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String jig setup

It can be intimidating ordering your first custom bow string. There are a lot of details you may be asked about that you had never considered. When ordering a custom string it's essential that you provide accurate information about your bow and how you shoot. Hopefully this can help you order with confidence. This will cover:

Your riser

For your riser you'll need to provide length, make and model. Example: 25" Hoyt Arcos

If you want to verify the length of your riser you can measure the overall length.

It's usually an odd number and the lengths are in 2" increments.

Standard riser lengths are 23", 25", 27". While there are other sizes out there these are the most common.

Your limbs

For your limbs you'll need to provide the length, poundage, make, and model. Example: Medium 28 lbs Hoyt Carbon Integra

Limb length can be a bit confusing as there are 2 different ways they are labelled. The common lengths are:

  • short (or 66")

  • medium (or 68")

  • long (or 70")

While some manufacturers use short, medium, and long on their lables, others mark limbs with an overall bow length measurement in inches that assumes they will be used with a 25" riser. That's not to say those limbs can only be used with that length riser, but that's just how they label them. Those limbs will be labelled as 66", 68", 70".

The sample limb labels shown here all represent 28 lb medium limbs. Some include the overall bow length and draw weight if they were used on a 23" riser also.

These labels will also say top/upper or bottom/lower to show how they should be attached to the riser. The bow should be put together in this way every time it's assembled.

Your nocks

For those who are not familiar, the nock is the plastic piece on the end of the arrow that attaches to the string. The information your string builder will need is the make, model, and throat size of the nock. Example: Easton small groove G nock

A nock will typically have 2 different measurements.

  • The size arrow shaft they will fit into. This is typically in mm. An Easton G nock, for example, is 4mm. While this is great information for figuring out which nocks can be used with which arrows, it's not the info needed to build you a custom string.

  • The other is the groove size that will fit onto the string. These are usually labelled as small or large groove. The Easton G nock, for example, comes in both a small groove and a large groove. Some models only have one groove size. Unfortunately "small groove" and "large groove" are not standardized across the different manufacturers so it's important to provide all the nock information and not just the groove size.

If you have trouble identifying your nocks, ask your coach or check out our nock identification guide.

Brace height

The brace height is the distance from the pivot point of the bow to the string at rest.

Brace Height

Your string will come with twists in it. You can customize your brace height by:

  • adding twists shortens the string and increases the brace height

  • removeing twists lengthens the string and decreases the brace height

Most manufacturers have a recommended brace height range but you can work with your coach to fine tune this setting. Once you set your brace height it's important to keep the twists and not let the string unwind (losing twists) when you unstring the bow. Make sure to secure the end loops together to prevent losing twists when the bow is disassembled.

If you have spent time tuning your bow and there is particular brace height you know works for your bow, you can measure the length of the string set up with that brace height and order that exact same length for your next string.

Your shooting style

The most common shooting styles are:

  • Olympic recurve - This is a recurve bow that has a clicker, sight, and stabilizers. It's the style archery done in the Olympic games.

  • Barebow - This is done with the same recurve bow as Olympic Recurve, but without the clicker, sight, and stabilizers. Plungers are used with both styles.

  • Longbow - A single piece or takedown bow that forms a D shape when strung. It has no recurve shape to the limbs.

  • Compound - A shorter bow that has wheels or cams that assist with reducing the draw weight at full draw. Becuase of this let-off these bows are preferred for hunting so they can be held at full draw for longer periods of time.

Why does the shooting style matter for ordering a string? The different styles may use different shooting techniques that benefit from different materials and may have different rules for competition. Include this information in your custom order and the best materials can be used for how you shoot.

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I originally posted an article comparing string materials 2 years ago. Here's an updated look at how these materials stack up against each other based on what is available to archers today.

Archery bow string material
What has changed since 2021?
  • Brownell (while purchased by another company) seems to have disappeared from the scene and their materials are no longer available (at least in the US).

  • Bloodline (a US company) has expanded their line of materials to offer those designed for recurve as well as compound bows.

  • Correction: The original FastFlight material is equivalent to BCY's 652 Spectra material and FastFlight Plus is equivalent to BCY's 8125. That information has been corrected in the updated diagram.

In addition to the bow string material characteristics mentioned in the original article (which still hold true), here are a few other factors that should be considered in selecting your material and specifying your string build.

String material is not round

While not new information, this is pertinent to this discussion. String material is more of a flattened fiber, much like tape style dental floss. Bow string material size is measured in denier, a unit of measurement used in the fiber industry and refers to the thickness of the individual threads or filaments.

