I need to get more lighting and careful set up to improve the quality of the slo-mo. It will be interesting to see how it is in natural light filming a real archer. The shooting machine works, but think the loose is too perfect and virtually instant. More next year ;-)
It's been my first full year of retirement and I've had fun with warbows, the cross bow, primitives, flight bows, building the shooting machine and re-working some bows including Twister.
My stand out warbows have been Wonky which was a tad extreme, and the 3 RPI (ring per inch) fast grown English Yew which disproved some of the myths and prejudices about yew.
February and the spring was somewhat tied up with looking after Emily Cat who went missing for 3 days and came back injured, fortunately she recovered and is back to her bonkers best but without her tail now..
The ILAA Popinjay shoot was great fun and I consider it a "must do" for this year.
My two fave' bows were the 3 RPI warbow and the pretty Boo, Purpleheart and Yew trilam...
Over the year I've improved my tools collection with a load of G clamps and improvements to the arrow tapering jig and the thicknesser.
In the spring I made up a spliced yew flight bow from some dodgy random billets which performed quite well and has given me food for thought for 2018's flight bow, and of course the arrows, because self evidently, one the arrow has left the string... it's all about the arrow. Hopefully the shooting machine and my new camera should help in achieving a little more distance this year. I'll be making a flight longbow/warbow to be used by my trusty test pilot and chum JT in the summer.
Failures included the exploding take-down ELB, a big Yew log with no decent wood in it and a Laburnum heartwood primitive which eventually was destruction tested.
The ongoing crossbow project was a bit like the curate's egg, good in parts, the trigger mechanism was good, but the prods varied from just about acceptable to failures, mind I am trying for an impressive performance with a lot of self imposed constraints. Maybe I'll persevere with the natural materials or maybe I'll make up a prod with fibre glass or carbon laminations over a wooden core.
Bliss, just got out of the house for a couple of hours harvesting some Hazel with a couple of mates. We cut a few poles and split two of 'em. I'll quick season one of the poorer staves... so we can start some bow making at the start of February. I'll be helping JT through the process and hopefully he'll end up having made a shootable ELB.
Here's an early try out with the camera, using my crossbow pistol.
I've tried the shooting machine with a 30# bow from a fixed 27" draw.
I've lightened the back of the stock a bit so it balances better and screwed a chunk of aluminium in front of the trigger mechanism as a fixed stop to hold it at 27" draw.
It shoots nicely, but with a weak bow slightly under drawn, the arrows are a bit stiff and kicking left. The basic design has certainly been proved, but I don't trust the trigger mechanism for anything much heavier.
Over the holiday period I should get some interesting video and work on a more robust version of the trigger and the sliding release.
Lovely tiller on that little 30# Hazel, it's one of my best bows, it was the one that Ruth Goodman shot on the TV program.
Update:- I've tried with the sliding release, cocked and loaded the bow at about 20" and then pulled the trigger mechanism back using a makeshift handle made from a wire coat hanger. As it gets back to 27" the trigger gets lifted by a block that I'd screwed in place.
It was rather awkward to operate but released ok. I was V close to the target and the arrow struck home whilst it was still flexing and flying at an angle, so it embedded 2" into the target and snapped off the shaft. It will be interesting to see it in slo-mo once I have the fancy camera. Updated update:- I've just shot "twister" from outside the garage, so that's 10 yards. Perfect shot, lined up pretty true and struck the target square, just shows that with the right arrow and bow it shoot correctly :) Cant wait to get some video but I'm not allowed to open the camera until Christmas!
I managed to sneak a few minutes in the garage away from making mince pies and sausage rolls to get the sliding rails done for the trigger mechanism. It's pretty smooth! Mind I did wipe it over with beeswax polish first as aluminium can be a bit of a poor sliding surface.
I'd been pondering how to do it for some time, then I remembered some aluminium angle that I'd been given a while back. I knew it would come in handy.
Just about ready for testing, just got to work out a peg arrangement to trip the trigger and some way of pulling it back along the track. Got to be aware of the recoil when it looses, don't want it hurtling back and whacking the operator!
Another minor problem is the balance. The main horizontal arm that has the bow on one end and the trigger mechanism on t'other is a bit back heavy. I can move the pivot point a few inches, but I'll probably give it a try out first.
It'll all be over by Christmas!
I've got the prototype trigger mechanism almost finished.
It's basically the standard 2 part mechanism, a rotating nut and a trigger. The juxtaposition of the two parts is such that the trigger protrudes horizontally from the back. The entire mechanism will slide back along the stock of the shooting machine between two rails. As it draws back to the desired draw length, the trigger will lift on a sloping peg inserted into the stock giving an automatic loose.
Alternatively the mechanism can be clamped in a fixed position, the string drawn onto it and the the trigger manually lifted to loose.
