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Chapter IV
Making the Bow
Part 2 of 10

Perhaps it is well to elaborate this before going on. Some writers lay down the rule that the proper length of the bow is the height of the shooter himself. Perhaps the rule does apply in a general way; but by no means is it a good rule to follow hard and fast. The reason it is not is very simple. We have men and women archers who cannot claim to be tall, yet who have an arm reach exceeding that of archers of noticeable altitude. Actually, the length of the bow should be governed by the length of the arm of the shooter in drawing his arrow to its head—a rule the professional maker always has recognized. And accepting the standard set by the professional makers of the past for the majority of archers rather than for the few, we set the length for a bow for a man at 6 feet, that for a woman's bow at 5 feet 6 inches. Now for the reason: these lengths are consid-ered safe for the draw of the arrows used, which thus may be said to indirectly set the standards. It is true that bows of shorter lengths often will stand the standard draw; but no professional maker will ever guarantee a bow that is made under standard lengths. In the bow maker's shop, withal great care has been given to selection of bow wood staves before laying them away to dry, when at last one of these is taken up for shaping into a bow it must be scrutinized to make sure as possible that the grain is as straight as may be. At the worst the grain of the wood should not cross the bow in less than 15 inches, and this minimum allowance must not apply in all cases. For instance, the grain should not cross the bow from side to side in so short a length as 15 inches; but a good bow may result from a stave having the grain crossing at this length from back to belly.

fig. 3
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From back to front, or reverse, take a single reed or fiber of the grain, follow it from one side of bow to other. If shorter than 15 inches risk of break attends its use. 1 to 1, grain running from side to side. 2 to 2, grain running from front to back.

fig. 4
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1. A side-exit pin.
2. A center-exit pin.
3. Right method of "raising" a pin, or leaving an extra amount of wood around the spot; not cutting down to true line of bow, as indicated by dotted line at 3.

Knots, of course, in general are to be considered a detriment; but a stave need not be discarded because of there being a little pin or two in it. The most damning of these knots or pins are those which are found running right through the center of a limb. A pin is never considered a serious detriment where it runs on the outside of the bow, as it affects the bow but little. Of course, the professional maker is never supposed to take chances with these pins, and in order to guard against possible weakness he "raises" the wood at the pin, leaving a little mound around the pin—a trick of the trade affording more protection to the archer than may appear possible.