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10 Longbows Every Collector should Want, and Why

Back in August I wrote a post titled "10 Recurve Bows Every Collector should Want, and Why" and promised to write another post in the future about Longbows.

Well here it is. But because these are longbows (and flatbows) and not recurves, I am following a different tactic and talking more about materials and styles of bows rather than the name of bowyer / company that makes a particular model of bow.

#1. An Osage Flatbow
  • Osage changes colour as it ages. When you first get one they are bright yellow, but over time they change from yellow to brown and eventually blackish. The colour change has to do with the oxidization of the pigment.
  • Beautiful and full of character.
  • Osage bows are said to get better with age.
  • The wood has many similar qualities to Yew and could be used to make an English-style longbow, but is traditionally used for flatbow designs.
  • Because you have to follow the grain of the wood, Osage flatbows can be very curvy - which add to their unique character.

#2. An English Longbow made from Italian Yew
  • Has a nice smooth draw, feels lighter than the actual poundage.
  • Capable of significantly higher poundages than some other woods.
  • Great for historical buffs. Welsh Yeomen, Robin Hood (assuming the real person ever existed), and many other famed English archers all used Yew longbows.
  • As demand for Yew grew England eventually started importing yew from Italy, where the wood grew faster, taller and straighter thanks to more tropical weather conditions.
  • Two tone wood, one light side and one dark side. This is because the darkwood is from the heartwood of the tree. It is cut this way because the regular wood and heartwood together make for a stronger / more flexible bow.

Close Look at a Yew Longbow

#3. A Replica of the Meare Heath Flatbow (or various other prehistoric designs)
  • The Meare Heath Flatbow is a prehistoric bow that is now in a museum.
  • It is carbon dated 2690 BCE, +/- 120 years, making it one of the oldest bows ever found.
  • The sinew used on it created a decorative design.
  • The design is similar to a propeller bow (see further below).
  • A replica of the Meare Heath bow was used during Game of Thrones by the character Ygritte.

#4. A Nigerian Bassa Longbow
  • This is the closest thing you will find to an English style warbow outside of Europe - and arguably better than English warbows.
  • The Bassa tribe of Nigeria was renown for their longbows which used tropical woods similar to Yew.
  • A traditional Bassa bow is in the poundage range of 100 to 200 lbs (whereas English warbows were typically 80 to 200 lbs).
  • Because the Bassa wanted to make sure their enemies died, they went for overkill and tipped their arrows with poison using "family poison recipes" which involve mixing multiple different types of poison together to make a super-poison. So if the scorpion poison doesn't kill you, the snake venom will.
  •  The Bassa were so obsessed with archery that it lives on in their culture and language, with many common sayings related to archery.
  • Rarity - these days it is very difficult to find a traditional Bassa longbow, but if you do, buy it.
#5. A Japanese Yumi Bow crafted from Bamboo
  • Who doesn't want a bow like Awa Kenzo - the guy was basically an archery demi-god.
  • Powerful and aesthetically pleasing.
  • The perfect way to reach a zen state of mind.

#6. A Trilaminate Bamboo-Wood Bow
  • Shoots fast and smooth.
  • Bamboo on the back and the belly, wood in the middle.
  • The pros of both wood and bamboo, few of the cons.
  • While it is possible to make laminate wood bows out of different types of wood, bamboo is excellent on both the belly and back of the bow, making the bow more efficient.
  • Not bad to look at. Ends up looking similar to a Yew longbow.
  • Makes a good hunting bow.

 #7. A Pyramid Bow
  • Called such because the design involved 4 triangles.
  • An efficient flatbow design that looks cool.
  • Makes a great selfbow as they are relatively easy to make.
  • You can have fun decorating it.

#8. A Propeller Bow
  • Called such because it looks like an airplane propeller.
  • An efficient bow design that looks cool.
  • A bit more challenging to make than a pyramid bow, but also makes a great selfbow.
  • Decorate it if you want to. Maybe paint some airplanes on it?

#9. An Inuit Cable-backed Bone Bow
  • Okay so technically an Inuit Cable-backed Bow isn't normally very long... that would require more bones. But in theory it could be longer if the bowyer had access to lots of long bones they can work with. The basic shape is still effectively a longbow, despite normally being shorter.
  • The cables on the back of the bow increase the bow's power and are made from sinew. 
  • Struts would be placed under the cable to adjust the tiller.
  • The poundage can be increased/decreased by adjusting the struts on the back of the bow.
  • It is made of bone! How cool is that?
  • Extremely rare. These days you would basically have to make your own because so few people know how to make one.
  • The Inuit later started making bows out of copper, and those are also worth collecting.
#10. A Penobscot Longbow with Four Limbs
  • A piece of history, the favourite bow of the Penobscot tribe.
  • The poundage could be adjusted by tightening/loosening the cables going from the front limbs to the back limbs - this means the archer can customize the exact poundage they want.
  • As seen in Game of Thrones, the Battle of the Bastards episode.

Bonus! Any Longbow Crafted by One of the following Master Bowyers
  • Don Adams, Vivian Adams / Don Adams Archery
  • Fred Anderson / Cascade Mountain Archery
  • Keith Chastain / Wapiti Recurves & Longbows
  • Ted Ekin, Craig Ekin or Tom Hardy / Howard Hill Archery
  • Harry Elburg / Elburg's Archery
  • M. R. Hamilton / Scorpion Longbow
  • Terry Hughes / Arkansas Stick
  • Ted Kramer and Lee Kramer / Kramer Archery
  • San Marco / Traditional Longbow Company
  • Don McCann / Don McCann Custom Archery
  • Tim Meigs / Tim Meigs Custom Archery
  • Rocky Miller / Heritage Archery
  • Dick Robertson / Robertson's Stykbow
  • Byron Schurg / Monarch Longbows
  • Rick Shepard or Jerry Brumm / Great Northern Longbow Company
  • John Strunk / Spirit Longbow Company
  • John Watson / Mountainman Longbows

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