Category Archives: General Archery Chat

traditional or freestyle bows

Two Tribes

When you feel that the time has come to buy your own bow, you have a decision to make that goes beyond your income and the distance to the nearest archery shop: traditional or modern?

2020 Archery teaches using a modern style – recurve training bows – and you can stick with the club bows (with no charge!) for as long as you need. But you’ll have seen club members using the full gamut of styles: longbows, flatbows (AKA the “American longbow”), horsebows, Olympic recurves, and the occasional compound bow. Broadly speaking, the former three cover the most popular styles of traditional archery, and the latter two are considered modern.

So what unseen force pushes the novice archer to follow one path over the other?

There was an economic aspect to my decision to go traditional: my first bow, a Buck Trail flatbow, cost around £130. That figure aligned far better with my bank balance than the £200-plus that a recurve could have set me back, even before all the accessories used with freestyle – long rod, V-bars, sights and what have you – were factored in. But even if I’d been feeling more flush, I think I’d still have gone trad. That’s partly because shooting a stick-and-string makes me feel closer to the historical archers I like to learn about, and partly down to a (somewhat masochistic) desire to find out just how far I can go with the uncompensated mechanics of my own body.

I don’t think traditional is in any way superior: it’s a very personal preference. But I was interested in what makes people, as a general rule, choose one school over the other. I was also curious as to how far people grow into their preferred style – how important is your shooting choice to your identity as an archer? Are you an archer who happens to prefer traditional, or are you firmly a Traditional Archer?

“I don’t differentiate between the two”, said Erin. “I’m currently shooting a recurve, but I definitely plan to buy a traditional bow in future.” Erin sees the positives of both: “With my modern bow I’m at the point where I’m confident my arrows will hit the target where I want them to, which is obviously a nice feeling. But I like the idea of trying out a bow that doesn’t have the sights and other accessories, to develop my style.”

Kat shoots a longbow, a style of archery that she’s been drawn to since a child. Her bow is made in the Victorian style – something I’d previously been unaware of, but Kat described a photograph, currently hanging in her hallway, of Victorian ladies shooting similar bows at Crystal Place. Whilst feeling a deep connection to the longbow, Kat has a good practical reason for her choice. “I’m dyspraxic, and the relative simplicity of the longbow suits me for that reason.”

I have oversimplified by defining the choice as simply Traditional versus Modern, of course. There is, at least some kind of, meeting point between the two in the form of recurve barebow and traditional barebow. The former is a good option for those who prefer to shoot a modern recurve, but without sights, stabilisers or draw check indicators. It’s not unusual to see a club member who usually shoots freestyle remove their sights and stabilisers, just to mix things up a bit. On such occasions, their fellow archers may be treated to said archer’s musings on how their “release feels different when I shoot it bare”, which certainly livens up the session. Recurve barebow is recognised by Archery GB in their national rankings, alongside freestyle recurve, compound and longbow.

Recurve traditional is similar to recurve barebow, but requires the use of wooden arrows, alongside a couple of other stipulations.

We also have a few compound shooters in our club. These bows are fast, accurate and comparatively easier to hold at full draw (although, remember that you DO have to pull it through the peak draw weight so you need to be able to control the full weight of the bow). Like recurves, compounds can be shot with or without stabilisers and sights. You can read Archery GB’s detailed explanation of the various bow styles in the Rules of Shooting.

So is tribalism in archery a big thing? Not in our club, it seems. Even those firmly attached to their preferred style have chosen it for personal or practical, not ideological, reasons, and everybody I spoke to expressed an interest in learning about the choices of others. Archers, it seems, are curious folk. In a good way.

But since this is my blog post and I’m a traditionalist, I’m going to end with YouTube archer NUSensei’s fine demonstration of the difference between freestyle and traditional shooting. The defence rests (on the arrow shelf).

If you want to be a record breaker …

On 5 September 2015, Hamish Murray of Swindon, UK, shot 10 arrows into a 40 cm target, from an 18m distance, in just 1 minute and 0.5 second. With a 62 lb longbow. And he was just 17 at the time.

If your reaction to that is less “Ooof” and more “Guard my beverage”, then there’s nothing stopping you from having a go yourself. Murray currently holds the Guinness World Records (GWR) title for “Fastest time to shoot 10 arrows”, which is just one of a whole host of archery titles that GWR monitor.

