Are you someone interested in custom Longbow? Do you wish to make a handmade longbow for yourself? If that is the case, this article will help you know everything regarding this famous medieval bow. Here you will find the best bowyers and even a few fantastic handmade longbows which you can buy immediately.
Table of Contents
- What is a Longbow, a Famous Middle Ages Weapon?
- Characteristics of a Longbow
- A List of 38 Bowyers from USA, CA, and EU
- How is a Custom Longbow Made?
- How You Should Maintain Your Longbow
- Quality Handmade Longbows That You Can Buy Immediately
- Final Thoughts
What is a Longbow, a Famous Middle Ages Weapon?
The battle of Agincourt
One of history’s most famous military battles is the Battle of Agincourt which was fought in the middle ages, between England and France. The vastly outnumbered English were led by King Henry the V against the French soldiers who stood at 20,000.
Here the French boasted better armor and manpower. However, the English had better artillery, and this was in the form of their longbows wielded by the archers. With the help of their innovative weapon, they were able to suppress the French to a great extent.
The French, as a result, lost a total of 6000 men and suffered a humiliating defeat. This battle acted as the catalyst which led to more victories, allowing King Henry V to become the heir and regent to the French throne.(Battle Stack: The Battle Of Agincourt tactics)
When were longbows used? What made them special? Their role throughout history
The origin of the longbow can be traced back to the early and mid-1100s where the Anglo-Normans first utilized it during their conquests. Consequently, the Welsh also started using bows to defend themselves, and thus they found their way to the English armies. More advanced longbows became popular only after the 13th century, and they remained in use until the 16th century.
What made longbows special was the fact they were very accurate and highly effective. They possessed incredible range, thus giving numerous advantages to the armies. Longbows were also lightweight and agile which made them the weapon of choice for many armies.
During the 14th and 15th centuries when wars broke out between the English and the Welsh, the Welsh used longbows to their advantage and were able to inflict maximum damage. The longbow was subsequently used by the English and the Scots as well.
They continued to be used till the 16th century, however with the advancement in firearms made using gunpowder; their popularity declined gradually. They were however eventually replaced by modern weapons and artillery.
Characteristics of a Longbow
The main characteristics of a longbow can be divided into its length, draw weights, and construction materials respectively. I have prepared a summary of all the main characteristics mentioned above.
- The length: There was no standard size when it came to longbows; as such they varied with the user. However, they usually ranged from 1.2 m to almost 3 m in length. However, based upon findings in ruins and through excavations, the average height has been set at 1.98 m.
- The draw weights: The draw weight for the longbows also varies significantly. The earliest medieval longbows had a draw weight of 90 to 110 pounds of force. Longbows of the 15th century had a draw weight of 150 to 160 pounds. Modern longbows these days have a draw weight of 60 pounds or less.
- The construction materials: Coming to the construction materials the bowstave is generally made of yew wood, while other materials such as elm, sapwood, ash, and different types of woods are also used. The bowstrings were traditionally made of hemp, silk, and flax, however in modern times; synthetic materials such as Dacron are typically used.
A List of 38 Bowyers from USA, CA, and EU
Before we continue, take a look at a list of bowyers. On this list, you can find bowyers from USA, Canada, and a few European countries.
How is a Custom Longbow Made?
Before, getting to know how it’s made let us first take a look at the parts that make up a longbow. They carry a straightforward design unlike most modern bows today. As such it is made up of only a few parts and does not carry any additional attachments, and they are as follows.
The Bowstave: The bowstave is the central part of the longbow, and it is generally a trimmed piece of wood which is used to make the bow. The bowstave was traditionally made from yew; however other types of woods such as elm, sapwood, ash, hickory, maple, etc. are also used to make the bowstave. The length of the bowstave generally ranges from 3.9 feet to 6.11 feet; however, the average length stands at 6.6 feet.
The Bowstring: The Bowstring connects from one end of the bow to the other end and is used to propel the arrow. Traditional bowstrings were made using hemp, silk, and flax and had a stretchy feel. Modern bowstrings are now made of synthetic materials such as Dacron, Dyneema fibers, etc. However, Modern bows-strings add more performance to a longbow.
