Arrowsmith

One of the things of saving up for a new and heavier bow is the realisation that you’ll also need to buy some new arrows. In the past I’ve just opted for buying some middle of the range wooden arrows that normally are around £80 for a dozen. These arrows will have 4″ fletching and plastic nocks, they’re wood and functional.

As I’m wanting to eventually get into the ‘warbow’ poundage I thought I’d take a look at how much the medieval reproduction arrows would cost. So we’re looking at 1/2″ shafts, 7″ hand whipped and hand cut fletching, horn reinforced nocks and arrow heads that are produced in a limited quantity. In short a lot of work goes into each arrow and the customer base is small. This means that to buy a set of arrow can get expensive quickly.

Quarterpounder

With this in mind I decided it was time to add arrow smith and fletcher to my skill set in the hope of being able to make a quality arrow at the fraction of the price as my own labour would be free. Now, I’m not exactly the most naturally craft person but I do enjoy making things and learning new skills – in the past I’ve been on a blacksmith course and I’ve also made my own longbow on a bowyer course – so I’m definitely up for the challenge of making some arrows.

The first thing I needed to do was research what equipment I’d need to start making my own arrows. The most useful source I found for this was Richard Head’s youtube channel, where he covers all the steps in great detail and I’m sure for the first few dozen arrows  these videos will be a constant source of guidance and reassurance.

After watching numerous videos and reading what I could I decided to order some tools as I’m afraid my tool selection is not very extensive. For the general tools went to eBay and picked up the following.

Tile Saw with a round blade – £6.95 – This will be used to create the nocks. The round blade should create a smoother cut.

10 piece Needle File set – £2.11 – to smooth out the nocks.

3 piece Rasp set – £1.75 + £1 p&p – to remove the excess horn from the horn sliver once it’s been glue into the nock.

2 piece Cabinet Scrapper – £3 – used to smooth out the rasp marks from horn and wood.

Rotary Cutter – £2.29 – used to cut the fletching into shape.

After spending a grand total of £17.10 on eBay it was time to pick up some more specific arrow making supplies. The first thing I wanted to pick up was an arrow cutting template so that I could ensure that my fletching was neat and uniform across all the arrows.

After searching around I found a German seller – Histro Fakt – who sold English Warbow Society fletching templates. I picked up the ‘Livery Arrow’ and ‘Poitiers and Crecy’ templates for 5.99 Euro each this coupled with postage to the UK came to around £17.

My next stop on my arrow making equipment purchasing odyssey was to actually buy the components to make the arrows. The other items that I’d purchased so far are an investment, as I can reuse them for every arrow I make, so the actual arrow components will be where any real saving will be made in the future.

After looking around for a supplier of all the bits I needed I stumbled across Now Strike Archery whose prices where very reasonable. For my first attempt at arrow making I thought I’d start with just 12 arrows until I’d got the hang of it. So from Now Strike I ordered the following.

Nock Cutting Jig 1/2″ – £19.99 – This will ensure that my nocks are cut to the right depth and are nice and straight. This item can be used over and over again so is classed as tool rather than a consumable.

Horn Sliver x 12 – £6 – The horn needed to reenforce the arrow.

Black Linen x2 – £6 – Used to whip the fletching to the shaft.

Fletching Needle – £2 – Helps to split the feathers in older to place the lined more accurately when your wiping the fletching.

Full length feather x24 – £13.20

Full length feather x 12 – £6.60 – this will be cock feather.

Ash 1/2″ arrow shaft x13 – £19.50 – I decided to go for 13 just incase I messed up on my first nock cutting!

So with posting of £10 that came to £83.29.

Now Strike didn’t have the arrow heads I wanted so this led me to Barebow Archery where I found some 1/2 steel bullet point at £2 each. I’m just awaiting a reply back but if I buy these that would be £24 + p&p at probably around £5.

If we look at the actual cost going forward for a dozen 1/2″ shaft, horn nocked, hand fletched arrows arrows IT will be around £90 including p&p.  This  still seems a little expensive to me but when you consider the price of buying the equivalent finished product the  price does look really reasonable.

Bearbow – Deluxe Medieval Arrow x6 – £150. x12 = £300

Now Strike – Deluxe Medieval Arrow x 1 – £21. x12 = £252

The Longbow Shop – Poplar Bobtail x 6 – £110. x12 = £220

All of these prices will need p&p adding to them so suddenly the price of £90 with p&p doesn’t seem so bad! Once everything arrives I’ll get cracking and I’ll share my trails, tribulations and hopefully, my triumphs!

 

 

Stacking on the Pounds

The English Longbow was what first drew me to archery as it’s relatively accessible and has a tangible link to the past. For me, at least, my interest in the historical side of the longbow is as important as the shooting side so this one object encapsulates two of my great interests, history and archery.

When I first picked up the Longbow I was extremely fortunate to have as my first instructor – albeit for only two hours – a man named Kevin Hicks who is the embodiment of history and archery. Kevin does some amazing work by bringing history to life for both children and adults and he’s also a fantastic story teller and a great archer. His knowledge of both the history of the bow, his skill as an instructor and as an archer really energised me to get out there and bring archery into my life.
My aim, after joining a club, was to shoot a bow as close to a modern equivalent of a medieval longbow, especially those we’ve now labelled as ‘warbows’, as I could. However, as things tend to happen in life complacency settled and I’ve been happily shooting at 55# for nearly three years now.

This isn’t a bad thing as I can easily manage the weight which means my form and aiming have had the chance to develop. Recently, however, I’ve felt the need to increase my draw weight to go a little heavier and try to creep closer to the 100# mark.

If I’m honest, I have a few obstacles in my way that although won’t stop me outright I know they will slow me down. The first of these obstacles is the lack of a group of similar minded people. I shoot at a club where longbow archers are a small minority and on top of that, I’m already shooting a bow, at #55, that others consider to be heavy. So learning the technique of drawing a heavy bow will have to be one of constant self-evaluation and research, which is fine as that’s pretty much how I’ve developed so far. The biggest hindrance, I feel, is that I can’t just try another archers bow to get a feel for the draw weight so that means I’m pretty much guessing at what I can handle.

This then leads to the next issue in that I don’t want to keep forking out for new bows in 10lbs increments as that will get really expensive, really quick. So my solution is to save my pennies and then buy a bow at 80# @30. Whilst the coffers are being filled I’ve been working on strengthening my back muscles with daily weight exercises as well as practice my draw using several tension bands. Once I’ve got my bow then it will be a case of taking it slowly by shooting a few dozen arrows with the 80# and then dropping back to the 55#. After a while, I should be shooting the bow without issues apart from moving my knocking point to behind my ear.

That’s the plan anyway. Does anyone have any bowyers they can recommend that won’t cost the earth?