Brief video from the Smithsonian channel exploring the differences between a yumi and a longbow, briefly explaining why recurves are more efficient than simpler self-bow designs.
Amongst the many things it doesn’t explain or gets wrong include why the longbow became popular despite more efficient composite designs existing contemporaneously. The reason is that it was a mass-produced weapon, much cheaper and quicker to manufacture and requiring less maintenance and care than composite Eastern bows – the Kalashnikov of its day. The classic English yew longbow of historical battles also used much higher draw weights than the 50lb weapon shown here, usually 100lb and up for long range, heavy war arrows on European battlefields, very different to short-range (and often mounted) samurai combat.
It ends with a slo-mo illustration of archer’s paradox on the longbow, without explaining why the yumi doesn’t suffer from it as much (it’s to do with twisting the bow on release, as I understand), and without explaining why it’s not an issue.
Unfortunately, archery is complicated, and traditional archery even more so – but the conventions of TV mean that things get reduced to ‘which one is better’. That’s OK. If you want more, there’s a big deep pool to dive into which you can swim in for life. 😉
Some great photos from Sinan Atamer, showing a longbow at the moment of release and neatly illustrating two scientific phenomena at once – archer’s paradox and rolling shutter.
Read more here: Archer’s Paradox. Rolling Shutter. #science #facts
More awesome work from Shawn Woods, who I’ve written about before. He makes a yew longbow using only copper and stone tools, and is kind enough to film everything for our delectation. It may be ‘primitive archery’, but it’s a level of technological and manufactory sophistication that I can only wonder at, then or now. Keep it up, Shawn. Thanks.
Have been reading Hugh D.H. Soar’s The Romance Of Archery, a ‘social history of the longbow’ in Britain. Lots of amazing treats and facts, but this one stuck out. You will no doubt be aware that your standard Easton X10 arrow, the choice of about 99% of top recurve archers (and many compounders) is barrelled; i.e. it is thicker in the middle and thinner at each end. This means the the the shaft is stiffest where it has to resist the bending force, and since it carries no unnecessary stiffening, it can be narrower and lighter than if it was parallel, meaning it’s less affected by wind.
Of course, no one had ever told me this wasn’t a 20th century idea. When Hugh starts talking about his collection, he mentions…