You can usually identify a longbow by its height which is often as tall as the shooter. This enables the individual who is shooting to have a long draw, approximately to the jaw. The limbs on a longbow are narrow, and D-shaped or circular in cross section. If you look at it, the bow looks like a capital “D.” Longbows are typically made from wood like wych elm or yew. Wooden bows have to be treated carefully and cannot be exposed to excessive dryness or dampness. They have been used in many cultures for warfare and hunting. The English and Welsh were known for using powerful longbows against the French in the Hundred Years’ War and in civil wars. The last documentation of longbow use for warfare was in World War II by British Lt. Col. Jack Churchill, who used it to kill a German soldier.
When shooting a traditional longbow, the stance is relaxed, knees unhinged with a slight crouch. The shooter should also bend into it. The arm is slightly cocked at the elbow, instead of the bow arm being straight out. The anchor point is at or near the jaw or corner or the mouth. Shooters rely more on instinct since in most cases sights are not used. Longbows are known to be quiet and efficient, as well as light. If you can master this type of bow, you can shoot from whatever position you choose, even on your stomach.
Top Longbows on the Market in 2017
Below are reviews of the highest ranking longbows on the market today:
#1: Bear AFT2040145 Montana Long Bow Review
This longbow designed by Bear Archery, is 64”, smooth and quick. It was designed by Grant Neil Byce II, a bowyer who was with the Fred Bear company for a very long time. The Montana was first introduced in the late 90s. It has a slightly reflexed design, with tapered limb lamination. The limbs are gracefully designed, faced and backed with high-strength black fiberglass. Reinforced limb tips are handcrafted, and layered with black and white fiberglass to give the archer a strong draw. The black Hard-Rock maple riser has limbs overlaid with clear white maple. A standard soft leather grip and FastFlight strings come with this long bow. The Montana is famous for its clean and classic form.
The Montana Longbow is designed with Futurewood. Futurewood was first introduced in the 1970s by Fred Bear and was re-introduced in the Bear line due to high demand from customers in 2013. This wood is similar to natural hardwoods used on the early 1970s bows. Wood in the handle section takes on totally new physical properties during the manufacturing process. All of the natural pores in the wood are filled with a pressurized vacuum which increases the bow’s weight, and makes it stronger. It is then baked and the handle becomes what is called Futurewood. Futurewood is almost impossible to crack or warp, and the beauty of the natural wood and grain remains intact, making the Montana a strong, durable bow.
#2: Martin Archery Savannah Stealth Longbow Review
The Savannah Stealth Longbow is cloaked in varying shades of dark woods and accents. It has a dark silver reinforced Bubinga riser which is accented with zebrawood. Both limbs are also laminated with a Bubinga core and covered all the way down to the reinforced limb tips, with zebrawood. This is topped with clear glass and tip overlays of black fiberglass. Brace height on this longbow is 6.5” – 7.5”; draw weight is 40 – 65 pounds. The Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization (AMO) string length is 62”, and the bow weight is approximately 1 pound, 7 ounces.
Included with the Savannah Stealth are a traditional rest, bow sock, and Flemish bowstring. Its reflex deflex design can hold energy without resulting in hand shock that comes from other longbow models. Just like the name, Savannah Stealth is silent and smooth. It is a sleek bow that will easily blend into the shadows. These bows are not manufactured in mass, but handcrafted, and you can tell. It is a combination of high performance and beauty. This longbow can also be purchased as a package which includes a rest, quiver, arrows, field points, glove or tab, arm guard, and other accessories.
#3: October Mountain Products Ozark Hunter 68 inch Longbow Review
Combining high performance with a smooth draw, this longbow features a sleek handle and limb design that decreases hand shock for the shooter. The multi-laminate handle has a built-in arrow shelf.
Measuring 68” from tip to tip, this longbow is made from hard maple, purple heart and walnut hardwoods. The Ozark Hunter features multi-laminate black fiberglass limbs with reinforced limb tips, and is available in 45 or 50 pound draw weights. It also comes with a Dacron bowstring, and is FastFlight string compatible. The recommended brace height is 6 ½ to 7 ½ “.
Multi-laminated bows means the stave of the bow is formed by laminating different materials together. This process enables material to be used that is strong in compression on the belly of the bow, and material that is strong in tension on the back of the bow. The lamination makes it possible to put a strong backing onto the wood. Purpleheart is an exotic wood found mostly in Central and South America. It is very resistant to fungi and dry-wood termites. Purpleheart has high-bending and crushing strength and stiffness with medium resistance to shock loads. This wood combined with hard maple and walnut makes for a strong, high-performing longbow.
#4: Mountain Man Sierra Longbow Review
One of the best features of the Mountain Man Sierra longbow is its beautifully crafted elegant design. It is made from Walnut woods and Hard Maple with a custom finish. Hard Maple is also known as Rock Maple and it makes for a solid bow. So, don’t let the elegance of the bow fool you; this is still a powerful bow. The limbs are made of clear fiberglass, with reinforced limb tips. This bow was designed to combine a smooth draw with high performance.
The Sierra has a brace height of 6 ½ – 7 ½ inches and is 68 inches in length. Draw weight is from 40 to 60 pounds and the bow can be used by a left or right-handed shooter. A Dacron string is also included with the bow. The Sierra is Fast Flight string compatible. Fast flight string tends to be faster and transfers more energy to the arrow. It also does not stretch once it is settled in.
How Longbows are Made
Longbows are often made by gluing different types of wood together. This enables use of various properties of different woods. Some woods are better at withstanding tension, while other woods are better at withstanding compression. Utilizing them together will yield the best of both. Examples of woods that are used together are bamboo and yew, and hickory and lemonwood. Bamboo or hickory is used on the part of the bow that is facing away from the shooter, which is known as the back. The part of the bow facing the shooter, also called the belly, is typically made from yew or lemonwood.
Today other materials are used to make longbows, like carbon and fiberglass. Although there is some advantage to this, many archers still prefer traditional longbows.
Featured image credit: Jim Wrigley Photography@flickr