String Serving Awareness On Crossbows

The string serving on a crossbow is wound tightly around the string and is approximately 4 inches in length. Its purpose is to protect the string from the arrow retention claws, which hold the string in the cocked position. The serving also contacts and rides the crossbow's rail once the bow is fired. A string serving, as you can well imagine, endures a lot of abuse and is subject to wear over time, and its condition plays a vital role in your crossbow's performance.

A crossbow serving also must withstand the hundreds of pounds of force it is subjected to with each shot. Additionally, it is subjected to both heat and friction as it slides down the rail and propels your arrow at its intended target. Therefore, it is critically important that the serving is well maintained.

An example of a separated serving exposing the bow string.

An example of a separated serving exposing the bow string.

Unlike the actual string, servings should never be waxed. Waxing the serving can cause it to soften and wear prematurely. Excessive wax on the serving will also be pulled back into the string latch when the crossbow is cocked, and that could cause the latch to malfunction.

Serving wear is common on all crossbows. Generally speaking, the narrower axle-to-axle (and/or faster) crossbows have more serving problems. Serving separation is a common occurrence over time, but should never be taken lightly.

If your serving is starting to separate, it could simply mean the serving is loosening and exposing the string to the dangers of the retention claws, or it could mean there's actually a broken strand in the serving itself. In either case, the crossbow should be re-servedeither by yourself, if you have the knowledge, or by an experienced professional.

Serving failure will ultimately lead to string failure and that can be catastrophic for the crossbow and shooter if the bow is in the cocked position when the failure occurs.

Check your serving before and/or after every outing. If it shows any signs of separation, have it re-served immediately. It could save you hundreds of dollars and possibly your life!

Click here to subscribe to Crossbow Magazine!

Shop Sportsman's Guide for a fine selection of Crossbows and Accessories!