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Norfolk business ships custom bowstrings across the world

March 10, 2019 GMT

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) — Who would have thought Extreme Bowstrings would become so, well, extreme?

Definitely not Ron Harmon.

Harmon, owner of Extreme Bowstrings in Norfolk, said he started “playing with strings in 2002.”

“You could never get a string that was actually, ... Let’s say you wanted a string that was 57.5 inches for your bow. If you’re lucky, Dakota Archery might have one that’s 58 inches. Or 56 inches, or you have to untwist it or twist it up to make it work,” Harmon said.

So, he and his friend bought a bunch of material and started experimenting how to make bowstrings.

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By 2004, Harmon said he started getting good enough at making bowstrings in his Norfolk home that he was selling a few here and there.

By 2006, he launched his website through the help of his brother-in-law, the Norfolk Daily News reported.

“Everything has just progressed, as far as getting different machines for stretching, which really helps as far as (saving time),” Harmon said, adding that he also works on bows for customers, performing tuning and installing services.

His sons, Jacob and Dakota, as well as their friends, help with the business — as does his daughter, Kami, who is learning to make bowstrings.

Harmon said to make a bowstring, he needs to know the length that is needed and information about the bow it’s going on. His strings — in every color imaginable — are made up of High Modulus Polymer Ethylene (HMPE), some of which are mixed with a vectran blend.

Then, through automated machines that apply 350 pounds of pressure and the use of a computer program, Harmon is able to twist and stretch each string to its precise length, creating a high-quality product, he said.

“There are a lot of people who make strings, but some of us make them a little bit better, as far as that final extra touch you put into it, such as, how you tie a knot and the tension you put on the serving,” Harmon said. “It helps to keep it from separating as easy.”

Harmon said he can complete an entire set — one string, a control cable and a buss cable — in one hour. It goes much faster if he’s got help, he said, especially in the summer when he’s extremely busy.

“June, July, August and September are just crazy. I could work 8 in the morning until midnight,” Harmon said. “That’s when we usually have some of the boys’ friends come over, and my daughter’s learning how to make them now.”

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Bowstrings, Harmon said, are made to order, with customers selecting material, color and length. Harmon said they have made strings for archery enthusiasts with PVC pipe bows, youth bows, bows made from sticks, and others. The shortest string they’ve done was 4 inches long, while the longest was about 112 inches, Harmon said.

“Whatever color or design you can dream up, I can make it,” Harmon said.

He works with Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s, who refer their customers to Extreme Bowstrings.

“We build it for that customer and send it to the customer,” Harmon said. “Then he takes it back into Cabela’s and then they install it for him.”

Extreme Bowstrings has even built strings for Olympians, some of who have beaten American athletes. Harmon said they have shipped strings to 53 countries, including South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, France, Germany, Yugoslavia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Israel.

Harmon said he never imagined “playing with some strings” would turn into an internationally known company. Just the same, he’s grateful for the flexibility his career has offered him.

“It’s kind of simple in a way, but it’s difficult. It could be,” Harmon said. “I get to do it from home. I don’t have to do it somewhere else, or get up and go somewhere to work for somebody else. It’s pretty nice.”

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Information from: Norfolk Daily News, http://www.norfolkdailynews.com