow strings yourself at home if you have the right tools and a little bit of knowledge on the specific manufacturer specifications of your equipment, paying close attention to cam lean and cam timing.
Remember that if you have a reverse compound or compound crossbow, you will need to use a bow press to change the strings.
The most simple strings to replace are on the Excalibur brand recurve crossbows. This is because you only need a stringing aid and rope cocker to loosen the string before changing it.
Ravin and TenPoint crossbows are probably the trickiest because they require an understanding of how cam lean and cam timing work. Simply put, when you adjust the string it will affect the cam adjustment. The cams will require adjusting afterward using the cable to ensure they are aligned and functioning correctly.
Can I Send My Crossbow to Get Replacement Strings?
We understand that changing your crossbow strings can be a daunting task that you may not feel comfortable doing at home. That’s why you should send it to the Borkholder Archery service center where we will start every service by checking the bow for string wear.
Our shop is based in Milford, Indiana, so if you’re local, just stop by the shop with your crossbow and we’ll be happy to help.
Otherwise, we also offer a couple of safe and fast options for shipping your bow with add-on insurance available. One option is a fully taken care of service where we will send you an empty box with all the necessary packaging and a return label. If you have your box, you can send it to us by your preferred method and give us a heads up when it’s on the way.
Once the service is done, we’ll ship it back to you safely and ready for your next shooting session!
Factory Strings vs Custom Strings
We know that there are a ton of crossbow string brands available on the market, and we have also spent a considerable amount of time researching and testing different strings from different manufacturers to give our best recommendations for each avid hunter.
Most factory strings are easily available and really do a great job. The strings will be heavily tested by each manufacturer and you will quite often find that because of this, some manufacturers will require that you use specific strings on their crossbows for warranty purposes. This is definitely something to bear in mind if you are using a Ravin, TenPoint, or Mission bow where you will void the warranty by using custom strings.
It is best practice to always check with the manufacturer’s spec before buying replacement strings.
You should ideally look to strike a balance between durability and performance. While your choice of string will affect the performance side of things, durability will be more dependent on how you exercise all of the maintenance steps we have outlined here.
Many of the custom crossbow strings that we offer also have different features and colors to personalize your bow setup. They will most likely void the warranty of your bow, but if you follow our regular maintenance advice you shouldn’t have any reason to use the warranty anyway.
We are confident that we can help you find a string that will improve the lifespan and shooting experience with your crossbow.
What Are the Top Custom Replacement Strings?
While some factory strings do a great job, we love to find those little improvements in performance and string life that really help us hone the crossbow’s performance. When you have a crossbow that is dialed-in perfectly for how you want to shoot, there isn’t much better!
Whenever we service a crossbow, there is always an option to replace the current string with the factory-recommended one. We fully appreciate that some folks would prefer to stick to the manufacturer’s spec and keep their warranty, so this is something we’ll always be able to provide.
But for those looking to maximize performance while keeping very high levels of durability, we are big fans of Rogue Bowstrings. The Level 19’s offer incredible value for money and are available in a wide variety of colors. The Level 21’s however raise the bar with a proprietary material that exceeds all others in terms of durability. Plus they only need 4-5 shots to be perfectly settle in.
We are happy to offer both the Rogue Level 19 and Level 21 as an upgrade with our crossbow service for maximum performance and consistency. We will fit and professionally tune the strings just for you.
And if you are after something really special, we can get you completely custom strings from Joey’s Bowstrings. They are a great manufacturer of high-quality crossbow strings and specialize in completely custom solutions for specific requirements.
Is There Anything Else to Replace When Replacing My Strings?
We’ve mentioned cables a few times already as an important thing to check for wear anytime you are performing basic maintenance of the string, and there is a good reason for this.
The wear rate of the cable is actually quite similar to the string because they are part of a codependent system. So every shot and load of force that your string experiences, the cable will be exposed to the same.
Considering cable wear is more difficult to notice, we always recommend changing the cable any time you restring your crossbow.
Our aim as always is to give our recommendations for you to get the highest performance and durability from your equipment, while also keeping you safe from avoidable injury.
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