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4.5 out of 5 stars22
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on 1 August 2003
This is surely the best book ever written about the subject. It contains everything you need to know in order to build traditional bows, whether you're an experienced craftsman or a complete novice.
It's also an engrossing, utterly fascinating read for anybody interested in any aspect of archery, whether technical, social or historical. The section on bow design, explaining how bows work and what makes a good one, is worth the money on its own.
Even if you haven't the slightest intention of setting plane to plank, if you're at all interested in bows and arrows, this is a book you must buy. Above all, it's written with wonderfully infectious enthusiasm, warmth and wit by men who live for the joy of the bent stick.
A superb book which has given me a great deal of pleasure
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on 31 January 2008
My interest in this book is not just for the bowmaking or the archery, for which I found it very good. I also have an interest in Archaeotoxophily, the scientific study of historic or prehistoric archery, specifically the area covering Western Europe. To that end I have found the three books in this series very helpful, especially those sections covering prehistoric European bows. There is a lot of very practical information in these books, especially the bibliography in book three, which gives me some very valuable sources for further research.
I found the information about keeping the bow quiet when hunting deer very constructive. Prehistoric man in Britain hunted a lot of red deer, which is very skittish, so anything, which improved the hunter's chances, would be a great help. The section on arrows is also gave me much to think about. The only evidence found is usually a flint arrowhead, and though these can be very exquisite they do not tell you the whole story. As an example from the books, when hunting ducks there was no arrowhead, the arrow shaft was rounded at the tip four short pieces of wood added to stop the arrow penetrating to far. So this does beg the question, did prehistoric man in Europe do something similar
There is one thing I want to mention. There is a section that mentions the use of a drawknife, pages 139 & 140 in volume 1, and the difficulty they had using it as it was cutting to deep. Their solution is to use a blunt edge. If you look at the photograph on page 139 you will realise the problem lays with the fact that they are miss using the drawknife. Instead of cutting from the middle of the wood outwards they are cutting from the end inwards.
All in all, if your interest is in bowmaking, archery or Archaeotoxophily, like me, then these are very good books to have.
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on 5 February 2011
I was looking for a book to show the novice how to make a simple bow. The book quickly lost me and I am a competent green wood worker. Very technical and not a good buy if you are new to the subject. Whilst I am sure the information is useful to some. I think the average bowyer who wants to make a traditional english bow need look else where
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on 18 February 2010
The first thing to mention about this book is that it is American.

All of the measurements are American, the materials are American, the Wood is American...

Nice book - only of great use if you are in... America. Okay, so I harped on about the book being American, but it's not at all obvious without plunging in and reading. All of the materials can probably be sourced outside of the States, and with a little work you can convert the measurements (I chuckled at the sight of the lbs per foot notations), but it still doesn't seem useful enough for the rest of the world.

The book is really a series of several articles written by different bowyers. It's therefore written in several differnt styles - from light hearted banter, to technical jargon.

It's described as the Bowyer's Bible, part 1. I haven't seen the other parts to this series, but I hope that there is a Glossary thrown in the rest of the series somewhere too - a beginner reading this book would be excused for not understanding half of what was written. Chapters start off assuming much knowledge - one of the first chapters describes draw weight vs length vs pounds per foot, all not very helpfully drawn in graph form. The illustrations are dated too - Black and White, and poorly reproduced in some cases.

Overall, it's a pleasant read of an evening, but there was little actual direction to the authors' digressive works. It's certainly not as described on the fly-covers, and I'd certainly not list it as a must have for any prospective bowyers - don't expect to be able to go out into the greenwood and be able to craft a bow from this book.
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on 5 May 2010
For months I have researched and vaguely studied the mechanics and materials involved in making a bow. However, I desperately needed some knowledge from the experts who knew their stuff.

This book shows you in great detail what type of wood to choose for a certain bow and how to inspect the wood's grain and growth rings in a tree to choose a bow stave. At times it can get a bit too technical, but you can eventually understand these technological terms if you aware of the context. Maybe some more parts on bow construction should have been put in this volume rather than the later ones, but the quality of the witty writing and wisdom of the bowyers not only makes it a great source of information, but also a joy to read. I look forward to the next volumes and its content after enjoying this one extensively.

