The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Books > Bows and Arrows > Bow Making—Concluded
Chapter V
Bow Making—Concluded
Part 2 of 7

Many years ago, while in the employment of the Royal Company of Archers in Scotland, I made a bow for the late Dr. Jamieson, a well-known and fairly good archer of his day. As near as I can recollect, this bow weighed some 88 pounds, and was of course too heavy for anything but flight shooting, which it was intended for. But Dr. Jamieson never reached 270 yards with it, and gave up all thought of attempting a flight record. However, the wood was an ideal piece of selected yew, and so the Doctor had it reduced to a 54-pound target bow. And with this light weapon he some little time afterward succeeded in sending a flight arrow over 280 yards! Obviously, by reducing the weight the bow's cast was increased. And again I say that it is the cast that counts.

Perhaps the tyro will wish to be told just what cast is. I can do no better than quote the late Colonel Walrond, of the Toxopholite Society of London: "Cast is determined by the obvious trajectory of the arrow in flight. . . . Thus, an archer may take two bows of equal length and weight, and both of the same ma-terial, and shoot the same arrow from each, with the result that in the case of one bow the arrow flies as though rising scarcely about six feet from the ground, While with the other bow the same arrow describes a well-defined arc, rising a considerable height. This is due to the superior cast in the wood of the bow that throws the flat or low-flying arrow."

While on this subject, it is well to add a few words about backed bows and three-piece bows. From the abundant comment and praise that has been and continues to be published in behalf of these bows, nearly every one is familiar with the claim that they are backed and built reflex in order to assist the cast, always so much in demand. But it puzzles not a few archers that none of the writers who are so positive of the merits of such bows, ever goes to any pains to prove that bows so built actually have superior cast. Actually, if it were true that the backing and reflexing of the bow added to the cast would not some of such bows have been found to outshoot the self bows? Yet they are not on record.

Even when a backed bow is found that has a particularly fine cast, I imagine the real benefit will be in the original stave itself, not in the addition of the backing. Certainly there can be no assistance from the hickory, and that is the material most commonly used for backing. So we are compelled to infer that any aid received comes from the glue!

The maker who first introduced the backing had no such theory; it was simply a case of substituting an artificial back for the faulty or missing one, in order to economize on material. Yet now we read remarkable decriptions of the wonders of the backed bow.

To reduce the weight, or pull, of the bow, of course calls for reducing its depth. Observe very carefully how it bends when fully drawn. There should be some bend even in the handle of a self bow that is made with dips. Generally, taking off a little more wood in the dips —to be done with great care—will give the desired reduction. This on the assumption that the belly has been worked down to a moderate stack.