Fast Flight Bowstring: Right For Any Bow?

by | Apr 27, 2023

Of the bewildering amount of bowstrings on the market these days, one name that keeps cropping up is a Fast Flight bowstring. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you may be wondering whether or not it means that you can string your Longbow with it and crank out an extra 20 yards without any extra effort.

Fast Flight strings are an umbrella term for strings made from no/low stretch, low creep synthetic materials, of which there are many. Fast Flight strings are designed primarily for modern recurve and compound bows. Because of the extra power FF strings generate, most older bows will break if they are installed on them.

To understand why that is the case, we need to take a closer look at what Fast Flight (FF) strings are, and exactly why they may or may not be suitable for your bow.

Can You Use A Fast Flight Bowstring On Any Bow?

Fast Flight strings are made for performance and speed. They are most suited to high-performance bows, modern recurve bows, and compound bows.

Most modern recurves and compound bows can use Fast Flight strings safely. Some will even come with a manufacturer’s label saying that they are FF-compatible.

But some older traditional bows simply cannot handle the tension from a Fast Flight bowstring. Even though the bow materials used in construction (wood and fibreglass) are exactly the same, the problem is that the limb tips are not strong enough, and will simply shear off if a Fast Flight bowstring is used.

You can reinforce the limb tips on older bows by using materials such as sinew and horn to be able to withstand the new strings. But it’s best to check with the bow maker before making any changes.

What Is A Fast Flight String?

Fast Flight was originally a brand name from Brownell but has since become a name associated with all strings made from more modern materials.

Kevlar and Vectran

Kevlar and Vectran are polymers. They are much faster and tighter than Dacron strings, but this comes at a cost. They tend to have shorter lifespans and usually need to be replaced after a relatively short time.

High-Modulus-Polyethene (HMPE)

HMPE comes as a blend of Dyneema and Spectra. The Dyneema fibre alone is 15 times stronger than steel at the same weight.

This combination of materials is the number one choice for most archers. The material combines speed with a lightweight build and optimal strength. If you’re looking for a premium quality recurve bow string, then HMPE is an excellent choice. 

The term ‘Fast Flight’ comes from the fact that the strings give your arrows a faster flight than previous synthetic strings made from Dacron, nylon or any other bowstrings made from natural materials such as hemp or linen, at the same draw weight.

Fast Flight Bowstring

First used on compound bows, the very first Fast Flight strings were made from Spectra, whereas the current Fast Flight Plus strings are now made from Dyneema.

All strings made from these modern materials are now referred to as Fast Flight (FF).

Fast Flight strings made from Dyneema are also less susceptible to string creep. String creep is where the string stretches and doesn’t return back to its original length. This cannot be undone and can affect the tune of the bow.

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

How Does A Fast Flight String Generate More Speed?

The bow limbs move a lighter string faster. For example, a Fast Flight bowstring with 10 strands will produce 20fps more than an 18-strand Dacron string shot from the same bow.

Fast Flight strings are also much tighter than Dacron strings which allows for less stretch to occur. A tighter string will produce a significant amount of energy than a string that has more stretch to it.

The more modern fibres are also much stronger, thinner and lighter. In fact, as much as 3 times stronger than Dacron, meaning that you can use fewer or more strands per string and it will still weigh less.

Even a 5fps increase in speed translates to a 12-inch elevation at 40 metres.

What To Look For In the Perfect Bowstring

When selecting the best bowstring for your bow, there are a number of factors that you need to consider:

Abrasion Resistance

Select a bowstring that can withstand the general wear and tear that you will inflict upon it, especially around the nock ends.

String Strength

Pick a string that can handle your draw weight, as well as transfer energy quickly and efficiently to the string.

String Weight

In order to conserve your own energy, pick a string that is super light.

Moisture Resistant

For those wet conditions, make sure that your string can still perform at its best.

Related: How To Choose The Right Recurve Bowstring: A Buyer’s Guide

What Happens When You Put The Wrong String On Your Bow?

If you use a Fast Flight bowstring with a bow that has not been modified, then at some point, the limb tips will either split, or they will break and snap off.

This is purely because the thinner limb tips are more vulnerable when trying to support and transfer the energy of the string to the arrow.

The lighter and tighter Fast Flight bowstring simply over-stresses the weaker wooden or fibreglass tips to the point where they fracture.

Which Bows Are Compatible With Fast Flight Strings?

All modern bows now come with Fast Flight strings as standard, unless the buyer has specified otherwise.

  • Compound Bows
  • Olympic Target Recurve Bows
  • Modern Recurve Bows
  • Modified Traditional/ Longbows
  • Hunting Bows

Conclusion

Fast Flight bowstrings have specific properties that do not transfer well to older, more traditional bows.

It’s surprisingly uncommon for people to get mixed up when buying strings, especially online.

So instead of just checking the length of the string, make sure that you’re also checking to make sure that you have the right string material.

The modern string material (HMPE) is simply too much for untreated bows to handle. However, modern bows such as compound bows and modern recurve bows are more suited to FF strings.

There are a lot of exceptions to the rule, but a general rule of thumb is that the more traditional bows prefer Dacron, while modern bows prefer Fast Flight.

Nowadays, however, many traditional bows are being made to be Fast Flight compatible because people want the extra speed.

If you’re unsure whether your bow can withstand a Fast Flight bowstring, check with the bow manufacturer before you string that bow up with a Dyneema string.

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