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The beauty of the Long Bow…

By:James Pressley
Celticfisherman
Traditional Archery Society Charter Member

The beauty of the Long Bow…995230_3687757367954_42167675_n
To me there is nothing in archery more graceful than the sleek lines of a long bow. The graceful taper of it’s limbs. The curve of it’s handle. The soft hum the string makes after release. Simply majesty. Proof in my opinion of a loving God.
I understand if this seems a bit weird to some people. After all in today’s society people almost never name their trucks anymore, call their guns sweetheart or sweet lips, rarely do they have a knife that generations of their family have carried and skinned game with. Not the case for a long bow shooter. I’ve yet to meet a long bow shooter who didn’t absolutely LOVE his bow. Almost to the point of obsession in some cases. We care for them and admire them and take pictures of our bows on hunts. Most of the time we aren’t even in the pictures!!! Just the bow. I know people that have bows named for wives, girlfriends, daughters, mistresses, saints and queens. I also know people who have long bows commissioned and named after chapters in books such as The Lord of the Rings or Bows on the Little Delta. Like I keep saying longbowmen are a romantic lot.
 1512475_3784164498072_572601402_nI’m not sure why a long bow strikes a chord in some of us. As I said in a previous post maybe it’s because of Robin Hood or Ajincourt. I myself have a large portion of Welsh blood flowing in my veins so maybe it’s genetic memory…
The common description of a long bow usually includes “a bow as long as the shooter is tall”. That probably use to be more the case than now. I have shot long bows as tall as I but I don’t hunt or carry them on a regular basis. The addition of a reflex/deflex design to the long bow changed that requirement. Though when you see a man standing with a bow as tall as he is you suddenly have no doubt of the origin of the title LONGBOW.
In my own thinking Howard Hill is the most famous modern shooter to embrace the long bow and because of that and his preferences in bows we have what has become the Hill bow or American style long bow or Semi Long bow. In this class you have string follow, classics (no string follow), and reverse20131213_170450_zpsmt5quv4t handles to name a few variations. All of these refer to the relation of the string or the hand when shooting. A string follow bow for instance is thought to be more forgiving and have less hand shock (a debatable issue in any case) than a classic Hill style bow. String follows have the tips angled slightly toward the shooter and classics are a straight bow. Howard once said a little string follow improved accuracy. Meaning when the bow is unstrung it looks like a straight stick. Howard shot them all as far as I know.
Reflex/deflex bows are those that have a slight arch at the tips away from the shooter. Not enough so that the string lays on the limbs as with a long bow but if unstrung the limbs will point away from the shooter. These are extremely popular bows right now and are what I shoot the most of. My favorite hunting bow is a Stalker Stickbow made by South Cox called a Coyote. It’s a reflex/deflex bow with a very non-traditional long bow handle. In fact the handle on it is much more reminiscent of a 1970s Bear Super Kodiak than a Hill style. Yet it just slips into my hand and is in my opinion a joy to shoot.
Traditional archery is a very individual sport. We each like certain bows, arrows, quivers, broad IMG_0180_zpsa9c20e7cheads, string materials, and etc. As you can tell by the opening the long bow is where I choose to hang my hat these days. The poetry that is a Northernmist Shelton or a Stalker Coyote (or most recently to arrive a Jackal). To me those bows are like listening to Mozart. Just thinking about them now makes my heart long for a crisp fall day and the soft crunch of leaves under a whitetails hooves.

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