Other current titles include “Farthest accurate distance (men’s archery)” for which the challenger must shoot an arrow into any scoring ring of a 120cm World Archery target. Which might sound reasonably do-able, until you consider that the current record stands at 283.47 m (930.04 ft). It’s held by US Paralympic legend Matt Stutzman, AKA the @ArmlessArcher, who, as his bio says, does everything with his feet. You might not want to put that beer down just yet. Another archer with proper foot skills is American Nancy Siefker who, standing on her hands and holding the bow with her left foot, shot an arrow into a scoring ring of a 5.5 cm target from a distance of 6.09 m (20 ft). If you fancy having a go at this, be reassured that the rules allow for a larger target than the one Nancy chose – anything up to 12 cm is allowed. Easy.

But in all seriousness, if you’re willing to put in the work you could be in with a shot (yes, I know) at one of the other records. Certain club members – and at this point the Wednesday evening crowd come, unbidden, to mind – might fancy their chances at this one: “Most balloons burst simultaneously by arrows.” The current holder, American Randy Oitker, loaded multiple arrows onto his bow and with this lethal cluster managed to burst seven balloons, pinned to a target, at the same time.

If endurance is your thing, there’s a record for the “Longest archery marathon”. This is pretty much what it sounds like: the longest time to continuously shoot arrows under World Archery conditions (with designated rest breaks allowed, so you can take care of requisite business). That record currently stands at 30 hours and 16 minutes, and is held by Dutch amateur archer Ton van Eekeren. Those who prefer outdoor shooting might like to consider the as-yet unclaimed title for “Highest archery score in 24 hours under World Archery outdoor conditions”.

Another, rather intriguing, record category also currently stands unfilled: “Most bottle caps removed using a bow and arrow in one minute”. That’s pretty much what it sounds like: the most crown cap bottles opened using a bow and arrow in one minute. Anyone taking home that title will not, in all likelihood, have to buy a beer for a very long time.

If none of the above records (and there are a few more on the website) sound like your thing, the GWR team are open to suggestions for new record categories. There are a few criteria to bear in mind if you want to propose a new category, though. One of these is that your proposed record must be based on a “single superlative” – so you could go for farthest, highest, fastest or most, but not a combination of these (so no “Farthest accurate shot whilst doing the loudest burp”, for example). Another important one is that the activity can’t be too niche: it’s got to be something that is currently subject to, or is likely to provoke, international competition. As impressive as it is, no-one is going to accept your suggestion of “Most zombie hostage targets hit by a vaguely hungover South London archer in 30 seconds (female)”.

You can also request that a record be split by gender, if there is justification for this. There’s no reason why women and men shouldn’t compete with each other for “Most balloons burst simultaneously by arrows”, but you could argue that “Heaviest longbow draw weight” – a record which, at 200lb, has remained in the arms of the UK’s Mark Stretton since 2004 could be split into female and male categories.

If you feel like having a go any of these records, you can fill in a short online form on the GWR website. Then, the records management team will send you the guidelines – basically, what conditions must be fulfilled and the quality of evidence they’ll need to see to evaluate your claim. Record verification is taken very seriously by GWR – the majority of archery records listed above must be undertaken using unmodified, World Archery-recognised equipment in the presence of independent expert witnesses registered with either Archery GB or the equivalent nationally-recognised governing body. By “independent”, GWR mean that the witness can’t have any personal investment in the outcome, so you can’t ask the club to do it.

But we will claim it was our training that got you there. Naturally…

Should I buy second hand archery gear?

As we’re coming up to Christmas it seemed like a good time to tackle this question which we often get asked at the club.

Is it ever a good idea to buy second hand archery gear?

Well, I think the short answer is,

“Yes! Sometimes it can be a good idea… but sometimes it can be a terrible idea.”

So, what do you need to look out for?

Just like buying anything else from ebay / Craigs List etc – don’t spend more than you could afford to possibly lose. Ebay isn’t too bad because you have the paypal guarantee and their feedback system is pretty awesome. (Obviously as long as you do check the feedback of the person who is selling!).