In simpler terms, if you're interested in archery and the construction of bows or you find the DIY bow instructions on the internet too shoddy or vague, this is definetely your book. But beware, the bowyers who wrote this take their passions very seriously so don't expect a very simple, overly basic comprehension of bows but rather a well-written and complex one, providing you with knowledge gained from experience that beats all theoretical bow-making manuals.
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on 3 June 2014
This four volume collection contains all the information you could want to build the ideal bow. The subject matter, written by highly experienced bowyers, is broken down into the various aspects taking you from identifying the right tree for the job, harvesting the timber and preparing materials all the way through to making a complete bow. Each chapter is written by an expert in any particular stage.

Originally intended as a three part collection, the fourth volume adds a scientific approach to working out how to create the best bow possible. Elsewhere there is a primitivist approach and includes harvesting sinue and making your own glue in the traditional ways. The history of bows from around the globe is also included.

Although there are hints and tips throughout, some woodworking skills are necessary to begin with and the text assumes some degree of ability in this, though is written in a very encouraging manner for the novice bowyer whilst providing a valuable reference tool for anyone attempting a build.

I heartily recommend these books for anyone interested in bow making. If in doubt, get hold of this first volume before deciding on the others... I did, and ordered the next three in the set a week later and wasnt disappointed.
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on 30 January 2013
Most sources I looked at really rated this book - having read it, I can see why.
Less of a book, more of a series of erudite essays on various aspects of bow-making.
If you buy it expecting to find a set of plans with step-by-step instructions, prepare to be disappointed.
What you do find is a wealth of information, which is the product of an enormous amount of experience and research, on how to go about making your own bows.
The chapter on bow design is particularly good, but be prepared to take notes or read it several times!

Some reviewers have berated the authors for the inclusion of hunting anecdotes: A newsflash - the book is written from a US perspective, where hunting with the bow is legal. Personally, I didn't find the anecdotes incongruous or excessive. If you don't want to read about it, turn the page.

To sum up - this book is very like making bows: it isn't an easy ride, in fact it can get quite difficult at times, but ultimately it is very rewarding and worth putting in the effort.
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on 30 October 2009
If your into traditional bow building, then The Traditonal Bowyer's Bible Volume 1 - 4 is an absolute must read. A lot of profound and helpful information that covers many topics of traditional bow building. Master bow builder like Tim Baker, Jim Hamm, John Strunk or Paul Comstock share their wisdom with the interested reader.
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on 21 March 2012
I brought this book off Amazon as I have had a life time interest in archery. I am just a person who has a interest in archery from the armchair so to speak! I thought it time to get more into archery and how to make my own equiupment as the fun is in the building of thing's. I found this book full of information BUT also full of confusing terms. The front of the bow becomes 'the back', the bit facing you becomes 'the belly'. There even more vague terms as you progress through the book. As luck was it I found a old archery book in a bookshop in Ross-On-Wye for 30 shillings (old money)...(modern price 15 quid)...this book is written by a person imparting knowledge not jargon like the book being reviewed...There was even a 'glossery of term's' in the old book. As I said the reviewed book is full of information but why no 'Glossery of Term's' section??...I think the book was written by a bunch of obsessed people living in their own small world!
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on 23 November 2010
i wanted a simple step by step instructional book which would show me how to make a bow. instead found a load of technical jargon, confusing terminology,rambling story-telling, unclear pictures of men playing with their wood(!),frequent sickening references to killing things for sport,diagrams drawn and instructions given in such vague detail as to be almost useless. after trawling through many weary pages of this i did pick a few tips up (no pun intended) but boy it was hard work to read. there was no continuity or order to it, just a series of opinions from too many people who already seem to know everything, but dont seem able to share it. certainly not for the beginner. most of the useful stuff that eventually i did find here can be found in a few pages on the net, in seconds and for free!
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