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Buyng-Usd-Bow-art - 8/8/14


"Buying a Used Bow" by The Honorable Christophe of Grey.


NOTE: See also the files: Hbow-vs-Xbow-art, merch-archery-msg, bowstrings-msg, bow-making-msg, 16C-Arrow-Bag-art, arch-supplies-msg, archery-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



You can find more of this author's work on his website at:



This article was first published in the "The Phoenix", the newsletter of the Barony of Sacred Stone, Atlantia.


Buying a Used Bow

by The Honorable Christophe of Grey


You have decided it's time to jump in and join those folks on the archery range who are having such a good time. You start browsing through catalogs looking at bows. First thing you notice is that there just are not a lot of outlets for traditional archery gear. And those that you do find, it seems the cost of the equipment is pretty expensive. All true statements. But let's not rule out the possibility of stumbling onto a fantastic find at a garage sale, flea market, or thrift store. Question is, how do you know it's a good bow?


If you have spent some time with the catalogs and/or web sites, you probably know some of the names of good and popular bowyers. Names like Bear, Martin and Pearson. Of course there are many, many more but these are a few of the biggest. Often if you find one of their bows you can look it up on the internet to determine the original value and sometimes present value.


But still, how do you know THAT bow is a good bow? Start by looking the bow over, checking for any obvious cracks or delaminating. Many bows are composite layers of wood and fiberglass. As the layers begin to delaminate, small gaps will form on the edge of the bow limbs. If you can get your fingernail in these gaps the bow is probably beginning to delaminate.


Running you fingers up and down the limbs will locate fiberglass that is about to break. As the fiberglass stresses to breakage some of the fibers begin to stick up. Often you can feel them before you can see them. Often fiberglass reinforced bows have what appear to be cracks that run in the same direction as the bow limb, not crosswise. These are not cracks and do not indicate bow limb failure.  You may see very small lines that do run crosswise to the limbs.  These are typically crazing in the glaze or finish coat of the limb and not an indication of limb failure.  Think of that china that looks like it's all cracked but still works.  Same idea.


Next sight down the bow from limb tip to limb tip. You are looking for any twist to the bow limbs, which will be most obvious towards the end of the limb tips. If the bow has a string, string it. Now slowly draw the bow and slowly relax it down. As you make that first draw, listen for any cracking, creaking noises in the bow. You are also looking to see that the string returns to the center of the bow limb tip. Do this several times. Bows with twisted limbs will actually "walk" the string to one side or the other of the limb tip. Now in full draw have someone else look at the bow sideways, or do this in a mirror. What you are looking for is do both limbs curve the same? You don't want one limb curving more than the other.


If the string is in bad shape, don't worry about it, you can get a replacement. If there is no bow string, try to flex the limbs and look for any fibers sticking up. Leather grips and arrow rests can be replaced.


If the bow has a crack in the riser, the built up handle part, it is possible to repair using bowyers epoxy. However, this takes a little expertise so consider that. I have three bows that have come to me through various outlets. One bow has a current market value of $250 and I got it for $20! It shoots very nice and is my current favorite bow. Look around, there are some amazing finds in garage sales and flea markets. Just know what you are buying!


Copyright 2014 by John Atkins. <cogworks at triad.rr.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org