The Legendary Longbow

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Published on: Sep. 18, 2013

bow, but do not require chasing a growth ring, and their grain can be violated in minor ways that Osage orange will never forgive.”

White woods require a little wider limb design than hedge but make wonderful, hard-hitting bows that compete with any bow wood. Beginners can graduate to hedge after learning the basics of bow making on wood that is simpler to work with.

Longbow How-To Resources

A book that will prove useful in making your own longbow is Bows and Arrows of the Native Americans: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Wooden Bows, Sinew-backed Bows, Composite Bows, Strings, Arrows and Quivers by Jim Hamm. Two reputable and helpful websites that have forums and instructional information are and

If you are not able to obtain wood for making your own bow, the United Bowhunters of Missouri offer free downloadable plans to make your own bow out of plastic PVC pipe readily available at most hardware stores. These instructions offer another inexpensive way to get into the sport. With a draw weight of only 15 pounds, it is ideally suited for a child’s first bow. Visit and scroll over to the “About Us” page.

The Ozarks Selfbow Jamboree, held each summer, is a great place to shoot longbows, meet others interested in the sport, learn from the best, and get advice on making your longbow. Learn more at

Build a Wooden Bow with A.J. Hendershott, traditional archery enthusiast and Conservation Department outreach and education regional supervisor

Step 1 — Wood Selection

Selecting a proper piece of wood is one of the most important steps to successfully completing a useful bow. Harvest trees that are 8–12 inches in diameter, straight, and free of limbs, knots, and dead wood. Split the log into quarters and paint the ends with paint, glue, varnish, or some sealing agent, to ensure the log dries out slowly, and to reduce checking and splitting. Remove bark to speed drying time. Wait for the staves to dry before working them. Many traditional archery supply houses sell properly cured and selected rough blanks. Consider purchasing one to ensure a successful first bow project.

Step 2 — Trace Pattern

Lay out the bow by examining the grain. Ideally the bow should have the tips line up straight down the longitudinal grain. You can sometimes incorporate knots or defects into the handle (where the bow doesn’t bend) and

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