Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Not Much Happening

I've got 5 flight arrows finished for Il Bastardo and I've been tinkering with the crossbow sight, but mostly I've been working in the garden and having a bit of a break from bowmaking.
There is family stuff happening too so if it goes a bit quiet on here for a while don't panic.
I'll pick up another stave when I get the urge!
Here's a couple of pics:-

Monday, 11 June 2018

Long Rambling Post


I've been busy doing loads of random stuff mostly around flight shooting and the crossbow.
I made up some 30" flight arrows for "Il Bastardo" the short Yew ELB flight bow, to check our observation that, last week, at a 30" draw it out shot the 120# Warbow.

I made the arrows similar to the 32" ones we'd used in the first test. I kept 'em almost as fat in the centre (9mm) but added a footing from some tough dark reddish hardwood I had lying around from some defunct garden furniture about 25 years ago (I knew it would come in handy one day!) Researching on the web, it looks like Cumaru, a wood I'd not heard of before, but it sounds eminently suitable).
The heavy tough footing meant I could make the front end much slimmer ~6mm with a much smaller brass tip. I left the back end tapered more sharply to make it stiffer. Overall they were almost as stiff as the 32" but only 3/4 of the weight! I also used a shorter fletching but increased their height about 1mm.

The results were very good, the 120# shot 3 arrows all pretty much in line at the same distance +/- a yard or so. Il Bastardo shot 2 arrows one being 25 yards further on and the best being 30 yards.
Actual distance was only 300 yards, but one has to allow for prevailing conditions, which is why the comparison was so useful. There was probably another inch of draw available and with the elusive clean loose there is probably more distance to be had.

My trusty test pilot JT was vastly more confident with Il Bastardo at the longer draw and it's stopped biting his bicep (that's where it got the name).
One of the 32" arrows broke at the point and I took a pic to show how they break. I'm currently making the points much smaller with a shorter smaller diameter tang. Pic top right shows the broken point, the spliced footing being glued and a triple start acme screw threaded rod and nut.

While we were over at Now Strike Archers I also shot my little Yew stick bow it's probably only about 35# but it was fun to shoot at a pile of earth and wood chips so that I could find the point on range. It turned out to be about 25 yards. I also tried it with a flight arrow and it got past the 180 yard target that the lads were shooting at!


I couldn't resist buying the screw and nut as it will get used to make a rise and fall adjustment for the crossbow scope mounting. One rotation of the nut gives 8mm of travel, it only cost £2 plus £3 delivery, I don't know how they can do it at that price. Anyhow it will give me something to play with.


Talking of the crossbow, I added a cheek piece to get my eye lined up with the scope, it's rather tall, but when you allow for the cover over the trigger mechanism and the scope mount, that's how it is.
I sawed it out with a curved lower edge where it is let into the top of the stock. I marked out the stock to suit, but sawed it on a slight angle so that the cheek piece leans over, I couldn't resist sculpting it a bit even though the rest of the stock is a bit plank like.

I had a bit of a go at 20 yards and found the effort of cocking the bow left me a little unsteady of aim. It's apparent that for any serious sighting up I need to be sitting so that I can rest my elbows on my knees and get a good solid reproducible shot. It's also obvious that for longer ranges I'll need to be able to elevate back of the scope', hence the need for the adjustable mount.


Back to the arrows and horn inserts for the nock of Warbow and flight arrows...
There has been some discussion about water-buffalo horn vs cow horn etc. I think there is some confusion as to the nature of water-buffalo horn, it is hollow where it is of a larger diameter, it does have a grain/growth rings and will split with craft knife when it's given a tap with a hammer, same as cow horn.
The tips of water-buffalo horn, as sold for horn nocks are solid and the grain is less apparent so any splitting may not be on the desired line.
Cow horn and water-buffalo (both Bovids) are equally suitable. Some may argue about authenticity, but maybe they should investigate the distribution of water-buffalo, oxen and cattle in the middle ages?

I've tried the crossbow at 20 yards again seated, much more consistent having to aim 3 divisions high on the graticule. I noticed that after 2 shots the string was riding over the left string catcher again, added a few twists and it settled down. Oddly I found that shooting off hand (standing) I had to aim 4 divisions high.


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Crossbow Telescopic Sight



I've finally got round to mounting the tele' sight. It's not the most solid mounting as the rail is screwed to the wooden piece which fits over the latch, and that is only held onto the stock with a couple of wood screws that are about 1.75" apart.
It took a lot of trial and error to get it sighted up, by shimming the mount and adjusting the wooden piece that it's screwed to. Some people make the mistake of just mounting a sight and then try to adjust the cross hairs. That may work on a commercial rifle or crossbow, but on something hand made you have to get the coarse alignment right first.
I've got it sighted at 10 yards then checked how it shot at 18yards (the furthest I can get safely and conveniently) then at 5 yards.
The graticule has plenty of divisions on it and I found that at 5 yards I had to aim low by 1 division and at 18 yards I had to aim high by 3.
I'll have to see how it copes with longer ranges, but I may find it runs out of room at about 30 yards, in which case I may make an adjustable mount for the rail.