The nut and trigger are made of plywood and will only probably be only strong enough for light bows. Of course plywood is no good for the working parts so these have been faced with bits of hacksaw blade epoxied into place.
I've made the fingers of the nut approximate to an archer's fingers, and being wood, I can easilly shape them as needed. The final version will have aluminium fingers and a steel centre section and trigger.
The sheet steel sides of the mechanism are held apart by two aluminium spacers with 3mm steel rivets going through the whole assembly.
The sketch shows the approximate layout and illustrates the easiest way to get a smooth trigger action. If you draw lines from the release point where trigger and nut meet back to the centre of the two pivots (red) and arrange these lines to meet at 90 degrees this gives a line of force directly back into the pivot rather than a force which try and make the trigger either slip or jam. The trigger will pull without forcing the nut to rotate back against the pull of the string. So you just sketch roughly where you want the two pivots and then get a set square or the corner of a sheet of paper and move it around to find the required position for the sear to give the magic 90 degree angle (or do it by eye). You don't need this 90 degree angle, it's just an easy way to get it right.
Hopefully I'll get the rails built soon and try it out, mind I have mince pies and sausage rolls to make too!
Soon be time for my round up of the year, but it would be nice to get this done before then. Hoping for some Hazel harvesting over the holiday too, good excuse to get out of the house and have a pint with some chums.
I've done some more to the shooting machine including a minor modification to allow more room for a movable trigger mechanism that slides back, automatically releasing at the desired draw length. The plan is to have about 22" minimum draw, with the string and arrow hooked onto the release mechanism at that distance. The mechanism is then pulled back by handles (or rope?) and it releases at the pre-set draw length.
You can see in the pic, I've mounted a bow in it and it looks good.
I'm now working on a prototype trigger mechanism just made out of plywood to prove the geometry and concept. It should be strong enough to shoot my lighter weight bows. The"bent" (the face where the trigger sear bears) is formed by inserting a bit of hacksaw blade into a slot cut into the plywood. The nails are just for reinforcement and the excess will be cut off.
In the actual final part will be rivets through the aluminium and steel assembly.
Just realized I've made a bit of a schoolboy error! the release mechanism has to be above the grip for the bow! But that's the joy of working with wood, just glue another length along the top, saw a bit off here, bish, bash, bosh, job's a good 'un!
Andy, the guy for whom I'd shortened the bow collected it this morning and was very pleased with it, we had a quick try out and he could feel the extra draw weight. We also shot the Chinese repeater and another couple of bows.
I've done some more heat work on the tricky Yew stave and it's beginning to look more like a bow, it's been a bit of a pain, but it will hopefully be a handsome bow eventually. Here's a pic of it at about 65# at 24" so it's coming along.
I took some video to show what I'd done:- https://youtu.be/8-Fk_YIYew4
The deflex dip just right of the grip makes it look weak there and the left limb is stiffer than it appears, as it has some natural deflex near the tip. There's a bit of a kink 2/3 of the way along the righ limb... other than that it's ramrod straight ;-)
I got the re-work job finished on the Adrian Hayes Boo backed Ipe bow, I even found some polyurethane varnish to touch up where the tips had been re-worked. It looks very much in keeping with the original and is now 54# at 26"
I then got back to the English Yew stave which is rather S shaped, I've got it down to somewhere near draw weight but the tiller looks awful due to the shape of the stave. I've taken out some of the deflex and a hint of the reflex, and a bit more of the deflex and then some twist in one limb that was in
danger of giving no heart wood on one side and no sapwood on t'other. I'm now taking out even more of the deflex. The corrections get easier as each time there is less wood to bend as the bow has been worked down a tad. It often takes a few goes to get it right and the bow can settle a fair bit after being bent too. It's looking good but now has a bit of sideways bend ...beginning to get a tad irritating now, but patience is a virtue and I've clamped it up and done some dry heat near the grip with it pulled sideways by about an inch. The back was covered in masking tape to help keep the heat off the sapwood. I'll give it a few hours to cool down and have a look, some of the bend will spring out, if I've overdone it a little gentle heat will relax it back. It's tricky to get heat bends right especially when it's just half an inch over the length of a limb, all pretty subtle. I want to leave some of the character, but I also don't want it to look off kilter.
At the weekend shoot there was a guy I'd made a bow for earlier in the year, I didn't recognise him at first due to his hat, but the bow seemed familiar. Once we got chatting it all flooded back, the bow has some character a bit like this one and is from spliced English Yew billets. The moor I saw of it the better it looked !
I've started on another project, a shooting machine for testing flight bows and arrows. I'm basing it roughly on Clarence N Hickman's shooting machine (pictured). I've got the bottom part done, but it's only really a prototype out of scrap timber to get an idea of how I'll build the final thing. Not sure if it will stand up to shooting a warbow.
