10 Minutes With Chris Boyton
Chris Boyton of Boyton Archery took some time out to talk to us and if you own one of Chris' Ipe Longbows you will know why he is such a revered authority on Longbows and their history, not just bows though, Chris produces superb pine shafting too..
1. How long have you been involved in Archery and how did you get started?
I've been fascinated all my life with projectile throwing weapons, but archery started properly for me in 1974 I met the the late Tony Harris of the Medieval society, who supplied me with a fine Ullrich yew stave, with which I then made my first self yew English longbow.
Having now made this bow, I then had to learn how to shoot it, as at that point, I had never shot a real bow, only stick bows as a kid.
2. When did you make your first bow and what was the result?
As I said in question 1, my first bow was made in 1974, and it came out 45 lbs @ 28". When the bow was finished, it had stiff tips, and a stiff middle, giving short working limbs, which followed the string, giving the new bow a tired and worn out look. I endeavored to improve on this, and bent the bow on the floor until at 90 degrees the lower limb broke. It says something about the quality of those old ullrich staves, being able to withstand such torture before failing.
3. What's the one tool in your workshop which you couldn't do without?
I need all the tools in my shop, but for bow making, the tool I need the most is my eyes, and given a second choice of tool, it would be closely followed by my hands.
4. What do you think the next big innovation in bow building will be ?
Being a traditional bow maker, I'm not much bothered about innovation within the craft, as I am still struggling to master the traditional aspects of bowyery, but if I was a composite bow maker, I would find it interesting trying a biocomposite material like Curran as a bow facing.
5. What materials do you enjoy using the most ?
I love working with most woods, but where bowyery is concerned defect free timber is my favourite.
6. What is it about your bows or the way you make bows that sets you apart from other bowyers ?
I would say that it's up to my customers to answer this question, as their opinions are what keep me in or out of business.
I like my longbows to be furnished with traditional horn nocks, properly proportioned, like the Victorian bows were. Only a hand full of the bowmakers out there today bother with this detail, but when done right, it makes the bow stand out from others.
7. Do you still have time to shoot ?
Now and then.
8. What’s the best shot you ever made ?
The best shot I ever made was a flight shot of 292 yards with my 34 year old Galloway target Longbow. I have shot much further distances, but with such an old bow this is good shooting.
9. How many bows do you make a year ?
I spend most of my year making arrow shafts, and only make a hand full of bows, but I like them to be made well, so I spend more time on them than is profitable, so the numbers are kept low.
10. What’s the spec on your personal bow of the moment ALSO…….What’s the spec on the arrows you shoot ?. Wood- (POC, Sitka, Pine, other ?)/Carbon/Ally, total weight, fletch size, point weight… etc the full spec.
If I am shooting in a longbow competition, I use my 1976 Galloway bow, which he made for me. It is mostly made of tapered hickory laminations, with a lamination of English yew on the belly. The draw weight is around 72lbs at 28". It has a stiff centre section, and tips, with lots of string follow, and crysals on the belly, which have been there since it was made.
The grip is covered in ray fish skin, which over the years has softened slightly, but still gives an excellent grip in all weathers.
My current roving arrows are 11/32" Boyton pine, which have a 9" taper back to 5/16th midnocks.
The fletchings are British racing green, hand cut to 6 1/2" in length, and to a height of about 3/8th of an inch. The shaftment is green marbled, with a matching cresting, and the whole arrow is laquered in a few coats of plastic coat varnish.
These arrows are tipped with 125 grain brass bullet piles.
The spine of these shafts are 55/60, and they were matched by eye for similar grain characteristics, but not weighed, as I am not that good an archer that it will matter to me.