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jason66

english longbows

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Hello, just out of interest has anyone ever made their own yew longbow ? If so how difficult was it and were you happy with the results ? I ask as I would like to make my own, any tips advice greatly appreciated, thanks Jason

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Hi Jason,

Something I intend to do myself in the near future. I shoot compound, Horsebow, and longbow. The longbow I have is a laminate of lemonwood and Hickory by Bickerstaffe.

 

A true English longbow is made from a single piece of yew, using both heartwood and sapwood. Its a natural spring.

 

You can buy ready seasoned staves and the web is a mine of info. You are lucky [like me ] by living in the north. There are several longbow clubs in the area, one being based at Pontefract castle. The silver arrow is still shot there every year.

 

Google is your longbow friend. ;)

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Wow. I can see ponte castle from my house, I watched a very interesting program about the effectivness of english archers, and the bow he made was a thing of beauty, very effective too judging by the armour plate the arrows pierced like butter, from memory the draw weight was over 100 lbs,

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Out of interest Dave who do you recommend as a bowmaker instructor ?

thanks

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Out of interest Dave who do you recommend as a bowmaker instructor ?

thanks

There are literally loads of longbow makers in the UK ,I used to compete with a compound and recurve, when I shot with folk who had a longbow, it was nearly always a different maker.

 

Bob Powell makes fast bows, Steve Stratton makes good war bows, if you have the strength to draw one, Google longbow makers in the UK, it will get you a list.

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Was it a Hoyt, Maxxis ? :D

 

I,ve decided to shoot for 12 months with a KG Osprey in Hunting tackle. Sick of technology, and surprised myself just how good I was with a barebow this last saturday.

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Was it a Hoyt, Maxxis ? :D

 

I,ve decided to shoot for 12 months with a KG Osprey in Hunting tackle. Sick of technology, and surprised myself just how good I was with a barebow this last saturday.

It was the Hoyt Maxxis35, then I started taking my Hoyt Game master 2,really enjoyed comps then, compounds and their users in the unlimited class got too anal,none of them looked like they where having a good time, not got a bow now and miss it.

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Wow. I can see ponte castle from my house, I watched a very interesting program about the effectivness of english archers, and the bow he made was a thing of beauty, very effective too judging by the armour plate the arrows pierced like butter, from memory the draw weight was over 100 lbs,

 

 

Average draw weight back then was incredible. 14 year olds were drawing 70 odd lbs and men were drawing up to 160 lbs, but more usually 120 to 140 lbs which was enough to launch an arrow tipped with a bodkin point well over 200 yards.

 

I used two bows here over a 20 year period, both custom made by Border Archery in Scotland, both takes on the longbow (more accurately, flat bow in my case). One draws about 70 lbs, the other over 90 lbs. You know you've pulled those. I enjoyed shooting them and surprised myself by lifting the odd barebow championship, one international. How men used to shoot 100lb plus bows with such relative ease just goes to show how strong they used to be. Some of the skeletons removed from the Mary Rose showed signs of spinal deformation attributed to "shooting in the bow" from a young age with heavy draw weight longbows. The term doesn't refer to a break-in period, rather it describes the shape of the drawn bow with most archers drawing back to the corner of their jaws, or indeed all the way back to the ear. The string and bent bow made the shape of an arc, transcribed by the angle of the string with the archer's body effectively partly inside the perimeter of that shape, hence "shooting in the bow".

 

Sadly, I can no longer shoot mine due to a chronic arm injury, so they just sit invitingly on the bow stand along with a small collection of other bows.

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If you want to learn how to make long bows (Yew, Ash or Red Oak) try John Ryder at the Woodcraft School in West Sussex - (he has just run a 'War Bow' course)

 

or

 

Phil Brooke at Chosen Paths Bushcraft in East Sussex

 

They are both highly respected in the bushcraft and woodland managment world

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To answer your initial question....

 

I have made long bows from ash and red oak but not from yew simply because yew has not been readily available to me

 

The process is identical with either of those 3 woods

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Once i've had a season with the Osprey, I'm going to contact Border bows for a custom.

 

Nothing better, beautiful to look at...and incredibly fast.

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I have shot bows for the last 30 years and still love using them.

