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Discuss Yew as a Bow Wood at the Traditional Bows within Archery Interchange UK Forums; It's very difficult to get hold of yew down here. it has to be imported, ...
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    Yew as a Bow Wood

    It's very difficult to get hold of yew down here. it has to be imported, and it's usually very expensive. I've been wanting to shoot a yew bow for ages. The wood seems to have a mystic, if not mythic status. I've been able to try Osage, and Wych Elm, and a Bamboo composite. A couple of Spotted Gum bows that were in the State both broke before I could beg a go. I was not impressed with the Osage, felt like a yard broom and massive vibrations. The Wych Elm is OK, but I elected to back it with buffalo hide because I was worried about a big knot in just the wrong place. It seems a tad sluggish. The 5-piece bamboo laminate is as sweet as a nut, but doesn't seem that fast. Finally I decided to try a compromise, and managed to pick up an ELB (sort of) in the States that is Pacific Yew heartwood backed with bamboo. It feels very snappy (in the quick sense). I've only been able to try it in the back yard, but the test will come at the range tomorrow, where I can compare it POA at distance with my other bows. I confess I'm quite intrigued to see how it matches up, particularly against my AFBs. I am wondering if any of you guys have any experience of Bamboo-backed Yew bows, and how they compare to the real thing. Would they be in the same league? Any input appreciated. Cheers






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    It's very difficult to get hold of yew down here. it has to be imported, and it's usually very expensive.
    Blakey mate that is an understatement, I have a very nice Pacific Yew warbow stave sitting in my shed maturing and waiting for the date when I think I can do it justice. I have had it for just over a year and it cost me over $400 to purchase and get it to Oz. As it was quite freshly cut when I bought it I figure one more year of maturation/curing/drying and I should be good to go.

    I have an Osage bow made from an imported "Kit" from Hungary, the stave was supposedly almost finished but when I got it I found the bowyer had violated pins on the back and not only was there little meat on the stave but it was deflexed, crooked and worst of all the early and late wood rings were barely distinguishable, which is bad in Osage. So having read up on the heat bending properties of Osage I set to with a heat gun etc. Everything straightened up nicely I even put a little reflex into the stave, however I failed to check its state of cure before proceeding with making the bow. I ended up with a beautiful bow but all the reflex and straightening I performed came out during the tillering and by the time I had taken the back down a couple of rings to leave the pins proud there was insufficient meat for the 90 pound bow I wanted, it ended up at 65 lb or so. Still it shoots nicely and I am considering trying heat treatment again.

    You say the Osage bow you shot "felt like a yard broom and massive vibrations", I suggest that must be a case of either bad tiller or too masive tips. Osage being heavier than yew can have very thin tips/nocks.

    As for what is best. Probably the best answer to that is to look at the results of the EWBS, their distance records with their various standard arrows are nearly all held by yew bows in the 130 lb range, these bows have outshot heavier bows of other woods and done the same in all but one case to laminated bows. The exception being the flight arrow class where a Bamboo/Iroko/Ipi bow holds the record at 438 yards, which is considerably more than the 370 yards held by a yew bow and 319 yards held by a Norwegian Elm bow. See:

    EWBS Flight Records

    Craig

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    Yew will make a great bow as will osage and wych elm (indeed any elm), however these 3 woods need very different designs to perform to their maximum. Simply saying osage is better than yew or vise versa is not fair to the wood! If these woods were made into ELB's of the same draw weight / length etc.. they would look very different. However they would all shoot within a few fps of each other, this is a fact - i've proved it to myself time and again. No wood holds magical properties - it simply has properties. If these properties are taken fully into account with the design essentially they will have equal performance. However when you start to look at laminated bows it gets a little more interesting. A laminated stave can be tricked into storing energy along the glue lines and you can glue a stave into any shape you want. If you get everything right a laminated bow will out shoot a selfbow.
    I agree with Craig that your osage bow was 'shocky' it certainly had outer limbs / tips that were overbuilt eg. too wide. Regarding the EWBS records i've a feeling things might change this year...i've got some bows that I intend to be shooting and I expect them to do rather well.

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    The first two posts pretty much say it all... Yew is very pretty and a joy to work with, is about all I can add.
    It takes heat or steam bending very well.
    Del
    Health Warning:- These posts may contain traces of nut.

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    It's an X Yew Selfbow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikekeswick View Post
    Regarding the EWBS records i've a feeling things might change this year...i've got some bows that I intend to be shooting and I expect them to do rather well.
    OOOooo that sounds juicey Mike ... is it all hush hush, or, can you tell us more?

