The life of every bowstring comes to an end at some point. Inevitably, some questions arise: Which bowstrings are there, and which ones are suitable for my bow? How should I calculate the chord length of a bow and how can I grow a bowstring to increase its life span? We give you all the answers in our guide on how to make a bowstring!
What is a Bowstring?
The Bowstring is probably one of the most important parts of the Bow. The tendon is responsible for converting the potential energy into kinetic energy and transferring it to the arrow.
Therefore the string must fit perfectly to the respective bow. Various materials are available, which have changed over time. In pre-modern times animal tendons were used, nowadays high tech material like Dacron. This makes the string more durable and significantly increases the precision and shooting performance of modern bows.
A bow tendon has two small eyes at the ends, where it is hung into the tendon notches. The tendon is reinforced at these and in the middle section to protect it against excessive wear and tear due to the tension and grip of the hand. A high-quality bowstring has a low dead weight and has an optimal balance between flexibility and tear resistance.
What to Consider When Buying a Bowstring
When buying bowstrings you have to consider several things. The chord length plays a decisive role. In one of the following chapters, you will learn how to proceed if you want to calculate the bow chord length.
You also have to decide whether you want to buy a spliced tendon or an endless tendon. As already mentioned, the string must fit your bow perfectly and the number of strings, as well as the thickness and the material, have to play a role in the handling.
To find the right string for Longbow or Recurve Bow, the following three aspects should be considered:
- Chord length
- Number of strands
- Flemish spliced or endless tendon?
Different Types of Tendons
When buying a bowstring you have the choice between an endless string or a spliced string. But what are the differences between endless and spliced?
To splice a Bowstring means to weave the strands of the tendon auricles. This creates a special traditional look, which is especially important for longbow shooters. But not only that: The Flemish splicing tendon is much more elastic than the endless tendon. This is another reason why it is often used for Longbows, as it protects the limbs of the bow.
The strands of the continuous tendon are connected to the auricles by a special winding instead of being braided. The endless chord is the classic chord for Recurve Bows, as it guarantees a higher energy transfer to the arrow. This of course results in higher shooting performance.
Whether you use an endless tendon or a Flemish splice is a matter of taste and is up to you. For traditional longbows, a Flemish splice generally makes more sense than an endless string.
Suitable Thread for Recurve Bows and Longbows
In principle, both Dacron and Fast Flight tendon yarns are used for recurve bows and longbows. For traditional bows such as longbows, Dacron is more suitable, however, because it puts less strain on the bow. Whether you are allowed to use a Fast Flight string depends on the draw weight of your bow. We always recommend that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, otherwise, your bow could break under the excessive load of a Fast Flight string!
Best Dacron Bowstring Material – MILAEM Dacron Bow String Making Thread
This Dacron thread by Milaem comes in a range of 17 different colors to choose from, with each spool providing 110 meters of thread. With a weight capacity of 40kg/88 lbs. per individual thread, you can customize your bowstring to meet your exact needs.
Best Fast Flight Thread – TACHYON ARCHERY Fast Flight Bowstring Material
For a bowstring that is strong, durable and just won’t stretch, you need Fast Flight thread, also known as 652 Spectra. This thread comes in a variety of lengths and thread-counts and you can specify to have multiple colors combined to suit your needs.
Choosing Tendons for Compound Bows
Changing the string of a compound bow is difficult for archer themselves. This is especially true for beginners. It is best to have it done by a professional. It is not advisable to fiddle around with a bow that has several cam wheels that all have to run synchronously. So if you don’t want to affect the shooting performance, get an expert to do it. Furthermore, you need a bow press for adjusting the cams – who has them standing around at home? You will find information about the suitable bowstring for the compound as well as its length in the included manual. You will also find that manufacturers of compound bows sell replacement bowstrings specifically for each model of bow they produce. This ensures that the exact type of string of the exact length is used. So if you are planning on replacing your compound bowstring yourself, check out the strings supplied by your bow manufacturer first.
The Optimal Chord Length
If you want to buy a bowstring, you first have to calculate the chord length. To calculate the chord length of an arc, you measure the distance from one chord notch to the other. It is best to use a tape measure, then the measurement will be more accurate, especially with the recurve bow.
With a longbow, the tendon should be about seven to eight centimeters shorter than the complete bow and with a recurve bow about 10 centimeters shorter. The exact determination of the appropriate tendon length is usually based on the AMO standard (Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organizations).
Adhere to the following specifications:
- The Bowstring of a recurve bow is ten centimeters shorter than its total length
- The tendon of a longbow is between seven and eight centimeters shorter than the length of the bow
- For compound bows, the appropriate length of the tendon is generally indicated in the instructions for use
By the way, you can make Flemish spliced tendons shorter by twisting them in. The rule of thumb is: The shorter the tendon, the higher the bow’s standing height. You should consider this in any case.