The Bow Grip: The Bow Grip is located in the middle of the Bowstave, and this is where the archer grips the bow while shooting. The bow grip may be made of rope, leather or it may be left untouched. The bow grip aids the archer to increase his accuracy and stability.
The Arrows: When it came to the arrows, there was a wide variety of arrowheads that were used with the bow; however they were all generally made of wood. The arrows varied in their length, shape of the head, fletchings, etc. Today’s arrows can be had in a wide variety of materials, and these include aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.
The above are the parts that generally constitute a longbow. They may have been around for an extended period; however, its design carries the same design, which made it one of the most effective weapons during the Middle Ages.
The process of creating a longbow (a self-bow and a laminated bow)
Longbows are generally made by skilled craftsmen known as Bowyers, and they spend a lot of time practicing and perfecting this skill. If you are interested in creating your own, this simple step by step guide will help you build it.
When it comes to longbow construction, they are of two types, i.e. a self-bow and a laminated bow. A self-bow is made of a single piece of wood, while a laminated bow is made by gluing two or more pieces of wood together. Both these types carry almost the same construction process.
Building a custom longbow requires some materials and tools, and they are as follows.
- Two planks of wood for the bowstave ( 7 feet x 2″x1″)
- A 40″ 2×4 plank of wood for tillering
- Angle Grinding machine
- Sand Paper
- Wood Glue
These are the materials which are required to make a simple longbow. The detailed step by step process is mentioned below.
The first step involves gluing the two planks of wood together, and the wood can either be yew, elm, oak or maple. These two planks should be glued with the help of wood glue, then clamped together and then be allowed to dry properly.
After the wood has dried and the bond strengthened, the next step involves cutting the wood into the desired length. The length of the bowstave may vary; however, anything above 6 feet is acceptable.
The third step is composed of marking and grinding the wood according to the shape of the bow. After the shape of the bow has been marked, and the dimensions set, the excess wood can be removed with the help of an angle wood grinder.
While grinding, the width of the tips and handle of the bow can vary according to the user. The width of the tip can measure anywhere from 1/2″ to 3/4″, while the handle can measure anywhere from 1 ½” to 2″.
The next process is called tillering and is one of the most critical steps in the entire process. Tillering is the process of giving your bowstave its permanent curve, and this can be achieved in two ways, i.e., floor tillering and Tree tillering.
Floor tillering involves holding one tip of the bow in one hand, while the other tip rests on the floor with your feet securing it. After this bend, the bow gently and then shave parts of the bow in small quantities based on the shape you wish to achieve. After getting the desired shape, tie both ends with a string.
For tree tillering we will use the 40 inches 2×4 plank of wood. The plank should stand one side up and then with the help of a filer create notches along the plank every inch of the way. After this, secure the plank against a wall, and then place the belly of the bow on the top of the plank. Then draw the string of the bow and then rest the string on each notch for a few minutes allowing the wood to adjust. The standard draw length of a bowstring is 28 inches, and as such once your string reaches 28 inches, the bow is good to go.
After your bowstave achieves the desired shape, the next step involves sanding the entire length of the bow with sandpaper. After sanding, you can also add additional modifications to your bow by coloring it, or by adding a protective coating to it too.
The Final step is stringing the bow, and this requires making nocks for the bowstrings on each end of the bow with the help of a filer. The nocks should be angled towards the bow’s belly and be equally distanced. After this is done, you can attach the bowstrings to the bowstave, and finally, you have created a fully functional custom longbow.
After your longbow has taken shape, you can add additional customizations to it. This may include adding a leather or plastic grip to the bow handle, fitting a horn nock at the ends of the bow, inserting an arrow plate, to protect your bow while shooting, etc.(English longbow making by Mr. Maris Zvers)
How You Should Maintain Your Longbow
Longbows are primarily made of wood and other natural materials which need regular care and maintenance. Therefore to ensure that they remain functional for an extended period, there are a few things which you need to follow.
