While I am about it, I may as well mention still another false supposition, this being that of the scarcity of yew. This is pure fiction. One can secure it from the West Coast by the carload. At any rate, I have had an offer of such a load—an amount of yew such as I could never use or even sell during my life.
A great deal of fuss is made over these matters, perhaps to cloak bow making with mystery, making it almost a lost art to the minds of credulous persons interested in archery. So far as I have ever been able to learn, there never in times past was any great secret about the proper cutting of bow wood—although we now hear it spoken of in whispers, as though the great secrets of the past were known at last and must be carefully guarded. And the same applies to the subject of drying. A great ado is made about this. But the renowned bow makers of the past attended to it simply enough. A good airy and dry place was provided where the wood was stacked up and left for several years, each billet being turned over at least twice a year. That was all there was to it— and is all there is today. Surely, nothing either wonderful or mysterious.
Still, those who would make profits from popular interests are ever ready and persistent. And in these days, with archery enjoying a new lease of life, we have our daily circulars telling of new discoveries in bow woods in every corner of the globe. These circulars praise their special woods to the skies, leading the unwary to believe that to become a champion involves little more than having a bow made from one or the other of these supposedly new bow woods. Let me say here in all charity and with due respect for the energetic pursuit of business which characterizes these importers of fancy woods, that they really have nothing at all new to offer. Having been continually occupied at making bows ever since 1892, and in that time having the choice of woods from almost every country on earth, I should be fairly able to recognize anything constituting a new discovery. And I must say that I fail to see in the "new woods" anything other than old friends with at times new names. Certainly all of the latest new of-ferings that have come as samples have been tried long years ago and found wanting; otherwise they would be well known through being in general use.
Having accorded yew its rightful place at the head of the list of bow woods, I have not by any means intended to imply that to have a good bow you must choose yew. Lemonwood must be given a place close alongside yew. The name, however, must not be confused with the tree upon which the lemon grows. They have no relationship, and the name of the bow wood is derived only from its natural color.
Nor is lemonwood to be confused with lance-wood. The fact that extra good lancewood has been palmed off as lemonwood should not be permitted to weigh against the good name of genuine lemonwood.
There are really many advantages to be found in lemonwood that yew does not possess. The principal one is that of lower cost, a good lemonwood bow being obtainable at less than half the price of the royal yew. Shooting experts have proved that as good results can be had with one wood as with the other; and that on days when the temperature is hovering on the border of the unbearable (decidedly warm), the lemonwood will be found to stand up better than the yew. The latter wood loses weight much faster than lemonwood does as the thermometer ascends. This loss of weight, of course, forces the archer to keep continually changing his point of aim. The necessity of these changes is sometimes exasperating in the suddenness of the demand.