What you may not realise if you’re inexperienced though, is that a lot of us have seen basic, second hand equipment actually sell on ebay for more than it’s worth new! So make sure you’ve thoroughly priced up whatever you’re looking at through a reputable store. Exceptions to this are things listed in the wrong categories and left handed bows. There just aren’t as many ‘special people’ (i.e. lefties) out there so trying to get rid of a left handed 36lb Seb Flute recurve with all its accessories is just that little bit harder than getting rid of a right handed one.

Which brings us to… make sure you are absolutely sure of what the person is selling and preferably engage in conversation with them. They shouldn’t have any issue in telling you when they bought the gear / where they bought it from, what club they shot at, what they’re upgrading to and if they experienced any issues with the kit. If it isn’t listed as left handed or right handed you probably don’t want it! It’s fine to buy gear from an experienced archer that has moved on in the sport and is ready to sell off their old pre-loved kit.. but that’s just it. Is it pre-loved? If it’s something found in the back of a garage or, worse, on the road side or, worse still, stolen… then you do not want it.

So, what could go wrong? Well, it could be not at all what you expect. This can be fixed by only buying locally and arranging to have a look first. It can also – usually – be fixed by a good back and forth with an honest seller, looking at the pictures carefully and doing your research.

The biggest issue with buying old or vintage gear is probably twisted or warped limbs. Depending on the type of bow it may be worth the money and taking the risk of having some issues – or you may end up with a potentially dangerous bow taking up space in your garage instead of theirs! As a sub-set of this you need to think about whether you are qualified to know whether it’s safe and – if not – is there anyone available to help you once you’ve bought it?

Most clubs will at least have a few experienced archers available to help you out even if there isn’t a qualified coach to spare.. but no-one will be thrilled to see you turn up with something that was probably not in great shape in 1973, and now has everyone double checking their liability policies…

The last thing is to say that when using ebay, if you can possibly restrain yourself, try not to bid until the last ten seconds. I personally love esnipe but, of course, you can always set an alarm and do it manually for free!

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!

Archery Anatomy by Ray Axford

Book review: Archery Anatomy by Ray Axford

Ray Axford, the author of Archery Anatomy, describes his book as a “primer of anatomical biomechanics and elementary physical mechanics as they relate to archery”. That’s a pretty accurate description: if you’re looking for tips to combat your target panic, you won’t find them in here. Archery Anatomy, as the title implies, is deeply grounded in the physical: in “the body and bow moving and working together”.

The book is split into two parts. The first part, Body and Bow Anatomy, covers the bones, muscles and movements of the human body in some depth and with a vast number of detailed illustrations. This first section also deconstructs bow anatomy, and demonstrates the forces that radiate through a bow in motion.

Part Two, Technique Analysis, explores the physical forces that bind archer and bow in the act of shooting. Anatomical diagrams show exactly what your bones, joints and muscles are doing throughout the shooting sequence. The push-and-pull of forces between the body and the bow, and the effect these forces have on the movement of the muscular-skeletal system, are clearly illustrated. If you want to know exactly why a twisted wrist gives a sloppy release (settle down at the back), Physics is here to tell you.

There’s an immense amount of detail here: every part of the body that comes into contact with the bow, at every stage of the shooting process, is deconstructed to the bone — almost literally. There’s an especially interesting look at variance in facial structures —noses and chins, anyway — and how these natural differences impact the efficacy of the reference point.

In terms of bow style, Archery Anatomy is focused very much on Olympic recurve — there’s no mention of traditional bow types here. Most of the information presented will apply equally to all tribes, but the author does assume that stabilizers and a sight are being used.

It is exceptionally well illustrated (although male anatomy is depicted as default throughout, with the female body visible only in chapters specifically focused on sex differences). Physics aficionados, or those who just remember their school physics better than me, might get more out of the visual side of this book: there are a lot of force diagrams here. In a former life Axford was an airline design engineer, and he certainly applies an engineer’s eye to the body/bow relationship.

In that sense, the book is more likely to be of interest to coaches, or archers looking to seriously advance in the sport, than to the hobby archer.

