Q&A Brace Height Tuning and String Twisting

Marcus Valdes writes back to ask about brace heights: “A fellow broke his bowstring a couple of weeks ago at our club and last night he was attaching his new string. He shot it for a few ends and then took it off and put “twists” in it to adjust the brace height. How do I figure out what my brace height should be?”

Brace height tuning is a bit advanced for where you are at the moment. My best advice is to set your brace height (string height) to what the manufacturer’s specs are and just leave it there. New bowstrings (especially Dacron ones!) stretch some when shot the first 100 or so times. This necessitates having to twist them to make them shorter (actually back to their original length). Some twists are needed, and somewhere between “too few” and “too many” is “just right,” which is not easy to find—so just use the manufacturer’s specification until you shoot well enough to notice the difference between two brace height settings.

Recurve archers check their brace height everytime they brace their bows as a measure of “string health.” If you form a habit of doing so, you will never be surprised by a string that creeps it’s way to failure.


There are right and wrong ways to check your string height. The simplest is using a bow square. Once you have the brace height you want, cut a standard mailing label in half lengthwise and place it centered on that number on the “rule” part of your bow square. Place the T bar end into your bow’s pivot point so that the rule part makes a 90 degree angle with the string and draw pencil marks on both the front and rear edges of the string. Then, to check your brace height, slap your bow square into the pivot point and see if the string falls between the two marks and you are good to go. (You don’t need to measure the actual number, just see if it is different from before.)

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