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    What classes are the bows going in

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikekeswick View Post
    However when you start to look at laminated bows it gets a little more interesting. A laminated stave can be tricked into storing energy along the glue lines and you can glue a stave into any shape you want. If you get everything right a laminated bow will out shoot a selfbow.
    Thanks for that. What I was trying to ask (in my usual longwinded way) was whether you guys think a bamboo-backed yew heartwood bow would perform the same as an ordinary yew bow with the sapwood intact? I guess I'm hoping I can kill off my obsession with trying to track down a reasonable yew bow and learn to settle for a laminated compromise? Cheers

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    Have a similar interest myself, so have ordered a Maple backed Yew bow to try. Didn't think Bamboo was the natural partner here though I am a fan elsewhere. Should get the bow in a few weeks from a top bowyer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nic Rhodes View Post
    Have a similar interest myself, so have ordered a Maple backed Yew bow to try. Didn't think Bamboo was the natural partner here though I am a fan elsewhere. Should get the bow in a few weeks from a top bowyer.
    I would be very interested to hear how you get on with it. I only got the bow I did because I saw it advertised on Ebay within my price range. Kind of spontaneous combustion of the wallet. I'm not sure about the bamboo, but everyone seems to assume that it's very fast? The idea of laminating yew seems a really sensible way of utilising any offcuts? Cheers

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    Blakey,
    What I was trying to ask (in my usual longwinded way) was whether you guys think a bamboo-backed yew heartwood bow would perform the same as an ordinary yew bow with the sapwood intact?
    Mate in my longwinded way I was suggesting you look at the EWBS results so you could compare the results for the Mary Rose type Bow (self yew sapwood intact) with the hickory backed yew heartwood bows, now I know hickory is not bamboo, but the performance would not be greatly different.

    As for bamboo, it is very tension strong but is also considerably more dense than yew, so swings and roundabouts.

    Craig.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigMBeckett View Post
    Blakey,


    Mate in my longwinded way I was suggesting you look at the EWBS results so you could compare the results for the Mary Rose type Bow (self yew sapwood intact) with the hickory backed yew heartwood bows, now I know hickory is not bamboo, but the performance would not be greatly different.

    As for bamboo, it is very tension strong but is also considerably more dense than yew, so swings and roundabouts.

    Craig.
    Thanks Craig, I did look but it didn't sink in till you repeated it. The Hickory backed yew bows are heavier and shoot shorter? That Flight record is significantly higher though for the Bamboo/iroko/ipe? I presume that's still a trad longbow shape? Does this pose the possibility of me saving my wallet, or do I still need to find the real thing? I've heard a few rumours about Ipe. Some bowyers are claiming it's very fast? Took the Bamboo/yew to the range today, and it shoots significantly shorter then my 5-bamboo laiminate. So I don't know what to think? The yew/boo bow doesn't bend through the handle. I don't know if that's slowing it somewhat? Aargh!

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    Hi Blakey,

    Is your 5 laminate bow an AFB?

    As for bend through the handle affecting cast, some would say yes others no. Horace Ford was one of the latter and condemned bows that bent through the handle. It could of course be that the bow has a less than optimum tiller.

    Craig.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigMBeckett View Post
    Hi Blakey,

    Is your 5 laminate bow an AFB?
    Craig.
    It's a Howard Hill Wesley Special. I've just dragged it out for the first time in months. It has a very thin layer of fibreglass on the back over the bamboo and it does have a very narrow 10mm shelf, which would have been FITA legal before they buggered the 'longbow' regs up and allowed centre-shot. So it's definitely an AFB. It's a very nice bow, but I hardly shoot it now because I've cracked a wobbly with the current FITA regs and now shoot Barebow Recurve for FITA target. I'm considering returning to 'longbow' for Field though, and am in the process of trying to understand how to pick the right arrows, woodies being required for Field. I was going to attempt to use the boo/yew ELB, but I can't get the hang of it at all. I'm hoping if I can access some woodies of the right spine I'll be able to get on target. It can't be that hard can it?
    I've just rechecked the tiller on the boo/yew bow, and the top limb is about a quarter inch weaker. So that's OK I suppose. I suppose the difference in speed is probably the fibreglass? I had this thought that Yew would compete with the Bamboo, but there's too many variables in the mix? Cheers

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    Blakey,

    Should have remembered, you spoke of your purchase of a Howard Hill bow before.

    Best of luck with your search for the correct wooden arrows, I only use wood or bamboo all of which I make myself, you may find that as the best way to go then you can tailor them to suit. By the way Tassie Oak/Victorian Ash is a decent arrow wood, not as light as POC but a good wood, inexpensive and readily available in good straight grained chunks.

    What weight is your Boo/Yew bow?

    Craig.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigMBeckett View Post
    Blakey,

    Should have remembered, you spoke of your purchase of a Howard Hill bow before.

    Best of luck with your search for the correct wooden arrows, I only use wood or bamboo all of which I make myself, you may find that as the best way to go then you can tailor them to suit. By the way Tassie Oak/Victorian Ash is a decent arrow wood, not as light as POC but a good wood, inexpensive and readily available in good straight grained chunks.

    What weight is your Boo/Yew bow?

    Craig.
    It's a monstrous 35 lbs. I find I can't get through a full FITA with much more than that. I'll only be using it for Field though, which I think is a maximum of 45M, so I should be alright (to reach the target at least, hitting it might be the problem)? I scored a win on some POC on Ebay last night, so hopefully that will give me a start. I'll take on board your comment re Tas Oak, and maybe try again. The best matched woodies I've seen at the club were made by a lad (14 yr old) who ripped down a billet of Douglas Fir into a dozen square sections and sanded off the edges with a belt sander. Did a beaut job. Mind his dad is a violin-maker. Bit out of my league. Cheers




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