Stringing the traditional recurve bows

Warriors and hunters carried their most developed weapon, the Manchurian-type bow, „string pad”/”groove guide” (recessed string bow, possibly?) bow in drawn state, just as they did with its predecessors, the Mongolian, the Hungarian, and the Scythian bows. After usage they unstrung the bow and slid it into a leather cover/sack like the protecting sack of an umbrella.


To be able to maintain and restore the “reflexive” curvature of the bow, they used a wooden rack, or stand, specifically developed for this: here, the bow rested when it wasn’t in use. When they wanted to use it, they would have to redraw it again, of course. Ever since the appearance of reflex-bows, stringing has always been a demanding task requiring muscle-strength and skill. A couple of different techniques were available to nomadic archers for stringing the bow.

The first technique, namely stringing the bow with the help of the knees, had already been used by the Scythians: this method is depicted on the well known vase.

The second technique also utilised the archer’s legs to provide the strength and pressure to bend the bow. The archers would hold the bow in between their two legs so that the lower tip would stick out in front touching the ground. This was the limb where one end of the string had already been laid into the nock and groove at its end. Then, from behind their back, they would bend the other tip of the bow forward, pressing the bow’s arc against the back of the thigh. This way it was easy to lay the string into the other groove.

The third technique was different, inasmuch as the archers would string the bow while seated. They would squeeze the bow between their thighs, while with one hand they would pull its one limb towards themselves. Simultaneously with the other hand they would lay the other end of the string into the groove—this is one of the ways Islamic archers used to string their bows.

Apart from this method, the Muslim archers had an individual technique for laying the string into the groove, which method was unknown in the Eastern- and Inner Asian territories: they used a sort of rope, or lasso, tied onto their waist as a bow stringer to make stringing more convenient.