Ideal Tendon Thickness and Number of Strands
Nowadays, most bowstrings are made of synthetic fibers Dacron or Fast Flight. Due to the higher elasticity of Dacron, the limbs of the bow are less stressed. Fast Flight tendons hardly stretch at all and retain their shape much better. They are therefore the standard material for bows with high draw weights.
Dacron tendons should always be used on recurve bows with a wooden middle section, as not all of the tension energy is transferred to the arrow on firing. A part of the energy is also absorbed by the bow, which is why a Fast Flight tendon would direct too much energy to the middle section so that the bow would be permanently overstrained.
The higher the draw weight of your bow, the higher the number of strands of the string must be. The matching bowstring should be thick enough to transfer the energy of the bow to the arrow in the best possible way, thus protecting the bow. It should also be thin enough that it does not unnecessarily swallow the bow’s power due to its dimensions. The exact strength of the chord, therefore, depends on your bow and usually follows the description of the bow manufacturer.
A bowstring consists of several strands. As far as the number of strands is concerned, however, there are differences. The required material of the tendon as well as the number of strands depends strongly on the respective bow and its tension weight. The number of strands must be higher, the greater the tensile weight of your bow, because of the greater the load caused by tensioning the tendon. But you must also consider that tendon too thick has a negative effect on the shooting performance. A compromise is therefore required.
For the bowstring material, you have the choice between Fast Flight and Dacron. While Dacron has much higher flexibility, which reduces the strain on the limbs during tensioning, Fast Flight can be used for bows with a higher tensile weight as it hardly changes its shape.
Bow Tendon Differences: Flemish Splice and Endless Tendon
Bow tendons are available either as “Flemish splice” or as “endless tendon”. With a Flemish spliced tendon, the tendon tubes are traditionally spliced. In this process, the individual tendon strands are interwoven with each other, creating a continuous connection and the classic look.
The strands of the tendon tube in an endless tendon are not braided together, but are connected by the winding at the end.
The elasticity of the Flemish splice tendon is higher than that of the endless tendon and is therefore often used in traditional longbows because of the low stress on the bow. Endless tendons, on the other hand, are hardly stretchable and transfer the tension energy better to the arrow. Such tendons are mostly used with recurve bows. Which tendon you choose is ultimately more an individual question for enthusiasts than a technical decision.
Archery Tendons Care Tips
If your bow is not in use at the moment, you should take it off, unless it is a compound bow. This way neither the limbs nor the tendons are unnecessarily strained. Take care to store the bow under the same weather conditions at best, otherwise, the material will expand and then contract again, which can lead to stress. This also applies to the bowstring!
Inspect the tendon regularly for damage. A damaged tendon during Archery can cause injuries. It should not be frayed.
You should take a closer look at the string of your bow before each shooting unit. If you notice that the string looks frayed in one place, you should feel whether it feels dry or porous. In this case, you should wax the bowstring to give it the suppleness it needs when you pull it out.
Even the best bowstrings are not completely spared from temperature-induced material expansion and contraction. To ensure that you still have a lot of the tendon in the long term, you should therefore store it under constant temperature conditions.
Making a Bowstring yourself
You can buy a homemade bowstring or make a bowstring yourself. You can buy all the necessary materials on the Internet:
- Tendon yarn, for example, Dacron
- Center winding yarn
- Tendon gallows or, alternatively, screw clamps (for an endless tendon)
- A tendon board (for a Flemish splice)
- Possibly a center winding device
- A knife or scissors
Making a DIY bowstring is quite easy if you know what to look for. Don’t get angry if it doesn’t work the first time, because this is just a matter of practice.
Whether it’s worth the effort is probably a matter of attitude – you won’t save much money, but the feeling of having made a bowstring completely by yourself is phenomenal!
Making a DIY bowstring is quite easy if you know what to look for. Don’t get angry if it doesn’t work the first time, because this is just a matter of practice. Whether it’s worth the effort is probably a matter of attitude – you won’t save much money, but the feeling of having made a bowstring completely by yourself is phenomenal!
Questions and Answers
How Should I Grow the Bowstring?
You can wax the bowstring to increase its life span. For this, you need tendon wax and a lint-free cloth. Hang the string with an eyelet in a door handle and pull the string tight.
Coat the tendon with wax. Be generous with the amount. Rub the wax into the tendon with the help of the cloth or even your fingers with gentle pressure. Be careful, because the friction generates heat. Proceed in this way until you reach the middle, then hang the other ear in the catch. Repeat the procedure. Do not forget to wax the ears!
How Long Does a Bowstring Last?
In general, the lifetime depends on how you handle the string and how much you shoot. Many recommend replacing the tendon once a year.
However, of course, you should not change a tendon that is still in perfect condition. If no fibers are lifted from the tendon and no split ends have formed, it is still usable.
The rule of thumb: It is better to change too much once than too little once. It is always cheaper to buy a bowstring than to buy a complete bow after a break!