Module 1 The Longbow Preview July 2018

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Bow Building School

Online Class 1

The Longbow

Module 1


to unlock class 1

In a hundred years this will be a magnificent yew grove.


Publisher and owner:

Matthias Wiltschko, A-3920 Gross Gundholz 25


Publisher and media owner takes no liability.

All rights, copying, distribution and translation rights are with the owner

and publisher.

Photos, graphics and videos: Matthias Wiltschko

Layout: Matthias Wiltschko

No liability for injuries and damage to property of the customer / reader

and third parties is taken over by the information provided and by

the objects produced therefrom (eg bows, arrows, ...). Each customer

/ reader is responsible for his / her own safety and safety in dealing

with his / her own manufactured bows and arrows. It is at the measure

of the customer / reader to judge the wood used by him / her on

its resistance to breakage. Published dimensions of bows refer only

to the bows produced by the publisher. Applying these dimensions to

customer / reader‘s own bows can result in breakage of the bow since

the same wood properties are not given.

The Longbow Module 1


I want to thank Paul Comstock. During the English translation he helped

me to make this Online Class easier to understand for novices. He

drew my attention to add important topics and to define fundamental

terms even more precisely.

I thank my parents very much. Their support enabled me to realize this

Online Course. Above all, I thank my father. He taught me to distinguish

our native trees, shrubs and their wood. Since my beginnings as a

bowyer he provides me with the best local bow wood.

I thank my mother for proofreading and for the help to make this course

comprehensible also for beginners.

Ever since I started my bow making, my girlfriend Gerda accompanies

me with constructive suggestions and supports me in my projects. She

plays a key role in the visual design of this course and my websites.

Many thanks to my uncle Erwin. He showed me, in my beginnings as

a bowyer, based on his own bows the various bow designs and bow

woods. Even as a child I shot with one of his bows from the branch

of an apple tree. Again and again he surprises me with special bow


Many thanks to my uncles Pepp, Walter and Ernst. A lot of my bows

grew in their forests.

Thanks to Ao.Univ.Prof. Dr. phil. Birgit Kartusch, my botany professor

at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in

Vienna. She taught me to look for the performance of my bows inside

the wood, supported me with valuable literature, and made the photos

of the microscopic wood samples for me.

To Dipl.-Ing. Dr.nat.techn. Michael Grabner of the University of Natural

Resources and Applied Life Sciences I owe my knowledge of wood

biology and wood quality. With his support, the X-ray images, density

measurements and strength measurements of my bow woods were


When I started making bows in 2007, I only had the Traditional Bowyer‘s

Bible Volume 1 as literature, insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

I had no idea what this Osage Orange is, let alone how to pronounce it correctly.

At that time yew was still a deciduous tree and when I stood before

a supposed specimen of this genus, it was a Moravian rowan.

The small, two-meter-high yew, which my father had planted 15 years earlier,

grew in its shadow and was not noticed by my untutored eye. I knew

some of our native trees and shrubs, but I had not seen this unimposing

plant before.

After the first pages of the TBB (Traditional Bowyers Bible) I was immediately

under the spell of traditional bow making. I was amazed by the accumulated

knowledge of bow wood and the depth of this topic.

The Longbow Module 1

Overwhelming were the possibilities of bow designs. Should it be a longbow?

No, I do not have yew wood. It will not be an Osage bow either, this

wood does not grow in my area. Do I need a rawhide or sinew backing to

keep my bow from breaking? ...

Which bow design should I build first?

Initially I was fascinated by archery and sought a balance to my former

mobile computing studies, which took place days and nights in front of the

computer monitor.

For me it was immediately clear that I would shoot only with a self-built

bow. The greatest fascination was and still is to make a bow with the simplest

means and the least amount of money.

Terminal shoot of a yew. After the bowyer‘s-fever had seized me, my

father and I planted more yew trees on our property. Partial shade and

lean soil are very suitable for these trees. Where other trees struggle,

yew feels comfortable. But do not forget that all plant parts of yew are


I did not expect the variety of possible bow designs and the knowledge that

is needed to build a bow.

On the one hand my curiosity was even more incited, and I was glad to

have found a topic that would fascinate me for many years to come.

On the other hand, I was not only slowed down by the sheer mass of information,

the undefined stress limits of the wood that must not be exceeded

and the freely selectable variables such as bow wood, limb width, bow

length, ... In my intention to build a simple bow, I was stopped.

The TBB offered a lot of valuable knowledge and gave me all the possibilities

and the liberty to build an infinite number of different bows.

But actually I would have searched for one particular sentence in the


„Your first bow will be a longbow!“

Yew bark with the typical small shoots that drive out of the entire trunk.

Not only bark, wood and needles, but also the pollen of male yew is


The Longbow Module 1

Elaborately crafted longbow made of Osage Orange (origin Nebraska)

with deer rawhide backing, leather handle built on the back of the bow,

flax windings and buffalo horn overlays for the string nocks.

Your Bow

It does not always have to be Yew. Our well-available bow woods such

as Hazel, Maple, Ash, Elm and many more allow us to make outstanding

longbows. Longbows from white woods are in no way inferior in their performance

to the highly acclaimed yew bows and can even surpass them.

It is always important to adapt the bow design to the wood used. I will show

you how to assess the wood density, wood strength and restoring force of

bow woods and how to find out the right dimensions for your longbows.

Since very fine dust is released when debarking Yew staves, a high

quality dust mask should always be worn.

But you can make it much easier and less harmfull by using our wellavailable

bow woods such as hazel, ash, maple, ....

The Longbow Module 1

Hazel longbow built with the least expenditure of money and material.

In terms of performance, this bow is identical to the very costly Osage

longbow shown above.


The Longbow Module 1

A selfbow can be a powerful weapon. While testing my first Ash bow,

one of the arrows was abruptly stopped. The high voltage power line

was split by a simple field point and the tip got stuck between the wires.

After a few cold days the arrow popped out again.


This is how it continues in Module 1

Avoid inefficient tiller shapes

Long bows vs. short bows


to unlock class 1


The Longbow Module 1

Minimizing Set und Stringfollow

Longbows vs. Flatbows


Module 2

Trees and bow wood - Basics

Wood structure,

quality determination,

wood moisture, wood

strength, modulus of elasticity,

X-ray pictures with exact density

profiles, mechanical properties of

wood, elasticity, flexibility, restoring

force, ... and much



The Longbow Module 1


to unlock class 1


Module 3

Saplingbows - Bows made from

small diameter trees

Buildalong for a Longbow

incl. Tillering and Video

Wood harvesting,

drying, defect handling,

storage, curvature correction,

correct use of tools, increasing efficiency,

how to avoid set, stringfollow

and chrysalis,

bow finishing


to unlock class 1



The Longbow Module 1

Module 4

The Ash Snake

Making of a Character bow


The Longbow Module 1

Proper handling

of torsions, grain

alignment, deadwood,

bark defects, character

bow tillering, tip reinforcements,



to unlock class 1


Module 5

Draw Knife - Bowyer‘s hatchet

Handling and

hand posture, cut

types, prevention of fiber

tearing, methods for fast

wood reduction, blade

steel, blade shapes,



The Longbow Module 1


to unlock class 1


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