Never owned a compound bow, always wood. I stopped using my war bow a few years ago. It's beautiful cherry with a 120lb draw.

 

Anything from 30lb upwards is always fun to use and everyone should have one in the house to learn.

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No Mick.

 

Longbows are generally called that up to 100 lbs is draw weight. Anything over that is classed as a war bow. Its just the same, but a damn sight beefier, and generally shoot 1/2" diameter shafts. Not meant to be drawn and held, just yanked back and loosed.

 

All the footage on films you see of hundreds of archers at full draw, waiting for the command " loose" is ballocks.

 

A war bow at 150LBS cannot be held at full draw by 99% of archers.

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Not quite true: there is a more important difference betwixt a long bow and a war bow than the draw weight.

 

A long bow can be a flat bow, and may also have a distinct handle portion that divides the limbs at full stretch into two separate arcs. A true English war bow is of D section, to store more energy (and thus has a greater draw weight). It also does not have a distinctive change of section at the point where it is held, thus when drawn forms a single arc from limb tip to limb tip: hence it is said to be possible to draw it "full compass".

 

Our current war bow, a fine specimen in yew, was made in Batley by Adrian Hayes, as fine a bowyer and nice a gentleman as you could hope to meet.

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A flatbow is usually referred to as an American flatbow. They have the distinct handle section.

 

I've never seen a longbow that was anything other than D section? Certainly never seen a flat limbed bow referred to as a longbow.

 

You would be hung off the nearest tree in any of the Sherwood clubs for calling a flatbed , longbow Sir.... :lol::lol::lol::lol:

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A flatbow is usually referred to as an American flatbow. They have the distinct handle section.

 

I've never seen a longbow that was anything other than D section? Certainly never seen a flat limbed bow referred to as a longbow.

 

You would be hung off the nearest tree in any of the Sherwood clubs for calling a flatbed , longbow Sir.... :lol::lol::lol::lol:

 

Ah Baldie, clearly you associate with the cognoscenti who know what they are talking about. We're not all so lucky...

 

A warbow is a specific case of longbow: all true English (and Welsh) warbows are longbows but not all longbows are warbows - the American flatbow being proof of that puddin'

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Ah Baldie, clearly you associate with the cognoscenti who know what they are talking about. We're not all so lucky...

 

A warbow is a specific case of longbow: all true English (and Welsh) warbows are longbows but not all longbows are warbows - the American flatbow being proof of that puddin'

 

True.

 

The early Welsh war-bows (at least from the South and West of Wales) were, strictly speaking, not the same thing as the English Yew D section war-bow. They used Coomon or Wych Elm, and the bows were shorter. The late Dr Gad Rausing claimed that the early Welsh longbow, was in fact a short flatbow and not at all like the English equivalent, but evidence doesn't altogether support that as many short, round section bows have been described. However, the better Welsh war-bows were not made of Common or Wych Elm, and shared similar designs with the English War-Bow being incredibly heavy pull D section Yew bows. It's not clear whether these were developed from the early medieval English D-pattern Yew bow design or that they were already in use. It's a moot point however, as the longbow design has its roots way earlier. The so-called "Ashcott Bow" found in a Somerset bog dates back to 2665 BC and is of a similar design to those found on the Mary rose.

 

Not sure either about the pulling back and letting go straight off, at least not as the 'norm. I've seen practiced archers hold 140 lb draw weight long enough to provide a steady aim for shooting at targets 100 yds away. The point behind heavier bows is their ability to send a heavy armour piercing Bodkin point over 250 yards, with the Master Archer providing the angle and holding long enough for the bowmen under his command to loose at that angle. It can be argued that in such cases, the Master Archer does the holding and the section archers draw and elevate by bending at the waist until they reach the same angle, then release without further holding. Also, when you look at some of the bows still in use in Africa today, you have youngsters of late teenage years drawing bows over 100lbs draw weight and hanging on long enough to make sure of their aim.

 

For anyone who's not yet read it, Robert Hardy (the actor and toxopholite) wrote a book, still available called "Longbow; A Military and Social History". For anyone not familiar with that book, I highly recommend it.

 

Linky:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Longbow-Military-History-Robert-Hardy/dp/1852604123

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Thanks for that.

 

I've been meaning to pick that book up for some time.

