When I was a child, somewhere around 3rd grade, my avid-outdoors-man stepfather managed to get something right and brought me home a child’s archery set – a lightweight fiberglass bow, a handful of arrows and a hay bale. I got pretty good at it, but it was yet another hobby that I fell out of practice in and it went by the wayside.
Some time ago, the leader of our SCA household expressed a desire for the whole household to get more involved in the SCA events that we went to, and archery was brought up as something several of us could pick up. When my daughter mentioned that she would like to do an archery camp of some sort this summer break, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to get back into that game as well.
After several trips to various on-line and physical archery shops, we’ve acquired the requisite gear. For my daughter, I went with a modern take-down wood recurve bow. The junior leagues aren’t that picky about what they shoot (so long as it isn’t a compound bow), so I figured it might be better for her to get a solid start with semi-modern gear and then move into the period stuff. We shot several before she decided upon a draw weight that felt right to her, and then she topped it off with a dozen purple-fletched arrows.
For myself, I found a good deal on woodbows.com and got myself a nice linen-backed Red Oak longbow, and spent a couple hours putting together the shooting kit I need. Longbows shoot off the knuckle, so I need protection for the left hand and the right fingers, plus an arm guard. The quiver will come later.
Having put all that together, I took it out today and spent a couple hours flinging arrows theoretically at a target; reality was more of “shoot at the wall and try hopelessly to hit the target”. English longbows, it seems take quite a lot of tuning in and getting used to. The string, for instance, will stretch a lot – I had to twist it up shorter twice during the session, and that has probably got the knock point a bit off by this point. Which doesn’t matter quite so much, because I’ll be pulling that off to “serve” the string. (“Serving” is the process of wrapping the bowstring in a different type of string at the point where you pull it.)
Still, I think I did make some progress today – or at least, I really hope I did, considering the chunk of skin I scraped off my finger and the three arrows that broke in the process. (The tips decided to stay in the target when the shafts came free.)
Stay tuned for further developments.