If you have never watched an archery meet or tournament, you should do so before attempting to make archery equipment. To stand back of the shooting line and watch the action of the different styles of bows is extremely worth while. One archer seemingly will aim to shoot away over the target, but his arrow falls short of it. while next to him will be one who uses an almost point-blank aim. You will see English bows, flat bows, recurved bows, bows backed with fiber, bows backed with rawhide, and some without any backing, and you will wonder which is the best one of the lot. Yet, each archer likes his particular bow because he is accustomed to it.
There is much information available on the making of the English long bow. For that reason the description in this book will be confined to the different kinds of flat bows. These bows might be called American hows, as the Indians made and used them, but no Indian ever made as nice a shooting bow as the modern flat bow. The Indian bows usually are rather crude affairs, which bend as much at the handle as at the ends. They were used as hunting bows and were not designed for target shooting at 100 yards.
When making a bow, it is well to make it of a real bow wood. Yew and Osage orange probably are a little beyond the range of the average pocketbook. Lemon-wood is excellent, and locust is good too. Hickory makes a good serviceable bow, but it is not as fast as the others mentioned. Therefore, if lemonwood is not on hand, use locust or hickory, and if directions are closely followed in making the bow, the archer will get much pleasure out of it. Get white or second-growth hickory with the end grain running as shown in Figure 1. If lemonwood is used, the end grain does not matter so much.
It is easiest to make a bow out of lemonwood. The usual staves are 1 by 1 in. or 1 1/8 by 1 1/8 in. by 6 ft. For a flat bow, however, it is best to get a stave about 1 1/4 in. wide by 1/2 in. thick, and 6 ft. long. Plane this smooth and then sight along the Sat side to see how straight the piece is. Quite frequently the staves are slightly warped. Draw a line down the center, as shown in Figure 2. in order to get the most out of the stave.