How To Carry A Bow and Avoid Injury

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If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve either already started your bowhunting season or are about to start it soon. And whether you’re an experienced hunter or someone who’s just starting out, one thing that all hunters should know is how to carry their bows without injury.

It seems like a simple thing at first: just grab your stuff and head out hunting! But sometimes even the simplest things can go wrong, so be sure to read on for some great tips on carrying your bow safely.

Some of these methods include carry by hand, shoulder carry with the use of a bow sling, across the back carry, and carry while confined to a case.

All such methods have their unique pros and cons, with the utilization of a mix of these tactics based upon the situation at hand often being the best overall approach to carrying a bow.

Different Ways To Carry Your Bow

As previously mentioned there is a multitude of ways to carry your bow to and from your hunting destination. All of which serve particular needs and specific purposes.

An archer must also consider the differences between a compound and recurve bow, and what role these differences play when choosing how to carry a bow.

A recurve bow, as a general rule, is more rugged in design with less in the way of precision parts that can become damaged if unintentional contact with limbs and brush occurs in transit.

Compound bows feature sights with delicate pins, precision adjusted rests, and perfectly machined cams, all of which must be adequately protected at all times. These differences make the careful consideration of the following bow carrying methods all the more important. So how do you carry a bow when not in use?

Carrying A Bow With Your Hand

Carrying your bow by hand is perhaps the simplest of all methods of bow transport. This method has many obvious pros, with one of the most significant being that your bow is always at the ready.

If you should encounter game while in route, you are ready to make the most of a shot opportunity in seconds. Another great advantage of carrying your bow by hand is that no additional equipment must be packed along during a hunt. This makes for a lightweight and efficient journey afield.

I personally prefer to carry my bow by hand. This is because I primarily hunt in farm country where I seldom park further than 1 mile away from where I am hunting.

This makes carrying by hand easily feasible. It also allows me have my bow at the ready as I ease to my stand for afternoon sits.

However, carrying your bow by hand comes with its share of cons as well. One such con is that this method can be quite impractical when a long hike is expected.

After miles of walking, your hands begin to cramp from extended periods of clinging to the grip. Carrying a bow by hand also becomes cumbersome if you have additional gear to pack, as you will only have one hand free to carry excess equipment with.


  • Simplistic
  • No Extra Gear Is Needed
  • Bow Is Always In Position For A Shot


  • Tiring And Cumbersome
  • Leaves Bow Vulnerable To Damage

Carrying A Bow Using A Shoulder Sling

A shoulder sling can be used as a means of carrying a bow during distant treks while keeping both of your hands-free and available to pack other gear. This is also a relatively comfortable way of packing a bow, even during extensive travels.

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Because a bow is typically lightweight in design, little physical exertion is needed when carrying a bow with a shoulder sling. If you would like to see how to install a Bow Shoulder Sling, watch this video.

One definite con of using a shoulder sling is that you must always be aware of your surroundings. Because of the fact that you have a precision piece of equipment dangling from your shoulder, absentmindedly squeezing between two trees can render hunt-ending damage to a bow sight if special care is not taken (recurve bow archer read.. the perfect recurve bow sight).

Also, carrying a bow with the use of a sling means that you will have one additional piece of equipment to keep up with once you reach your destination.


  • Keeps Hands Free
  • Not Physically Taxing 
  • Lightweight Alternative To Conventional Carry


  • Bow Is Not Always Ready For The Shot
  • Bow Is Exposed To Potential Damage

How To Carry A Bow On Your Back

Carrying a bow on your back is best accomplished with the use of a specialty sling. There are several market offerings available today for those that prefer this style of carry.

The sling attaches to your bow and wraps over your shoulder and chest, much like a rifle sling. One great advantage of this method is that your hands are left free for other tasks, while your bow is tucked away elsewhere.

This makes even carrying your compound bow quite convenient, even during the lengthiest of hikes.

One con of carrying your bow on your back is that this method can take some time to become accustomed to. Until you have perfected sling tension and fitment, slipping of your sling and bow can be common.

It can also be somewhat difficult to keep your bow protected while carrying it on your back if hiking in inhospitable environments. Damage to bow components can easily occur if little thought is given to overhead limbs or other hazards.


  • Keeps Hands Free
  • Is Convenient For Hiking Long Distances
  • Is A Lightweight Method Of Carry


  • Takes Time To Get Used To
  • Leaves Limbs And Other Components Exposed To Damage

Carrying A Bow In A Case

Carrying a bow in a case (read.. 5 recommended best bow cases) is the ultimate in protection for your archery equipment. With your bow fully enclosed within the confines of its case, little possibility exists for component damage to take place.

As a side benefit, bow cases come with a built-in handle, allowing an archer to have a point of contact for handling.

One major drawback to carrying a bow in a case is that this method can add a significant amount of weight to your trek. Even soft-sided bow cases can be quite bulky in nature and cumbersome to contend with on long hikes.

You also have an additional piece of gear that you must contend with storing and concealing once you have reached your destination.


  • Completely Protects Bow From Damage
  • Built-In Handle Allows For Ease Of Transport


How To Carry A Bow On An ATV (Or Other Vehicle)

When carrying a bow on an ATV, or any vehicle for that matter, it is best carried in a case. This helps to protect it against any impacts that are sustained while cruising through less-than-ideal conditions.

It is also wise to secure the bow case in place with the use of bungee straps or binding of similar nature to prevent the case from shifting, or a loss of equipment while traversing rough terrain. You could also consider using gun racks.

Why You Should NEVER Carry It By The String

Carrying your bow by its string is not advised under any circumstances. This is due in large part to the potential for unwanted string stretch, as well as string wear from excess amounts of sweat and natural oils from your hands.

Although no one can say for certain if you will experience negative side effects to such carrying habits in your particular case, with your string being the heart of your bow, why take the unnecessary risk.

The Many Methods Of Carrying A Bow

While carrying a bow is a task that all bowhunters and archers are faced with, few truly give as much thought to the topic as they should. Carrying a bow can be accomplished in several ways including by hand, over the shoulder with the use of a sling, on your back, or while confined to a case.

However, each comes with its own set of distinct advantages and disadvantages that an individual must consider.

Feel free to leave any comments that you might have, as we enjoy receiving feedback from our readers.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

1 thought on “How To Carry A Bow and Avoid Injury”

  1. Shadiversity on YouTube has a seemingly new way to carry a bow while hunting or on the range with his nail catch. It does work out well on the range with my back quiver as well.


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