Reviewed By Steve , 17 April 2012
For me a bowstring is as integral to good archery as the arrow I shoot, I can't stand rubbish arrows and I can't stand riubbish bow strings, in fact there can be a whole heap of performance to be gained from a good one. A string tailored to the bow can also quieten a noisy bow or soften any handshock present. I change my strings often, I remember reading somewhere that a string should be changed yearly or after 10 000 shots ....which ever comes first. I guess mine get changed even more often than that.
Flemish twist strings are my personal choice as the loops can be padded and I always feel safer with ten or a dozen separate strands than the single strand of a continuous loop.. all personal preferences, I am sure you have your own. Lots of folks don't make their own strings preferring an expert to build a string for a specific bow for a specific task. I make a lot of my own and I make custom strings for others on occasion, so I am always intrigued to see the work other string makers have on offer. There are plenty of custom string makers in the USA but not so many in the UK. A new addition to the UK custom string scene ( and before you write in asking where this "scene" is... it's small and exists mostly in my head !) is Ryan Jeavons who operates as Twisted Strings. He offered to make some strings for review and it seemed just wrong to not take advantage of his obvious good nature.
I had a quick scan through several of my bows, I am familiar with them and would notice a new string and be able to hopefully detect any subtle differences a new string might offer.
The first bow was a Tomahawk SS Diamond at 64" and 45# here was a bow whose string had been sadly neglected. It was a recent re-acquisition, having reviewed it some while ago, sold it then bought it back recently. I sent a photo to Ryan with no brief.. just do what ever you think would suit but do a Flemish and an endless loop. This wasn't designed to catch him out or anything merely so that he could do what he does best. Under normal circumstances I might have asked for 10 or 12 strands of 8125 with padded loops or maybe even skinnier. The old nasty string was only producing 163fps from a 515 grain arrow and I was sure a new string would do better. Ryan was happy to play along but did make it clear to me that he offers a FULLY custom service, that means if you want a 6 strand 8125 string with padded loops and double served in pink and green then that is what you will get... now that is proper custom, I like to experiment with different materials and string count so this is certainly the mark of a custom string builder. The other thing Ryan asked me to do was to measure exactly where my nock point was so he could be sure to get the serving just right.... nice touch.
The first string he produced was the one below
Given that the bow is a sweetheart and looks like this....
.........it was a very nice choice. The string was in fact 16 strands, fatter than I am used to, this bow doesn't require quietening and is to all intents and purposes shock free... 16 strands might under normal circumstances be viewed as overkill... but.... it shoots so well on this bow that it was an instant hit with me. The colours were so right that I even added some wool pom pom silencers, the bow doesn't need them and probably neither did the string, if you hate silencers then the next pic will make you scowl, but I have to admit I am going through something of a silencer renaissance right now so here is the string and silencers in all their glory ...
The string measured 61" and was served with Halo, not a serving I had used but will do from now on, tight as.., in the interests of decency we will leave it at tight.. Even with the crap on the string and a full figure 16 strand string the bow now shoots the same 515 grain arrow at 168fps.. that's a testament to either how good the Twisted strings, string is, or how crap the old one was..... either way, the bow now has a string which complements is stunning looks and shoots so well that when I handed it to a friend he stuck 9 straight arrows into a 2" pro ring from 25 yards... I was so stunned that when he offered me £££ on the spot to buy it I let it go, something I fear I will regret next time I shoot with him..so once again this cracking bow slipped through my fingers...... I decided the endless loop might be better on a different bow as I have another at 64"..
The next bow to get a string makeover was an RER "Arroyo" which I reviewed last year, this bow draws around 62# at my draw and is truly a fast hard hitting bow, I gave Ryan the specs and a photo.... "do some string magic "on this... and he did...
The old string was a predictable brown/yellow combo and Ryan chose a pink/silver fusion in 8125 and 16 strands.. the things to really note here are that the serving is super tight, the twisting is flawless and the string was the perfect length and did not stretch, pre stetching and twisting the string to exactly the correct length before serving meant I just had to put the string on and get shooting...... and all from a few quick measurements and a photo..... very slick work.
Simply stunning.. This is a string destined to stay with this bow... The Yellow endless loop in 18 strands he also made does look good but will have to play second fiddle to this beauty..
One of the hardest parts of string making to my mind is getting the right number of reverse twists put into the string before making the second loop, if you get this wrong either under or over you will end up with a "cabling" effect and instead of becoming one string you actually end up with 2 strings coiled around each other... especially difficult when making strings of differing strand count, I have to take my hat off to Ryan as even from my poor photography you can see the quality, care and craftsmanship that has gone into each string..
One of the best things about his endless loop strings was the colour coded serving at the loops. I don't know about you but how many times have you put your string on upside down, if you have a take down and actually take it down after a shoot, either for storage or transport I will be willing to bet you have cursed more than once after stringing the bow to find your nock point halfway down the bottom limb... I don't know why I have never seen it before, perhaps because I rarely use endless loops or because I am unobservant, either way it's such a simple idea but I had never thought of it.
Once again some of the slickest serving you will encounter.
Now that I have your attention, let me tell you another of my pet hates, in fact this drives me "BONKERS". In my day job offering archery experiences, coaching or corporate events I have over 170 beginner bows, simple wooden take downs with simple wood/fibreglass limbs, they generally come with a string that has been produced by such tight-wad Scrooges that the loops are not quite big enough for the limbs, as a result if you take the string down in the normal way, by sliding it down the limb you end up with a split serving, attempting to push/pull and take a string right off the limb is dangerous even on a 30# bow and I have on several occasions been slapped in the ear hard enough to cause me to curse the makers of these small looped abominations... I asked Ryan if he would make me a simple Dacron string in endless loop for one of my 68" trainer bows. I figured that anyone out there with one of these bows would no doubt have the same issues as I have and being able to buy an after market string in Dacron would be essential.
