iHuntFit Archery

Custom Bow Strings Buyers Guide

Written By Stephen Butler, iHuntFit Field Team

Whether you are new to shooting archery or a veteran, we all like a little bit of bling on our bows to match our personality and give it that special unique touch. This buyers guide is important whether you are shooting a competition compound or a longbow. Today, we are going to give you a rundown on questions you need to ask yourself, information you need to have, and our professional opinion before you order that new string. 

Why do I want new strings? This may sound like simple answer, but it is still and important one. Here are a few reasons to have a custom string built for your bow.

  • I want to make my bow look cool. Fair enough reason. A cool look can set you apart from the competition.
  • A good custom string is stretched to at least 300 pounds for a minimum amount of time. This is important, because it reduces, if not eliminates string stretch, and peep rotation. 
  • Craftmanship. Custom strings are made more slowly than factory strings. A good string maker will take the necessary time to ensure a near flawless string.

What colors should I pick? Today there are many different color schemes available to the custom string customer. Colors range from bright and vibrant to drab and satin. How should you choose your colours?

  • In what setting will you be shooting your bow? This is a big question that many people don’t think about but could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful hunt. Here are a few examples:
    • Target Shooters – Can get away with shooting any colour that they like.
    • Turkey Hunters – Steer clear of red, white, and blue. Not only do turkeys seek out these colors, but so do other hunters. Turkeys heads turn these colors during mating season. 
    • Ungulate Hunters (deer, elk, pig, camel) Avoid blue strings. Ungulates are believed to be mostly color blind, seeing only in shades of grey, except for blue which according to research stands out like a sore thumb. 

How do I want my strings built? This very much depends on the type of bow you shoot, as well as what type of performance equilibrium you are after.

  • What materials do I want my bow made of? This is very important and varies greatly between types of bow and use. Here are a few examples to think about. 
    • Longbows and recurves– Many people like the idea of Fastflight strings giving them that few feet per second more. However, if your bow does not have reinforced tips, you can break your limbs. In this case, you will probably want a string material more like Browning B-50. Check with a Bow-Pro or the manufacturer to find this out.
    • Compounds– These materials vary and are often made of a blend of fibres like Dyneema and Vectran. The string material that you choose will depend on a variety of things like cost, quality, and performance. This is best discussed with you string maker. They have all the expertise to help you make these types of decisions.
    • Strands – This depending on the type of bow, and the poundage. Strands can run anywhere from 8-28 strands. More for crossbows. Compound bows generally run a 24-strand string and cables. Speak with your bow string maker to determine what is appropriate for your bow if you are not sure.
    • Servings– If you are new to the custom string world, servings seem like a ‘run-of-the-mill’ kind of thing, but they are not. Serving comes in different colors, diameters, and can be a single string or braided line. If you do not specify serving, you will get that manufacturers preference of material. Thinner serving will increase your arrow speed, where thicker serving will extend the life of your string. Single string is said to be faster, but braided is said to be stronger. Diameter also plays a complementary role with strands. A string with less strands may need a thicker serving to hold the nock of the arrow in place.

What information do I need to have? What does my string maker need to know about my bow before they can build my order?

