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Chapter I

Making the Bow

Part 2 of 6

White sapwood is the best, or a combination of sapwood and heart-wood, as shown in Figure 1. The annual rings should run straight across the width of the piece and not out in the length. This is illus­trated in Figure 2. Now the actual toolwork begins. First, take a plane and smooth down the flat grain surfaces until they are clean and parallel to one another, about 1 ⅛ inches in thickness. This can be done quickly with a jack plane, jointer plane on a bench, or in a vise. Then look down the length of the piece with one of the flat grain sides up and see if it is straight in the length. If not badly out of line, true up the edges, checking with a try-square from the flat grain. These edges should be true and parallel, and about 1¼ inches across the flat grain, making the piece 1⅛ inches by 1¼ inches for an adult bow, and per­haps 1⅛ inches or 1 inch square for a bow of 5½ or 5 feet. There are various types of bows in existence (see Illustration I) which are used with success by many races, but the English long bow is without doubt the best suited for general archery practice.

Figures 1 and 2. The selection of wood for bow making
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Its supremacy as an implement of warfare is written in English history, and its excellence for target shooting and hunting in modern times is evidenced in its general use by American archers, who are among the best in the world today. The bow will be modeled after the type used by Robin Hood and his band, and the English archers who gained supremacy and won sincere respect from many of their neighbors in medieval times. It is a more difficult bow to make than the common flat type of Indian bow, yet the results obtained more than repay for the extra care and workmanship needed in its manufac­ture. A bow made from one single, solid piece of wood is called a "self" bow; one glued together in the handle with a fish-tail joint is called a "two-piece" bow; and one with a piece of stiffer material glued on the back of it for greater strength and toughness is called a "backed" bow. The "self" bow is the one to make first.