… about strings

All my bows are strictly made out of natural materials. The only admission is the use of metal for take down sleeves, modern glue (epoxy, ca, pva) and modern string material on my bows. Of course, I’ve made strings out of natural materials, as hemp, linen, sinew, rawhide and other stuff. But these materials do not have constant qualities and are a lot more heavier than a modern ff string, which can be produced much faster and are easy available (at least for me) than the natural. So I reserve the natural string materials for selected replica bows and use the ff for the majority of my bows.

After testing some different products with different characteristics and searching in the net for specs my choice is BCY 452 X. Why? It is made out of a mixture of two different fibers, Dynema and Vectran. This compound allows no creep (non-recoverable elongation), but a little stretch (elastic, recoverable elongation). This stretch is an important effect for the longevity of our primitive bows.

Most people think string tension is biggest at full draw, but this not true. String tension is about 2,5x draw weight at brace or nearby and scale down while drawing the bow. This is the reason why most strings break at brace and not at full draw. A single strand of BCY452X holds 70 pounds. Let’s say we go for a 6x secure, so we just need a string made out of 6 strands for a bow up to 70 pounds of draw weight.

As most of my bows are between 40 – 70 pounds, the most strings are made usually out of 2×3 strands – a very thin and light construction. This allows more speed compared to a Dacron string and has a cleaner definite release. I do a double serving where my fingers touch the string for more comfort. The ears are padded with 2×2 pieces of Dacron about 8” long (made out of my old Dacron strings).

The reason for using only 6 strands up to 70 pound bows is the intended stretch of the string when returning to brace. Imagine a single strand of rubber – you can stretch it easily. Now think of 100 strands of parallel rubber – no way to stretch out. The same principle works in a string construction; if you use too many strands you eliminate the intended stretch. I’ve seen breaks even on glass bows, because people made strings out of 18 strands ff – this construction is stiff like a steel cable!!!

There are some good side effects too. First, it saves money, no waste of material. Second, a light string cause higher arrow speed. I have compared B50 strings (14 strands) with 452X (6 strands) and got a difference of about 5 fps, on some higher weight bows even a little more. Third, I like the more definite release on that strings, I feel shooting is much more precise.

To say it short: there are only disadvantages, when using more strands than necessary!

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