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Longbow Making Course - a three day course

Longbow Making Course - a three day course

J G Graves Woodland Discovery Centre
Ecclesall Woods
Abbey Lane
S7 2QZ

Course Length: Three days (9.30-4)

Price: £300

5 star rating, 1 reviewers.

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Course Start Dates
Course dates are flexible; please get in touch for the next available date.


Longbow Making Course - a three day course in the making of a traditional English Longbow

The English longbow is legendary in its prowess and was feared on the battlefield for hundreds of years. Make your very own longbow and become a part of its history.

During this three day course you will learn how to fashion your own ash self-longbow starting from an ash log, then learn to make your own bowstring and arrow, and get to lose a few arrows in a clout shooting competition with your course mates.

Day 1
Learn the history of the great English Longbow and the importance, differences and misconceptions of the woods used in its construction. Learn in-depth about the characteristics of Ash as a bow wood and how to select and split out a bow stave from a log.

An introduction to the course and a talk about bow making, a little on history, and an in depth talk on wood and its characteristics and tree selection and the important difference in strength and efficiency between a cleft or split stave and one that has been milled or cut. An introduction to the tools used in the course and how we will use them.

As a group split out individual ash staves from a trunk using splitting wedges and the Froe and Beetle. Individual staves are then assessed for character and any possible defects.

Measure your draw length, calculate your bow length and then assess where in your stave the bow lays taking into account the character of the stave. Accurately mark out the back of the bow on the stave using the surface of the wood.

Day Two
Finish the roughing out process and start to refine the shape of the bow, before finally adding the finishing touches with the cabinet scraper, and then carve the nocks ready to accept the string.

Make the string for your longbow by twisting 12 separate strands of bowstring material together using the reverse ply twist cordage process, into a bowstring with a spiced top loop (flemish) and a reverse ply twist bottom section.
Begin the process of tillering (bending into shape) of the bow after attaching your string with a timber or bowyer's hitch.

Day Three
Carefully tiller the bow using a tillering post, making adjustments using the spoke shave and cabinet scraper, until the bow finally 'comes round compass' at full draw, this is the part that may take some time.

Clean up and smooth the bow with the cabinet scraper and burnish the surface of the bow to add strength and compress the surface fibres.

String the bow and set the correct bracing height or fistmele by adding or removing twist in the string, and then serve the centre section of your string with serving cotton and a serving jig.

If there is time available make your own arrow by adding a pile and a nock, and fletch your arrow using a fletching jig - if the tillering process overuns we will omit this step but we will cover what you will need to do to make your own arrows in the future.

And finally, get to shoot your new bow! After some brief tuition we will have a clout shooting competition in the field to put your new bow to the test. See your arrow arc 150 yards across the sky propelled by a bow that two days before was a tree trunk!

The type of bow you will make will be a circular tillered warbow, rather than the elliptically tillered victorian style target bow. The cross section can be classic D shaped or even a Mary Rose style ellipse if you prefer... Draw weights of the bows depend on how well the tillering process goes but most end up between 50-80lbs draw. If you are after a high powered warbow, poundages of up 150lbs are easily achievable!

Refundable up to two weeks prior to course (minus £30 admin fee) No refunds for cancellations within two weeks of course

What's included in the price?

All tools and materials will be provided plus tea and coffee, but if you have any of the above tools and would like to use your own then feel free to bring them along to use. At the end of the course you should have your own longbow, string and an arrow to take home with you. Bring a packed luck or use the kiosk on site.

Want to review this course?

This was an excellent course, in a fantastic location, with great tuition from Ben and Wes. I started the course assuming I'd struggle with the woodworking and using unfamiliar tools, but the support and guidance from Ben and Wes, as well as sharing highs and lows with the other students, meant I came out with a beautiful longbow, confidence with woodworking tools, and a whole host of new skills. I'm now completely addicted and am already considering how I'm going to get hold of my own tools.

One area for improvement - we didn't have enough of some key tools for everyone to make progress at some points, specifically working spoke shaves, glass bottles and knifes/files. Also, the traditional shave horses were too small for working longbows, especially for taller guys. We successfully worked round all this, but worth considering for future courses.


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  • Accessible by public transport
  • Disabled access
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