Hence, I have prepared some maintenance tips for your longbow, and they are as follows.
- Never string your bow backwards in any occasion. Stringing a bow backwards will cause the string to break and in worst cases cause your longbow to break. As such, this maneuver should never be done.
- Unstring your longbow when not in use. It is best to unstring your longbow when not in use. This is because keeping it strung even when not in use will cause the components of the longbow to deteriorate slowly.
- Store your longbow in a cool and dry place where the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. Do not let your longbow come in contact with water or moisture at all cost.
- The best position to store your longbow is by keeping it in a flat position with its back down. Another safe way is by hanging it vertically using an elastic band attached at one end.
- The Bowstring should be maintained by waxing it with either beeswax or other string waxing products. If your bowstring is found to be weak or about to break, replace it immediately to prevent any accidents from happening.
- If your longbow has scuffs, scratches, nicks or dents, it should be treated with furniture wax or Danish oil immediately. If your longbow happens to have chips, cracks or other structural damage, take it to a bowyer who can repair it professionally.
- Lastly, if you plan on storing your longbow away for an extended period, then it is best to store it in a bow sock. A bow sock will keep your longbow safe and sound and keep unwanted elements away.
Here’s a great example of a bowstring wax by Bohning and it only costs $3. You can get it here.
Quality Handmade Longbows That You Can Buy Immediately
Creating your custom longbow is a fun and exciting process; however, it also happens to be a time-consuming process. If you happen to be someone who doesn’t have the time or the resources for making a longbow, there is no need to worry.
This is because there are a lot of online shops which sell a vast variety of quality handmade longbows. You can also get decent longbows delivered to you from Amazon; however, I don’t recommend buying longbows from Amazon.
This is because there are a lot of other web shops which are highly specialized in making quality longbows. Though their products are more on the expensive side, they are of very high quality and are a better choice.
I have selected a few of the best quality handmade longbows that you can buy immediately, and they are listed below.
Black Widow PL X Exotic
The Black Widow PLX Exotic is a high-quality longbow which is made using CNC precision milling. The longbow is made using high-quality wood and users can choose from a total of 18 exotic kinds of wood which include yew, maple, ash, myrtle, etc. To make it more durable, the bow also comes laminated with multiple layers of fiberglass. This makes the longbow a high-performance one.
The longbow is offered in four lengths, and they are 60″, 62″, 64″ and 66″, and its draw length ranges from 25″ to 30″ while its draw weight ranges from 30 pounds to 70 pounds. Its Brace height ranges from 7 to 7 ¾ inches, and it has a mass of 1 ¾ pound.
The Black Widow PL X comes with a DynaFLIGHT 97 string, Bow stringers, Spider string silencers, Bow tip protectors, Calf hair shelf rest and strike plate, Nocking points, a shure grip, Camouflage sleeve, and a hard case. This makes it one of the most features filled longbows.
Besides, these the longbow is highly customizable allowing users to add customized laser overlays, snakeskins, and even the ability to add a name to your bow. The bow is priced at $1225, which is an excellent price for all the premium features and robust performance.
You can buy it here.
Black Widow PL V Ironwood
The Black Widow PL V Ironwood is another great offering from Black widow. This longbow is made using Ironwood, which is an exotic wood found in the jungles of South America known for its strength, hardness, and durability. The bow is further laminated with bamboo to increase its performance and robustness.
The PL V Ironwood comes in four sizes which are 60″, 62″, 64 and 66″ and its draw length ranges from 25″ to 30″ while its draw weight ranges from 30 pounds to 70 pounds. Its Brace height ranges from 7 to 7 ¾ inches, and it has a mass of 1 ¾ pound.
The Black Widow PL Ironwood offers a DynaFLIGHT 97 string, Bow stringers, Spider string silencers, Bow tip protectors, Calf hair shelf rest and strike plate, Nocking points, a shure grip, Camouflage sleeve, a hard case, and an instruction manual.