Material denier

Many archers hear about strand count and assume that 16 strands of one material is equivalent to 16 strands of another material. That is not the case as materials come in all different thicknesses. Here's how these materials stack up against each other in terms of denier:

String material denier

The next time you are talking about a strand count, make sure you specify the material you are discussing because it makes a difference!

A 12 strand string made with Mercury compared with a 12 strand B55 string will have a massively different finished outer diameter. I'm pretty sure I could floss with the finished 12 strand Mercury string.

Some materials come in multiple sizes

There are quite a few materials (or material blends) that come in different sizes and are advertised under different names. Here's how these stack up:

  • SK75 Dyneema

  • BCY 8125 - 1300 denier

  • BCY D97 - 1600 denier

  • Bloodline Glory Pro - 880 denier

  • Bloodline Loyal - 1600 denier

  • SK99 Dyneema

  • BCY Mercury - 800 denier

  • BCY Mercury 2 - 1600 denier

  • Bloodline Brave 99 - 800 denier

  • Bloodline Tenacity 99 - 1600 denier

  • SK75 Dyneema + Vectran

  • BCY 452X - 1200 denier (800 SK75 + 400 Vectran)

  • BCY 450 Plus - 2350 denier

  • SK99 Dyneema + Vectran

  • BCY X99 - 1000 denier

  • BCY 454 - 1200 denier (800 SK99 + 400 Vectran)

  • Bloodline Valor 99 - 1200 denier

Strand Counts

If you're wanting to switch from one material to another and have an equivalent outer diameter for the finished string (and potentially a similar mass weight string), these denier values can come in handy.

The strand counts detailed below are based on:

  • Manufacturer strand count recommendation

  • Manufacturer denier information

  • String building experience with these materials

  • Approximate draw weight

Bow string material strand count

This is meant to be a guide to use as a starting point only.

(Blended materials are not included here as I don't use them and would not be comfortable making such recommendations.)

Material treatment

Another big difference between some of the materials discussed here is how the materials are treated.

  • Waxed materials - All BCY materials are waxed. They recommend that additional wax be added to the finished string periodically to protect the fibers and increase the longevity of the string.

  • Coated materials - Bloodline and Angel Majesty materials have proprietary coatings that are meant to protect the fibers and cause a bundle of strands to hold together when burnished. They should not be waxed.

Thus far I've not noticed a difference in how they wear.

I hope this helps with understanding of materials across manufacturers so archers can make the best choices for how they are shooting. Again I've made every effort to make sure this information is complete and accurate so you can make the best bowstring material choice. If all this is too much for you and you just want someone to tell you where to start, please contact us at OCD Strings or refer to our recommendations.

String Materials
Download PDF • 2.33MB

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This should be an easy question to answer. It is not and here's why:

  • Mass-manufactured strings are labelled by the bow length, not the actual string length. So a string is labelled as 68" when it's meant for a 68" bow. The length of the string is not actaully 68". This does not allow for the fine tuning a custom built string provides. Typically a string for that length bow should be about 65".*

  • String length should be measured under 100lbs of tension according to AMO. That's great, but who has the abililty to replicate that setup at home to measure the length of the string they need?

  • Manufacturer string length recommendations vary. Hoyt's string length recommendations are about 1/4" longer than other manufacturers. And Uukha's recommendations vary based on the limb curvature and generation of the limbs.

  • Your best brace height for a setup may vary. If you spend time tuning your setup and determine your best brace height, you may have to add or remove quite a few twists to get there. That's no problem but it may not result in an optimum number of twists in the string.

So how can you overcome all this and know what length string your bow actually needs?

Bow Length
  1. Know your equipment and look up the manufacturer recommendation for bow and string lengths. Share this information with your string builder to double check.

String Length

2. Customize whenever possible. If you get a new bow and you have an old setup of the same length, start tuning with your old string. Then once you have a good brace height that works well then order a new string for the new bow of that length. If you don't have a previous string that is close to that length then the manufacturer's length recommendation is the best place to start on a new bow.

3. Measure your string using this method: Take that measurement and have it built to that exact length so you don't end up with ropiness from too many twists or ballooning from to few twists.

Hope this helps the next time you are ordering a custom string!


* The assumption that a string should be a about 3" less than the overall (AMO) bow length is assuming a modern bow, string materials, and building methods. Dacron string material or flemish twist construction are a different story.

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