Long Bows and Fletching

Some people discover that they unconsciously collect arcane trivia; I seem to collect arcane skills. Among these is the art of the bowyer, or bow maker, and that of the arrow maker. The reason for acquiring these skills is no longer entirely clear to me other than the fact that I have always found a certain poetry in archery and the long bow has always seemed to me to represent the epoch of archery. While I may not remember why I learned these skills in the first place, I was able to find my bow tiller and a whole box of fletchering tools for making arrows.
                The reason I dug out these items of archaic craft are that my ten-year old niece discovered archery this summer at camp. Her mother suggested to me that a bow with arrows appropriate for her size and strength might make a good Christmas gift. It turned out that I was even able to find some ash billets that I had dried and stored years ago for bow making. As I started to assemble the parts for this Christmas gift, I rediscovered my own bows and quiver. My arrows had remained in remarkably good condition, while most of my bows had dried out because it has been years since they have seen any use.

My Quiver of Arrows

                The new bow came together quite quickly along with a new leather quiver, wrist-guard, and a flight of five arrows. The bow is made from a solid piece of ash with a classic cross section that is sort of “D” shaped. It is about five feet six inches tall. I would love to experiment with Oregon Yew, but it has become rare and expensive. Ash is both cheap and locally available though it is prone to dry out and become brittle over time.
                If I needed any kind of reward for my efforts, the delight on my niece’s face and the envy on her brother’s faces, when she unwrapped her new archery set Christmas morning was it. We set up a target in her back yard so she could practice. I only wish the weather had been better and that they had a bigger back yard because it was so much fun to stand behind my niece, coach her shots, and watch her evident enjoyment in practicing this ancient art.                

                 If you are looking for more information on longbows, I would recommend Longbows; a Social and Military History  by actor/historian Robert Hardy; an excellent resource.

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