So much has changed in the last several years in regards to bowstring materials and the processes we use to turn these materials into high quality bowstrings. So much in fact, that I believe archery is more enjoyable now than ever before. You have to understand where we came from to know where we are going with bowstrings.
Twenty years ago, bowstring making was not just a hobby, but a necessity for many of us serious bowhunters and competition shooters. We just couldn’t afford to readjust our sights and add twist every several weeks with inferior strings. A good quality bowstring back in the mid 90’s, if you were lucky enough to have one, was taken care of quite well. I’m aging myself when I tell you I was one of the old school string makers in that time. We had no other choice than to maintain our strings in order to keep that quality throughout an entire season.
To better understand proper bowstring maintenance, we’ll begin with the basic bowstring wax.
The materials are supplied to us with varying degrees of wax applied. Some will be removed during the build process, and some will just dry up during the life of the string. If you’ve ever seen a slow motion video of a bow as it fires, you’ll see the violence the strings go through. Wax, deep inside the string bundle prevents fraying and premature wear. Old school thinking was to wax our strings and attempt to rub the daylights out of them…but the wax would rarely absorb into the bundle and in reality we were just disrupting the fibers. So we had to rethink our waxing process to see what really worked.
We started applying wax by relaxing the bowstrings/cables in a press first, and then simply just rubbing the wax into the loose fibers. Especially with silicone based wax that absorbs better, we can really have well protected bowstrings. If you don’t have access to a press, try applying the silicone based wax thoroughly and letting it sit overnight. Some waxes are produced by chemists, and from conversations I have had with them, I believe the silicone absorbs better. The three areas on a bowstring/cable harness that will fray first without proper maintenance are the cable slide area, the peep sight area, and the area below the center serving. Make sure these areas do not get ignored. For obvious reasons the cable slide area will need extra attention. Be sure to also inspect your old strings for wear. Not all cable slides are easy on your strings, and as string manufactures we cannot control or warranty bow design defects. If you notice your old strings wearing prematurely, make sure you take it to a dealer to prevent the same thing from happening on the new strings. The shooting string normally will fray sooner than the cables. While the cables move up and down, the string actually flies through the air at a high rate of speed and is susceptible to friction. Again proper waxing adds to the life of the string set. The area under the center serving is prone to string slap on your forearm upon shooting, as well as rubbing on your clothing as you walk to the stand. The peep sight area is prone to fraying if the peeps have burrs or are improperly installed/moved or tied in, all of which would void a bowstring warranty. When you understand what makes a string fray, we are better prepared to avoid it altogether.
All too often in this business we’ll run into bows that chew up loop servings or end cable servings. Machining burrs on loop post and cable tracks or sometimes improper installation (allowing the cable to untrack while releasing pressure on the press) will cut or crush the serving. Dry fires and derailments can both destroy the servings. The best maintenance is preventive maintenance! Inspect your old strings for premature wear around cam post and sharp bends in cable tracts, etc. If your old bowstrings/cables are wearing in a certain area, then chances are your new string will wear in the same place. At 60X Custom Strings we have the materials and processes that are used exclusively for known problem areas. If you identify the burrs or other issues prior to installation, you will enjoy 1000’s of trouble-free shots.
Storage is another issue we still see to this day. Every year in this business we get the frantic call of, “I just opened my case and found a broadhead tipped arrow cut my string!”. For obvious reasons, sharp objects vs and fiber based material is never an equal match. Prevention from heat exposure will extend the life of your strings as well as proper waxing, storage and overall attention to detail.
There is one thing that I always pass onto our 60X Custom String customers when asked about waxing and maintaining: I tell them to treat your strings like your best gun barrel. Always have oil on your gun, and always have wax on your bowstrings. If it doesn’t feel slick or tacky, then it needs a coat of wax.
There’s no estimate on how long bowstring/cables will last. It all depends on proper installation and owner care. I’ve seen bowstrings last a few years with proper inspection and maintenance.
Purchasing and maintaining good quality strings will help you save time, money and frustration leaving you more time to enjoy archery. For all your bowstring questions or ordering call 724-525-3972 or visit www.60xcustomstrings.com