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Custom Flemish Twist Bowstrings

Custom Flemish Twist Bowstrings by Pete Ward
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Often we don’t think about a custom string when it is time for a replacement. We go to the nearest shop and buy something over the counter and put it on our bow. Many times we don’t know what the material is or if it will even fit our bow. The kid in the shop knows little more about trad bows than the mouse in the stock room, but he talks like a seasoned pro. The string we get is often at best a generic that will work. Sometimes they are very good but??

Below are some shots showing how a “Greatstring” is made and what a properly made string should look like.

Rod has been making strings and competing with them at World Champion IBO level. He is the official supplier to O.L Adcock for his ACS and ACS-CX longbows, which he also won the 2004 IBO world Championship with last year.

The performance advantage of custom strings is another matter. You have the choice to take a standard count string or ask for specific colors to match your bow. You have the option of deciding if you want a high performance fast string, or you can have some extra strands added for a quieter shot or something in the middle. Many hunters opt to use Dacron because of its known quietness even on bows built to handle the new FF type materials. Dacron is available from Great Strings, however it is primarily for old bows not designed for Fast Flight or other new strings like 8125, DF 97, D 75 etc. Custom strings can be made from the new no creep/stretch materials in a heavier string for the same quiet shot without having the creep and stretch associated with Dacron. All Great Strings are pre-stretched to give a fast break-in. I found that within 10 shots they had stabilized. Great Strings can also be ordered with silencers installed for those need this service.

Proper bow nock fit is also compromised with generic strings. Rod will make the loops sized to fit your bow. If you have limb tips that are not in the normal size rang, and any size loop is available for the asking. Not all bows are best suited to standard sizes. Proper nock fit keeps the string on the bow without putting unnecessary stress on the tips or the string. It must allow the string to slide down the limb when unbraced and it must fit the nock properly. To tight can cause nock wear and stress the string where the loop joins, and to large can allow the string to come off a narrow nock. This can be a concern with very slender limbs and tips as well as extra wide limbs and tips.

I have shot in a couple of Rods strings and let the bows sit strung for several days to check for creep and stretch. I normally unstring my bows after shooting but when testing a new string I leave them under tension. The brace height has not moved since these bows were strung and they have been shot frequently during this time. Although unscientific it shows me that they are stable and not changing. The strings seated in within 10 shots according to the chronograph. After this they remained constant until the bow was unstrung.

The changing of strings brought to my attention an interesting observation. Every string needs to be shot in after the bow is braced again regardless of the material or the maker. This was confirmed with the chronograph. I tested every material I have after first noticing this, from Nylon, Dacron TS1, DF97,8125, Fast flight, 450 , 452, and several others. The average number of shots to re-seat a string was 6 shots and the speed change was from 6 to 10 FPS. I made these observations with strings from 7 different string makers. Those warm-up shots are a good idea if you want the same performance and trajectory that you are used to.

One sore spot with me is nock fit. Factory strings may or may not be served to suit your nocks. Often they are too tight. If you shoot carbon arrows with small nocks this robs performance by up to 10FPS on some bow/string combinations. It also has a severe effect on accuracy. Rod will gladly build and serve your strings for the noc fit you desire. All he needs to know is the type of noc you are using, if you are not sure he will help you determine what string is best for you.

In order to have a broader baseline to do this review I have installed “Great Strings” on several other bows that I have. The first bow is a Francois Merlin “Shannon” 60# @ 28″. This bow shot a 520gr arrow at 176FPS when I chrono tested it before changing strings from 18 Strand FF to 10 strand DF97. When I installed the 10 strand DF97 string the bow gained 10FPS, with the same arrow weight, draw length, and silencers. This allows me to shoot a heavier arrow at the same speed I had before or shoot that arrow at 186FPS, but now I have more KE and Momentum with either setup. The heavier arrow shoots just a quiet as the old setup with lighter arrows did. This is a win win situation. Similar results were found on the other bows in my rack that I have put the Great Strings on.

My Firehawk longbow chronographed an arrow at 165 FPS with its 16 strand FF string. This is a silent bow and one of my favorites, but it seemed like it should have a bit more speed. I decided to see just how much difference it would make by changing strings on it. I installed a 10 strand DF97 string on the Firehawk from my ACS and shot it about a dozen times to seat the strands, then turned on the Chrono. The speed increase went from 163 to 176FPS with a heavy weight arrow and it is still silent. This is a radical string change, but one that I have decided to stay with. I have not created a noisy bow and I have gained a lot of performance that will help out when hunting. The extra KE / Momentum gained are substantial and I still have a silent bow. Not all bows will remain silent when a change like this is made but they will gain in performance. Well designed quiet bows can benefit greatly by changing to a new string material and string size.

Some bows are typically loud. This will cause us to dislike them and it will make them less than desirable for hunting. The noise can be tamed by silencers to a point, however when a string is ordered you have the opportunity to request a larger string count that will also reduce the noise and still have the benefits of the no stretch no creep materials. Performance will drop anytime you add weight to a string, but it is my experience that a DF97/ or 8125 string in the same weight as FF or Dacron will be quieter and will shoot just as fast. Rod will build a string designed for performance or silence to make any bow better.

