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Usually made of thin layers of horn and softened (soaked and softened) sinew glued to a central core of wood. They are often shorter (42"-72" = 107cm-183cm ) than their European counterparts (60"-78" = 152cm-198cm) as they were more often used from horseback, whereas the European bows were more often used from the ground. The Japanese bow was different again, being up to 84" (=213 cm) (or more) in length. Many of the Turkish, Asian and Arab races drew the bow using a thumb- ring, a ring worn on the thumb of the drawing hand. The string was hooked behind it (in the palm of the hand) and the thumb closed over the string so that it rested tightly against the middle finger. For heavy bows, the forefinger could also be used to lock the thumb closed. To release, the thumb is opened, allowing the string to slip off the edge of the ring. (With the heavy bows, the forefinger should be raised first to save undue strain on the thumbnail as it slides free from the forefinger). Using the Asian release, the arrow would rest on the opposite side of the bow to that of those using a finger release i.e. for a right handed archer, the arrow would rest on the right side of the handpiece, whereas usually for those using a finger release, a right-handed archer will have the arrow resting on the left side of the grip.
European/African/American Indian
Usually a wooden 'Self' bow of between 60"-78" (=152cm-198cm) and intended for use from the ground, although the American Indian used the shorter versions very effectively from horseback. The American Indian also often used composite (horn/sinew or wood/sinew) or backed bows. The traditional yew bow of Europe acted as though it were a composite bow, as it was preferably made of a section of yew taken where the sapwood and heartwood joined. The different properties of the two different wood types allowed the bow to act with the best features of each wood type. The properties of the 'Self Bow' are such that the minimum length of the bow is (2x Draw length) i.e. with a draw length of 28 inches (=71 cm), the minimum length of the bow will be 56 inches (=142 cm). The greater the length of the bow, the more even can be the spread of forces built up.

The short bows of the American Indian probably varied between 20-70 pounds, the European hunting bows normally ranged between 40-100 pounds, with the European war bow (e.g. the Welsh Longbows) ranged from 90-180 pounds. However, the European war bows were drawn both to the chin an d to the chest. Due to their great draw weight, and the fact that they were often used in ranks of archers and fired at large masses of opponents at long range, they were often drawn to the chest (with the bow-string passing down the cleft of the chin) using a longer arrow (36" = 91cm) the 'cloth-yard' shaft, and fired high into the air in massive volleys to fall almost randomly into their targets. As the ranges got closer and the archers were more able to pick specific targets, they reverted to a more traditional aiming style, with the long arrow drawn past the side of the chin and the fingers of the nock hand back somewhere around the jawbone or ear and aimed normally. The heavy draw weight of these warbows requires a significantly heavier shafted arrow, usually with some form of bodkin head, which had enough weight to strike its target with frightening power.

Indications are that often many warbows were carried half made (as shaped staves) during prolonged campaigns, and finished as and when they were needed during the campaign. Normal (European) war tactics involved massed ranks of lightly armed or armored archers firing large volleys of arrows into formations of target s. It was the Welsh Longbow, in the hands of thousands of archers, which effectively obliterated the cavalry force of thousands of French knights at both Agincourt and Crecy. Bad weather and mud were major contributing factors in this, as the French cavalry were unable to close to attack effectively, so that massive volleys of arrows wiped out the opposing crossbowmen and then the French Knights (and their horses).

Offered by Brian.