The PL Ironwood also allows users to add a beavertail wrap grip, customized grips, customized laser engravings, three varieties of snakeskin and to add a name to the bow as well. The PL Ironwood is priced at $1125 making it one of the most durable longbows you can buy for the money.
You can buy it here.
Black Widow PL IV Greenleaf
The PL IV Greenleaf is a slightly more affordable longbow from Black Window. This longbow’s limbs are made using laminated green Birchwood and reinforced with a glass core. The bow further incorporates a transparent veneer lamination along with carbon under the black glass. The Greenleaf as such possesses a natural green color giving it a natural camouflage.
The PL IV Greenleaf can be had in a total of four sizes which are 60″, 62″, 64 and 66″ and its draw length ranges from 25″ to 30″ while its draw weight ranges from 30 pounds to 70 pounds. Its Brace height ranges from 7 to 7 ¾ inches, and it has a mass of 1 ¾ pound.
The PL IV Greenleaf comes with DynaFLIGHT 97 string, Bow stringers, Spider string silencers, Bow tip protectors, Calf hair shelf rest and strike plate, Nocking points, a shure grip, Camouflage sleeve, a hard case, and an instruction manual.
Additional customizations include the ability to add a beavertail grip, a customized grip, laser overlays, snakeskins and names on the bow. The PL IV Greenleaf is priced at $1025 making it a great proposition for beginners who are new to longbows.
You can buy it here.
Longbow Bamboo, Pau Amarello, Snakewood
The Longbow Bamboo, Pau Amarello, Snakewood is an English longbow made by the award-winning archer and bowyer Adrian Hayes. This longbow features a triple laminated construction, which features a Bamboo back, a core made of Pau Amarello and the belly made of Snakewood. The longbow also features a long-lasting gloss varnish and also adds visual appeal.
The draw weight of this English longbow stands at 50 pounds, while its draw length is 25″ respectively. This longbow also features horn nocks, a leather handle, and a fast flight bowstring. It also comes with a double looped stringer free of cost and is suitable for both left and right handed archers.
Coming to its price, this English longbow is priced at £675, and for this price, it offers incredible value for money. As such this triple laminated longbow is perfectly suitable for archers, who are just starting, while advanced archers can also make good use of it.
You can buy it here.
Bickerstaffe Longbow Deluxe
The Bickerstaffe Deluxe handmade longbow is a great deluxe longbow by Pip Bickerstaffe, who is a renowned bowyer. This deluxe longbow is made of three laminated layers of exotic hardwoods featuring a back of hickory, a core made of purpleheart and greenheart and the belly made of Lemonwood.
The Bickerstaffe longbow can be had for both left and right-handed archers, and it possesses a maximum draw weight of 60 pounds. Its draw length stands at 29″ respectively. However, if you wish to increase the draw weight or draw length, you can do so by paying £30 extra.
The Bickerstaffe Deluxe Custom longbow comes loaded with features, and they include horn nocks, arrow plates for added protection, a double looped fast flight bowstring, a hand-stitched leather grip, and a stringer. All these combine to make the Bickerstaffe an excellent longbow, and its superb price of £450 makes it a great proposition.
You can buy it here.
SAS Pioneer Traditional wood longbow
If you are looking for a simpler, inexpensive and traditional longbow, then the SAS Pioneer Longbow makes for a great choice. This longbow features a simple one-piece construction, which features a bowstave made of traditional wood.
This traditional wood longbow has a draw weight which ranges from 34 pounds to 45 pounds and is offered in a single length of 68″. As such this longbow offers a mix of excellent performance and smooth operation making it a very competent offering.
One of the standout features of this longbow is that it comes with a three-year limited warranty, thus giving it a high assurance of quality. However, the best feature of this longbow from SAS is its unbeatable price of $189.99, which makes it one of the most affordable high-quality longbows available.
You can buy it here.
If you have decided to make yourself a custom longbow or have decided to buy one online, I hope this definitive guide will no doubt help you make a choice. Archery in itself is a very popular sport, and it is considered an art as well, and it remains popular till date. As such, no matter which longbow you choose you will always have a good time while engaging in this activity.