  • What kind of bow do you have? This may seem like a mundane question, but I have had many people ask me to build them a string, and not have a clue what their bow is, or who made it. Every bow is different, and even the same bow made in different years, often have very different specifications.
    • Is it a recurve, longbow, or compound bow? This will determine what type of string you want built and play a large factor in price.
    • Who is the manufacturer? Who made your bow? (Ex. Hoyt, Martin, Elite, or PSE)
    • What is the Model? Does it have a number or letter after it? This is important in determining what size strings and cables to be built.
    • What is the year? The year is a crucial piece of information. A string built to the specs of the year before, could have a length difference of up to an inch. This will give the bow poor performance and can cause damage to your bow, and possibly you.
    • What poundage is the bow? What weight do you intend to shoot it at? General rule of thumb says that the string will be built to your bow’s maximum weight capacity. However, some more experienced target shooters shooting a lower poundage, may want it built to a slightly different spec. to increase speed.
    • Do you have the factory specs that came with your bow? Your bow string maker will need all these specs when you order. When you buy your bow new it includes a specification card, that gives you your min and max draw weights, your range of draw lengths, your brace height, Axle to Axle, String length, and cable lengths (note some compounds have two cables while others only have one). Note: most compounds will have most of this information on a sticker on the inside of your bottom limb.
  • What type of string do you want? This is particularly important for longbow and recurve shooters, as there are a few different kinds. 
    • Do you want a continuous loop or a Flemish twist? A continuous loop is built in a similar manner as a compound string and is served on both ends and is a standard string. A Flemish twist is braided and woven on the ends. The Flemish twist is very popular, because they need to be handcrafted, and is the way that it was done on English medieval longbows. They also look very nice and are quite popular with traditional shooters. 
    • Speed or utility?  Do you want you’re string fast or strong? There is a plethora of different opinions on this. The easy thing to remember is that high quality material is stronger, and usually faster. Your bow string maker will be able to help you with this.
  • What colors do I want? Ok, here is the reason you probably started to read this article in the first place. Everybody wants some bling.
    • How many colors do you want? This is a very personal thing, but we have a few suggestions toward the end of the article that may help you to determine this. Some string makers will allow you to pick up to four colors for your string. We do NOT recommend more than three. Note: More colors usually mean additional cost.
    • Do I want a pinstripe? Pinstripes have become quite popular in recent years. Some string makers will allow you to add a pinstripe for a nominal cost.
    • What color do I want for my serving and DLoop ? This is personal preference.
  • Who will put these new custom strings on my bow for me?  This is a big question, that people often don’t think about before they order a set of strings. Even when a bow claims to not need a bow press, we still advised to use one for string and cable changes, unless you are in the middle of nowhere on a mountain top. Here are the most realistic options.
    • Put then on yourself– If you have been around archery for a while and have access to a bow press, you can certainly do this yourself. However, consider that this could void the warranty on your bow.
    • Take them to a local shop – This is probably the most popular option. Any local shop should be able to do this with very little difficulty, and for not much money. However, a shop may charge you a bit more for not buying the string from them. Some shops either build strings themselves or have contracts with outside string makers.
    • Let your bowstring maker put them on for you– This is our recommended method for a few reasons. First and foremost, your string maker will ensure that your string is put on perfectly and everything is in specs. Secondly, they rarely charge extra for this, and if there is a problem with the string they can often fix it on the spot at no cost to you. Lastly, they want you to come back and bring your friends. They will bend over backwards to make sure that your happy.

A Custom String Maker’s thought on colors

Compound bowstrings are made in a continuous loop. So, a 24-strand string is one solid piece of material wrapped around a string jig 12 times. There can be no separation, uneven pulling, or colour bleed.

  • One Color: Even though a solid color may not be as pretty, it is the most structural and has the best performance of all bowstrings. 
  • Two Color: Or ‘candy cane’ stripes can look quite impressive and can be made in two equal bundles of 12 and 12 to make up a 24-strand string. This works well, and a good string maker can make these very even. This is a good string that pulls evenly. 
  • Three Color: We do not recommend a three-color string due to it being reduced to three 8-strand bundles. We feel that this makes for a weaker string and it is more difficult to get all the threads even. This can cause reduced performance.
  • Pinstripes: Pinstripes are neat, and they look good. They are generally done with a two-color string. However, when you add a pinstripe you are making uneven bunches of 11, 11 and 2. Dropping your thread count to 22 instead of 24. This is because the 2 strings will not pull evenly with the two 11-strand colours. 
  • We are not saying that you can’t shoot great scores and take great animals with multiple colors. You certainly can. This is just food for thought.

This information is just to help you pick out and order your strings while giving you a general understanding of the process. If you decide to change your own string, your it is ‘at your own risk’. If you have any questions as your Custom String Maker. 

And as always, “Keep your strings waxed and your broadheads sharp”.

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