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Stringing or Bracing the Bow

Figure 1

If you buy a bow, it will come to you unstrung. The bow will be straight and the string will run limply along the belly, held in place by the string keeper. Whether you bought your bow or made it, before it may be shot, it must be strung or "braced". In other words, the string must be in position so that the bow is sprung, and will be held that way by the string, which is shorter than the bow. "Bracing" or stringing a bow means putting the top loop or "eye" of the string into the notch at the top of bow. The notch may be cut into the wood itself, as in plain ended bows, or in horn, fibre or metal as in tipped bows.

Figure 2


When a beginner comes to my shop, one of the first questions is: "Do you know how to string a bow?" The answer invariably is: "Sure," whereupon the eager novice either tries to climb the bow like a monkey does a stick, or grabs it by the top and attempts to drive it into the floor like he would a nail into a board. Others contort themselves into horrible shapes, wrap one leg around the bottom limb and yank the top limb east by west. You can spoil a good bow by bracing it improperly. The ways just mentioned will spring the lower limb all out of shape and the result is usually a bow that will no longer bend evenly. More bows are broken or spoiled by improper bracing than by any other abuse. The proper method is an easy, simple, graceful maneuver.

The bottom of the bow has the string permanently attached to it. Place it on the floor, inside the instep of your left foot. Take hold of the grip with your left hand. The flat side of the bow, or back, is toward you. The rounded side, or belly, along which the loose string hangs, is away from you. See Figure 1, above.

Place the heel of the right hand four inches below the loop or eye of the string, and on the flat back. Your thumb tip and second joint of the bent, first finger of the right hand should be just under the loop. Your other three fingers should be raised and not under the string on the belly side, where they are sure to get badly pinched. Now, pull with your left hand toward and against your left hip; push with the heel of your right hand against the upper limb of the bow, just under the loop. The bow, since it is stopped at the bottom by your left instep, will bend. It ought to bend quite a good deal, and as it bends, run the loop of the bowstring into the notch with the tip of your right thumb and second joint of your bent first finger of the right hand. See Figure 2. Some people find it easier to string a bow by grasping it about six inches above the handle.

You unstring your bow by reversing the above operation. Place the bottom of the strung bow inside the left instep. Get a firm grip on the handle with the left hand. Place the heel of the right hand under the nock. Pull with the left hand and push with the right so the bow bends and as it does, lift the loop of the bowstring out of the notch with the fingers and let the bow spring straight. Bows should always be unstrung after a shoot to preserve their cast.