It is only natural that, in these days, when seemingly by the very nature of things in general almost every archer is an experimenter, all possible kinds of bows should be tried out. I make no objection; for why should I? But I do maintain the right to point out that, for all the fashions that have come and gone, bow making has produced but one best bow, and this, the standard type, is the only one deserving of serious consideration by the general run of archers.
The only actual improvements in the long bow of the old times of before the advent of firearms have been two. These are the dip and the take-apart splice.
John Buchanan, of England, was responsible for the introduction of the dip. Experience long ago taught that a perfect taper in the bow directly from the handle produced an inferior weapon. Yet we see them today. In devising the dip, Buchanan perhaps was concerned in getting rid of the whip class of bow, which archers seemed to hate to use, because of the disagreeable kick. His dip, placed in the belly at either side of the handle (see Chapter IV on Bow Making) produced a new class which became known as hard-handled bows. The dips, one in each limb, allow the bend to be distributed throughout the bow without actually bending the handle. And they usually produce a generally sweeter bow. For which reason the use of the dip will be found recommended in the instructions for making a bow, in Chapter IV.
Philip Highfield, also of England, I am led to believe was the originator of the take-apart splice. His portable bow, made in two parts and readily taken apart for convenience in traveling, apparently was popular for a time. But it fell into disuse many years ago. Makers and archers alike—and I believe this in-cluded even Ford—arrived at the conclusion that the principle was all wrong. They said it forced the bowyer to make a bow to suit the handle, instead of the reverse, as always had been done. However, I have made a careful study of bows made by Shepherdson, and I am forced to admit that, while there is much in this idea, on the other hand there is not a reason on earth why these bows should not be as successful as the bow in one length.
The principal objection to the common or one-length bow in this country is its inconvenience in traveling. And while the individual archer may get along at home, taking his 6-foot bow about in street-cars, motor buses, and even in his closed automobile, it is a different matter at a tournament. It is anything but a pleas-ure these days to tackle the transportation problem at a well-attended archery meeting. Where many archers together must squeeze into buses or street-cars already packed, each of them burdened with his lengthy package, the virtue of the take-apart bow stands out in sharp relief. And no matter what the experts, past and present, have against the take-apart bow, we are getting just as good results from jointed bows as from self bows, or the one-length variety. Still further, the take-apart bow has all the best of it when the archer has the misfortune of a break; it being such a simple matter to put in a new limb.