Friday, 13 December 2013

Shooting In and Derbyshire Yew

I've cleaned up the Yew stick bow and I'm shooting it in. At 70# at 28" it's surprisingly hard work, and it's taking a while to get sufficient accuracy to risk shooting through the chronometer, which is a tricky business with a longbow. Too close and the arrow either hasn't actually left the bow yet or it's flexing like mad. Back off to ten yards with a heavyish unfamiliar bow and you are risking shooting the chonometer or the lights etc!
70# doesn't sound much, but it it's enough to compress the joints and muscles and make a 28" draw more difficult... my usual anchor point just doesn't get me there and I'm having to pull further back verging on a medieval draw. You can see from the target, the first few shots were rather wild, but I then rattled 3 in touching each other, a combination of warming up, getting used to the bow and adjusting my anchor.
It feels smoother with the 11/32" shafts, but I'm using the 5/16" 'standard' arrows as I'm keen to work it hard during shooting in to see if the belly cracks and features move at all. It certainly is looking handsome now, I've been over the back with wire-wool soaked in white spirit to get off the last vestiges of cambium and I've sanded out the tooling marks. The belly is glass smooth so that I'll feel any wood if it starts to lift or crack.

Update:- Here's some video of me shooting it. I've also noticed I can feel a slight edge on one of the belly cracks... that's made the decision for me... I'll patch it.

Meanwhile I've been reducing a handsome stave of Yew for a chap who got it from Derbyshire. He's after 90# at 32" which suits me fine as I should be able to shoot it.
It's going to be very long, using virtually the whole stave to be as tall as the longest Mary Rose bow. The wood is very nice with few obvious problems. The sap wood is rather thick and is a bit thicker at one and and along one edge, so will need reducing. The wood will have had a year seasoning come January, so I've got time to slowly take the sapwood down.  You can see the pencil line to which I'm aiming to reduce the sapwood. You can see how big it is in the centre, It's that size for about a foot or so each side of centre then tapers to about 25mm square at the tips.
The only slight irritation with very long bows is they get cumbersome and it's very easy to bump them on door frames light fittings and all the other clutter in my garage. It will be a nice change to work a good clean stave. In contrast I have the other Churchyard stick to work, which is also aiming for 90# @ 32" so I may work them together so I can compare and contrast. Maybe I should write a learned paper and submit it to the craft guild of traditional bowyers and fletchers.... just kidding, I'm not a great one for guilds societies and such like. I hardly want to pay to be a member of a guild just so they can tell me I'm a decent bowyer... I've worked that out already! (Hmmm sorry if that sounds a bit up myself, maybe I'm just a grumpy old cheapskate).
Maybe Groucho Marks had the right idea when he said, he didn't want to belong to a club that had people like him as members!

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