A little bit of history

    The bow is possibly the most basic of weapons, and the longbow in particular is almost just a bent piece of wood and a length of string. But to be able to use the bow properly takes much practice, and to become a master bowman may take years.

    There is no doubt that bows were in use prehistory, though sadly due to the materials used there is no samples to be found, though it may be possible to find arrow heads. Bows in the prehistoric period would more than likely have been used for hunting and would have been smaller than the longbow of Agincourt and Crecy.

    The birth of the longbow is lost in the deep depths of history, though it is believed to have originated from Wales. The Welsh bow was slightly shorter and of a lighter poundage than the longbow was to become. Once the longbow had come into its own it was to dominate the battle field for around 300 years. The bow was used to good effect before the invention of the longbow, but the English archer, with a heavy poundage of bow was the back bone of the armies throughout the hundred years war and the wars of the roses.

    In countries where the archer either hunted or fought from horseback, the longbow was impracticable, and so they developed the shorter style of bow. These have a recurve and so if straightened out would almost have the same length as the longbow. The horse bow looks more like a modern recurve as used in the Olympics. These may have animal sinews in the limbs, and can be fun to shoot.

    Flatbows were used by Native American tribes such as the Hupa, Karok, and Wampanoag, prehistoric ancient Europeans, some Inuit tribes, Finno-Ugric nations and a number of other pre-gunpowder societies for hunting and warfare because, unlike longbows, good flatbows can be made from a wide variety of timbers. Flatbows fell from favour in Europe after the Mesolithic, replaced with yew longbows. The trade of yew wood for English longbows was such that it depleted the stocks of yew over a huge area. Flatbows are currently used by the paleolithic Sentinelese tribes of the Andaman Islands.Flatbows survived in cold areas, such as Finland, where yew does not grow naturally because of the unsuitable climate. The traditional Finnish flatbow is made either from ash, or as birch/pine laminate glued together with fish or hide glue. Yew was available as an imported material for bows in Finland, but it was considered not suitable for serious use, because it is fragile at cold temperatures and the season for hunting for furs is in January and February, when the furs are at their best.