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How to Make a Longbow

Omkar Phatak
If archery is one of your favorite pastimes and you are looking for ideas on making a longbow, here are some useful tips for the same.
One of the most elegant weapons of archery, longbow was used as a prime weapon for warfare and hunting. There are many different versions of this bow, and it is not very difficult to make it at home. Here will provide you with a rough idea about making a longbow out of wood.
A long bow is a particularly long type of a bow, which is as tall or even taller than the average height of a man. This gives the person yielding it, a substantially long draw reaching the jaw and therefore, a longer target reach for the launched arrow.
It has been around since Mesolithic times in Europe and Africa, and the ancient longbows were all self bows, that is, they were all made up of a single piece of wood. They were weapons of destruction in those times and the Nubians, Arabs, Kurds, Indians, native Americans and South American tribes used them extensively.
What makes it popular is its simplicity of use and effectiveness as a reliable piece of weaponry. It can deliver a phenomenal amount of power, which can reach up to 220 Newtons for a 70 cm draw. Some of the most powerful ones are the English longbows and the African elephant bows, which can deliver power in the range of 670-900 Newtons at a draw of 80 cm!
Medieval warriors were great archers and sometimes, they completely influenced the course of wars. The English bows were made from wood drawn from Yew, Ash or Elm mainly. The bow strings were made from silk, hemp, and flax. Nowadays, longbow strings are made of synthetic materials like Dacron, which offer more tensile strength.
Skilled bowyers, can make a longbow in a matter of a few hours. Longbows have narrow limbs and almost D-shaped rounded cross sections. Therefore, they require wood of high compressive strength, elastic and light weight at the same time.

How to Make a Longbow Out of Wood?

Let us see what are the things you'll need. The most important thing you'll need is a wooden bow plank. This plank can be either made of Oak or Lemonwood. The best longbows are made from yew.
You will need a knife to carve and shape the bow and a saw to cut it out. Polyurethane wood finish is another must-have item. Please wear safety glasses during the whole procedure.

Step 1

We start by making a design on the plank. Before you start, decide the dimensions of the bow you plan to build.
Typical dimensions of a longbow are roughly a length of 65 inches, with a width that varies from 1.5 inches at the handle to 0.5 inches at the tip. You can modify the measurements according to your requirements. Next draw an outline of the bow design on the plank so that you can cut out the bow shape accurately.

Step 2

Now, it is time to cut out the bow shape with a saw. Once you have the bow cut out, use a rasp, and a knife to polish and give it a better shape.
Use a rasp and a sandpaper to polish the bow further and work out the handle. Next thing to do is carve out the arrow shelf notch in the bow. You can make a small cut on each side to attach the string. Don't make it too big though.

Step 3

Now polish the bow again if needed. It is very important to ensure that the surface is smooth. You don't want to end up hurting yourself. Then, apply about four coats of polyurethane taking intervals of about eight hours between coats. Once it dries, the string is attached.

Step 4

Your bow is almost ready, now it's time to string it. The length of the string should be measured carefully according to the bow size. Ensure that it is not too big or small. Just attach it to the bow by inserting it in to the cuts that we have made on both the sides.

Step 5

Floor tillering, that is bending the bow evenly is the next part. This is something which will test your skill. It is a good idea to take some tips from an experienced bowyer.
After placing both the tips of both limbs on the floor, bend the bow and make sure that it bends evenly. Smoothen out the uneven spots. This part is the most important part of the whole process. The quality of the bow will depend on how well it is tillered.
Once your longbow is built and you get some straight arrows made, all you need is a circular target set in your backyard, to make your very own archery range.