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Jessop Bows

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Through the courtesy of Mr. Joseph Jessop, of Santa Barbara, California, I was able to test a series of bows in his large collection. He was requested to send a num­ber of his strongest and best preserved American Indian bows, and graciously supplied the following:

Apache bow (pl. 4, fig. 13). A well-made bow, having the classic cupid shape. The wood seems to be white hickory whose straight grain suggests that it was made from a wagon hoop. It is backed with sinew and has a narrow binding of the same at the center. Length over all, 41 inches; diameters: at handgrip, 1⅝ inches, circum­ference, 3 inches; at mid-limb, ⅞ by ½, circumference, 2¾ inches; at nock,⅝ by ⅜, circumference, 2 inches. It is flat on the belly and back, and on cross-section it is quadrilateral. There are short bilateral nocks. The limbs are decorated on the belly by figures in red stain. The string is of sinew, two strands twisted, having a slipknot at the top and half-hitches at the lower nock. When strung it proves to be a lively little bow whose weight is 28 pounds when drawn 22 inches, and shoots 120 yards. It did not seem safe to draw this bow any more than this distance; the arrow that accompanied it was only 24 inches long, which indicated that the maximum draw probably had been reached. This is a very nice little bow but apparently meant for killing only rabbits and small game.

Cheyenne bow (pl. 4, fig. 14). A rough, ugly bow made of ash, apparently from the limb of a tree, and heavily backed with sinew. The workmanship is very crude. The bow is straight and thick with a cross-section almost round or a flattened oval at the mid-limbs. There is no binding on it anywhere; the nocks are shallow de­pressions in the sinew. Length, 45 inches; diameters: below the center, 1¼ by ⅞, circumference, 3½ inches; at mid-limb, 1⅛ by ¾, circumference, 3¼ inches; below nock, ⅞ by⅝, circumference, 2½ inches.

The string is a rough twist of two strands of sinew, having a slipknot above and half-hitches at the lower nock. When braced and drawn 20 inches it weighs 65 pounds and casts 165 yards. It is a stiff, stubborn bow, very unpleasant to shoot, not made for show, but capable of driving an arrow with considerable force. Probably if drawn 24 inches, which is the limit of the arrow length, it would pull about 80 pounds. It would serve no doubt for killing buffalo and for war purposes. It shows no particular signs of having been used, though it has been greased.