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Archery Info -- take the Mystery out of your archery

Should "string follow" be built into a longbow?

There’s a misnomer about sting follow in bows.  You put string follow into bows you make a heavier bow lighter.  It makes no sense.   You make thicker limbs less efficient.   You make a 55# bow a 50# bow, so you don’t get the lightness of limb.  You just get a heavy limb with no cast on the premise that there’s string follow in it.  Nobody ever did that.  Howard Hill never did that to any of his bows ever, never!  It naturally occurred into the bow, and as it naturally occurred, the bow goes where it wants to.  And it shoots better for it.  You can’t build it in.   And if you do build string follow into the bow and then you get natural string follow you’ll probably make a 60# bow a 50# bow!  And now it’s 15% to 20% less efficient!

The Mystery of I.L.F.
A clever, simple 3 piece take down system for Recurves and Longbows.
There seems to be a lot of mystery around the I.L.F. (International Limb Fitting) takedown system – but the truth is it’s just basic bows and arrows without the need for tools to take it apart. I.L.F. is simply a really clever system with no mystery at all.

Earl Hoyt made the I.L.F. system by a progression from his original screw-from-the-back system to a dovetail alignment system – a flat sided dovetail with alignment screws to make the riser straight, not the limbs. It then morphed into a tapered dovetail and adjustable pocket, built to allow you to take your bows apart and put them back together with relative ease.

This system was so good that it was mimicked by everybody, eventually becoming what it is today – International Limb Fitting (which was actually coined by someone else. Earl Hoyt called it the Dovetail Alignment System).

Why is the I.L.F. system so good?
What the I.L.F. gives you as a shooter is the adjustability that Olympic target shooters have had for nearly three decades, allowing you to change tiller and adjust the weight by about 10%, making the I.L.F. system very tunable for your shooting style and bow. When the goal is to shoot 90 meters, it’s a lot more demanding on the equipment.

Following that, people believed that the DAS system was the first to develop I.L.F. for bow hunting (which is probably true). David Allen Sosa, although using the older screw from the back system, simply took the technology of the target limbs and fit that to field and hunting use.

I.L.F. is a clever system and easy to calculate your bow length.

I.L.F. System is simple:
The bolt pattern on a riser is 5 inches shorter than its length, and the limbs are typically three lengths – 23”, 24”, and 25” (at SKY Archery we also make 22” and 26”). To calculate your bow length, you just add the bolt pattern and each limb. 

I.L.F. Example: a 17” riser has a 12” bolt pattern. With 24” limbs, that makes a 60” bow (12 + 24+ 24 = 60). Or you can adjust it further with shorter or longer limbs, making a 56”, 58”, 62”, or 64” bow. Now try different riser lengths from 13” to 25” and you have bows from 52” to 72”.

Some people don’t like adjustability or that it doesn’t lock in until you put the string on and snap it. Some people don’t like the look of it. Some people don’t like metal. These are reasons I.L.F. is not for everybody, or just excuses for not understanding the system. But, that said, metal handles are the best and are the most tunable, even more so than wood risers. This is because of the total adjustment for true center shooting. There is no flex with the metal like there is with the wood.

For you to be a better shot, you have to shoot and understand your equipment.  I.L.F. is just a different, simple system of attaching the limbs to the riser. Once you tune it into what you shoot, it shoots like all the rest. Don’t over think it!


The use of archery equipment by minor should be closely supervised by a knowledgeable adult.

Unless properly supervised, keep out of the reach of children.

Prior to using new equipment, read the manufacturer’s instructions or obtain instructions from a qualified authority.


Prior to each hunt, practice session or competition, inspect your  equipment for signs of wear of damage, such as but not limited to frayed bowstring, cracks or dents in bow and/or arrow.


Always inspect your arrows for sings of cracks in either the shaft or the nock.  If the arrow is cracked or badly bent, throw it away immediately.  If the nock is damaged, replace it.

Never point, aim, or draw the bow in the direction of another person.

Never shoot at a target until you are sure it will stop your arrow.

Inspect the area behind your target to insure that it is clear of living creatures and objects that could be damaged.


Be sure the arrows are the correct length, weight, and spine for your bow.  Shooting arrows that are too short can cause injury.   

Shooting arrows that are too light can approximate a DRY FIRE.

We strongly recommend that you use a bow stringer to string your recurve or longbow.  Stringing a bow can be a difficult operation and you can damage your bow without one.

  • Take the bow stringer, it has a saddle at one end and a cup at the other.
  • Slide the saddle over the top limb and place the smaller cup over the bottom limb tip.
  • Take the handle of the bow and block the stringer with both you feet.
  • Pull the handle vertically to bend the bow while supporting the saddle.
  • When the limbs are sufficiently bent, the bow stringer should remain in place and allow you to slowly slide the string up to the notch on the tip of the limb.
  • Release slowly and remove the bow stringer.  Make sure the string is correctly positioned.
  • The bow is now strung and ready to shoot.

  • NEVER DRY FIRE YOUR BOW.  Never draw back or shoot any bow without an arrow on the string — this is DRY FIRING YOUR BOW.  Without the arrow to absorb the energy, dry-firing can damage your bow and possible cause personal injury.


    Measure Brace Height (Fistmele) from the pivot point, or the most inward point of the grip, to the bowstring.  



    The brace height can be adjusted by twisting or untwisting the string.


    To increase brace height, unstring bow and leave the string on the top limb. Twist the bottom of the string tighter. 


    Restring the bow and measure the new brace height.


    To shorten the brace height, untwist the string to loosen the string.



    We recommend 8 - 10 grains per pound for arrow weight.


    All types of arrows (wood, aluminum or carbon) can be used with your Belcher bows.  Regardless of arrow type, it is important that arrows are correctly spined (have the correct spine stiffness) for your draw weight.  Check your arrow manufacturer’s recommendations to determine the arrow size best suited for your bow at your draw length and weight.  When shooting a nock for your arrow, make sure the nock is not too tight on the string as this will interfere with arrow flight and performance.  At the same time, it should not be too loose as it could cause a dry fire.