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Bows Chiefly from the University of California

Part 2 of 4

As it stands now, when drawn 28 inches, the bow pulls 85 pounds and casts the Ishi flight arrow 265 yards. With a specially made bamboo flight arrow, a lighter replica of Ishi's but having greatly reduced feathers, this bow shot a flight of 276 yards. This demonstrates what intelligence can do in the bowyer's art.

English longbow, hunting type (pl. 2, fig. 4). Prop­erty of S. T. Pope. Made of Oregon yew; spliced in the center; woollen braid handgrip; aluminum nocks; is straight and true and follows the string slightly when unbraced. Thin layer of sapwood left at back; cross- section almost semicircular on the belly and flat on the back. Well balanced, even draw, resilient cast, no kick in hand. String made of 65 strands of Irish linen, num­ber 12, waxed and shellacked; served with silk at nocking point, reinforced with linen, spliced in loops, and covered with kid at nocks. Length of bow, nock to nock, 5 feet 8 inches; diameters: at handle, 1¼ by 1⅛, circumference, 4 inches; at mid-limb, 1⅛ by ⅞, circumference, 3½ inches; at nock,⅝ by⅝, circumference 2 inches. When drawn 28 inches it pulls 75 pounds and casts 250 yards. This is a typical old English longbow and will be referred to later in the tests.

Athabascan bow, from near Fort Yukon (pl. 2, fig. 5). A straight, stiff bow apparently of Canadian birch, hav­ing two lateral nocks ½ inch from each end. The cross- section is a flat oval. There is a piece of wood lashed to the bow below its center, which stands perpendicularly to the belly and is 3 inches long by 1 inch wide and ½ inch thick. This acts as a rest for the string and pre­vents it from coming in contact with the belly of the bow. Length of bow, 68 inches; diameters: at handle, 1½ by 1, circumference, 4 inches; at mid-limb, 1⅜ by ¾, circum­ference, 3½ inches; and below the nocks, 1 by ½, circum­ference, 2¾ inches. The string is made of three strands of sinews with a right-hand twist and is very rough, fin­ished with a slipknot at the top and by half-hitches below. When braced the string stands 3 inches from the bow and gives a high-pitched musical note. There is no binding at the handgrip and the bow shows evidence of use. In action it is very brash, harsh, and stubborn, twists in the hand when fully drawn, is quick of cast, and very unpleasant to shoot. When drawn 25 inches it pulls 60 pounds and gives a cast of 125 yards.

Luiseño bow (pl. 2, fig. 6). A simple stave of willow, apparently a rabbit bow, with red bands of paint running around it. It shows signs of use. The top of the painted handle is 1 inch above the center. It has short bilateral nocks and is warped out of a straight line, permanently bent, and follows a string badly. It has a two-strand sinew string with a left-hand twist. The upper loop is a fast bowknot; the lower is fastened by half-hitches, and the string is ⅛ of an inch in diameter. Total length of the bow, 55½ inches; diameters: at handle, 1½ by ¾, circumference, 3½ inches; at mid-limb, 1½ by⅝, circumference, 3¼ inches; below the nocks, 1 by 2, cir­cumference, 2½ inches. On cross-section this bow is a flattened oval. It is very soft on the draw, jarring in the recoil, weak in the cast, and is a very poor weapon. When drawn 26 inches it weighs 48 pounds and casts 120 yards.

Navaho bow (pl. 3, fig. 7). A well make bow of mesquite wood, backed with sinew, having a buckskin hand­grip 5½ inches in width and sinew wrappings at the tips, running 6 inches down from the nocks. Total length, 44 inches; diameters: at handle, 1 by ¾, circumference, 3 inches; at mid-limb,⅞ by⅝, circumference, 2⅝ inches; below the nocks, ½ by ½, circumference, 2 inches. On cross-section it is convex on the back and flattened on the belly, with the bark side toward the back. The string is two strands of twisted sinew, left twist, ⅛ of an inch in diameter, having a fixed loop at the upper nock and half-hitches at the lower, where a buckskin lash ter­minates the string. The bow is fairly straight along the back but follows the string when unbraced. This bow shows good workmanship, is stiff and quick in action, with no jarring in the hand. The handgrip is practically in the center of the bow and the limbs bend equally. The string gives a good musical hum and is 4½ inches from the bow when strung. The weapon shows signs of use. When pulled to 26 inches it weighs 45 pounds and shoots 150 yards.