By Ade Burch
The English Longbow is probably the most well-known of all archery types of bow, dating back to medieval times. It is possibly the truest and purest class in archery but one that is perhaps ridiculed as a “bendy stick” by those that don’t shoot it. So is it just one stick shooting another? Far from it. As you’ll learn from the following pages, the intricacies of the ‘sticks’ make the longbow one of the more technical forms of archery.
From medieval days to now, the bow has gone through structural changes but the fundamental shape and style remains the same. Throughout the life of the longbow it has seen experimental woods used and different methods of making bows but the joy they bring is huge - There is simply nothing better than seeing an arrow fly through the sky towards the target and when everything is right, hits.
Everything has to be right, your draw, your release, your aim, your front hand tension, your bow and your arrows. There is nothing on the bow to correct it, just wood on wood.
You could say therefore, this is possibly the least technical form of archery. After all it is only a wooden “stick” shooting wooden sticks. Simple! That is far from the truth.
Having shot recurve and compound, longbow is by far the most technical I have come across. Purely because of the variations there are. Which of the many different types of wood can be used? How do the woods combine? Different woods for arrows and how dense they are? How they perform on your bow and with your draw? How do they work with different pile weights and fletching lengths?
With recurve and compound, you know your draw length and the weight of your bow. You go to a chart and it tells you exactly what you need.
With longbow, you know your draw length and you know your bow weight but when you go to the charts, it is between 30 to 35lb or 40 to 45lb. The tolerance is widened. This is purely guidance as different woods fly differently, Pine for example is heavier than Spruce.