June 14, 2023
Question: I just learned how to apply a center serving to a bowstring. However, I have questions about the serving material and diameter. What type/size are best for 3-D and hunting? I also plan to replace my D-loop, as it’s pretty worn. I noticed there are various types of loop material available as well. What are your preferences, and why? — John L., via e-mail
Answer: These are great questions. As you know, the bowstring’s D-loop and center serving receive more wear than any other part of the bow. For this reason, both are prone to failure. To prevent fiber slippage and tuning problems, the center serving should be applied with very firm tension, eliminating the chance for serving gaps. BCY has been our go-to source for do-it-yourself bowstring materials and accessories, because they offer the most comprehensive selection on the market.
For center servings, BCY’s 62XS is hard to beat. It’s made from a special blend of Spectra or Dyneema (both are considered high-modulus polyethylene material) with outstanding strength, durability, and low-creep properties. Additionally, the material grips the bowstring extremely well, which prevents the fibers from slipping, deforming, and altering your nock’s position.
Most custom bowstring manufacturers use 62XS as their center serving of choice. Powergrip and Halo are two other options to consider. Powergrip is made from Spectra and nylon yarn. This blend produces relentless grip, but it’s not quite as strong or durable as 62XS. Halo, on the other hand, is BCY’s strongest center-serving material. It is a favorite among fingers shooters, since it provides a super-slick surface when served tightly; however, in my opinion it doesn’t grip the bowstring fibers quite as well as 62XS or Powergrip. Overall, 62XS is my favorite due to its unbeatable versatility.
I suggest using either .021" or .025" center-serving diameter, depending on the bowstring thickness and the arrow’s nock-throat size. You should purchase both sizes to see what fits best. Use a serving tool to temporarily lay down 2" of serving material, then clip the arrow nock over the material to assess its fit. The nock should snap on with a distinctive “clip,” but it shouldn’t be so tight that it can’t slide up and down the serving with a little bit of pressure. The diameter of the serving should also fill the nock’s throat, preventing any side-to-side wobble. Such features will ensure a smooth, consistent arrow take-off on each shot — increasing accuracy. Rarely have I used .018"-size serving to accommodate smaller arrow nocks, because .021" or .025" usually does the trick.
For making D-loops, BCY’s 23 and 24 braided-polyester loop rope are ideal. The 23 material is smaller in diameter (.062") and more flexible. It is preferable when shooting a T-handle thumb or hinge-style release, since it minimizes torque caused from twisting the release handle slightly to achieve a positive anchor. This material produces a smooth, forgiving shot. The downside is that it doesn’t hold its shape quite as well as thicker loop material, and its small diameter tends to wear a bit faster.
The 24 rope, on the other hand, is larger diameter (.079"), making it ideal for archers preferring a semi-firm, easy-to-engage loop when using a standard, wrist-strap-style release that causes little to no torque at full draw. This material is also easy to work with since it produces oversize “balls” when burning the ends. I would encourage you to experiment with both materials, depending on your shooting preferences. I’ve found the 24 braided-loop rope to be flexible enough, regardless of my release choice. However, when using a T-handle release, I’ll increase the length of the loop to 5/8" wide — sometimes longer. I hope this helps.