Heritage Longbow Group Test
We figured it was time to re-visit Heritage longbows and see how things have been progressing, we get a lot of feedback at archers review and we have been hearing good things about Heritage bows. We asked if we could be updated with the full line up of of bows with regard to several different disciplines including bows specifically designed for field shooting and target archers. What we didn't expect was that we would receive a very large package containing 5 bows… each bow had been made with a different choice of wood to complement not only it's required draw weight but the use to which it would be put, the draw length of the archer concerned and style of shooting an archer might be leaning toward. The idea was to showcase some of the options available.
With such a wonderful selection of bows to test and shoot we set aside a whole day from early morning to late in the evening, there is only one way to do this and that is sensibly, slowly and methodically – which is probably why the first 2 hours disappeared before we knew what was happening as we shot each bow in turn and swapped them back and forth between myself and Andy and discussed the relative merits of each bow and the feel we got with the different wood combinations… not exactly methodical or under controlled circumstances – had we been scientists we might have been more organised in our initial examination… the truth is we are both far too passionate about archery to stop ourselves from returning again and again to each bow to shoot it whilst concentrating on one particular aspect of the shot it delivered…
However after the first rush of shooting we were able to calm down and take a better look at each bow having shot it a little. The first one we looked at was a Hickory backed bow with a Purpleheart core and a Lemonwood belly, it drew 28#@28".
It's a pretty looking bow, made more so by the new style finish Lee is putting on the bows, he is still offering a waxed wood finish but the beauty of a varnished finish ( apart from the fact that is all shiny ) is that it requires virtually no maintenance. I actually really liked this little bow which would be suitable for an older person or a girl who was unable to draw a heavy weight, I was shooting arrows that were a little on the heavy side for such a lightweight bow however we had the perfect tester available…. Caroline shoots a bow at around 30# so the 28# offered here would suit her well, also we used some arrows that were a much better match. With a wood 5/16" arrow weighing 328grn Caroline was able to achieve a speed of 144fps at her draw of just 26"… that's a very creditable speed for just 25# at her draw, we are talking about 13 grn per pound which makes this a cracking little bow and would allow those with shorter draws and not enough strength for a heavier bow the opportunity to compete with archers using much heavier kit, the trajectory offered at this speed was nice and flat for a sensible distance, you won't be taking down any Elk with it but there would be no reason not to be in the medals at a 3D shoot. If you were using this for target archery I would seriously consider a tapered 5/16" arrow in POC or Spruce (tapered down to 9/32" or even 1/4"), however there would be a strong case for using 9/32" tapered to 1/4". I am not a fan of 1/4" shaft, even for target shooting but if you have to shoot a light weight bow then something like this is going to give you a good chance of finding a nice POA at even Hereford distances.
All in all a truly remarkable little bow.
Next up a smart looking 46#@28" Bamboo backed Tri-laminate bow witha Bubinga belly and a core wood I have never seen before… Coconut, I say smart looking but it was in fact the first bow everyone went to , the coconut wood is more than striking….
We noticed with all the bows that we were sent that the centre Lams were tapered… big thumbs up for this as it shows the care and trouble a good bowyer will go to. This was supplied with a fast flight string and was as sweet as you please to draw, something which we commented on several times throughout the testing session was the smoothness of the shot with all the bows, Hand shock and ELB's go together like strawberries and cream.. at least they used to.. many of the top bowyers are now offering bows with very little hand shock at all and Heritage bows are known for this, interestingly the tiller on a heritage bow is different to almost every other Longbow I have come across.. the handle is placed such that the arrow is shot from the dead centre of the bow, this has the effect of making the lower limb shorter than the top limb and being so different from what you expect to see that it appears odd. There is nothing odd about the smooth shot though and Lee reckons it is down to his unique tiller.. I can't disagree, but what I can say is that you can't feel any shock… and that can only be a good thing..check out the tiller shots below of the purple heart bow..
Back to the coconut lam bow…..It's super skinny it's in the style of the curent fashion with as much mass taken from the limbs as a bowyer dares. This is a bow that wanted to hit the spot as much as you do and we found it very accurate to shoot. In the speed test we shot a POC arrow with a weight of 395 grns —- ( approx 8.59 grns per # ) at 154fps. When we switched up to a heavier arrow of 450 grains there was hardly any penalty and we managed 151fps —- ( approx 9.78 grns per # ). Due to the consistency that this bow shot it's the sort of bow you want in the woods when looking for those pro-kills.. We had with us a little High Speed camera which will take 1200 frames per second… check this out… you can see the beautiful tiller and the lack of handshock which manifests itself with very little movement and vibration after the shot..
