Endless Loop Or Flemish Twist: What’s The Difference?

by | Apr 17, 2023

Within the sport of archery, you can choose between two types of strings: the Flemish twist bowstring or the Endless Loop string.

Both strings have been around for many years, each with its own camp of supporters and detractors. But a surprisingly common question is what are the differences between the two? And why would you pick one over the other?

In Recurve archery, there are two choices when it comes to bowstrings. The Flemish Twist, and the Endless Loop. The main difference between the two is that the end loops of a Flemish Twist are braided, making them thicker, while the loops on the Endless Loop are wrapped in serving material for added resilience.

In this article, we’ll look at the differences in more detail, the pros and cons of each bowstring; what type of bow each one is best suited for, and why.

What’s The Difference Between An Endless Loop String And A Flemish Twist?

When selecting the right type of string for your bow, there’s a lot of debate as to which string design is the best: The Flemish Twist, or the Endless Loop?

And while both strings perform exactly the same function, there is still a lot of confusion as to what the differences are between the two and why people choose one over the other.

Is it really just personal preference? Or are there significant differences that stand out?

Let’s find out.

Flemish Twist

On September 19, 1991, two holidaymakers hiking in the Austrian Alps stumbled upon a mummified body sticking out of the ground.

What was initially thought to be a recent mountaineering accident, actually turned out to be a find of huge significance, especially where archery is concerned.

The body in question was a mummified hunter from the Neolithic period. Along with the body were preserved artefacts that included an unfinished longbow, a quiver, fletched arrows and a twisted bowstring.

The twisted string turned out to be the oldest bowstring ever found. Before the discovery in the Apls, the oldest known bowstrings were from the Egyptian period of around 2200 BC. The Austrian bowstring was dated 3300 BC.

The string consists of three strands of animal leg sinew braided with loops at either end. The earliest version of an ancient Flemish Twist bowstring.

Throughout the centuries, the Flemish Twist has been made from hemp, linen or flax. They were the predominant string up until the 60s when recurve bows suddenly became popular and the market was flooded with factory-made endless loops to keep up with mass production.

Flemish Twist – Pros and Cons

Pros

Aesthetics – I think that one thing that the majority of archers can agree on is that Flemish Twists just look way cooler.

Adjustability – when it comes to adjusting brace height, you’ll need to add or remove twists from the string. With the Flemish Twist, this is a much easier procedure.

Stronger and Thicker – around the nock ends as the Flemish Twist has all the strands in the loop. The Endless Loop only has half the amount. For example, a 14 strand Flemish string has 14 strands around the nock, but a 14 strand Endless Loop string will only have 7 strands around the nock.

Less Noise – especially on recurve bows due to the extra stretch in the material.

Easier to make – unlike an endless loop string that requires a specific jig to make it, you can make a Flemish Twist by using a couple of nails hanging on a wall.

Cons

Less Speed – less speed because the extra stretch on the string won’t produce as much energy.

More String Creep and Stretch – String creep and stretch are not the same things. String creep is an irreversible elongation of the string over time, while the stretch is recoverable lengthening (like an elastic band).

Best Suited For

Traditional/ Longbow/ Recurve Archery

Endless Loop

The Endless Loop differs from the Flemish Twist in that it is made from one continuous piece of string material. The loops are also covered in serving material which helps to protect them from wear and tear around the nock ends.

Endless Loop strings gained popularity at around the same time that Modern Recurve archery was taking off in the 60s and 70s. Manufacturers were looking at ways to mass-produce strings at a lower cost to keep up with the demand for bows.

Instead of combining separate strands to make a string, they came up with a way to use one continuous string to produce the bowstring.

Related: How To Make A Recurve Bowstring: A Complete Guide

Most professional archers and high-level target shooters prefer the Endless Loop due to the fact that they are said to be slightly faster and more accurate than the Flemish Twist.

Endless Loop – Pros and Cons

Pros

More Speed – There’s less stretch and weight to the Endless Loop string which means faster speeds for the arrow.

More Accurate – Over short distances, you wouldn’t notice much difference in accuracy and groupings, but as the distances become greater, the Endless Loop wins hands down. Endless Loop strings tolerate less twist which makes them less susceptible to string creep and stretch. They can be made to length with much more precision. This creates more consistency and accuracy.

Easy to Produce – Once you have a jig set home, making Endless Loop strings is a very straightforward process. Flemish Twist string making is a much more intricate process.

Endless Loop String

Cons

More Noise – Louder than Flemish strings because there’s less stretch to the string. Not a problem if you’re a target shooter, but not so great if you’re a hunter.

Expensive to Make – only due to the specialist jig that you’ll need which can be pricey.

Not as Durable – Endless Loop strings can be susceptible to wear and tear at the nock end. If the nock groove hasn’t been smoothed off, then the sharp edges can cut into the serving material.

Best Suited For

Modern Recurve/ Target Archery

Which Bowstring Performs Better? Endless Loop or Flemish Twist?

The answer to this question very much depends on who is asking it. If you ask a hunter they’ll tell you that they prefer the quieter Flemish Twist.

If you’re asking an Olympic archer, then they’ll tell you that they prefer the performance and speed of the Endless Loop.

We’d choose the Flemish Twist string to come out on top, the reason being that Flemish Twists are more versatile in the fact that you can use them on a wider variety of bows, from Longbows all the way up to recurves.

They perform great. The difference in speed is not that noticeable, and as far as accuracy goes, we still get solid groupings at 30-50m. No complaints here!

Final Thoughts

The debate will likely rage on, but the key things to take away from this is that the design of the bow and the skill of the archer will always play a significant role in the testing and evaluation of any bow accessories.

A well-built string, whether it’s a Flemish Twist or an Endless Loop string will still perform exceptionally well.

Personal preference will also be a deciding factor in making a final decision on what string you shoot with, but either way, it just means more time on the range in order to make that decision which can’t be a bad thing!

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