How to Wax Your Bowstring and Other Routine Maintenance

Just like an engine, it is to a car so is a bowstring to a bow. It is
usually an essential requirement to have your engine checked and serviced
regularly to ensure a smooth running of a vehicle. Therefore, it’s
important to have your bow string maintained. Depending on the kind or type
of bow you use, recurve, longbow or even a compound bow, the main service
you do to your bow is waxing it regularly.

How well bowstring is kept will influence the general efficiency of the bow
on the account of the string being the most essential part of the bow. This
is the string required to propel the arrow in the direction of your target.

What are some of the reasons you need to wax your bow string?

  • It helps prevent the bow strings from fraying.

· It enhances the waterproofness of your bow string. This is because when
water gets in the string it becomes heavy and this might make the arrow
travel slowly.

· It helps to retain the strands of the string.

A well-waxed bowstring should have a smooth feel and have a tacky feel to
it. When the string begins to dry up or on set signs of discoloration or
even fuzzing out, it is an indication it is time to wax it again.
Professional and excellent archers normally wax their bowstrings up to
three times a week and wax it before competitions should there be a rain

When the bow strands start to get loose or too fray, you need to kiss your
string goodbye and get another one.

How Often to Wax your Bow:


This is probably one of the few areas that are a little bit difficult to
explain but what happens in the field and through observation is that a
great number of people do not wax their bowstrings as often as required.

There are varied opinions on how often you need to wax your bowstring. The
theories range from:

· Waxing your bow string after every single shoot (this might be too much,

  • Waxing your bow after every week or two.

But what is important however is that, you need to wax your bow string and
you will carry out an inspection of your string to determine which will be
the best time to wax your bowstring.

Inspection process:

Before you decide whether your bow needs waxing or not, you need to answer
the following questions:

· Does the string feel kind of tacky to the touch? If yes, your string will
not need waxing at the moment. This is because a string that feels tacky to
the touch means it’s well-waxed.

· Does your string feel sticky and very dry? If yes, the bowstring needs
some waxing.

· Onto looking at the string, do you see “hairs” starting to stick up the
bowstring strands? This means that your bowstring looks like it has got
fur. If yes, then your bow string needs some waxing

· Do you see strands that are stricken out of the bowstring? If yes, then
you need to replace the bowstring as this is an indication that your string
is damaged.

Cleaning Your Bow Before Waxing

This is probably one of the most overlooked steps when it comes to waxing
your bow. Before you add a new layer of wax, consider doing the following:

· Cut out some dental floss and cover your bowstring with it. Ensure the
floss is very tight.

· Drag the dental floss down the bowstring. You should be able to see some
of the old wax forming at the floss. This will not be a pretty sight since
it will black and brown and that is this is the stuff you aim to get out of
your string.

How to check your bowstring

Waxing Tools:

So, what are the tools you require to give your bow string a nice shine?

  • Bowstring

· Fabric cord, a leather cord or a flexible card

· String Wax. The best choice is the synthetic kind of wax but the
traditional archer, the good old natural beeswax is most preferred.


Ensure that your bow string is in perfect condition. The strands need to be
tight and the string does not have too much fray.

Ensure your servings are also intact, and the string has the number of
twists you would like it to have.

The process:

Step 1

Apply the wax back and forth the string’s breadth and also the cables. You
will need to massage the wax up and down the length of the string and on
the visible parts of the strands.

Avoid waxing the bow’s serving area as this will make it unwind very fast
and also to become slippery.

Step 2

Working with your fingers, gently massage in the wax into the strands
because the bowstring is made of several strands. The wax will need to be
rubbed through all strands to achieve the best results. This process of
massaging the wax over the string ensures that it melts into all available
gaps of the strands.

Step 3

After you through with massaging the wax along the string, get the fabric
cord/leather and cover the string in a loop. You can even use a looped card
or even paper.

Lightly push and pull the looped cord along the breadth of your string so
as to evenly spread out the wax. The biggest amount of the wax can be
pushed through the string and any extra amount of wax not required will be
pushed out.