I sometimes get people asking if I have plans for stuff, but I rarely draw plans... I can visualize things to a point, but I soon find that I need to work in three dimensions to see and feel how things go together. This part of the machine virtually designed itself once I'd hinged the first two bits together, but to try an draw it on paper or hold it all in my head was almost impossible.
There's still a lot to do and I may have the bow mounted either horizontally or canted at a bit of an angle. The trigger mechanism isn't a problem, but I'll try and make it simulate the archers fingers. I think a good firm but flexible mount for the bow may be one of the surprisingly tricky bits.
I'm in no rush with this and it's a fun fill in project which could provide some interesting insights into making better flight arrows for next years forays into flight shooting.
I went to the ILAA Windsor Great Park shoot on Sunday with my mate JT in his new(ish) Landrover. mmmm warm seats, nice.
We were lucky with the weather but I stupidly wore my Summer boots which are "water resistant" and we all know that means they are about as good as a sieve. There was a good turn out and much passing of hip flasks, great to meet up with everyone and I even managed a handful of scoring shots. I'd taken 5# off my Hickory backed Yew bow to make it more manageable, I was drawing 28" all day, but took it out to 32" for the flight shot at the end with a new arrow that I'd made the day before and it produced a creditable distance, up hill in damp conditions (about 250 yards).
One of the guys there was talking over his Adrian Hayes bow and saying that he is drawing shorter now due to injury and could do with a bit more poundage. It's an interesting looking bow, lovely and narrow with a Bamboo back Ipe belly and some other wood in the core. It's lovely and slim, as I've not worked Ipe before I offered to take an inch off each tip which should give him another 5# without over stressing the bow as it's now being drawn shorter.
I bought the bow home and took a quick bit of video to see what it's doing at present.
The right limb looks maybe a tiny hint weak and it's drawing about 50# at 28" and about 45 at 26.5"
Of course it's hard to measure that accurately due to parallax errors etc, but at least I've got the "before" shot... Just realised, I hadn't adjusted the rule to allow for the slightly thinner bow, but the odd 1/4" isn't going to make much difference.
I'll take an inch off each end, put on temporary knocks and see how it looks before re-nocking it. Update:-
I've cut about an inch of each limb and glued on temporary nocks, the string has been threaded through my magic string adjusting ring to shorten it and I've had it on the tiller, it's about 53# at 26" now! So I'll have another look later to double check the tiller and measure limb lengths and then fit the nocks, I may bring the actual nock grooves in another 1/4" on each limb, but I don't want to over do it.
Meanwhile I'll also be working the Yew stave to see if it needs a bit more steam correction.
My replacement camera arrived this afternoon, very clean and it tests out fine. The old one had a small scratch on the lens when I got it off E-bay, this one is perfect, and now I have 3 batteries. there was no software disc with it, but of course I have the software on the PC from the camera. Result!
Dunno if I'm allowed to use it until Christmas tho' as it counts as part of my pressie from my better half.
I've started on the English yew ELB, looking for 63# @28" it's rather waggly and first time on the tiller it looked just too weird with a deflex region looking like it was doing all the bending, a bit of an optical illusion I think. Anyhow I resolved to steam out some of the deflex to make it more manageable. The difference is quite subtle but if you click between the two pics you should be able to see it. In the bottom pic (after) the left tip is about an inch further up. Before the steam bending I could put the tips on the floor (back uppermost) and get two or three fingers under the grip, but now I can't.
I was thinking of a new camera for Cristmas, but I found one on E-bay, the same model as the one which I messed up only £40, that's the great advantage of buying the old models, you get good value for money and at that price if it gets full of Yew dust again it's not the end of the world.
I was chatting to my brother about the camera and we wondered how the dust gets in... then it dawned on us. As the lens telescopes outwards, it will be drawing in the surrounding air acting like a bellows as it comes in and out! If I have the same problem again I'll make up a jig to hold the centre section of the lens firmly so that I can replace the outer one without pushing the assembly back in on itself and screwing it up.
I'm also re-working one of my longbows, a Hickory backed Yew, it's the only one I have that's tillered out to 32" and it's a bit of a handful for a long days shooting in cold weather. I'm hoping to go to the ILAA roving marks shoot in Windsor Great Park on Sunday, so I'm working the bow down from 60# at 28" to about 55# that should be more comfortable and if I warm up I can take it back to 32". Most of the work is rounding the back some more and reducing the width. There are a couple of pinches on the belly so I'm leaving those areas alone. Hopefully with the narrowed tips it should still be pretty quick. Many backed bows have backs that are horribly flat and square cornered and a bit of rounding can improve the look and comfort in the hand greatly, without jeopardising the performance.