Compound Bow String Strand Count (What I prefer)

Compound bow string serving

I build my strings. Through trial and error, I found big and small differences between strand counts. It took me a while to figure it out, but now I understand, and here’s what I learned.

Compound bow strand count. So, does the number of strands on your compound bow matter? Depending on how many strands you have, your bow will feel and react differently. Strand count affects your bow’s:

  1. Sight marks
  2. String serving Size
  3. Steadiness / control
  4. Peep rotation

In this post, you’ll learn why strand count matters and how it affects your bow’s performance.

Site Marks

If you change anything small on your bow, you can expect your sight marks to change slightly. However, strings are not regarded as something small on your bow.

Strings are probably the thing that can change your sight marks the most. (excluding form change). If you ever order new strings, when you put them on, you should always do a walk-down.

Standard string counts include 18 strands, 24 strands, 32 strands, and 36 strands. The rule is, the fewer strands you have, the faster your bow. The more strands you have, the more control and steadiness you’ll have.

If I have an 18 strand bow, 60lbs, shooting at 50m, my sight mark is not going to be the same as a 32 strand, 60lbs at 50m.

Your 18 strand bow’s sight mark is going to be much higher than your 32 strands. Then you might ask, why don’t I run an 18 strand bow all the time if it makes my bow run faster? That is one way to look at it. However, fewer strands equal more speed, but more speed equals less control. (I will go into this in more detail further on).

Serving Size

There are various sizes of serving available. .007, .014, .017, .019, .021, .024 and .030. Each of these sizes corresponds to two things. How many strands are in the bow, and what nocks are you using?

If I have an 18 strand bow, but I have nocks that fit a 24 strand (.014 serving), then you will need to buy a bigger serving size, for example, .019. Or vice versa. If I have a 36 strand bow with nocks that fit a 24 strand (.014 serving), then I would look at getting a .007 serving.

There is no one better serving size than another. It all depends on how many strands you have and what nocks you are using. But generally speaking, you usually don’t go wrong with .014.

You can fit the same nock size as on a 24 strand bow as a 32 strand bow. So you have room to play, with both, without having to buy different nocks. When you order ready-made strings, they’re usually 24 strands and .014.


Fewer strands equal faster – more strands equals steadier. So I and most likely the majority of archers would say, the faster you can get your bow, the better, but that is only partially true.

I’ve shot with an 18 strand bow, 24 strand bow, and a 32 strand, all at 60lbs, and here’s what I found.

18 Strands

Although you get lots of speed from this, the vibration ended up getting just a little too much for me. Let’s say you wanted more speed, but you were only pulling 40lbs. You might then consider an 18 strand to get more speed for less poundage. Or even if you were at 20lbs and struggle to hit 50m and 18 strand would give you the boost you would need.

24 Strands

This is like the happy medium. You don’t want lots of vibration, but you do want a decent amount of speed. You don’t want it too slow, but you want a fair amount of control. This is what you are looking for.

Personally, I find it just enough control and speed so that I am comfortable on the shot and when the shot breaks, the bow is still manageable. I feel like if you are pulling 50lbs+, this should be the string that you use.

32 Strands

This string gives the most control. You can most certainly feel the difference. When the shot breaks, the bow is very steady and manageable, but in saying that, you can also feel that the bow is much slower.

Really if you are not shooting 55lbs+, you won’t find this forgiving. I won’t look to shoot it32 strands if you don’t already pull that 55lbs plus. If you do, then the question you have to ask yourself is, how much control do I want? If you want a lot, then this strand count is for you.

Peep Rotation

To install your peep, you put your bow in the bow press and get half the amount of strands on either side of your peep. This is nice and easy to do if you have a two-color string as you divide the colors. But what happens when they are all the same?

If you need to adjust the peep in your 24 strand strings, left or right, move strands from the opposite side.

You can also put more or fewer twists in the whole string to try and tune it, but then this, in turn, affects your D-Loop being either to the left or right.
With 18 strands, if I were to tune my peep, then taking strands from one side and putting it to the other may end up leaving one side of the peep quite bare.

Your strings are built to last, and it’s not going to break your strings, but too little on one side, and they may begin to separate and stop acting and working as one unit. This results in a troublesome peep – it won’t rotate the way you want it to.

Thirty-two strand strings, as you may have guessed, is a little much string for the peep. Although you can put the peep into the string, and it will fit, you don’t have a vast amount of room to play with. Strands riding over the peep is common.

But there’s more than one way to tune the peep. Putting more twists into the entire string if you are running 32 strands helps. You may end up with a good rotating peep but a D-Loop on the side of your string.

There are pros and cons to every string count, but in my opinion, I would choose the 24 strands. It offers ease of peep tuning, good speed, and manageable control. It pretty much has the best parts out of all 3.

Related Questions

Archery bow arm position? Most coaches will likely prefer a straight bow arm since a straight arm is more stable than a bent. What is more important is that the archer is comfortable and can replicate the stance consistently.

Arrows shooting left? Most aiming issues are caused by the archer’s technique, but if all your arrows are shooting left, adjust your sight to the left to correct it.

You may find the following posts helpful:

Why does my D-loop keep moving?

How to fix peep rotation?

How to adjust draw length on PSE?

Rogan Cunningham

Rogan Cunningham is an archer and writer for He's a proud member of the National Archery Squad. He writes about his archery training, shooting, and traveling with the national archery team, and he also reviews all kinds of archery kit. He only writes about archery, what can I tell you?..... He's an Archer!

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