You can be able to use your fingers to spread the wax about the string and
after which you can run a string over it to take off any excess wax from
your bowstring.

After that, remove any lumps left on the strings with your hand and, your
string is good to go.

Points to Remember:

When it comes to waxing, it is important to have the following pointers in

  • You will want to do a 360-degree waxing of your string. Most archery
    beginners tend to wax on only one side of the bowstring.
  • Ensure that you exclusively wax the parts that require waxing. Do not
    wax the servings as this might make it loose which we do not want to
  • If you do not want to spend a lot of times cleaning consider using
    synthetic waxes because they are specifically made with elements that
    are made to wax bows. The candle wax and beeswax will give you a tough
    time when it comes to cleaning.
  • Avoid over waxing the bowstring. Consider using a little wax, as this
    goes a long way to helping you keep dirt from clogging the string.
    Over-waxing the bow will make it a magnet of dirt and will affect the
    efficiency of your bow specifically if you are using a compound bow.
    This is because the bowstring in a compound bow has to move through the

Check out the instructional video on how to wax a bowstring for a compound

Check out a video on how to wax a recurve bow:

What to Watch Out for:

When it comes to waxing, it is important to avoid getting waxes that have a
strong scent or unscented wax where possible. This is highly recommended
especially if you are a bow hunter. This is because there is a possibility
of the wax having a stronger scent than you do. This will definitely give
you away and make your hunting very difficult.

It might not be backed up scientifically, but due to use of chemicals, an
animal might get a whiff of the “unusual” smell in the environment.
Something that is divergent from the usual forest smell. Hence, the animal
will definitely get a sense of smell in you.

If you are a target archer, by all means, get a wax that tickles your fancy
and is pleasant to your nose.

Replacing Bowstrings:

Since bowstrings are subject to wear and tear when would be the most
appropriate time to replace them? This will be determined by a few factors
such as the weight of your draw, how often the bow is used to shoot, to
what degree it is maintained and the type of weather conditions it faces.

If the string is properly maintained, it should last for about three years.
However, should you notice frays or strands that seem broken then you need
to replace your string immediately.

Other String Maintenance bowstring inspection

Proper serving:

Apart from proper waxing your bowstring, you will need to always check the
serving of the bow as one of the alternative string servicing practices.

You will need to always look at the serving of your string and cables. The
serving is basically the thread that ties the bowstring strands together.
This is located at the nock area of the string.

You will need to have the serving to sit in very nice and tight coils and
stacked on top of each other on the top of your string. If there is any
separation between the coils, you will need to work on it immediately as it
can affect how effective your accuracy is.

If the serving tears, you will need to have it fixed immediately. The
repairs can be done by you, or go to your nearest archery shop to be fixed.

String Stretch

Anyone who uses a recurve bow will need to always check on the bow brace
height so as to inspect the string stretch. The brace height is the section
separating the grip area and the string. With time, this brace height might
start to shrink since the string will stretch due to usage. This is
commonly the case especially if the bowstring is used with the bow is new.

When this happen, you will need to unstring the bow and add more twists to
it until the brace heights go to the area of where it is supposed to be at.
The winding of the string will help increase the brace height.

When it comes to compound bows, you will need to check if the cam timing so
as to determine if there is any form of stretching of the cables. You will
need to ensure that the dual-cam bows roll over perfectly and in synch. If
they are not in synch, the level of your accuracy will be affected. When
you twist the cables, you will be bringing them out of synch cams back to

If your compound bow uses a single cam, be sure to check with the
producer’s guide to see how to properly position your cam for your bow. In
most cases, to fix a cable stretch will still be done by the twisting of a

Annual Tune-ups

A final point on string maintenance, it is important to visit a bow
technician annually. They will do bowstring stretch test and any loose part
is tightened up as well as get everything else aligned. The technician will
check your bow and retune everything and ensure it is in order. You will
not ever need to blame the bow for bad shots.

What have we left out in terms of bowstring maintenance? Feel free to share
it and make any recommendations on the bowstring maintenance process you