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How to Build an Ash Longbow

Updated July 19, 2017

A longbow is a type of bow used in archery. Longbows are generally larger than other types of bows, usually either the height of the archer for children's bows, or around 6 feet for an adult, full-sized bow. Longbows can be carved from any type of wood, but a supple wood is preferred. Hardwoods, like ash, can be used to make a bow for a short lifespan, but the bow will soon need to be replaced as it dries and loses its spring.

Cut an ash staff from a live ash tree 6 feet in length and at least 2 inches wide in the centre. Remove any branches and knots from the outside of the staff. Supple woods like yew can be seasoned to make a longer-lasting bow. Ash is a hardwood and, if seasoned, will not be supple enough to make a good bow.

Mark a handle area on the centre of the staff large enough to be held with two hands. Shape the bow by carving away the wood above and below the handle area, tapering the staff to 1 1/2 inches in diameter at the ends. Remove any remaining rough ash bark. Cut notches half an inch from each end to attach a bowstring. Polish the bow with oil or animal fat to seal in moisture.

Tie the bowstring to the staff by wrapping it around the notched area once and securing the line with two half hitches. The string should only be under slight tension. The main tension should only be added when the bow is pulled back to shoot. Since the ash staff is unseasoned, untie one end of the bowstring when the bow is not in use to relax the tension on the staff.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Oil or animal fat
  • Bowstring
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About the Author

Michael Belcher has been a public relations professional since 2008 working for university groups and volunteer groups. He has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Murray State University and is in Dublin, Ireland to finish a Master of Science in mass communications.