Is It Bad To Leave Your Recurve Bow Strung?

Is It Bad To Leave Your Recurve Bow Strung?

A very common question among beginner recurve archers is how often to unstring their recurve bow, and whether leaving the bow strung can cause damage to the bow.

Leaving a recurve bow strung can cause damage to the bow over time. Recurve bows made of synthetic materials are less susceptible to stress and can remain strung longer. Typically archers unstring their bows if they’re not planning to use the bow in the next few days.

But there’s a lot more to the question. In this post, we’re going to consider the different things that happen to a bow when it remains strung, how to unstring a bow, and how long to keep a bow strung.

Can you leave a bow strung?

Is it bad to store your gun loaded? Is it bad to leave your headlights on overnight?

Imagine tensing your muscles and keeping them tense, never relaxing – sounds uncomfortable, right? Pain and injury are bound to follow. Everything needs to relax sometimes (If you are over-worked and reading this, take it as a sign). Your bow is no different and should be given a day off when necessary.

Now, this does not mean you should unstring your bow every opportunity you get. Many modern recurve bows are made of synthetic compounds designed to stay flexed while still keeping their shape – so if you own one of these, don’t get too strung out with unstringing.

As beautiful as a wooden recurve bow can be, wood is more susceptible to drying out and breaking down over time. Keeping your wooden bows strung is like keeping your dog tied up outside; eventually, it’s going to bite. Keeping it strung will lead to constant tension within the fibers of wood, warping the bow and possibly leading to breakage.

The best practice would be to unstring your wooden bow after every session, but only if it won’t be used for the next week. This will help prolong the lifespan of the bow, but be wary of constant unstringing.

Well-made bows generally do not need to be unstrung as often as one would think. If you have a budget bow I would recommend making it a habit.

Another factor to take into consideration is the kinetic energy your bow holds when under tension. If your bow is going to be in transit it is essential to unstring it. Under tension, each little shock and bump can cause harm to the limbs.

Keep in mind there are harmful shocks and vibrations running through your bow every time a shot is fired, so you want to reduce exposure to this where you can.

Have you ever heard of the saying, “What you resist, persists?” Sometimes we make a problem worse by trying to prevent it or change the outcome. Unstringing your bow often could twist the fibers, doing the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve.

Try not to become obsessed with keeping your bow in top-notch shape. It’s a good idea to learn the correct way of taking the string off your bow, breaking your own toys is never fun.

How long can a recurve bow remain strung?

As a general rule, a recurve bow can remain strung for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the build quality and material. A typical synthetic bow can be kept strung for up to one month, while wooden bows can be kept strung for up to a week.

With the miracle of modern synthetic materials, bows have come a long way since we were using them to conquer each other. If you have a well-made synthetic bow, only unstring it if you plan to store it for longer than one month. On that note, it is advisable to get a bow bag to keep your bows crisp for off-season storage.

If you don’t want your wooden recurve bow to get old before its time, it is wise to unstring the bow if it will be unused for more than 1-2 weeks. Keeping it under tension for longer will lead to a reduction in power and bow durability. Also, take into consideration your storage location. If your bow is stored standing in a corner, it will start to warp and is more likely to get damaged.

When you are trying to figure out the best practices for your bow, it is always good to apply a bit of logic. Unstringing your bow can be beneficial, but overdoing it may not always be the best bet. With some bows, the damage that will be sustained in constant stringing and unstringing does not justify the minor loss of poundage you may experience over the lifetime of the bow.

How to unstring a Recurve Bow?

Only once you have unstrung a recurve bow, you will realize how much tension is actually held in the limbs – I recommend extreme caution when taking your string on and off. Remember, you are supposed to use your string and limbs to fire an arrow, not your arms and string to fire the limbs.

Your first option, and probably the best for your bow, is to buy a bow stringer. These make the job quick and hassle-free, with the least chance of doing any damage to your trusted bow. If your bow stringer does not come with full instructions, check for specific information online. Depending on the stringer you have, it may be a different set of instructions. Always check your information with your preferred retailer.

Bow stringers are surprisingly affordable, and for the safety and ease of use, I would definitely recommend getting one. I recommend getting the Selway Limbsaver stringer (Link to Amazon), it’s fairly priced and of great quality.

The next option is the step-through method, although I believe it should be called “wrestling a tame crocodile.”

Follow the below steps to ensure the crocodile doesn’t fight back:

  • Get someone to record you, if anything goes wrong you will get something out of it
  • Hold the upper limb in your left hand
  • Step your left foot through the bow, as if it were a pair of pants
  • Make sure the string is facing forwards and the bow facing back
  • Brace the lower limb against your right shin, ensuring the bow runs along the back of your left leg
  • Grab the upper limb and pull the bow against your right leg
  • Use your legs as leverage to bend the bow around your body
  • Pull the string off and slowly release
  • Be sure not to twist the bow in this process, as this will warp and damage the limbs
  • Now you can use it as a double-sided light saber

Although this method is not as safe as a bow stringer, it will still get the job done effectively. I recommend practicing a few times before embarrassing yourself at the range. If done properly, you should not cause damage to your bow, or yourself. Please be sure you are confident when doing this. We accept no responsibility for damaged limbs – on you or the bow.

If you have not learned anything from this article, then at least remember this: “The bow is just a long piece of wood, the archer is the true weapon.”

The Best Recurve Bows I’ve Reviewed

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Southwest Archery Spyder

This entry to intermediate level, traditional looking takedown recurve bow is one of these bows you can grow with. As a mid-sized, 60″ tall bow, with draw weight between 20-60 lbs and draw length between 22″ to 29″, it’s perfect for beginners.

Check what it’s going for in Amazon.

Bear Archery Grizzly

This high-end alternative is, in my opinion, the best option for more experienced archers. As a shorter bow 58″ tall, lightweight recurve bow, it’s very mobile. Its draw weight between 40-60 lbs, which is perfect for most experienced archers. The beautiful maple wood the riser is made of is also very durable, and generally, it’s made of high-quality material.

Like most other things, you can find it in Amazon.

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You can also read more in the full recurve bow buyer’s guide.