Review by Decrepit
I was happily cruising down the road of life satisfyingly comfortable with what I was into back in 2012, happily engrossed in Olympic recurve and compound bow archery, having just convinced my son some months back to try shooting a bow and arrow. He went on to religiously practise for a while, then BANG! he surprised me, asking to shoot a longbow; not just any longbow, but an English longbow!
He went on to show me the result of his information gathering skills by displaying The Longbow Shop website and highlighting the bow he had his eyes on; a 55lb piece.
I was stunned; never in my universe did I ever even considered owning a one-piece bow, let alone one that cost a VERY pretty penny, £372/-. It was also VERY long, 78 inches, which is about almost 2 metres in length for those born after 1990 8-p
The problem was, I couldn’t get him one without having one myself, I have this weakness called Envy! It was already 3 weeks away to Christmas, and this decision created even worse damage to my finance deck, lowering my shields even further to a dangerous 6%.. just a glancing hit with any turbo laser will end my Enterprise.
After an uneasy beginning, four years on, my bow and I finally came to like one another, thus the objective of this article.
Firstly, this 50lb bow has Hickory for its back, with a Lemonwood belly, sandwiching a Purpleheart and Greenheart core. A horn arrow plate is embedded into the handle, just above the leather wrapped grip.
The grip is fairly large, reasonable small hands might find this grip not to their liking. As it is a “traditional” grip, low wrist archers will be more at home with this bow; using the “pistol grip” style a la Olympic recurve will certainly increase the hand shock feel. For those thinking of owning and shooting this type of grip/handle, try keeping the base of the index finger knuckle level with the arrow rest part of the hand, as the arrow shaft will deflect off the arrow plate in the Archer’s Paradox process, hitting the knuckle. Some archers I noticed use a bow hand glove; it may or may not help..
This particular 50 pounder is 74 inches long (1.88m), tipped with horn tips and comes with a Flemish twist Fast Flight string.
Rules of engagement
Being made of wood, such bows are considerably fragile, not forgiving of abuse. Manufacturer’s instructions on the setting up and use made me tiptoe around this bow; it must not be shot immediately, must allow about 10 minutes after bracing it, gently flexing it by drawing partially, slowly repeating some 10 repetitions or more to make it comply to it’s new shape, gently increasing to full draw and letting down, then shooting it partially drawn, increasing the draw length one arrow after another until full draw is reached, ensuring that arrows must not be lighter than 9 grains per pound of draw weight.
It was a nightmare searching for the right arrow to match these requirements. However, this was solved with Gold Tip carbon arrows configured to meet the specs stated above. The reason I mentioned Gold Tip is because my experience with other carbon arrows cause the arrows to recover from bending much quicker, as a result, causing the arrow to strike the strike plate with a loud snap. I was not able to reduce this cause no matter what I tried.
Fearing that the bow may not tolerate a sudden whack of the shaft, and fracturing the bow in the strike plate area in the process, I initially shot wood arrows, but was not enamoured of the inconsistency of the wood shafts.
As with any biological product, breaking in is a must for comfort; after some 400 or so arrows, the bow begins to “sweeten” in feel, drawing, loosing, with a noticeable loss in handshock. I don’t know if my hand got used to the shock, or the bow mellowed, but it became much more delightful to shoot. I may yet weigh it one day to find out if draw weight has also decreased; it feels so, so… sensuously pleasing when loosing, and drawing the bow feels like a caress.
During the Eagles 3D shoot event on new year’s day, I really did so enjoy the shooting of this bow with 30″ Gold Tip Hunter XT 500 spine arrows tipped with 175gr field points and 5″ feather fletching. It is even more awesome when shooting 31″ 11/32 Cedar wood arrows tipped with 120gr field points and 4″ feather fletching. Like any good relationship, investment in time and effort to develop a bond with the bow will pay off in a tool of endearment which will not end up gracing the wall only.
I plan to try building one with a lighter draw weight this year and see if it really does require the bonding process between man and bow a it was with this Bickerstaffe.
Pros: Simple, fuss -free maintenance, very addictive
Cons: Pricey, LONG, made of wood :-p, arrow matching for other than wood arrows
view a short videoclip of the event at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0rh2YklDo8&feature=youtu.be
- pics courtesy of Bickerstaffe bows and author