Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Nock Nock, Rules & Rules

The fast slightly deflex/reflex longbow I made a while back is being returned as it doesn't comply with BLBS or GNAS definitions of a longbow.
Now that's fair enough and I'm not complaining about that, as I basically agree, it's got too much deflex and reflex , which is still apparent at full draw.

What I'm moaning about is a couple of things.

1. BLBS definition of longbow doesn't seem to be available online, and most links I followed led to the ILAA definition (which the bow meets).
(I've E-mailed the BLBS)
2. Interpretation of one rule which states that at brace the string shall only touch the at the nock goove.

This is a well intentioned rule to prevent recurved tips, string bridges and the like.
The problem is, most strings will contact the very end of the limb at brace unless the nock is a horrible overblown thing forcing the string away from the tip of the limb. Or one with a narrow groove which forces the sting into a sharp bend.

I've seen plenty of Victorian longbows (which is what the BLBS is about) with tiny slender nocks where the string would doubtless touch the limb.
Anyhow here are some pics to to illustrate the point. The bows are all mine and only one has a slight reflex/backset in the limbs.
(Two are self Yew, one is Boo' backed Yew and the longest one is Hickory backed Yew, that's the one with a slight backset )
Of course I could make smaller loops on the strings or fatter nocks, but that's not really the point.
It's about the intention of the rule and it's interpretation.
All the bows illustrated would be compliant in every other respect and are self evidently longbows.
Maybe the rule should say the body of the string (as opposed to the "Y" of the loop?)

There is one other mind blowing bit of nonsense whereby...
Ah, first I should state that this is only the rules as have been written to me by a third party, so I can't in all fairness guarantee they are absolutely correct.
I gather that a bow from a stave or billets should have the stave in it's natural state (thus natural reflex deflex etc is allowed). Errr, so heat or steam bending isn't allowed despite being part of the bowyers armoury since Neolithic times? A laminated bow is permitted to be glued up with slight reflex or backset of course (as long as it meets the other criteria).
So If I had a Yew stave I could run it through the bandsaw, pull it to a slight reflex and glue it so that it's now a backed bow (or laminated if I ran it through the saw twice!) But I'm not allowed to achieve the same with heat!??? Bonkers!

This really illustrates why I tend to shun these societies. There must be at least 4 definitions of longbow which all differ in some respect.
It's all a bit silly really.
Sorry about that...
Rant over!

Comments welcomed (especially from representatives of the BLBS)


  1. Del, I will have to dig out my paper copy of the rule book , but I only ever use horn overlays at the nocks on my bows and have never been challenged (with any seriousness).
    I do remember going through the rules about this with a fine tooth comb and figured that a lot is to do with interpretation and which definition of a word you use . Eg one dictionary defines a nock as "The groove at either end of a bow for holding the bowstring" . I think from memory the rules simply say something like "the bow shall have horn nocks " Which means that overlays are fine ....
    Also I have seen a number of bows that have nocks made from antler and as anyone knows horn and antler are very different materials :-)
    Usually I have found that the average member is just interested in the spirit of the rules and preventing new materials or designs radically different from creeping in (eg american flatbow etc )

  2. Yes, I can see rules are needed, and hand on heart I didn't feel it looked like a longbow. It's surprisingly hard to write a concise definition/specification. That's why I like the ILAA one, it's available online is very precise and gives reasons/explanations for the rulings. That enabled me to build a bow that met that spec', mind there are still errors and omissions like technically a Mother of Pearl arrow plate isn't covered. I went to the trouble of E-mailing them to confirm it was ok!
    I've been told (but not seen it in writing) that "the nock must be of horn and form a full circle around the tip" it all starts getting a bit precious.
    I'd have thought the following would suffice.
    1. No shorter that the height of the archer minus 6"
    2. No narrower at the grip or arrow pass than any other part of the limb.
    3. the thickness to be no less than 5/8 of the width at any point.
    4. The string shall not touch the limbs (or string bridges etc) other than at the nock groove and immediately below it for a maximum of 2" from the groove.
    5. Any wood may be used in the construction including bamboo.
    6. Nocks and arrow plate may be of any material (this allows vegans to avoid horn antler etc, and lads from Essex to use gold ;-) )

  3. Hells teeth!!! What a good job these societies weren't around in medieval times.!!!