That said, there’s no shortage of books covering the history, culture and psychology of shooting. Archery Anatomy brings the body back to the centre of the sport. In his sign-off, Axford argues that many new archers devote more time to learning arbitrary rules of engagement — competition etiquette, handicaps and so forth — than on developing the kind of basic body sense that sets one up for a life in sport. With recent developments in science suggesting that we think with our bodies as much as with our brains, he may have a point.

Archery Anatomy by Ray Axford was first published in 1995, and has been reprinted seven times since then. Published by Souvenir Press, it’s available for £12.99 in the UK and $16.95 in the US.

 

Scythian Exhibition at The British Museum

The Art of Scythian Warfare – at The British Museum

The British Museum has its latest blockbuster Winter show on… and it’s archery related! (and also Game of Thrones related as apparently the Scythians were the inspiration for the Dothraki – more about that via this link).

We’re lucky enough to have a club member who managed to get us a few tickets to one of the launch events which was a talk by Military historian Mike Loades. We couldn’t resist asking her for a short review.

“Mike Loades entertained the audience with his amazing skills and his reproduction Scythian bow and saddle. His enthusiasm for the history and the archaeology of the Scythians infected everyone. Who are the Scythians? Well to cut a long story short, they are an ancient nomad tribe who roamed the steppes of Russia (you can learn more here). Before the Mongolians, you had the Scythians!

Mike was fascinating. He was especially enjoyable when demonstrating the loading of the bow. His first hand experience with horse archery meant that he added some interesting points about how the Scythians would have shot from a saddle without stirrups.

Overall Mike Loades is such a great presenter, the lecture was fun and informative.”

Thanks tons to Holly both for the tickets which she made available to the club and for writing the review for us.

The exhibition runs from 14th September until the 14th January and if nothing else you should definitely click through and look at the fabulous 35 sec promo video on the British Museum page here.

It’s too late (sadly) to see Mike Loades but if this has whetted your appetite here’s a couple more Scythian related things happening that you can still catch!

  • There a gallery talk on Sat 2nd December called ‘Scythian Archers: law and order in ancient Athens‘ (more details here and it’s free!).
  • There is a film called ‘Scythians – Amazons of the Steppe‘, part of the Epic Warrior Women series, on Sat 16th December at 2pm (booking here – only £3)
  • And there’s the final Curator’s Introduction to the Exhibition happening on Sat 13th January at 1.30pm. It’s a 45 minute illustrated lecture and it’s free but you must book (other dates have all sold out so grab it now if you want to go!)

What is a WA 1440 competition?

We were just about to hit send on a club newsletter telling people about the latest WA1440 competition and we suddenly thought, ‘What if I was a novice archer? Would I have any clue what a ‘WA’ (World Archery) or WRS (World Record Status) competition and what does 1440 even mean?’ So we wrote this just for you…….

A WA1440 is a metric round (as opposed to Imperial) where you shoot 3x dozen arrows (36) at 90m, followed by 3x dozen arrows at each of the following distances: 70m, 50m and 30m.

36x arrows at each distance gives a total of 144 arrows shot… each arrow is worth a maximum ten points and – therefore – a maximum score of 1440 points can be achieved.

The ladies 1440 (also known as a Metric 1) is 3x dozen (36 arrows) shot at 70m, 60m, 50m and 30m.

The longer distances (90m and 70m for men and 70m and 60m for women) are shot at a 122cm target face, the shorter distances (50m and 30m for both) are shot at an 80cm target face.

 

This round uses the world archery rules of shooting and uses 10 zone scoring (generally speaking, probably the one you’re used to!).

There is a really comprehensive guide to Scoring and Tournaments on the Archery GB website here : http://www.archerygb.org/tools/documents/12ScoringTournaments3-[14276].pdf

 

What do I need to know to go to a 1440 competition?

  • You need to be a member of Archery GB (previously called GNAS or Grand National Archery Society) this can be organised through your club and costs approximately £40. This will get you your own insurance for shooting at any other Archery GB / GNAS club, and it will get you on the mailing list for the regular Archery UK magazine which has details of other competitions.
  • You need to wear green or white and it has to be the specific green prescribed by Archery GB (covered in the Rules of Shooting Point 307 ‘a’ – you can read more here) or club colours (2020 Archery club colours are navy blue shirt and black trousers). Footwear must be completely enclosed (Rules of Shooting 307 ‘b’ in case you were wondering).

