Bowstrings: A Quick Survey

I had a lesson the other day with one of my Olympic Recurve students and he was complaining that the bowstrings he bought for his 68˝ recurve bow produced brace heights that were too high, even with no twists. I asked if the strings had been “shot in” and he said they were.

Bowstrings made with modern materials need many fewer shots to temper them than do older materials (Dacron and earlier). The old rule of thumb was 100 shots were needed, now I would estimate 30-35 should be recurve_bow_stringsufficient. After any stretch has occurred, the string is twisted to create the desired brace height. But this process is of no help if the untwisted string is too short.

This situation reminded me that on many occasions when buying large numbers of bowstrings for archery programs that many, if not most, were too short, producing quite high brace heights. On beginner bows this is not so much of a problem, the only one I could think of is making sure the archer’s armguards were placed farther from the wrist to provide the protection necessary. But on recurve bows of serious archers …

So, here is my question (please respond with a comment):

Have you experienced buying commercial bowstrings that turned out to be too short for normal use?

Any wisdom you want to share regarding how you cope with this would be nice. (I make my own bowstrings, but this is not an option for most archers.)


Filed under For All Coaches

21 responses to “Bowstrings: A Quick Survey

  1. David Beeton

    I have purchased around 100 strings for my club and school archery system. Out of all those only two have been “too short”, both Dacron based, and both stretched with use. Both came from the same batch so it may have been a quality control issue with the company.


  2. Sue Palsbo

    Bigger problem is the commercial bowstrings have too many strands for low draw weights and the serving makes it too fat to fit the arrow nocks. This is especially true for beginners shooting 66″ bows, but well under 30#. This is why I finally taught myself to make strings fore me and my students.


  3. Coach Krish Rama.

    Dear Mr. Ruiz, I tell my suppliers to not include ready made strings as a rule of thumb. They are not only of odd lengths (no two the same) but made of cheap material. I make recurve strings. Strand material and number of strands to suit the archer, bow and arrow nocks (serving material). I have just delivered four strings to different archers and fitted the nocking points on site with string on their bows. The twists (right handed to the right) were done today (four days) before they come to shoot with me at my club. Strict instructions were given to them that they, must shoot a minimum of fifty arrows (per day at home) before we shoot at the club on Sunday. They were also informed that they should not adjust the brace height (by adding twists) but record the position of the impact. The string will stretch (slightly) and as such, the shot will lower along the vertical line. On Sunday, they will bring their target faces and we will re-adjust the brace height.
    Finally, they were also told not to adjust their sights.
    Not all coaches go to this length but all should, for the benefit of the archer.


  4. Coach Krish Rama.

    Dear Mr. Ruiz,
    When is a string not a string ? Personally, I tell my suppliers to not include ready made strings with my orders. They are cheap and no two are the same. Servings as thick as an elephants leg are of no help to us
    I make strings for my archers to complement their equipment. Servings are added based on nock size and also hand morphology.
    I have (today) delivered four strings and fitted nock points on sight whilst string was at ‘recommended’ brace height (a different discussion for another blog).
    The four archers were told to shoot a minimum of fifty arrows per day, not to adjust their sights and not to add twists to bring the arrow back up along the vertical line.
    I have also ask them to bring their target faces to the club on Sunday so that we can see the ‘string stretch drop’ and re-adjust the brace height.
    Not all coaches go to these lengths but more should.


  5. Lisa White

    Our club has gotten strings that are too short before. I attribute it to a glitch in communication between AMO length and actual length. So now we are very clear about what we want and haven’t had any more problems.


  6. Marty Ambrose

    I have a bunch of nearly unused strings.
    I am new to archery and have been shooting off the shelf recurves for the past two years. My D/L is 31″. I have two identical ‘modern’ take-down 64″ recurves, (brace spec is 7″- 8 1/4″), one is a 40# for target / 3D fun, the other is 50# for hunting. I also own a 50+ year old 62″ conventional recurve Bear Grizzly (brace spec 7-8″).
    Yes, if I go with the “AMO” designation on pre-packaged catalog strings, I am way over brace height. If I go to a custom string maker with the actual string nock to string nock measurement -3″, I am at or very close the brace height high limit, which again leaves no room for adjustment for arrow tuning or noise reduction.


    • David Beeton

      It is interesting that you shoot a 64″ bow when your draw length is 31″. Using conventional guidelines of “draw length +40″ to determine bow length, the recommended bow length should be 70″ or possibly 68”. Any shorter and there is a possible issue with “finger pinch”. I would be interested to know how you arrived at your 64 inch bow length.


      • Marty Ambrose

        I bought the bow first and went from there. As my form improved my draw length increased. I just bought a 4″ longer riser and I am currently assembling a 68″ TD recurve now. Finger pinch is not a problem with the 64″ and the maker allows draw up to 31″ (some don’t) but I do know that 68-70″ would be better.
        But, the point of these comments was to show issues with the fit of strings. Tuning bow and arrows includes brace height adjustments. My issue is that using conventional AMO ‘rules’ my 64″ – actually measured by me – bows should require -3″ strings of 61″. But 61″ strings are too short, causing the brace height to be at or over the upper specification, and I cannot untwist a string enough to make any significant change to make the brace height lower.


