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The Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Make a Longbow

how to make a longbow
Written by Erik Himmel

Longbows have been used since the stone ages for hunting and in battles. They were usually made from either yew or wych elm depending on availability. However, aiming a longbow is less time-consuming than making it. In this article, we are going to show you how to make a longbow in the 21st century.

How to Make a Longbow?

Making a longbow is no easy task and takes some time and patience. We will be here every step of the way with easy instructions from picking the wood to oiling the bow. There are even some pointers at the end for what to use the bow for! Once you have learned the basics you can branch out and get more creative.

1. Make the Stave

This is the beginning of the procedure where you’ll be making a stave appropriately.

make the stave

Picking the Wood

The stave should be around 5 feet long. Choose a hardwood that does not have any knots, gnarls or twists in it. There should be no cracks in the wood either because the end creation has to be a perfect piece of wood with rounded limbs. So, if you are going to chop down a piece of wood, be careful not to split it.

  • You want the wood you choose for the stave to be no thicker than 2 inches
  • Woods that are best used for the stave include maple, yew, ash or hickory.

Identifying the Curve

To find the curve take the wood for the stave and hold it upright with the bottom pushed against your foot. Loosely holding the top of the stave bend it in the middle as gently as you can. The wood with start to bend and the curve will point forward or away from you.

The inside of the bow is the part nearest to you and is the sides that you will be working on. You must not make any cuts to the outside of the bow as this will weaken it or cause it to break.

Marking the Handhold

The handle of the bow is in the middle of the stave. Measure halfway between the top and bottom of the bow. Then, make a mark at least 3 inches from the center towards the top and do the same from the center towards the bottom of the stave. You have now marked where the handle of your bow is going to be.

No sanding or marking should be done to it as it needs to be strong like the outside of the bow. You can get some soft leather and wrap it around the handle of the bow or get more creative with it to make the handle a nice-looking feature on the bow. You can even use pieces of leather to wrap around the top notches of the bow. This will keep the string a bit snugger as well.

2. Create the Bow Shape

Now is the time for a bow builder like you to make a shape that your bow is going to be in.

Putting the Bends to Tests

In order to shape the bow, you first need to test the bends. To do this, you will need to hold the bow up straight and place it on your foot. The top needs to be held in your hand. Then, use your free hand to push the bow outwards to see where it bends easily, or it is a bit stiffer.

Adjusting and Bringing Flexibility

To make the stiffer part of the wood a little suppler, take a knife and shave a bit away from the INSIDE of the staff. Remember, you do NOT want to make any marks, nicks or accident cuts to the outside of the wood or the handle area.

The tips on both ends of the bow and handle are the only parts of the bow that should be stiff. Or at least stiffer than the other parts of the longbow. Carve the wood until the bow bends and flexes evenly.

3. String the Bow

Now, you need to string the bow you just made. Exciting, isn’t it? Remember that the string of your longbow isn’t like that of modern crossbows. So, be careful while doing and pulling it.

string the bow

Cutting Notches on Both Sides of Tips

In order to secure the bowstring, you need to cut notches at the top and bottom tips of the bow. These do not have to be too deep but make sure the groove is big enough to house the thickness of the bowstring. You don’t want it to slip out easily. The string must be snug and secure in the groove.

Readying the String

  • Whatever string you are using; be it nylon or bowstring, you don’t want it to be more than 5 to 6 inches.
  • At each of the string, tie a loop, and then bend the bow. Hook the looped ends of the string into both top and bottom notches.
  • Do not be tempted to give the bow a try or pull back the string yet as the bow needs to finish off and be balanced out a bit more.

Hanging the Bow Horizontally

To test what adjustments are required, you will need to hang the bow over a piece of wood or bench, tree branch, etc. The drawstring needs to stay vertical with the ground

Pulling the bowstring

Pull on the bowstring carefully with both sides of the bow equally bent. If a particular side doesn’t feel adequately flexible, you need to have some more wood removed from it.

The bow will need to be adjusted as long as it takes you to pull the string back to your draw comfortably.

4. Add Some Finishing Touch

Now that you’re almost done, you can give the bow some touch of personalization.

add some finishing touch

Applying a Little Oil

Once the bow has been adequately adjusted; it is time to add some finishing touches to it, such as Tung or linseed oil to be applied to the wood. This keeps the wood moist enough to remain supple and not dry out.
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Uses of the Bow

Success in bow making meets perfection when you can use it for your needs. Longbows are great for archery and hunting although there’re controversies that they are not the best hunting weapons. Using longbows can be a great sport requiring a lot of control as well as muscle strength.

Now that you know how to make a longbow, you may try using various woods. For those who are woods crafters, some longbows with unique designs are available. Remember that it takes time and patience to make the longbow, but it will be very rewarding once you can make it!

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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