You must have practiced in advance at these distances and, as a rough indication, you’ll need to be shooting a bow which has at least 30+ lb limbs to reach 70m accurately.

How to Navigate the Blog and a Bit of a Contents List!

Here are a few tips for navigating the blog. The tag cloud on the right side of the page is our broad ‘contents’ section. If there’s something particular you’re interested in e.g. “Beginners Archery”, or “How to Improve your Shooting”, or… I don’t know, “What to Do in the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse” (tip.. learn to shoot)… then click on the tag and it will bring up every article in that category. We’ve tried to keep it relatively clean on the tag front so that you can choose between the main themes of the blog.

 

You can get back to the ‘home’ page of the blog by clicking on the title ‘2020 Archery Blog’. If you want to go back to the main 2020 Archery website click on the logo on the top left of the page.

 

There is some ‘old gold’ hidden in the archives. Here are a few suggestions of blog posts you might have missed :

 

 

I hope you enjoy having a poke around! Remember flinging pointy sticks around is good for the soul. And a life saving skill in the event of zombie apocalypse. We mean it. Start practicing.

 

arrow in head

How to Play Archery Tag!

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The battlefield where you get to shoot your friends!

We all know about paintball, dodgeball and laser tag; but do you know about Archery Tag? Archery Tag is an awesome combat game where two or more teams fight each other using bows and arrows. But don’t be scared, there’s no blood involved and we don’t even leave bruises (not like paintball – ouch)!

 

The arrows used in Archery Tag games have great big marshmallow-style tips making it much less painful than paintball! You get to shoot your friends (or your boss!), there’s no pain involved and you feel like Robin Hood. I bet we caught your attention, so let’s get into the equipment and rules of this fantastic game!

 

 

Equipment

archery tag equipment

1. Bow – a basic lightweight recurve bow.

 

2. Arrows – patented ‘safe’ tips, carefully weighted and spined to match the bows.

 

3. Mask – even though ‘head shots’ are illegal in the game, a bit of extra protection never went amiss.

 

Rules

To play this game, we need teams. The minimum number of people needed to play is 8 in order that we can split the group into two teams of 4 people each. This is the absolute minimum needed to play – the standard number of people per team is 5. Once teams are sorted out, they need a team name. This is when Archery Tag gets creative (no, we’re not divulging our best team names for you… you have to come up with them yourselves although do feel free to give us your best effort in the comments!)

 

Can and can’t do’s

Can: – Shoot everyone who wears a mask. – Move around your side of the battlefield. – Stay behind the barricades or not. – Collect as many arrows as you can. – Deflect arrows using your bow (be careful the marshmallow tip doesn’t hit it).

 

Can’t: – Shoot someone who doesn’t wear a mask. – Cross to the enemy’s side of the battle field. – Move barricades. – Load or shoot in ‘No Man’s Land’ central zone. – Dry fire a bow (shooting without an arrow loaded). – Head shots.

 

Game play

Games last for 5 minutes or until one team completely knocks out (tags!) the other. At the beginning of the game, each person has 2 arrows to shoot. Sometimes, there will be extra arrows placed in ‘No Man’s Land’. These arrows can be picked up by any team (you can’t be hit whilst in No Man’s Land but you might need to arrange for covering fire to get safely in and our from behind your barricade).

 

Once the game starts, each team tries to tag as many enemies as they can. If an arrow hits you or your bow, you’re out. This means you have to move to the side (keep your helmet on!) and wait until your team mates save you.

 

How can my team mates save me I hear you ask? Well, there are two foam 5 spots targets – one for each team. If your team mate shoots out a spot you’re back on side. Once this happens, the first person to die is the first to go back into the game. Good.

 

But, what if you have dead team mates but you don’t have any dots left to shoot at? Well, our crack-team of only slightly-bribeable referees will be replacing them as fast as you can shoot them but, there’s also another way to save team mates!

 

You or your team mates just need to catch an arrow in mid air (piece of cake)! You need to take care not to be hit by the tip when you’re attempting this otherwise you’ll tag yourself. If an arrow bounces (hits a wall, the floor or a barricade) and then hits you, it doesn’t count as a hit and you carry on playing. However, if it hits a team mate and then it hits another, it’s a double kill! If an arrow bounces (hits a wall, the floor or a barricade) and then you catch it in mid air without touching the marshmallow tip, it is valid, so you’ve just saved a team mate! Well done!

