|My 45 pound recurve- who's a pretty boy den?|
I'm not sure if any bugger cares, but I'm going to tell my story, regardless. For the past three months, I've been immersed in the art of archery. I used to shoot a bow way back and I reckon my average draw weight was about 60 pounds back then. These days I've taken account of my lost skill and advancing age and bought a bow with a draw weight of 45 pounds at 28 inches. I did my homework and made a decent purchase for a good price. I chose well with the lower draw weight and with a bit of practice I think I could achieve the 60 pound draw weight of old; not completely knackered then.
Not only have I started to shoot a bow, I've decided to have a go at making one or three..... My first attempt was pretty shit, I will acknowledge. Of course, a master bowyer will apprentice for six long years before applying his craft, so perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on myself. Anyway, my first bow was fashioned out of pine. As anyone familiar with bow making will know, pine is a poor wood for making bows. However, it allowed me to hone some lost skills and placed me in good stead for future projects. Actually, the pine bow was okay and drew 20 pounds without breaking but the tillering left much to be desired. All said, not a bad first attempt.
The main problem I'm experiencing is obtaining suitable wood for making a decent bow. Every DIY place in
stocks only pine. One owner of a DIY store lamented the fact that hardwood was way too expensive for most purposes these days. After a little research, I managed to find a small timber yard which stocked a variety of suitable hardwoods, at a reasonable price. The fella at the yard was very helpful and sorted out a piece of European Ash for NZ$14. On first inspection, it seems fit for purpose. The only problem with kiln dried wood, as far as I can see, is that it might be a little too dry and therefore brittle. I'm working on the wood as I write and will report back on the finished product- might take a while. Wellington
There are a few native hardwoods which can be worked to make bow staves. I've started to harvest pieces of manuka, kanuka and other woods which I hope will be suitable. The staves are currently stacked under the house undergoing the slow process of drying.
My other bought bow is a primitive Mongolian self-bow with a draw weight of about 40 pounds. I call it 'Mongolian' because of its superficial resemblance to the 'type'. True Mongolian bows, were and are, a composite of wood, horn and sinew. I decided not to go the way of the compound bow. For those unfamiliar with bows, compounds are a highly engineered modern variety replete with cams, pulleys, specialised arrow rests and sophisticated sights. They are more forgiving than traditional bows and given similar archery skills, more accurate. Both my bought bows, in comparison, are somewhat simple, although my 45 pound recurve has limbs of hard Maple with a fibre glass overlay and a cut-out arrow rest on the riser. The bow is fast, clean shooting, whisper quiet and endowed with highly pleasing lines. Overall an efficient and very beautiful bow. If I were of a refined disposition I might be tempted to call it 'a work of art': but I ain't, so I won't. My custom wooden arrows are fletched with turkey feathers and give a very satisfying thud on impact.
I've been practising and can place a loose grouping with the 45 pound bow at 35 metres. I can only hit the target with the Mongolian bow at no more than 20 paces; more practice required.
To date, I've only used the bows for target shooting but intend to have a go at hunting. Bow hunting is legal in NZ with a permit and a bow 35 pound and over. Apparently, there is good wild pig hunting hereabouts. Need to enthuse my son and son in law and hire a couple of 'pig dogs'. I have no problem with hunting as long as the meat is for the pot. I used to hunt rabbit as a lad with my taciturn granddad and a couple of ferrets. Roast rabbit is the best.
So that is why I haven't been as diligent and active on my blog of late. Must try harder.