Can A Bow String Snap?

Can A Bow String Snap?

Anybody who’s ever shot a bow has probably noticed how much weight is pulling on the thin string. Though the string was designed to withstand the weight, you still might fear it would snap on you. But can a bow string really snap?

A bow string can snap, but it’s uncommon if you properly maintain and shoot your bow. The most common cause of string breakage is being worn, so make sure you replace it when necessary. String breakage can cause injuries and damage your equipment.

In this post, we’re going to explore what might cause your bow string to snap, what happens if it does, and what to do to prevent it.

Let’s go.

What causes a bow string to snap

Understanding the main causes of bow string breaking is really important so you can prevent it. Let’s go over the most common reasons that might cause a bow string to snap:

  • Wear: a string is made out of small elastic strands. When you draw the bow, these small strands rub off against each other, causing them to fray. Over time, they lose strength and elasticity as they dry out, until they can’t hold together anymore and the string snaps. That’s why the first sign on an old string is looking fuzzy – these are some of the small frayed fibers.
    Archers use string wax to increase the lifespan of their bow strings. The wax decreases the amount of friction between the strands and holds the string together.
    If you wonder whether you need to replace the string on your bow, I wrote an entire post on how long should bow strings last, where I detailed how to tell whether a bow needs to be restrung.
  • Bruised string: if your string gets bruised by anything, it loses a lot of its strength and might break. You never shoot a bow with a bruised string, even if the bruise is small – it’s extremely dangerous!
    A small strand doesn’t have a lot of strength, but put together they form the string, which is capable of holding significant weights. Every strand is important and adds a lot of strength to the string. That’s why even a small bruise renders the whole string unusable.
    Strings can get bruised by some sharp object, but also by improper use of release aids or other tools. Before you shoot your bow make sure to quickly inspect the bowstring to make sure it’s safe.
  • Bow torque: If you shoot with improper form and torque the bow, you might cause the string to twist out of the cams and break. That happens because your bowstring is torqued out of alignment with the cams, derailed from the tracks, and snap out of the cams.
  • Dry fire: Every archer knows not to dry fire the bow, and never to use a bow that was dry fires before it got inspected. When a bow is dry fired a lot of damage can be caused to different parts of the bow, including the bowstring. That happens because the energy that was stored when you drew the bow has nowhere to release, causing it to be released through vibrations, creating extreme amounts of friction between the string strands.
    But that’s not the only thing that happens when you dry fire the bow. If you want to know what to do if you accidentally dry fire a bow, read my previous post about dry fire.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons why a bow string might break, but these are the most common. By avoiding these issues, you significantly lower the chances of your bow string accidentally breaking. We’ll detail exactly how to do that later in this post.

How to prevent bow strings from breaking

To make sure your bow string won’t break, you should properly maintain your bow, inspect the string before shooting the bow, and use good shooting form.

Inspecting the bow string

The first thing you should do to make sure your bow string is good for shooting is to inspect it before you use the bow. There are a few things you should look for when inspecting the string

  • Compromised string: The first thing you should check is that the string wasn’t somehow cut or otherwise compromised. Inspect it from top to bottom, making sure the string is whole, with no broken strands.
  • Fuzzy string: A good string loos slick, smooth and waxy. Old strings feel rough to the touch and look really fuzzy. When your string begins looking fuzzy, you probably don’t want to use it before applying wax to it. If the string wasn’t attended to in a while, you might start seeing individual strands breaking, which is the point where it really becomes dangerous to use.
  • String fraying: It’s a bit more difficult, but you really want to check for any fraying in areas where the string rubs anything else. For example, check the nock, the peep sight, the area where you attach your release aid, and any other place where your string rubs against something. These are areas where usually fraying occurs.

By quickly checking your string before every time you shoot the bow you reduce the risk of your string breaking.

Maintaning the bow string

After a while, your bowstring might become fuzzy, which indicates that it requires attending to. At that point, you probably want to apply wax to your string. The steps to maintaining a bowstring are pretty simple, and you can follow the detailed step-by-step guide in my previous post.

Simply put, you want to apply the wax to the string and rub it in with your fingers. Your fingers warm up the wax, allowing it to melt around the strands, lowering the friction between them. Remove access wax after you finish applying it.

If you want to be on the safe side, apply wax to your bowstring every two to three weeks, depending on how often you practice. This will ensure that your string is always well-waxed, and will lower the chances of it suddenly snapping.

Properly shooting the bow

It’s always a good idea to keep proper shooting form, and avoiding bow string snapping is only one of the reasons to do that. I actually have a complete guide on proper shooting form in a previous post, which will detail everything you need to know.

With respect to preventing bowstring breakage, the main thing you should look for is torque. Torque is usually introduced by your grip. When torque is introduced, you’ll feel the bow trying to turn. Fixing torque is actually really simple – you simply need to fix your grip. The post I’ve linked to above has a detailed step-by-step guide on how to do that.

What to do if your bow string breaks

First of all, that’s the situation we’re trying to avoid with this post. If your bow string actually broke, it means something went extremely wrong. Hopefully, it happened when you weren’t around.

If the bowstring broke while you were using the bow, the first thing to do is make sure you weren’t injured, and that everybody around is fine as well. When a bowstring breaks, a lot of energy that is store is released, and things might break and fly off.

After you made sure nobody, including yourself, wasn’t injured, you can inspect the bow. Try to see if you’re able to detect how the string broke, and try to identify the cause. I’d treat a bow where a string broke harsher than a dry fire: don’t use it or attach a new string before getting it inspected by a professional.

Something could be seriously broken with the bow, so you don’t want to apply pressure with a new string before making sure it’s fine to shoot.

In any case, if you tend to your bow and be alert to it, this shouldn’t happen.


While bow string snapping is uncommon, it could happen. By following the information provided in this post, you can significantly reduce the chances it’ll happen to you.

In any case, it’s important that if you see an indication that your string needs replacing, you do replace it. It is a small hassle, but it’s really a serious matter of safety, so make sure you’re aware of the condition of your string whenever you use the bow.

I hope this post was helpful, and good luck!