 

Games move fast so we recommend loose clothing and staying on the ball as we rotate teams on and off the courts. Our maximum group size is 25 people and we have it all pre-organised tournament style to guarantee an even number of games in the style AvB, CvD, BvC etc. We play at a great indoor spot in Whitechapel with a bar and a Thai food concession. Yes, we could play in the rain.. but why would you want to when you can guarantee the weather and have a quick half-pint while the other teams are out there ‘killing’ each other?

 

Do you have a group of friends? Are you organising a stag party or having a birthday in the near future? Archery Tag is a fantastic option to have a great time while having fun and getting yourself moving – which is always good! And, there’s always the possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse to consider – getting in a bit of practice at a moving target beforehand won’t do you any harm at all.

 

What are you waiting for? Book a session today! Fully online booking system – get on that date checker now!

 

http://www.2020archery.co.uk/archery-tag

 

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Learning the Basics of Archery Through Digital Aids

 

Getting to grips with the basics of virtually any sport has changed in the last decade. Luckily, technological advancements have meant that we now have a means to find information via a myriad of sources online that weren’t previously available to us.

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While our blog section here at 2020 Archery will provide you with guides for anything from overcoming a Zombie Apocalypse to introducing some of our multi-talented instructors, there are also many other great options for beginners and advanced archers to source information.

 

Currently there are approximately 1,100 archery clubs in the UK which provide superb resources in terms of coaching and mentoring for all levels. Archery GB reported that there were over 150,000 active archers in 2013, a figure that has grown hugely recently, which is great for the sport. Seemingly trivial things like popular TV programmes (e.g. Game of Thrones – we LOVE GoT) and their constant inclusion of archery seems to keep the sport relevant in the eyes of Millennials, too, strange as it may seem. (Although, there have been a LOT of archery mistakes in the TV series that have annoyed the archery community.)

 

That kind of exposure to a global market has also seen newfangled suburban archery battles spring up over the world. As well as that online slot games like ‘Nordic Heroes’ and ‘Merry Money’ have jumped on the bandwagon offering archery-based and Game of Thrones-related bingo games to the UK market, which have become hugely popular.

 

Popularity aside, the best archery resources for beginners to download and read directly via their smartphones, are generally those supported by official apps. So, with that in mind, here is a definitive list of some of the best archery apps to keep abreast of the latest news, training tips and overall insights on archery.

 

Ubersense

This app is perfect for coaches and archers alike who want to import videos for [slow-motion video analysis]. For instance, if a beginner uploads a video of their technique, the advanced tech allows the coach to zoom into the archer and critique their form, while providing a voice-over for analysis purposes. According to the iTunes app page, uploading videos can be done via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and DropBox among other platforms.

 

APPtitune

Designed by world champion compound archer Jesse Broadwater, stabilization expert, Greg Poole and Olympic silver medalist, Jake Kaminski, APPtitune provides users with useful insights on how to setup and tune their archery equipment. What’s extra special is that it also features information on “limb and cam alignment, stabiliser and broadhead setup, group and torque tuning, bare-shaft tuning, walk-back tuning, paper tuning, yoke tuning, creep tuning, arrow setup, and third-axis levelling,” according to Archery 360.

 

Scoring Helper

Scoring Helper pretty much does what it says on the tin. It provides archers with a simple aid to track scoring. The digital tool is, “primarily meant for compound and recurve target archery.”

 

World Archery Live
World Archery Live gives users a single platform to keep up to date with all the latest results on the professional circuit including the World Archery Championships and the Archery World Cup. The app also catalogues more than 10,000 professional archers, features historical results, photo galleries of WA competitions, breaking news, live streaming of major events, and tutorials for beginners.

Ask the Experts : What’s the Difference Between a ‘Recurve’ Bow and a ‘Traditional’ Bow?

