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The Flat Bow
Part 3 of 9

Before going any further, it may be well to say a few words about the pull of a bow. For the average boy, a pull of from 25 to 35 pounds at the full draw (to the cheek) is ample. For a man it should be 40 to 50 pounds. A spring fish scale hooked on the wall tillering jig will give you this poundage. Too strong a bow is hard to handle and takes the joy out of archery. After the muscles become accustomed to this form of exercise, one can always make a stronger bow. But it is well to start out with a light bow. It will be easier on the fingers, too.

If the bow is too strong, start scraping off at the belly. The bow should have an even bend starting at about 6 in. from each side of the center. If the bow bends only at the ends, it is said to be whip ended, and if it bends too much in the middle, the bow will kick or jar. See Figure 12. If one end bends more than the other, shave off a little from the stiffer limb. For scraping, use glass, a cabinet scraper, or a piece of an old power hack-saw blade about 1 in. wide, from which the teeth have been ground off. These hack-saw scrapers cannot be filed. Be careful not to take off too much at a time while scraping, and put the bow on the tiller frequently until the proper curve has been secured. This procedure requires patience. Try pulling the bow as in shooting to see how it feels and how it fits the hand. Don't try to see how far it can be pulled at first. Take the cord off the bow for a day or two, then tiller the bow again to see if one side or the other has let down. If one limb pulls to one side, scrape off the convex side to bring it back into line. Weakening one part makes another part proportionately stronger. The only way to strengthen a bow that has become too weak is by shortening it. But this sometimes also shortens the pull. A bow 5 1/2 to 6 ft. long will take a 28-in. arrow. Shorter bows will require proportionately shorter arrows. An average man pulls a 28-in. arrow to the pile or ferrule.


After the bow seems to have the correct pull and weight, take it out and shoot with it for a while before finishing it. The grip, however, should first be wrapped with braided fishline, or leather or plush may be glued on. To wrap it. use trolling line, and after the grip is nicely wrapped and the cord ends are concealed, soak it well with shellac or lacquer and set it away to dry. Figure 13 shows how a neatly wrapped grip should look. As said before, use the bow for a while and watch for any weakening. If one limb shows weakening, shave a little more off the other one.