How to Set Up Traditional Archery Bows

Written by david weinberg
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How to Set Up Traditional Archery Bows
A girl using a traditional wooden recurve bow. (Archer taking aim to hit the bull's eye image by Andris Daugovich from

In contrast to crossbows and compound bows, most traditional archery bows consist primarily of a bow and a string. Despite their simplicity of design, properly preparing the bow can be a difficult and potentially dangerous task if it isn't done right. However, when it is set up correctly a traditional bow, such as a recurve bow or a longbow, can be incredibly powerful and accurate. Before preparing a traditional bow for use, it is important to identify the bow's length.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measurer
  • Bow stringer

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  1. 1

    Measure your bow from the string groove at one end of the bow to the string groove at the other end of the bow. If you are using a recurve bow, you can follow the curve near the tips of the bow, but you should not follow the inside curve of the bow. This gives you the length of the bow.

  2. 2

    Purchase a bow string that is labelled for a your bow length. Note that the string will actually be somewhat shorter than the label on the package. This is normal; the string will stretch to the proper length.

  3. 3

    Slide the larger bow string end loop over the top tip of the bow. Allow the loop to slide down the bow, do not situate it in the string groove. Situate the smaller end loop in the string groove on the bottom bow tip.

  4. 4

    Hold the bow with the front of the bow (the side that faces the target when shooting) is facing the sky. Note that on a recurve bow, the tips of the bow point towards the front of the bow. At this point, the string should be hanging off the bow towards the ground.

  5. 5

    Slip the larger bow stringer cup or pouch onto the bottom tip of the bow. Slip the smaller bow stringer cup or pouch onto the top tip of the bow. The bow stringer and the string should both be hanging off the bow toward the ground.

  6. 6

    Step on the bow stringer with both feet. Avoid stepping on the bow string.

  7. 7

    Pull the bow upward, away from the ground. The bow stringer will pull the tips of the bow closer to each-other. Slide the larger bow string loop toward the top tip of the bow and situate it in the string groove.

  8. 8

    Slowly lower the bow toward the ground after ensuring that the string is completely situated in the groove. Remove the bow stringer pouches or cups from the tips of the bow.

Tips and warnings

  • Verify that the bow string is firmly seated in the string grooves at either end of the bow.

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