Reviewed By Steve , 1 December 2010
"Haaaaaaahhhmmm" - That folks is the sound of a deep in take of breath, it's the sound you will make when you first see one of Chris Boytons High Performance Longbows, the sound you make when you first shoot one is more of a "Gaaaaaaassssppp!"
Ok lets cut through all the dramatics and take a closer look at this bow, at over 70" it isn't any different from any other longbow in length, that however is where the similarities stop... this bow is 13/16ths of an inch wide at the arrow pass. To put that in to some kind of perspective it is just over twice the width of an 11/32nd arrow shaft, this is the thinnest bow I have ever shot, how it ever draws 45# on my scales is a mystery that bears greater scrutiny.
It has 3 laminations of Ipe (or Ironwood ) and is backed with Tonkin cane, not the bamboo that can be found at any garden centre but proper, real Tonkin cane, a completely different animal. The two centre lams have such fine glue lines I had to stand in direct sun with the camera set to macro to even pick them up and when I did manage to follow them up the length of the bow I found them both to be tapered. The bow has been glued up to have a slight set back which can be seen at the handle, this is done with out a former as each bow Chris makes is an individual and has to be handled according to it's own characteristics so the built in pre stress has to be done during the glue up stage but essentially freehand, tying it up quickly but accurately before the glue can go off.
With a brace of around 5 1/2" to 6 ", the slimness belies the power stored in the fine limbs and as the draw is started the power is instantly available, my draw is 28" and there was no hint of it stacking as the power comes fast and smoothly all the way out, what happens on release is again a different experience to what you expect. In terms of shock a Longbow can either buck ferociously or be more mild mannered but there is always some kind of handshock, this bow is as close to "no handshock" as an English longbow is ever likely to get, I shoot nowadays mostly high performance American Longbows or recurves so am used to a much more sedate shooting experience, this bow shoots with a sweetness you would expect from a hybrid reflex/deflex bow made with modern materials, yet it is an all natural stick with a string.
This bow is effectively cut 3/8ths before centre.... that is utterly BONKERS.. I have flatbows and even Recurves with a greater displacement from centre yet this bow is a straight up and down wooden Longbow, getting an arrow to shoot straight from this bow is not an issue at all, you will be able to shoot a huge range in terms of spine ( huge, certainly by ELB standards)
Initially I felt a little self conscious shooting a bow which was only just thicker than my arrows and considerably thinner than my thumb, I imagined it would feel very light and toy like, it's true that the bow is light but this lightness is not reflected in the actual shooting. The bow feels solid in the shot which sounds bizarre especially as the bow weighs mere ounces, but a short session with it will soon disabuse you of the notion that this is anything other than a seriously high performance piece of kit - you could call it low tech, as the basic design of an English Longbow has been around for at least a millennium but what Chris Boyton has managed to do is use a combination of woods and his considerable skill to tailor a bow to todays archer. For the target shooter you want stability and consistency coupled with the speed to tackle a Hereford or York without having to "reach for the sky", the field archer will be looking for a flat shooting bow that can be canted or shot straight but that will deliver the arrow right where you look, it will be no surprise to find archers at the top of each of those disciplines using Boyton bows.
Everything about this bow has an air of quality, the feel, the finish, the fabulously curved Ox horn nocks and the fact the bow bends right through it's length and when unstrung goes back to it's naturally deflexed state whilst at rest. With such a small volume of wood actually in the bow the shape size and orientation of each of these 4 laminates must be crucial - I say must be as I am sure Chris won't be publishing detailed instructions on how to build one of these... and even then if you managed to clone the recipe you would have to replicate the tillering process which allows the bow to retain so much of it's energy.
We haven't even discussed speed yet, but by now I guess you know what's coming - oh yes it is fast445gn 9.88gn/# 165fps
You have to remember this is a wood bow which draws just 45#. To bring all the factors of speed/handshock and to create a very spine tolerant bow which does all this and shoots impeccably is more than just a skill, years ago folk with these sorts of abilities were generally burnt at the stake, nowadays fortunately we have National Geographic and the History channel which is often where you will see Chris demonstrating his knowledge or advising their researchers.
|Features & Design|
|It is a Longbow - it conforms to the accepted definition of one and it looks like one, all the features and design tweaks can't be seen - you see.... it's all in the tiller.|
|.............in every way, fast, stable and a joy to shoot |
|Value for Money|
|This is a very personal valuation but for this lifelong fan of the English Longbow, the history behind it and everything it stands for, this bow represents the peak of the bowyers art for a bow designed with the target or 3D shooter in mind, if you can even get one of these the value will be self evident |
|I like to drive cars but the the truth is I can't afford a Ferrari so I drive either my Toyota Hilux or my wifes Ford Fiesta - if you are an archer and like to shoot English Longbows...... you could afford one of these..............|
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Chris Boyton High Performance Longbow
Which is the arrow and which the bow ?
Tonkin cane with the nodes just gently smoothed over - Chris tells me that Tonkin has less pronounced nodes than the "garden" variety.
Beautiful Mother of Pearl arrow pass.
Ox horn nock
Classic Boyton nock
No matter how many times I see this bow with an arrow it still makes me smile.
We take a tour the length and breadth of the British mainland to visit Scotland with Border Bows, Yorkshire with Aidy Hayes, the Wirral with Jason from thelongbowshop.com, down South with the Company of Canterbury Longbowman, and Geoff is in Spain.
A list of other Bow ReviewsNick Toy Classic Longbow 64#@30"