The English Longbow is legendary in its prowess and was feared on the battlefield for hundreds of years. During this 3 day course you will make your very own longbow and become a part of its history. We will teach you how to fashion your own ash self-longbow starting from an ash log. Under our guidance you will make your own bowstring and arrow, and get to loose a few arrows in a clout shooting competition with your course mates.
Learn the history of the great English Longbow and the importance, differences and misconceptions of the woods used in its construction. Get to understand the in-depth characteristics of Ash as a bow wood, as well as how to select and split out a bow stave from a log.
An introduction to the course and a talk about bow making, with a little on its history. An in depth talk on wood, its characteristics and tree selection. The important difference in strength and efficiency between a cleft or split stave, and one that has been milled or cut. An introduction to the tools used in the course and how we will use them.
As a group you will split out individual ash staves from a trunk using splitting wedges and the Froe and Beetle. Individual staves are then assesed for character and any possible defects.
Measure your draw length, calculate your bow length and assess where in your stave the bow lays taking into account the character of the stave. Accurately mark out the back of the bow on the stave using the surface of the wood as the back.
Begin to rough out the shape of the bow, starting with the side-axe, than progressing onto the draw-knife and spoke-shave, working on a Shave Horse to hold the stave. Once the back of the bow has taken shape the belly of the bow is marked on the sides and then worked down in the same way.
Finish the roughing out process and start to refine the shape of the bow, before finally adding the finishing touches with the cabinet scraper, and then carve the nocks ready to accept the string.
Make the string for your longbow by twisting 12 separate strands of bowstring material together using the reverse ply twist cordage process, into a bowstring with a spliced top loop (flemish) and a reverse ply twist bottom section.
Begin the process of tillering (bending into shape) of the bow after attaching your string with a timber or bowyer's hitch.
Carefully tiller the bow using a tillering post, making adjustments using the spoke shave and cabinet scraper, until the bow finally 'comes round compass' at full draw, this is the part that may take some time.
Clean up and smooth the bow with the cabinet scraper and burnish the surface of the bow to add strength and compress the surface fibres.
String the bow and set the correct bracing height or fistmele by adding or removing twist in the string, and then serve the centre section of your string with serving cotton and a serving jig.
If you have time make your own arrow by adding a pile and a nock. Fletch your arrow using a fletching jig - if the tillering process overuns we will supply arrows but we will makes sure we cover what you need to do, to make your own arrows in the future.
Finally you get to shoot your new bow! After some brief tuition we will have a clout shooting competition in the field to put your new bow to the test. See your arrow arc 150 yards across the sky propelled by a bow that two days earlier was a tree trunk!
All tools and materials will be provided but if you have any of the above tools and would like to use your own then feel free to bring them along to use. At the end of the course you should have your own longbow, string and an arrow to take home with you.
The type of bow you will make will be a circular tillered warbow, rather than the elliptically tillered victorian style target bow. The cross section can be classic D shaped or even a Mary Rose style ellipse if you prefer... Draw weights of the bows depend on how well the tillering process goes but most end up between 50-80lbs draw. If you are after a high powered warbow, poundages of up 150lbs are easily achievable!
Got a question?
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Jim & Ben