My cheek sits well above the stock when using the sight, so I'll need to add a suitable cheek piece. Bear in mind this is a tryout/development stock.

Monday, 4 June 2018

New Bows

Had a good day on Sunday at Boyton Cross farm with the Now Strike Archers (I've finally paid my subs too!). Glorious sunshine.
I took the spliced Yew 60# along for Martin, who loved it as he could now get past the 180 yard mark. Inspecting the bow and showing him round the features I pointed out a couple dark streaks about 1/4" apart running along the side of the bow. I'd hoped they would come out with scraping during the final finishing. The marks are where there is a wafer thin sliver of wood that isn't fully solid with the rest of the wood, (probably a radial crack in the wood) it's not lifting at the ends, just weak along the lines. It was showing a very slight buckle in the middle. I said to keep an eye on it and if it starts to lift I'll rasp (or chisel) out a narrow scoop a few mm deep and patch it. I expect it will be fine but always good to keep an eye on things.
The sketch shows what I mean.
JT was shooting the Italian Yew warbow that he's been making under my watchful eye over the last few months. It was a challenging stave, not very long and with a big knot half way up the top limb (which makes that limb a whisker stiff). It shot very nicely, comparable with some of his heavier bows. We can't remember exactly what the draw weight was, but about 100# at 30". It flexes a good bit in the handle as it wasn't a very thick stave to start with and I was sceptical that it would reach the 100# mark.

To give myself something to shoot I took a tiny Yew bow I made ages ago, it started as a Yew sapwood bow and then I glued a thin slat of heartwood up the belly. It's only 46.5" long but draws to 28" and it shot my flight arrows about 165 yards.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Shooting Machine Detail

I've had a request for some detail pics of the shooting machine.
It's theoretically simple, but because the bow is held at an angle (about 45 degrees) there are lots of weird angles.
Something that I screwed up with the mk1 is that I forgot to place the trigger mechanism up above the bow mounting (as in, the arrow passed over your hand... not through it!).
It also needs to have the main spine of the device set away from the bow and release mechanism to avoid the string slapping it (like it can on your arm). This is also why the track stops about a foot from the bow mount.
To stop the release mechanism sliding back when you are trying to cock the bow there is a magnet to hold it.
I made a wingnut spanner from a scrap of ply so that the A frame ( which fold up of course) can be tightened up solidly (bottom pic)
Care is taken to arrange the pulley so that it pulls dead in line with the release mechanism. Also the stirrup is placed so that pulling on the rope tends to force the front of the device down onto the ground rather than lifting it up.
I found it did flex a bit in use, so I added several blocks of plywood, glued in to stop flex and twist, these were just done on an ad hoc basis with a bit of quirky artistic interpretation to give it a steam punk / art deco look!
The main spine is a bit of 5 x 3/4 from an old bed frame.
The track is a slab of 3/4 ply for stability which is screwed on the the spine. The other bits are odds and ends of ply glued and screwed on to line up appropriately.
Enough chat, here are the pics.








Getting Close with the Spliced Yew

I took some video this morning, as I've put in a good amount of work getting the horn nocks fitted and the outer limbs blended in.
The draw length is coming back an inch at a time as I do more work.
Here's the video :- https://youtu.be/Vv2t3iYjL5g
Since then I've eased off the outers, blende the inner limbs into the thicker spliced grip and gone over it with a scraper, the draw length is now back to 25" at 60#.
The grip area has slightly thicker sapwood and a slight swell in the belly which gives a comfortable feel in the hand and maximises glue area. However, I'm keen to avoid a Victorian look with whip tillered or heavily elliptical tiller. I want the Warbow look, albeit a tad thinner as it's 60#

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Starting a Spliced Yew Bow


I've been busy around the house and garden, but itching to get back to a bow... so, when yesterday Martin, one of the guys from Now Strike Archery got in touch after a 60# Yew bow, I was keen to get started!
Well I just happened to have this spliced stave that I'd made up ages ago and hadn't used as it was too good and big for a run of the mill 40# and too small for a full blown warbow.
60# is right in the Goldilocks zone, so I filed in some nocks and gave it a quick look on the tiller. I made a video here.
Here's a couple of pics showing how nicely the sapwood heartwood boundary matches up at the grip.

Having a good day... took some rubble and garden rubbish to the council tip. I got another coat of paint on the garage door early on before it started raining and thundering.
Done some on the bow and turned down the footing on two flight arrows that I'd glued up yesterday.
Emily Cat was missing all morning but eventually turned up soaking wet... proper towel job. Just gone out again even though it's still pouring! She's bonkers... Ah, just come back in... maybe not so daft.