Bows of the World 0
Bows of the World

A wooden bow was successfully used by the man for thousands of years. It was a precious tool, very helpful in order to survive during tough times, either by hunting the game or fighting the enemy. As a traditional craftsman studying the art of bow making, I love building bows inspired by ours ancestors heritage. As you may know, people around the world have developed many types of this weapon. They significantly differ from each other, not only in material, but also in shape and size.

What have mainly affected the particular bow designs, were available materials and specific climatic and environment conditions. Basing on these, people were trying to build the most effective weapons, developing a variety of designs. In today’s article, we will take a look at a few of them, discussing their pros and cons. Also, I will show you some of my creations, inspired by those designs.


Penobscot bow.

This one is claimed to be invented and used by Native Americans tribe bearing the same name as this design. They were joining two bows together, probably because of poor material quality. Such a construction may have helped them to get more powerful and more efficient bows out of wood they were able to collect. Nevertheless, double bows for sure have certain advantages.

Stringing on or off the second bow, the archer can adjust the power of the weapon. It can be done quickly and easily. What’s more, you can always split the bows, getting two separate weapons. The second bow on the back works like a cable backing, preventing the bow from taking more set and even improving its performance. Nevertheless, to craft double bow there is a lot more work required. Taking care and braiding 2 more bowstrings also may be a little annoying.


Hollow limb bow.

This design is recommended to be applied on staves with high crown. Such a material is coming from low diameter branches or saplings. What’s more, the wood designed for this kind of bow shouldn’t split easily, as with hollowed limbs may come the danger of splitting of the material from the belly.

Bows built in hollow limb design can be lighter compared to the regular flat bow with same parameters. Therefore, they can perform better and be faster. What’s worth mentioning, these are characterized by slightly different draw force curve with more tension at first inches of draw. Being drawn, the limbs of such a bow are flattening out. Hollowed bows are much more challenging builds, requiring more time and precision. They can also be unstable and tough to tiller properly.


English longbow.

One of the most iconic designs. Longbows bend on the entire length of the weapon, even at the handle. The belly of such a bow is rounded, and the front profile narrow.  To handle such a stress, higher quality wood species are required. Yew is the best choice here. The tips of traditional longbows are being reinforced with full horn nocks.

These bows are long, often taller than the archer. All of these properties, combined, make longbows smooth and easy to shoot. Moreover, they are often tillered to very high draw weights, even over 100 pounds. We call these warbows. They are perfect to deal with heavier and longer war arrows. On the other hand, longbows are not very compact, what makes a difference in the woods or at close quarters. Also, to build such a weapon, long and straight pieces are required that might be tough to find. 


Mollegabet bow.

It is a weapon with wide, flat, working inner limbs and stiff, narrow tips. Such a combination makes fast and great performing bows. It’s considered to be one of the most effective designs. It’s because of the proper mass distribution. Tips which mass is crucial, are narrow, and therefore can be much lighter.

It directly affects the cast. The handle of mollegabet bow is narrowed and thicker. These bows are pretty long, for the best result, even as tall as the archer. Many species are suitable for such a build. Great are: ash, oak, maple, yew or black locust.


Paddle bow.

Another design coming from Native Americans. Paddle bows are wide even up to 3”, flat and without thicker handle section, which is often also bending. Balancing the bend of such a bow is challenging because of the unusual front profile.  They were often backed with sinew or rawhide to improve their potential even more.

Sometimes they were also reflexed or recurved. Paddle bows were shorter than the previous designs we’ve discussed before. What’s worth mentioning, these bows were often decorated with fancy paintings and figures.  

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