Happily I had arrows available to suit each bow, as some were thicker at the pass than others even though the poundages were similar on a couple they would require a different arrow.. As you can see a bow with a large displacement from center is no bar to having an arrow fly true and clean… provided you have the right arrow and the bow is set up correctly..
The next bow looked promising.. a 47#@28" Ash back with Maple core and Bamboo belly, fetching green leather handle, I should mention that the leather handles were beautifully stitched as you can see in the group photo..very nice feel to this bow not a hint of stacking and the draw was smooth all the way out to my 28"
Maple is a particular favourite wood of mine, it's so clean with a wonderful fine grain, I like working with it too as it cuts and sands very smoothly, I was also interested to see what bamboo as a belly might be like as so often we see it as a backing. Once again the trademark Heritage nocks keep the tips fine and light…
This bow was for me a delight and I found myself taking a very light grip and also a slightly higher grip than I would normally use on a longbow, most times I need to keep a good grip on the bow, however I was tempted by the sweet shot to take a more relaxed grip and hand position which afforded me some nice fine control. When we ran this one by the chrono the 450 grain arrow ( 9.57 grs per # ) delivered 150fps and the 395 grn arrow ( 8.40 grains per #) showed us 154fps… as with all of these bows again we were surprised to note that a heavier arrow wasn't being punished in the speed department, overall I would much rather shoot with a heavier arrow than a light one especially with a Longbow ….here is a little more of the high speed film…
40#@28" Maple back – Actionboo core – Lemon wood belly, now here surely was the classic made in heaven match, this time the bamboo is in the core, the choice of the traditional lemon wood belly and the close grain Maple on the back had us both anticipating something special..
We were not to be disappointed, in fact this proved to be so popular with Andy that he shot both target and 3D with this one and I had a hard job getting a look in, when I did it was to test it on the chrono and for a 40# bow she spits them out with real authority. an arrow of 395 grns ( 9.87grns per # ) will fly out at 151 fps and a 450grn arrow ( 11.25grn per # ) will produce a speed of 147fps. Although out gunned by the bigger bows by some 6 to 7# this bow had no trouble keeping up. Both smooth to draw and smooth to shoot this little bow exhibited very nice manners in the hand- here is Andy on the HS camera…
Finally with the light fading not to mention our arms hanging off after shooting all day it was time to bring out the big 'un a 100# bow made from Ash with a Purplheart core and a Bubinga belly, no handle for this one just a massive great stick and some equally whopping great arrow, for us at least these sorts of big bows are a chance to just have some fun, I wouldn't even attempt to shoot target with one of these and our 3Ds wouldn't last too long once they had been skewered a few times with a 23/64" shaft with great modbods on the front, probably just as well because by now I was having real difficulty getting even close to a full draw… time to draft in Geoff Potter( a bit of a monster himself) …
So… just a man, his bow and a flattering sunset saw Geoff blasting arrows into the heavens and having a rip roaring time with a proper mans bow, for me the bow was big and chunky, sadly on this occasion I was unable to do it justice, Geoff however reported that the power kept coming, nice and evenly, no rough spots or stacking and far less handshock than you might expect at 100# of draw. these big bows look great and there is something very special about sending an arrow huge distances…
Thanks go out to Bob Sage for the loan of the high speed camera and his help… cheers mate.. !
All in all an incredibly satisfying day, once again Lee has demonstrated his skill at making bows that are actually nice to shoot, have excellent manners and can still punch out arrows at top speeds, there are many commercially made flatbows out there that would be envious of the speeds these Longbows achieved… especially that little 40#'er..
Features & Design
Lees' approach is that he makes bows he wants to shoot, as one of the countrys top target shooters you have to respect his skill at making bows that shoot consistantly well. His designs work and with a huge choice of woods at his disposal he is not afraid to experiment.
Stable, consistant and fast, my favourite feature however is the smooth shot that Heritage bows are known for.
Value for Money
Lee will make you what you want and costs will be comensurate with the wood choice and number of laminates, there are other factors too but you need to call lee and chat it through… prices start at £175
As with all custom bows you should talk to the bowyer, let him know what you are looking for in a bow, some folk prize speed above all else, others will want a smooth shooting bow, Lee prefers to make abow that will fit the bill for your style of shootin. We shot all these bows and although each was differentI would have no problem shooting with any of them.