Traditional Bows & Bowstrings
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Traditional Bows & Bowstrings

By Marvin Long – Pres. TailorMaid Archery Products

Sep 18, 2008 – 8:21:25 AM

Traditional Bows & Bowstrings

There is a lot of misconception about measuring bows & bowstrings for traditional (conventional) bows and I would like to help alleviate some of the questions about traditional bows and bowstrings.

Recurve and Longbows are historic items that are now being used more and more, which I am glad to see. Archers using the old style equipment will help keep alive the history of our sport and expand the sport.

Ben Pearson, Earl Hoyt and Fred Bear and others that where involved in our sport in the middle of the last century and earlier. They under stood there needed to be standards set for the industry to make it easier for archers to enjoy the sport. Setting a standard for measuring the bow & bowstrings, I am sure was one of many and since the compound has become much more dominate, many of the newer archers are not as familiar with the traditional bows.

The Archery Trade Association (ATA) specifies that a Traditional Bowstring should be labeled and sold by the length of the bow not the bowstring length itself. A 60″ Bowstring is for a 60″ bow, not the length of the bowstring. Bow Length is actually determined by the length of the string that will brace it correctly. A bow that is braced correctly by a bowstring will be labeled 3″ longer than the string length measured at 100 lbs. of tension after 20 seconds. A 60″ bow needs a 57″ bowstring and the string will be labeled 60″ for the bow length.

A bowstring of Dacron (Polyester Material) 8 or 10 strands will be measured under 50 lbs. of tension, all other bowstrings & cables will be measured under 100 lbs. of tension after 20seconds.

Bowstrings are measured by placing the loops over ¼” pegs and stretching under 100 lbs. of tension for 20 seconds before taking the measurement. This gives the working dimension of the bowstring to compensate for the different stretch of different materials.

A Dacron Bowstring, which will stretch almost an inch under 100 lbs of tension, will look “out of the package” like it is 4 inches shorter than the bow length. This is the reason you hear people speak about bowstrings being 4 inches shorter than the bow length. This will only be for a Dacron bowstring and not under tension or actual length.

Because all materials stretch differently, measuring everything under pressure compensates for the differences between materials. The newer materials, like Fastflight do not stretch like Dacron, so they will look longer out of the package and more like the three inches according to ATA Standards. Strings are supposed to be measured with out any twist at that time. However strings are installed with some twists to give better performance and shooting characteristic of the bowstring. By twisting a bowstring the archer can tune his set up to achieve better arrow flight.

Some modern archers shoot with as many as 50 twists in a 70″ bowstring. To get the proper length bowstring after twisting 50 twists you may have to start with a bowstring 1″ longer.

Strings that have been shot a long time and need to be changed will probably look longer than when they were new so going by the bow length is a more consistent starting reference.

Strings can be twisted to change their length and this can be done to change the bow set up so it performs better for each individual archer and his setup. This will help get better flight characteristics for the arrow; this is called tuning your setup or getting all parts working best together. If this can not be achieved you may have to change parts of the setup. Components to look at are arrow spine and size, point type and weight, nocking point position, arrow rest type and position or your shooting form or a combination of different parts of these components.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email.

Marvin Long


TailorMaid Archery Products, Inc

PO Box 44

133 N. Williams St.

Rose City, MI 48654


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