Right on target
While Frank Sinatra may be best known for having the world on a string, Tim Zimmerman of T.A.Z. Archery is putting the principle into practice in Woodstock. Zimmerman is known around the country for his handmade strings for hunting bows.
Zimmerman started working at an archery shop 18 years ago making string.
“That’s all I did there,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Zimmerman prides himself on the precision of his strings. He said making them by hand allows for more consistency and, therefore, more accurate shots in the field. He winds the string so the bow’s sights won’t turn or wobble, also important for accuracy.
When beginning a new bowstring — they can range from 50 to 100 inches — Zimmerman wraps lengths of colored string around two posts. He uses two colors for aesthetic purposes and to ensure consistency — it’s easier to see a consistent winding pattern when looking at two colors.
“The longer the string, the more precise it’s got to be,” said Zimmerman.
For even more consistency, he winds the strings from the inside outward. Once wound to 300 pounds of pressure, he ties off the ends of the bowstring and begins a process called barnishing. Barnishing involves scraping off extra wax from the new string — almost like sanding a piece of wood — so the piece feels whole instead like of many different strands.
Zimmerman then pre-stretches the new string for about 30 minutes.
“It all falls back to making sure the strings aren’t stretching on the bows,” he said.
The final step of the bowstring assembly process is applying serving, a tightly wound protective outer layer.
One set consists of two or three strings, and making the set takes between an hour and an hour and a half. Zimmerman has it down to a science.
“I’ve got a couple of contracts with bow companies because of the way I do it and how tedious I am,” he said.
Zimmerman landed a deal with Elite Archery that calls for more than 2,000 strings.
Zimmerman’s fastidiousness carries over from the bow to the arrow, where he assembles and tests every arrow T.A.Z. sells.
Because arrows are rolled cylinders of aluminum or carbon, the end lip where the material is melded together can create an imperfection. A device called a spine tester detects the imperfection, and Zimmerman marks it with a different colored feather. Knowing where the imperfection is allows hunters to shoot in a consistent manner.
“Customers don’t know we do it, but we do it quite a bit,” said Zimmerman.
His attention to detail — both seen and unseen — is what he said sets T.A.Z. apart and what brings joy to his profession.
“The stuff we use is a little more expensive, but it helps the archer out in the long run,” said Zimmerman. He said he appreciates knowing that the equipment he provides may land a hunter his or her greatest catch.
“It gives you a little more satisfaction,” he added.
With business continuing to boom, Zimmerman is planning to expand his business, creating a division devoted to making bowstrings.
For information on T.A.Z. Archery, visit www.tazarchery.com or call 815-337-0332.