D-loop: metal vs rope

D-loops come in two form factors: rope and metal. If you practice at an archery club, you might have noticed that no one uses a metal D-loop. Why is that the case? They seem more secure and durable than the ones that are tied on with rope. 

In this article, you will read why I recommend sticking with a rope D-loop over a metal one. Even though they solve some annoying problems. 

The benefits of a metal D-loop 

Let’s first discuss the major benefits of the metal D-Loop: 

1. It is more secure and durable 

The biggest benefit of a metal D-loop is that they are more secure and durable. Metal is just more rigid and less prone to breaking than rope. Once you attach a metal D-loop you will never have to replace it. Sadly, a rope D-loop must be replaced every year if you shoot regularly. 

2. It doesn’t stretch 

Another common issue with tied-on D-loops is stretching. It’s extremely annoying when you have tied the D-loop and it stretches after a few shots. With decent D-loop materials, this should be limited, but rope will always stretch more than metal. 

3. Easy to attach to the bowstring 

Attaching a metal D-loop is extremely easy. You don’t need to know fancy knots or adjust the cord’s length. You just put the D-loop on the string with some screws. This also feels more secure than a knot. 

The benefits of a rope D-loop 

Although there are some clear benefits of using a metal D-loop. There are some solid reasons why most archers use a rope D-loop instead. I will discuss them one by one: 

1. Works with all releases 

Rope D-loops work with all kinds of releases. Thumb releases, finger releases, back tension releases; the rope D-loop is very versatile. We cannot say the same thing about the metal D-loop. 

Because the metal cannot twist, the caliper can only be attached in one orientation. This is an issue for many thumb and back tension releases. Also, the thicker material of the metal D-loop doesn’t always fit all releases. 

On most thumb releases, you need to be able to twist the D-loop in order to anchor properly

Since most archers use a rope D-loop, manufacturers also don’t see a real need to test their releases on metal D-loops. 

2. Will never damage the release or string 

Although you will not wear out a metal D-loop, the loop can cause your release to wear out. The metal-on-metal contact can start scraping away material which can weaken your release over time. Since there is some friction between the release and the D-loop either of the two will wear out. 

The D-loop (both metal and rope) are a lot cheaper than a release, so it’s much better that the D-loop wears out than the release. 

3. Rope is more silent 

One of the benefits of archery compared to other shooting sports is that it’s relatively silent. Shooting with a metal D-loop makes the bow a lot noisier. The metal just makes more noise than rope. 

4. Lower chance of bow torque 

You often hear archers discuss bow torque caused by tilting the bow or bowstring left or right. This can cause inaccuracies in your shot as the arrow will no longer be following the ideal flight trajectory. 

Since the rope D-loop can be twisted, it will help you correct bow torque. A metal D-loop will instead transfer all the torque from the bow hand directly to the string. This makes rope D-loops more forgiving than metal D-loops.

5. The D-loop is lighter 

Archery manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to create lighter bowstrings. The weight on the bowstring is dead weight. Since the bow doesn’t only need to propel the arrow forward but also the string, the heavier the string the lower the arrow speed. Also, the weight of the D-loop material is important, as this will also slightly affect the arrow speed. 

Another reason why a lighter string and D-loop are beneficial is that they vibrate less. When you shoot a bow, you can always see the string vibrate. This is caused by the energy that is still stored in the string when the arrow leaves the bow.

6. They are safer 

You might think that a metal arrow rest is safer because it is less likely to break or slip loose. But, the consequences when this happens can be a lot worse than with a rope D-loop. 

Let’s think about the worst-case scenario. With a rope D-loop, you will launch a piece of string when it fails. With a metal D-loop, you will launch a piece of metal. Although it is unlikely, when the string bounces back, the D-look can shoot back towards you. I prefer to be hit by a piece of string than a piece of metal. 

Conclusion: why you should stick with a rope D-loop 

You probably already know my advice if you have read the article from start to finish. I do not recommend using a metal D-loop in any situation. They cause your bow to shoot less accurately, wear out your release, and can even be dangerous. 

Archers are often quite divided on different techniques and gear. But just read some threads on archery blogs about this and you will see that there is a consensus. Metal D-loops are just not a good idea. 

Are there any good reasons to choose a metal D-loop? 

You might think that there should be some good reason to shoot with a metal D-loop. Otherwise, they would not sell it, right? But I have thought a long time about it, but I see no situation where I would recommend a metal D-loop. 

They are unsuitable for beginners because they make the bow more difficult to shoot and not for experienced users because they will damage your release. The idea behind metal D-loops seems good, but there are too many issues in practice. 

Final words 

Many archers think there is only one good way to approach the sport. I disagree with that with in respect to many techniques and equipment. But in this case, I think there is only one good approach. 

Please let me know if you disagree with me or see some potential use for a metal D-loop. I am open to discussion! 

Tim van Rooijen

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by archery. First due to its historic significance but later because I like being outdoors. With this blog, I share my knowledge about Archery and how you can improve your shot. More about author…

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