  7. I always just use the string builder at
    and I never get my lengths wrong!


    • Custom bowstrings should be right. Compound bows allow for a lot more variation in string length than do recurve bows. What I am inquiring about is off the shelf commercial bowstrings. (These are all machine made, by the way. Nobody makes hand made bowstrings commercially.)


      • Coach Krish Rama

        Call me ignorant but I have never seen a recurve bow string making machine. Wonder if there is something on ‘YouTube’ for me to see.
        Anyway, on another note; when setting up a bow for my students, I tend to use unfletched shafts whilst adjusting the button.
        I then perform the ‘tear test’ to check spine. Afterwards, I add the sight.
        Some say that this is backwards.
        I have actually tried both methods, sight first then adjust button but find button tension first to be more successful.
        Any others out there that would like to comment or enlighten me.


      • I have only seen the machines in pictures.

        Most people would adjust the button pressure last as compared with all of the other adjustments, because adjusting button pressure is fine tuning. If you are referring to button position, then most people refer to that as “setting centershot” here in the U.S.

        What is critical is that bows need to be set up correctly before being tuned. Tuning is making “small” adjustments and these cannot correct for a bow not set up well (including selecting properly spined arrows).


  8. I see we have a potential clash here! ;o)

    Bowhunters often use recurve bows much shorter than do target archers. Typical recurve bow lengths for hunting are 60″, 62″, and on the long side 64″. Some are even shorter. Bow design can reduce some of the finger pinch associated with these shorter bows but the big difference is … wait for it … bowhunters usually only take a few shots per day. If they were to shoot 100+ arrows from a short hunting bow in a single day, the finger pinch might then become a problem, but a couple of shots … no problemo.

    A more significant problem is trying to shoot a long bow from a treestand or while surrounded by brush. The bow just is too long and it gets tangled or blocked from certain positions. This is why shorter bows are preferred by hunters. Note: the Korean Olympic women archers have taken to shooting longer bows (~68″), I have been told, for the simple reason that they are smoother to shoot (and lightweight carbon arrows reduce the premium on draw weight). So, the guidelines and rules regarding recurve bow length are there … to be broken if the trade-off is in your favor.


    • Coach Krish Rama.

      Yes Sir.
      Sounds a bit like my set up question regarding button or sight first.
      As for the mechanics of micro – adjustments, modern recurve sights enable a recording of the changes, whereas, most buttons are not sufficiently endowed with this technology yet. Some manufacturers do do it but it has yet to become industry standard.
      Now Sir, alignment when stance is another query. My recurve students are taught the straight on stance rather than the open version.
      In relation to mentoring the archer to stand straight in alignment, why on earth would we want to change the alignment by allowing them to move their feet (to fit current trends) ?
      If it’s not broken, why try to fix it by changing it ?
      (Finger morphology next).


      • The “square” or “even” stance is arbitrary, like most of the others. There is nothing special about it. The history of the dogma of the open stance is clear to me (and probably wrong as I often am, but …). There is only one stance I find defensible: a 10-12 degree closed stance. For a recurve archer, the full draw position has the line of the shoulders at about 10-12 degrees closed to the target line. The strongest stance to support such a position is to have hips, knees, and ankles/feet aligned under the shoulders as the only force they have to contend with is gravity which is operating straight down.

        I am convinced that the open stance dogma, currently in vogue started with McKinney and Pace in the USA (not with Power Archery). Those two dominated in world archery events and both shot with an open stance while doing so. If I can read between the lines, both were so flexible that their draw elbows could get quite far “past line” and because of this their feel of being in the correct full draw position was quite vague. By opening their stances, they made it harder to get their shoulders into correct position (which is why I do not recommend it to most archers) and provided that “tight” feeling we all associate with being in good full draw position.

        The Koreans studied the Americans extensively in the early 1980’s and made an open stance part of their technique as a matter of course.


    • David Beeton

      OK – I can see that. Thanks for the clarification. 🙂


  9. Coach Krish Rama

    Yes Sir, I will do a session this Saturday that incorporates both types of stance.
    I will record the results and those who benefit from a change in stance will go forward with something that their body feels more comfortable with.
    Open to information and flexible enough to change.
    Learning never stops.
    Thank you Sir.
    Current time in my zone :- 22.40pm.


  10. minorthcoach

    I have always had custom strings made before, and this spring I will be buying the tools to make my own. Recently, though, for the sake of fast delivery and low cost, I tried an “off the rack” string carried by Lancaster.
    I have been impressed. I only have about 450 arrows through it so far, but it set up correctly right out of the package (I put about a dozen twists in it to start), the brace height is right within the Hoyt factory guideliness, and the string is soft and quiet. I used the length stamped/stickered on my limbs as the length I ordered.
    He is the string:


    • If I had $20 to do the experiment I’d order one and see how well it fits. ,sigh> It does seem that there is variation based upon who makes the string (as one would expect). Maybe with high volume and high string number production, there are just times when things get out of whack and a large batch of out of standard strings get marketed. There’s no way anybody along the chain from manufacturer to consumer is going to check the darned things.

      Thanks for the comment!

      On Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 12:37 PM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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