Posted by: vikingsinspace | September 3, 2009

II.06. Learn Archery

Date accomplished: Summer 2003?



When I began studying for a degree in history, I took an early interest in Medieval history.  My second medieval history course was on medieval England, and a portion was spent on the Hundred Years War.  Three of the most pivitol battles of the Hundred Years War were the battle of Crecy and Poitiers during Edward III’s reign, and then a huge victory at the Battle of Agincourt much later in 1415.  Each of these battles were won by an unconventional method (at the time) of using large numbers of archers, specifically longbowmen.  I remember thinking how interesting it was that it was essentially the peasants, the archers, who were able to overcome the better equipped nobility that the French used in battle, and thought that this was something I would like to try.

There were a couple of archery shops in my home town, and I was eventually able to find a used recurve bow and some aluminum arrows to give this sport a chance.  I knew I didn’t want to use a compound bow (those are the modern looking bows with crazy wheels and strings going everywhere): this wasn’t about hunting, but historical curiosity.  My first bow was only had 32 pounds of pull, so it was a very weak bow, but good to start with.  I eventually caught the archery bug, and wanted to do more with it.

Yew Bow

Yew Bow

For christmas one year (I forget which), my father managed to get me a hand-made yew longbow.  Yew was the wood of choice for medieval English longbows: the heart wood (inside) easily compresses, whereas the spring wood (outside) is very flexible.  This bow had a 50 pound pull, so a good upgrade from my recurve, but very shy of the 100 pound pull that Medieval longbowmen used.  But that was okay: the medieval archer would train from boyhood to pull a bow that heavy, and they often had disfigured shoulders from this work.  I would often practice with my bow at the local football field when it wasn’t in use, but I could rarely hit the target from the full 100 yards (still fun to try though…).  

Perhaps some day I will try a higher draw and work my way up to that 100 pound draw used in the middle ages (I have a good friend with an ash bow that pulls at 75 pounds – it is damn near impossible to string…), but that will have to wait until I go back to the U.S.  Right now, my archery aspirations are on hold, but I think I can safely say that I have accomplished the goal of learning the sport of archery.



  1. […] II.06. __ Learn archery […]

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