Check this out....
You will note the blue wool silencers on the Red 12 strand Dacron string... this time however they complement this string on this bow, it shoots now as quiet as my ACS and I am almost ashamed to say this bow in this configuration was delivering me some of the best shooting I have ever achieved with one of these style bows, consistent, quiet and stable... I appreciate that the cost of the string is almost a third of the cost of this bow but if you own one you will be doing yourself a massive favour by investing in a proper string...
Phwooooooor, filthy blue wool silencers...
Fianlly there were a couple of strings left, as it happens I have on test now my most recent bow, a top secret and new yet to be unveiled no compromise, out and out top of the range Black Swan made from a Carbon Ceramic matrix mix, designed to offer "Ferrari" like performance... the review is coming soon and you really do not want to miss it... anyway rather unsportingly I replaced the 10 strand 452x string with both a 12 strand Flemish in sexy black and a 16 strand endless loop in purest green and black, both were 8125..
and in full length it looks like this..
... which really complements the black limbs and sexy aluminium riser
The colours are all well and good but again it is the attention to detail and the exquisite work that has been done to produce these strings of excellent quality. The bow shot exactly as it should.
Having been mightily impressed with Ryans work I had to find out a little more about him... so with my Spanish inquisitors hat on I presented him with a list of Questions...
What is your archery history ?
I’ve been shooting for just over 3 ½ years at Lichfield Archers, started with recurve as most people do shooting target but after a year I decided I liked the look of compound and I’ve been shooting compound ever since. Recently I’ve been doing some traditional archery as well, going to Rove’s with Lee Ankers and a few others from the local clubs, I use it as a relax every few weeks from my compound training.
Why String making ?
I decided I wanted to make strings for myself because I wasn’t a fan of the “off the rack” white strings at the time and didn’t want to pay nearly £20 for a coloured string. At the time I was lucky enough to be working at an archery shop full time so learnt the basics from one of the members of staff and started experimenting at home. Soon a couple of archers at my club asked me to make a string for them and it started to go from there with others asking and seeming pleased with my strings. I’ve been making strings now for about a year and half, and making other peoples string for about 6 months.
What does Custom String making mean to you ?
In my opinion “Custom strings” means to the customer’s requirements! I haven’t been asked to make a skinny string or padded loops yet but if I’m asked to make one then I will oblige. (As long as the customer accepts that skinny strings are under the recommended strand count for some material) If you cannot get what you want and have to settle for something else than this is not custom!
At the moment I prefer to do endless loops as I love the look of a twin colour string with “clear” serving on.
I’ve gone down the route of purely string making so far as I saw a gap for high performance strings at a low cost (without losing quality), I’ve started out on my own without any type of financial help so going into arrow making and other custom sections of the sport at the moment is a bit costly, but in the future who knows! Maybe even Twisted Bows.
I am guessing this a part time business ?
A very good guess, at the moment string making is part time, in the real world I work 3 nights a week as a receptionist at a hotel, one day at a pro archery shop and have recently started at Heritage Longbows 2 days a week. So put in a lot of hours doing a lot of different things fitting my string making round these jobs.
What are your key points for a perfect string ?
I believe that a perfect string has little creep/stretch, tight servings that don’t come undone if you take a few twists out of it, centre serving that is a nice fit for the nocks being used by the archer and that the string generates high speed for the arrow cast but also aids the bow in minimising noise and hand shock.
The material I use for my highest performance strings is BCY 8125 pre-stretched and twisted before serving is applied so that the full string gets attention in the making process rather than just the unserved areas. To complement the string I use BCY Halo .014 serving, this is very thin but extremely strong, I treat the string with Brownell Liquid Loc before serving as I have found this helps the serving grip and more importantly hold resulting in serving separation being an extremely rare occurrence (which I have found to be a problem in other custom strings when you remove more than a couple of twists).
When making a string I usually ask for the length of the current string at the desired bracing height with the twists in, I find making strings twisted to length during the making process allows the serving to go on neater and tighter as twisting the string afterwards will either tighten or loosen the serving making the nock fit incorrect.
|Features & Design|
It's all custom, you will get what you want, don't forget to ask for different coloured loop servings on endless strings
|A lot will be down to material, however a well made string will make full use of your chosen material be it Dacron or 8125 |
|Value for Money|
|No custom string will ever be "cheap" nor should it, to make a really top johnny string needs patience, dexterity and a "feel" for the twist... however the question was value for money ?.... and the answer to that is an emphatic yes. |
|If you buy just 1 custom made string this year I have no qualms in saying that Ryan will make you a string that will bring out the best in your bow and your shooting..|
Steve Nicholson and Andy Gilfrin, are real archers interested in the best archery suppliers have to offer. In our search for the very best bow, arrows and equipment we have shot, used and worn pretty much everything on offer.
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Twisted Strings Custom Bowstrings by Ryan Jeavons
Served OVER a pre twisted string
Coloured end loops
We take a tour the length and breadth of the British mainland to visit Scotland with Border Bows, Yorkshire with Aidy Hayes, the Wirral with Jason from thelongbowshop.com, down South with the Company of Canterbury Longbowman, and Geoff is in Spain.
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