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Traditional Archery - The Long Bow and Recurve

Traditional archery has two main styles, the long bow and recurve.

What is Traditional Archery

Traditional Archery is archery without the use of compound bow technology and primarily uses wood and fiberglass, where as primitive archery uses only natural materials( wood, sinew, horn, etc.) However there are bow "designs" that are signatures of traditional archery ( the long bow and recurve)picture of recurve bow

With a primitive bow natural curves in the wood must be followed during manufacture. This requires great skill and creativity on the behalf of the crafts person, unlike the modern bows that simply use laminated slats wood and fiber glass backings. Primitive bows can not be mass produced.

Self Bows are primitive bows crafted from one piece of wood with no laminants or glues (no horn, sinew etc.) These bows can vary tremendously in wood types design due to geographic area and culture.

A Traditional archery long bow has a straight limbed profile whereas the recurve has an elegant curve at the tip as pictured above.

What Kind of Wood Can be used for Self Bows?

Many different kinds, from Elm, to Lemon Wood. One bow found in Germany was actually made of Pine (Stellmore Bow destroyed in the Wars). This bow was made very differently than a bow from a hard wood and just goes to show you that you can really make a bow out of anything, it's all about the profile.

How are artifacts preserved?

Bogs were once a place where people would make sacrifices to their Gods and or just lose things... like Self Bows. Because of the low oxygen and high tannin content, even wood can be preserved for thousands of years. In fact the oldest intact bow in existance today is from a bog in Denmark from 10,000 BC.

snake_bowWhat can be hunted with these bows?

Everything, from Wild Boars to Caribou, to great Elk and Grizzly Bear. You just have to put it in the right spot. Deer are very often hunted with these bows.

What are the advantages of a Self Bow?

A self bow is durable, quiet, and alive. They are light in the hand and very beautiful. The Early contact period Bows and Arrows were more effective than the Muskets of the time and there are several accounts of this.

What are the disadvantages of a Self Bow?

A Self Bow is a very Alive peace of wood and is shot differently than modern bows. In this way they can be very instinctively learned. However, much practice is needed to achieve consistant accuracy and form. Because a self bow demands this, many do not have the patience or commitment to learn.

How do you make a Self Bow?Working

Self Bows are made from cut and dried preforms called "staves" The overall Process is called tillering and is a skill that requires both logical and creative ability and much time and wasted materials to master. In traditional archery designs such as the long bow and recurve, the fundamental principles are the same as the indigenous bows.


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