 

Whilst on the subject, have you ever read Toxophilius by Roger Ascham ?

 

Very hard work, but fascinating.

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I have Baldie, and have a copy in the house somewhere. Fascinating reading and what was written then, holds true today. It's one of the very few activities where we can try to directly compete with the achievements of those shooting essentially the same gear over 500 years ago on equal terms....and it highlights just how good they were! The main difference with today was that come the reign of Henry VIII, a new law was passed making it obligatory for every Englishman at or over the age of 14 (I think it was) to practise on public butts (common land or church yards were commonly used) weekly as a minimum. It was a response to the worry that England wouldn't have enough trained archers come another war, as archery was starting to fall out of fashion by those in Henry's reign who'd not yet experienced war so he took steps to protect the superiority of an English army with high numbers of skilled archers.

 

This law was unusually never repealed AFAIK. Many practised more often so by the age of their early 20's, not only were they good shots, but they had built up to very heavy bows. The archer remained the most deadly force on the battlefield almost right up to the point that artillery matured and became the infantryman's worst nightmare. Muskets weren't accurate enough nor did they have the rate of fire to compete with the longbow.

 

It was Ascham who helped Henry by dedicating "Toxophilus" to him at a time when it was not fashionable nor seen as a sport of the nobleman. Ascham had social clout, being a Cambridge lecturer and practised archer himself.

 

Whilst it may be heavy going today, by writing it in English, he made it more accessible to all, as typically, the shelves of most libraries would be lined with works in Latin or French, and many commoners couldn't speak these languages. Henry was by all accounts very pleased with the publication and the reception it received. It made archery (by then compulsary) a more popular pastime as well as a necessary defence strategy, and introduced more widespread competition in England, possibly for the first time on a country-wide basis.

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This law was unusually never repealed AFAIK.

 

True, though some disagree and aver that the General Repeal Act overturned it along with lots of other outdated laws. That isn't the case, and it is unlikely that the law ever can be overturned. The Statute of Cambridge (passed by Henry iV, not VIII in fact) was a Royal Decree and thus can only be overturned by another Royal Decree. However, since the Civil War and the Reformation, the UK has been a constitutional monarchy and so there arises an impasse. Parliament has no power to overturn an existing Royal Decree and the current and future monarchs have no power to make a Royal Decree and so cannot overturn the old one either. Best get down to the butts and draw the yew, oomans, the penalty is a 6 shilling fine if you don't. (6 shillings was a huge amount of money back in 1388: if it were to be increased in line with inflation it would be several thousand pounds now)

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True, though some disagree and aver that the General Repeal Act overturned it along with lots of other outdated laws. That isn't the case, and it is unlikely that the law ever can be overturned. The Statute of Cambridge (passed by Henry iV, not VIII in fact) was a Royal Decree and thus can only be overturned by another Royal Decree. However, since the Civil War and the Reformation, the UK has been a constitutional monarchy and so there arises an impasse. Parliament has no power to overturn an existing Royal Decree and the current and future monarchs have no power to make a Royal Decree and so cannot overturn the old one either. Best get down to the butts and draw the yew, oomans, the penalty is a 6 shilling fine if you don't. (6 shillings was a huge amount of money back in 1388: if it were to be increased in line with inflation it would be several thousand pounds now)

 

 

This is all very true (sorry....got my Henrys mixed up!). I doubt though that plod would look that favourably at anyone exercising their obligations on their local common land, village green or church yard!

 

I once invited a local golf club membership to a game of archery-golf as they have a course on a local common (they were sold the rights to the greens). Needless to say, it went down like the Hindenburg.

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This is all very true (sorry....got my Henrys mixed up!). I doubt though that plod would look that favourably at anyone exercising their obligations on their local common land, village green or church yard!

 

I once invited a local golf club membership to a game of archery-golf as they have a course on a local common (they were sold the rights to the greens). Needless to say, it went down like the Hindenburg.

Good point-the Police and the Crown would not have any common ground in this scenario (rub of the Blues?)

 

Basic etiquette:

 

Mixing Henrys is forgiveable

Mixing Wives is much less forgiveable

Mixing Martinis is generally acceptable..

...but Martinis and Martini Henrys don't mix.

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