I have to admit that I am an artist first and a bowyer second. Yes, making bows is an opportunity to unleash my inner mad scientist, but it is also a chance to express my artistic ability. Whenever anyone asks me what I do, these days I just say “I am an artist” or “I am a designer.” Most people understand what that means. I’m wired as an artist and so I see the world through an artist’s eye, always searching for beauty, unity, and an attractive and satisfying solution.
I think everyone knows at least one artist…that eccentric aunt or uncle who paints, Continue reading
In the previous post Grip Size of a Recurve I was asked what are good angles for low, medium, and high wrist grips. Well, I’m sure that this is subjective and arbitrary at best, so I made a simple illustration that might be helpful. You can probably print this out and adapt it for use on your own riser design, whether it is a recurve or longbow. Just orient the drawing on your blueprint to make a template, or transfer the outline to the riser block before you cut it out. There isn’t really much difference in the grip portion of either bow style if it is a sculpted grip, Continue reading
The grip on a longbow is usually smaller and more refined than the grip on a hunting recurve, a target recurve, or even a compound bow. Obviously, the most comfortable grip size is determined by the size of your bow hand and your personal preference for the way the grip feels. Plus, we all know that men, women, and children have different hand sizes. In this post I will describe the best ways to measure a grip and suggest some measurements for small, medium, and large grip sizes. Continue reading
It might seem like there are a million different types of longbow grips/handles, but I think they can easily be classified in five categories of common styles: 1) straight or “Hill”-style, 2) dished, 3) humped, 4) locator, and 5) sculpted/recurve style. Although each has its own definitive shape, you can probably make about any longbow design with any of these grip styles depending on your preference. In this blog post, let’s look more closely at each of these styles.
A recurve is simply a curved portion of the tip of the bow limb. Recurves can either be static (rigid) or working (bending). Many sizes and shapes of recurves have been tried throughout archery history, and are still very popular on modern bows. Most modern recurves can be called “contact recurves,” because the string “contacts” the recurved portion of the belly surface of the limb. On some contact recurves, the string will stay in contact with the belly surface of the limb all of the way from brace height until full draw. Continue reading
I don’t graph storage per inch…remember, I don’t fart around with SuperTiller…
…just razz’n ya buddy.”
Jimbo, you do realize that we will tease you mercilessly about SuperTiller…
…that is until we learn how to use it.”
I’ve often been accused of being more of a bow designer than a bow maker. I guess that might be true to a certain extent. I have a 45 minute one-way commute to the office and spend much of this time “designing” bows in my mind. I find it amazing how a stick bow is so simple, but the physics of it are so complex. Continue reading
A question that appears often in many of the internet bow making forums is “Where should I locate the grip and shelf on my bow?” I’m sure there are as many opinions about this as there are bowyers, so I’ll give a simple explanation of what I think is important and you can decide what is best for you. I think the two most important things that should determine the location of the grip and shelf are bow balance and shooting style…meaning whether the archer intends to shoot “split finger” or “three fingers under.” Continue reading
Hello and welcome to my bow building blog! This is my first post in the blog. My name is Jim Thorne and I want to help you learn how to “build your own bow!” Some readers may already know me as “jwillis” at some internet archery forums where I frequently post ideas and build alongs about bow making.
I’ve been an avid outdoor enthusiast since I was a young boy. My wife, son, daughter and I enjoy hunting for deer and turkeys in the woods of central Missouri, and fly fishing for trout in the spring fed creeks and tail water trout fisheries of southern Missouri.
I remember making my first bow from a green stick that I found in the yard when I was a very young boy. I bent it over my knee and tied on a piece of nylon twine for a string. It was simple and primitive but really fun to shoot. The next few days were spent chasing my brothers around the yard and shooting twig arrows at each other while we pretended to be cowboys and indians. I always liked being an Indian because I could use a bow ‘n arra! Ever since that day, I’ve enjoyed building my own bows.
I really caught the bow making bug in the 1980’s. I started making glass-laminated recurves using a limb design that I traced from a french curve. I spent several years building and testing these recurve designs, improving the limb and riser designs and refining my skills as a bowyer. At this time, every time I wanted to change the design, I had to redraw the bow plans by hand with pencil and paper, using a drafting table, straight edge, triangle, and french curves. As you can imagine, each time I wanted to change the design, it took many hours to redraw the plans. I would make a drawing, then step back and look at it from different angles to evaluate the design. Only then could I make new templates and build the new bow to see how it shot. As a professional graphic designer using desktop publishing systems at work, it didn’t take long for me to begin drawing my bow plans on a personal computer when we were able to afford one at home. This really sped up the refinement process, because using the computer I could edit a computer drawing of the bow, print out a new template, and apply it to making a new bow very quickly. I could now accomplish in minutes what used to take many hours. This process led to the creation of what I call the Classic Take-down Recurve.
When my son asked me to make him a longbow a few years later, I also began building reflex/deflex “hybrid” longbows. I wasn’t satisfied with just making one with a straight back and so-so performance, so I began looking around and studied all of the popular designs available. I tried to copy all of the best features of all of the best r/d longbows and combine them into my design. I went to work on the computer and came up with a profile. I drew out the profiles in Adobe Illustrator and tweaked the limb design using SuperTiller, a computer modeling program for “stick bows” written in Excel. After several tweakings and bow forms, I settled on the current design that I call the HAMMER Hybrid Longbow. I call it that because it “hits like a hammer and drives nails“…lol. Over the years, I’ve continued to improve the design, making it into a pretty sweet shooter.
At some point it occurred to me that I should build a website to share my blueprints and help teach others to make these bows. It has been a lot of work! When I started this project, I had absolutely no idea how big a project this would be and how much work it would take. I’ve spent hours and hours building and testing the bows, and drawing and re-drawing the blueprints with updates to improve the designs. With the development of this website, I’m excited about the opportunity to share my bow making experiences and designs. One of the neat things about the internet, is it allows us to quickly share bow making knowledge that used to take many years to pass on from generation to generation. I hope that you can learn from my successes and failures, and use these blog posts, build alongs, blueprints, and booklets to learn how to “build your own bow!”
Watch for the upcoming product launch of my recurve and longbow plans!