The bowstring, simply put, is the lifeline of your bow. It connects the working parts and turns your bow into the lethal machine it is. Not so long ago, however, bowhunters had to constantly deal with string and cable problems due to the inferior materials available at the time. It would often take several hundred shots, in fact, just to break in a new string to the point where you could begin to tune the bow. Even then, on a hot day you might notice your draw length getting longer because of string and cable creep.
Clearly, all this would cause all kinds of accuracy and performance problems. The best shooters compensated by adjusting their draw length, nock point and brace height measurements. If you shot a lot back then, it was a constant chore to keep your bow in tune by adding or unwinding twists in the string and cable system. Thankfully, there have been big changes in the materials and construction of bowstrings over the past decade or so. However, many bow companies still mass-produce their strings for their most popular models to keep the prices down. As a result, most mid-priced bows can do with a string upgrade—and that’s where custom bowstrings come in. By switching to a custom string and cable system made specifically for your make and model of bow, you eliminate many nagging problems—and practically guarantee an extra edge in the field.
Number one on the list of nagging problems is string stretch, or creep. Along with tuning issues, string stretch can cause poor peep-sight rotation. Sure, you can get around these alignment issues by using a peep sight that connects to one of the cables with rubber tubing, but it will inevitably weaken and break, often at the most
With a good custom string, however, you no longer need a peep-aligning device because the peep will come back with no rotation and perfectly align with the eye. Custom string manufacturers pre-stretch their strings and cables under as much as 800 pounds of pressure, so they can be broken in with as few as 10 shots, virtually eliminating any creep over time.
Having owned many bows, I’ve found that the serving—the additional thread wrapped round the main string at the nocking points—eventually starts separating on the string where it contacts cams or idler wheels. This was frustrating to say the least, but I can honestly say I’ve never had this problem with custom string and cable systems. Custom strings also stand up to more
abuse than those that generally come with the bow. There’s clearly less fraying, and with a liberal and regular application of a good bowstring wax, a custom string should last the average bowhunter for several years. And if you’re into the wow factor, a custom string and cable system should be on your radar. Some companies have as many as 5,000 different colour combinations, so you can totally customize the look of your bow.
For less than the price of a dozen quality arrows, you should be able to order a custom string and cable set through your local archery shop (which can also install the set for you). If you have your own bowpress, order the strings directly from the manufacturer and install them yourself. Just be sure to keep your old set if they’re in decent shape—you never know when you might need a quick backup.