Roy King Self Yew Traditional English Longbow 65#@28"

Reviewed By Steve

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For an Englishman the sight and feel of a superb piece of Yew worked to perfection by a master conjures up all the history,heritage and heroism that throughout history defined the English Longbowman.

I learned recently that possibly the finest bowyer of the modern age passed away a short time ago before Christmas - Roy Kings' name will be forever associated with the Mary Rose and the Mary Rose trust for whom along with Robert Hardy he was chief advisor. He was renown for the replica bows he produced, I count myself fortunate to own and have shot one of his incredible Self Yew bows.

Roy-King-ELB-1My review is of my first self yew Traditional English Longbow, It took me 3 years to prize this from the hands of the fellow who had owned it originally, eventually my constant harassment wore him down, well, that and the fact that the bow developed a small crack at the join in the handle, the bow was given to Russell French, bespoke bowyer, who repaired the crack, made a very handsome leather grip for it and placed a rather ugly "bandage" around the wood just below the handle, he assured me it would not affect the performance and would ensure the crack had nowhere to go should it re appear.

Longbow men will eulogise about the merits of Yew and the pure joy of shooting a well crafted Self Yew bow, and not without good reason, I have always found a good one will tend to draw 10# lighter but shoot 10# heavier than its marked weight. This stunning specimen is no exception, you don't often see such straight and tight grain, the workmanship is exemplary and the bow is a delight to hold.

Picking up a Yew bow is always a surprise, the bulk fools you into expecting something heavier, but it's weight and delicacy belie the power lurking within.


A word of warning, should you ever be fortunate enough to come in to the possession Roy-King-ELBof such an outstanding bow it should never be left unsupervised, despite the taboo associated with touching another mans' bow without first asking permission there will always be some halfwit who, overcome by it's dazzling beauty will pick it up and God forbid even attempt to string it - I mention this because that's exactly what happened to this bow just a little while ago - A fool of an archer decided to take a closer look and attempted to string the bow, he succeeded in stamping on the lower horn nock and snapping it entirely - we shall leave the tale now, as it gets ugly from here, suffice to say no friends were made.

I wanted to do the chrono test at the same time as this review but that will have to wait until the nock is repaired. However I can tell you how she shoots. Longbows and hand shock go together like strawberries and cream if there was none it just wouldn't feel right, this bow does produce some shock but not as much as some, on the kicked by a horse scale it would rate as 5/10, however this will subside quite considerably when a proper heavy arrow is used.

Roy-King-ELB

In length it is 74" and there is nothing like the chunkiness of a Yew handle. the string is 16 strands of Dacron although I think I should make a linen one which would look  just right with this bow.

Roy-King-ELBI can appreciate the form, shape and lines of a modern bow but there is nothing like a hand crafted Longbow from a piece of fine Yew, not just the beauty of the natural wood nor the curves and smooth lines that a skilled bowyer can tease from the stave, the bow must have life and work with the archer, of all bows, for me, the English Longbow is not just a weapon but a work of art too. despite the broken nock and the ugly bandage the life that Roy breathed into this bow still glows from the wood and just the touch of it inspires awe - What a beauty...

In all probability you will never now get your hands on a genuine Roy King Yew Longbow, so the review is possibly less relevant than most of the others, however in honour of one of the greatest Longbow makers I have ever come across it is only right that his bow takes its rightful place on these pages.

What of the bow?
The bow was made in England:
Of true wood, of yew wood,
The wood of English bows;
So men who are free
Love the old yew tree
And the land where the yew tree grows.

What of the cord?
The cord was made in England:
A rough cord, a tough cord,
A cord that bowmen love;
So we'll drain our jacks
To the English flax
And the land where the hemp was wove.

What of the shaft?
The shaft was cut in England:
A long shaft, a strong shaft,
Barbed and trim and true;
So we'll drink all together
To the gray goose feather
And the land where the gray goose flew.

What of the men?
The men were bred in England:
The bowman--the yeoman--
The lads of dale and fell
Here's to you--and to you;
To the hearts that are true
And the land where the true hearts dwell.


Your Comments

Tell us what you think, do you agree with the review or have something to add?


  • Posted by: William Spalding on Nov 26, 14:06

    Reading this just makes me D R O O L


  • Posted by: Mr Brian J Davies on Oct 11, 23:36

    What a brilliant read, I also have been making Long Bows for many years and also shepherds crooks and walking sticks. Working with wood is my favourite pass time. Your history content is a superb piece of work, I am working nights sat in my office reading your site. Just brilliant. Thank you for all the info, You are a man of great talent. Regards,. Brian.


  • Posted by: Ferno on Oct 24, 20:38

    Wow, I have a Roy king selfyew longbow 70 plus inchs, didn’t realise how special it was. we have it above the mirror in the main room, just a lovely thing to look at.
    Are you serious on the priceless value??


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