If your bow has Fast flight now and is in need of a new string you may want to consider trying one of the new generation materials. Color does not make a string shoot better but it does make it look better. When the cost is the same why not have the string match the woods in the bow and take advantage of the gains a custom string can produce. The cost of a string is not much compared to a new bow and often a new bow is only going to improve on the performance or quietness the same as a custom string will.

I want to make note here that all strings sold as Fast flight are not the same. Fast Flight is a term often used to describe many string materials. It is also the name of the original non stretch material. There are many new string materials that are called fast flight, but they should be referred to by the proper name to eliminate confusion, DF97, D75, TS1, 8125, 450, 450+ and many more are considered Fast Flight. Each has its own properties. Fast Flight is a first generation material that has been replaced by a new breed of superior materials. Rod has chosen what he considers the best of these materials to build his strings with. “B50 Dacron for older bows and, Dynaflight 97, D75 Thin, and 8125 for modern bows built to be compatible with Fast Flight materials.”

Rod Jenkins, Great Strings make excellent Flemish Twist bowstrings. They are neat in appearance, stable and as good as any string I have used. You can order a truly custom string to suit your whims or bow’s needs or have a standard string from stock. Padded loops or not and properly sized to fit the bow. Colors of your choice, served to fit your arrow nocks and in any strand count or material that you want.

I have no reservations recommending Great Strings for your next string.

Here are some tips when ordering a new string.
1. When possible measure the old string it will replace. Not all bows take AMO length strings.
2. Tell the string maker the make and model draw weight and length of the bow it will go on.
3. Tell the string maker the size and type of arrow nock that you use so he can size the serving properly.
4. Make sure the bow is rated for “Fast-flight” or order Dacron if you are not sure.
5. Ask questions if you are unsure of anything. Rod or Troy would rather answer your questions than have you order the wrong string for your bow or your needs.
6. If you want a super quiet string or a faster string discuss this with the string maker. You can have the string made to suit your needs when a standard string is not what you want.

Every string will benefit from frequent waxing with a good string wax. A properly waxed string lasts longer and is quieter.

Excess wax is automatically removed when you shoot the bow.

Update April 16 2005:
Since doing the initial review I have changed the strings on most of my bows to Rod’s “Great Strings” because of the high level of performance I can get from these custom built strings. I am shooting 10 strands of DF97 with padded loops on everything now.

The performance increases on each bow have varied but they always pick up substantial speed. Noise was reduced, and they shoot much faster. In every case there was no increase in shock or vibrations.

The lowest gain to date is on a 50# AIM {Samick} Viper Longbow a friend owns, that had an endless loop string made from Dacron. This bow was shooting at 171 FPS until we made the change. Now it is shooting the same 475 gr arrow at 181FPS. Thats a 10 FPS gain for the price of a string. The only other way to shoot the same arrow10 FPS faster is to go up in draw weight by about 5# or more. That would mean a new bow. Randy also reports that the bow is quieter and has less shock and vibration.

The best performance increase is on my Firehawk longbow from Rodney Wright . After trying a 10 strand DF 97 in the earlier review I ordered a custom string for this bow from Rod. This bow looked like it should be faster than it was. I reviewed the Firehawk earlier and the chrono gave me 182 FPS At 28″ with a 412 gr arrow with a 16 strand FF string on it. The new padded loop 10 strand DF97 string is giving me a very impressive 203FPS with the same weight arrow. That’s 21FPS for free. This bow will also shoot a 100 gr heavier arrow 4 FPS faster now than it originally did at 28″. That’s performance enhancement! In this case it is like gaining 10 pounds of draw weight without the effort. I repeated these tests several times to confirm this substantial increase as it seemed too good to be true.

The IBEX Recurve I have also benefited greatly from the 10 strand great string. When I reviewed it this bow shot at 192 FPS with a 16 strand Fast flight string at 28″. It is now shooting the same arrow weight at 204FPS. Again the string is the only change I made to the bow. This is free Horse power. You can either take the speed or go up in weight and take the KE/Momentum it will give you. Either way it is like having at least 5 more pounds of draw weight without the effort.

Nock fit has not been a problem with the small diameter strings. I tell Rod what type of nocks I shoot and he serves the string to fit them. For my carbons he uses 030 size serving and the fit is perfect. I like a good looking string and each string is color coordinated to match the bow. This does nothing for performance but it looks great.

I just ordered a new string from Rod for a bow I gave my wife. We are going to test a new material that he has, called TS1. Early reports indicate this material is very close to 8125 and DF97 for performance, and noise levels are said to decrease. I will know the truth in a short while. This bow is a 56” / 49# static tip recurve. The string will be made with extra padding to decrease the noise levels caused by the string contacting the limbs. When a narrow string hits the limb it creates more noise. This is the reason many shooters use too many strands {16} and do not see the benefit these materials can give. Custom strings can be made to give the best of both worlds, performance and silence with a side order of good looks.

By providing Rod with a few details you can have a custom string that will breath new life and looks into your bow. Nock point location and the length of the contact area at the limb tips for recurves as well as the nock size you use will provide him with the information to make a true custom string for you.

The only bow that did not gain was my ACS. This bow comes with a 10 strand DF97 string, and Rod Jenkins is the string maker for O.L. Adcock.

The trade name “Great Strings” is a well chosen description for Rod Jenkins Bowstrings.

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