So, we’ve decided to move our occasional “Ask the Expert” series away from facebook and onto our blog. Mainly because our experts (our instructors) are chronically unable to write a short answer when asked anything about archery. Be warned if you’re at the club and you start a query with, “Quick question…” it might be a quick question but it’s usually a lengthy answer!

 

So, this “Ask the Experts” is from Roger (well done Roger!) and gives an account of the differences between Recurve Bows (as used in the modern Olympics), Longbows (think Agincourt, Robin Hood etc), Horsebows (the short ones with leather webbing around them that you sometimes see in the club) and finally a little bit on crossbows. Please do add any other “Ask the Experts” questions in the comments below – we love talking bows and arrows!

 

Over to Roger :

 

“The difference between a modern recurve bow, a long bow and a horse bow is fundamentally one of curves and materials.

 

When unstrung an English (or Welsh or Scottish) long bow was – and is – a straight stave (wooden pole) with a D shaped cross section where the flat part faces away from the archer. They are typically 3” longer than the archer is tall.  When strung, the bow takes a regular uniform curve towards the archer. They were traditionally made either from using several layers of different woods laminated together, or from a single stave of wood (self-bows). Laminated bows are made using woods that favour compression on the belly of the bow (the side that faces the archer), and woods that stretch well on the back of the bow (the side that faces the target). Self-bows tend to be slower and weaker although self bows made of yew or osage orange can be stronger as it is possible to find differing qualities of compression and tensional strength in a single stave, providing the same benefits as a laminated bow. The advantage of the long bow design is that it can be made very strong and can be tensioned to very high draw weights. In some cases these bows can reach over 180lb in draw weight (usually known as war-bows) – this allowed bowyers to manufacture bows that were capable of shooting an arrow through medieval plate armour at ranges as far as fifty yards or more.

 

The modern recurve bow is so called because the limb-tips of the bow ‘re-curve’ back away Recurve Bow in Clubfrom the archer after the usual longbow curve. They usually have a static (unbending) riser and curved limbs. They also have a window cut into the bow to allow the arrow to take a straighter path through the bow. The window helps with accuracy as it allows the use of a stiffer arrow that can fly straighter than those released from a traditional bow where the arrow must bend itself back around the bow as its released in order to reach the target. The rationale behind the limbs “re-curving” away from the archer at the tips is so that the very ends of the limbs can be accelerated faster than the rest of the limb – this results in energy being transferred more efficiently. Ultimately this results in faster arrow speeds and improved accuracy on the target. Modern recurve bows are now typically fitted with various accessories such as artificial sights, stabilisers and vibration dampers to provide a more consistent shot.

 

The horse bow or reflex bow is the original recurve bow. They were common in Eastern European countries, the Middle East and throughout Asia and parts of Africa in pre-gunpowder days. They are characterised by their short length and exceptionally recurved limbs. When unstrung a traditional horse bow will curve away from the archer forming a complete C shape, but in some instances are so flexible that the limb tips almost touch forming an O shape. Their short profile made them highly successful as hunting bows (as they’re more manouverable than longer bows). They were originally made of wood laminated with horn and animal sinew although today they may be made with synthetic materials which make the bow cheaper to make and easier to use.

 

Finally, while we’re thinking about traditional bows, a crossbow can be loosely described as a Crossbowshort bow that is allowed to lie horizontally on a stock from which position it can have an arrow loaded and released using a trigger mechanism in a similar configuration to a rifle. The main advantage of a crossbow as a weapon is that once the string is drawn back it can be locked into place until the trigger is pulled. This allows the weapon to be loaded without being pointed at the target and without requiring any extra energy to be held at full draw for extended periods of time. Crossbows typically have much higher draw weights as the hold is done mechanically. Drawing or ‘cocking’ the bow can also be achieved with mechanical assistance by using a cocking aid. This means that bows over 100lb may be loaded with the aid of a winch by a single person. Cross bow limb design covers most types of bow shape and materials ranging from un-recurved basic wood through reflexed horn and sinew, to space-age material and radical modern design.”

As well as Target Archery there are many other disciplines that use both / all types of bows. You can get involved in everything from clout shooting, Archery Tag, field archery, bowfishing and the curiously named ‘Popinjay’ shoots… but what they all are will be for another post…!

As always, comments and questions are welcomed and suggestions for other “Ask the Experts” are especially useful!