Heritage Longbows 80#@32" Warbow
Ever since I first Spoke to Lee about his bows I had been looking forward to this ones arrival. It's been some while since I shot heavy bows in earnest but a couple of weeks ago I did attend a shoot at the Marks and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. It's an entirely different feeling when you have a big bow, some mighty arrows and the prospect of a mark some two and a half hundred yards distant.
The Bow arrived as promised and measured from string nock to string nock a full 82" long and marked at 80# draw weight. Most bows will be weighed in at the standard 28" but I was pleased to see that this one was marked at 32" as a warbow is drawn all the way to the jaw below your ear – the marking assured me that it had been tillered to take a full draw and in fact Lee had gone one better by marking it "Max 34".
Fat and chunky, just the way I like 'em. With a back of Hickory and a belly of Lemonwood the bow has a center lamination of Purpleheart. The nocks themselves are Buffalo horn and instead of the tall and ornate nocks beloved of the Victorian style these were short pointy yet rounded and moulded into the limb of the bow almost seamlessly. I was very happy to discover a second string groove to take a stringer as tall heavy bows can be the devil to string otherwise.
The bow in fact conforms to BLBS and GNAS standards as regards what constitutes a Longbow, the profile is very much "D" shaped but with no hard edges, it's smooth all the way around with the corners of the "D" nicely taken down. Many say that a Warbow should have no arrow pass and no leather handle, as far as an arrow pass goes I tend to disagree, shoot a bow without one for any length of time and you will end up with a groove in the wood, sooner or later you will have to fit something to stop wear, ( I know because I have a couple of bows I have had to do this to ) better now rather than once the wood has been worn. Once again I was impressed with the circular pass of horn which was so perfect I almost mistook it for a stick on dot !! The leather handle was stitched very nice and tight and had been turned in on itself along both the top and bottom to present a very clean and neat edge, some purists might feel that a leather handle is just too much, but I have it on good authority that there is a medieval painting of St Sebastian being martyred which has a warbow with a handle shown in it – I have not managed to trace that particular painting but to be honest I don't find the use of a leather handle at all offensive.
The finish on the bow is exceptional, I say that because of all the bows I have had only 2 others were finished with a proper Bees waxing, (and one of those I made myself) it isn't just a dab with a waxy cloth either, I am guessing it has been put on wet and warm as there is a nice thick and hard coat of wax which has been polished superbly to leave a varnish like quality finish, of course being wax it will chip if handled roughly but there is nothing like wax to protect wood and this sort of finish is far more authentic than a couple of coats of varnish,this bow has had 2 coats of sanding sealer before the application of the bees wax. It will mean that the bow will have to be regularly waxed and polished but that ever so slightly tacky feel and the beautiful finish makes that worth while indeed.
Along With Lee's signature was the name of the bow, "Leanne", at first I was somewhat taken aback that a bow with such obvious power and strong lines might be named "Leanne" and then a little amused, I got to thinking that maybe if Lee made me a bow of 120# he might name it "Margaret Philpot" or even "Edna Florence Davis" if I wasn't on hand to make sure it had a name to match it's prowess – regardless, I find that "Leanne" is a very handsome bow.
It comes with a 16 strand Fastflight string with a Flemish loop at both ends, I am funny with strings and will probably make a string with just one loop and a bowyers in the other end, that little tail sticking out finishes off a heavy bow for me.
I can see that the bow looks right but the next thing to do is string it up, love that extra string groove !! I am sure I am not the only one who gets a bow and immediately tries to guess the weight, even though this one is marked I draw it several times and decide it isn't 80#. Out with the Easton electronic scales and lo and behold it weighs in exactly where it says it would. That's twice this week I have thought a bow weighed less than it's marked weight, so either I am getting stronger or I have lost my magic " I will guess your bow weight" powers. The bow is long which allows an exceptional draw and this adds smoothness to the drawing process, the progression of weight builds nicely right out to full draw which with this bow is around 33" as that is the length of my heavy bow roving arrows, the power comes steadily and even at the very extremity of draw length gives no hint of any stacking at all, a very nice bow.
So now having inspected it, pawed over it and even had a little joke with it, it is time to do with it what it was made to do, shoot some serious arrows at some serious range. I have brought with me a number of arrows from light weight target style arrows right up to half inch poplar fitted with heavy war Bodkins,Type 10's, Type 15's and even some four fluted. This is where the fun starts, for some of these arrows 80# is in all honesty a bit lightweight, but then it's been some years since I shot the really heavy weights so it would seem that I too am "a bit lightweight", right now the bow and I are perfect companions.
Within a couple of shots I can tell this will be a wonderful bow to rove with, it's like treacle to draw, and gives a wonderful feeling that despite it being a heavy bow it will just keep coming, in fact I lost myself in the shooting and didn't notice the weight one little bit, I reckon another 10# or 20# wouldn't be noticed if it drew as sweet as this. There was of course no lack of power as the arrows sailed well over 200 yards. At the loose there was much less shock than I was expecting, in fact I had to keep shooting with that in mind because under normal conditions I didn't even notice.
I didn't bother to chrono the bow, when the weights get over 65# its' all much of a muchness as the arrows will get heavier, inevitably some bows will be faster than others as they are all different – I couldn't put my hand on my heart and say this was the fastest 80#'er I have ever shot and neither was it the slowest, it was one of the sweetest to draw and it worked throughout the length of the bow, something a Warbow really must do, in fact the tiller was very good indeed as can be seen in the photo.
We did some long range mark shooting and Andy put it through it's paces on the target and although far heavier than most bows that would be used for target work he liked it…. a lot. When used up against 3D's it was a little heavy for me as I kept wanting to use a 32" draw and shoot right through the 3 D's which made me a little less accurate than I like to be – Heavy bows do that to you, I even kept looking at my Hilux pickup and wondering how it would feel to shoot through both doors, I really should see someone about that.
Lee is quite up front regarding the fact that he has not been a lifelong archer and that he is a relative newcomer to making bows, no doubt that 25 years as a joiner working with his hands and with wood have allowed him to understand the requirements of Longbow making, but there is more to it than that. You only have to spend a short while talking to him to know that he has a passion for all things archery and that the shooting and making of Longbows is much more than a full time occupation. If the next Heritage Longbow delivers on the promises the first has made I have no qualms in saying that archers will soon be beating a path to his door, in order to make great longbows you have to love them and that shines through in his attitude and workmanship – this is a lovely bow.
Features & Design
Using top quality materials Lee has produced a smooth drawing bow with very nice low profile conical nocks and a stunning wax finish.
Delivers the punch that every ounce of the 80# promised, the satisfying thump on release leaves you smiling as the arrow enters orbit….
Value for Money
At £250 this bow offers the opportunity for someone to own a Warbow who doesn't normally shoot one and who doesn't want to tie up a huge wad of cash, brilliant value for a great shooting bow.
From the moment I picked up the bow I was impressed, not just because Lee is new to bow making, that would cut no ice with me if if were not up to scratch, but it most definitely is. English Longbows and Warbows are always different, they can't be the same as each piece of wood has different characteristics, it's up to the bowyer to find the best bow in every stave…. This one is a cracker, I love it….