Types of Traditional Bows

recurve bows

Types of Traditional Bows

Traditional bows are an ancient form of archery that predated gunpowder and has been practiced for thousands of years. Shooting them correctly requires skill, discipline and environmental awareness – traits all essential in this challenging sport.

Archery of the traditional kind is still very much alive and well today. Even though modern compound bows offer greater accuracy, many traditional archers appreciate the challenge and excitement that a traditional bow presents.
Defining a Traditional Bow

Traditional bows are weapons used by archers to fire arrows with long-shafted projectiles. They have been a form of ranged weapon used throughout human history for hunting and aggression.

Traditional bows feature a single string between two limbs that bends when pulled back with the archer’s fingers. They are shot without sights and often made out of one piece of wood; however, some modern bows also utilize laminated or other composite materials for construction.

Traditional bows can be divided into two main categories: longbows and recurves. Their construction differs, and archers use them for various purposes.

Recurve bows are engineered to store more energy than longbows or straight limb bows, giving the bow more speed for the same draw length and weight. This is achieved through their curved limb tips which straighten as they are drawn, then return to their original curve when released – further increasing the power of each arrow shot.

Many recurve bows feature cams on the end of the limbs, which help manipulate the draw cycle and improve performance. While this helps the limbs draw quickly, it adds to their size and weight – making them less compact and transportable than traditional bows.

Compound bows may be increasingly popular, but traditional bows still offer several advantages. Primarily, they tend to be more affordable and easier to transport.

Another advantage of a traditional bow is its accuracy and ability to target specific areas. This is particularly useful for larger game, where the heart-lung region often serves as the target.
Recurve

Recurve bows are classic archery weapons that use a string to launch an arrow. It’s one of the simplest types to construct and is often preferred by novice archers.

Recurve bows boast curved limbs, giving them greater power than longbows. This can be advantageous when hunting as it shoots arrows faster and flatter.

Recurves come in a range of materials, such as laminated wood or carbon fibre. Usually, they feature a riser which serves as the handle and attaches to the limbs. Furthermore, this riser has holes drilled and tapped for mounting accessories like sights, rests and stabilizers.

Recurve bows offer the convenience of being disassembled and stored for easy transport, making them a great option for those who want to pack light but still use an authentic bow.

Some recurve bows feature risers that can be adjusted for draw weight and power, which makes them ideal for those honing their skills. This ensures the bow is shot correctly every time.

The draw length, weight of the arrow and curved design of its recurve limbs all play a role in how much energy can be transferred to the arrow and how quickly it launches. The higher the energy transfer rate, the faster and flatter your arrow will fly when released.
Longbow

The longbow is an incredibly powerful weapon designed for use by highly trained archers. It measures 6 feet tall and 5/8 inch wide, made from one piece of wood. A skilled bowyer can craft a traditional longbow in just a few hours with minimal tools.

In the medieval era, longbows were widely employed in battle. During the Hundred Years War, for instance, they caused havoc in many of Europe’s key battles. Furthermore, mercenary companies employed them when fighting across the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

Longbows are typically constructed from yew, a hard-wood with the heartwood on the inside and sapwood on the outside. When drawn, this hard wood compresses while the sapwood stretches, providing incredible power.

Yew is ideal for making a longbow, but other woods can also be used. Traditional flatbow bowstaves are cut from wider staves than regular English longbows and feature rectangular cross-sections. However, this design may prove more challenging to craft due to growth rings or narrow limbs that won’t fit the cross-section properly.

Hunting with longbows can be highly advantageous as they can be fired at close range (less than 50 yards). This gives hunters a chance to dispatch their prey without having to cover too much ground.

The longbow was once a primary military weapon, but its effectiveness faded in combat as more modern weapons became available. It eventually transitioned into sport and leisure activities that have lasted throughout history – the first known target archery competition taking place in Finsbury, England in 1583 with 3000 spectators present.
Flatbow

The flatbow is a bow with non-recurved, wide limbs that have an approximate rectangular cross section. This design differs from that of a longbow which features rounded limbs in either circular or D shape cross sections.

A foot bow, also known as a flight archery bow, is another traditional type of bow designed with a large draw weight and used for flight archery. These bows can be shot using both hands or just one and typically serve for hunting purposes.

Traditional bows are made from various wood types, each offering different strength and durability. While some types are easier to use than others, all require considerable strength and practice in order to be used effectively.

Ash is a popular wood for crafting traditional bows due to its accessibility and durability. It can be purchased as either lumber product or log, the latter of which may offer greater cost-saving potential.

For centuries, wood has been used as a bow-making material; however, it’s not ideal for crafting D-section bows due to its tendency to harden and stiffen as it dries, leading to cracking under pressure or failure to follow the string precisely.

However, flatbows can be made successfully with some care and patience. The key is properly seasoning the wood before air-drying it before constructing the bow.

Common hardwoods such as elm (used in ancient Europe, evidenced by bows pulled from European bogs), maple, sycamore, hazel and ash can all be used to craft quality bows. In addition to these readily-available options, high strength woods like hickory or osage orange may also be employed for strong and sturdy bows.
Mongol Bow

The Mongol bow was one of the most formidable weapons used by armies before gunpowder weapons were developed. Its power, combined with its versatility in various uses, continues to make it a favorite choice among those interested in Asiatic archery even today.

Mongolian bows are constructed with a wooden frame, bone or horn parts and sinew. Additionally, layers of birch bark are added for protection and to ensure proper fitting.

Before the sinewing process can begin, dried and crushed tendons from deer or moose are crushed until they form a mass of loose fibers. These fibers are then dipped in fish glue before being applied to the back of a bow as an embellishment.

Sinew stands out among other materials due to its remarkable resilience when stretched or damaged. This property makes it a particularly useful material in the making of traditional bows.

Another unique characteristic of the Mongol bow is its dual-hand shooting capability due to its prominent string bridges.

The horn was an essential element of the bow, compressing when pulled back and storing energy. Unfortunately, it could only be obtained in limited supply so Mongols had to find other solutions.

What is Traditional Archery and Its History?

The Basics Of Traditional Archery

The Longbow – An Ancient Weapon That Was a Staple of Many Armies

Recent Posts

Newsletter