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Thread: History of the recurve

  1. #1
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    Question History of the recurve

    Does anyone have an idea when the first recurves hit this country (US). Did the native americans use recurves or were they strictly of longbow and flatbow variations? I'll do some homework looking into this unless I hear from my knowledgeable brothers (or sisters) first.
    Out for now.

    Archery legend Glenn St. Charles, thank you!


  2. #2
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    Indians of the Southwest made deflex tip bows to take advantage of the often inferior materials they had available in their tree-poor area of the world. Indians of the Northwest were reported to use reflex and recurve design techniques to squeeze the performance of a longer bow into a shorter length (among other reasons, because it handled better in the dense woodlands of the Northwest). Ishi was reported to have made sinew backed bows - the sinew backing inducing a refex into the bow. In addition, Europeans no doubt were sometimes known to bring bows from the old country.

    Recommend that you get hold of volume three of the Traditional Bower's Bible and read Tim Baker's article on "Bows of the World".

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Recurves

    Thanks Kitsap, I've been following the Turks, Scythian and Mongolian influence with their bow styles. Man they date way back.
    Out for now.
    Last edited by ex-diver; June 28th, 2003 at 02:02 AM.
    Archery legend Glenn St. Charles, thank you!

  4. #4
    daddyrobinhood Guest

    being creek indian i will answer this

    yes indians cut there teeth on every bow except the compound had we had that back then trust me you and i would be typing in geronimo...visit your local museum on indian cultre and look at the waay they designed just like modrn bow in man ,many ways....wondering if they used 100 grain rocks for broadheads or 125 yea well iam too....

  5. #5
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    Cool Yes indeed

    Any tribe or culture that provided food and clothing from shooting sticks has my respect then and now. History is cool.
    Out for now
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  6. #6
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    Fact is that the so called 'Horse Bow' in the hands of a skilled warrior was quite a bit superior to the pioneer's single shot muskets in everything but range and power. A warrior could get off 6 aimed arrows for every musket shot. Also, black powder was difficult to get (or make) so it was always in short supply (the difficult-to-make part really comes in the granulation stage).

  7. #7
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    check out the " encyclopedia of native american bows, arrows and quivers ". volumes 1 and 2. by steve allely and jim hamm. if your really into native american self bows you won't be dissapointed.

    don

  8. #8
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    Thumbs up Books

    Don s,
    I have looked at these books and maybe someday I'll be able to put them in my library. Jim Hamm also has one out called "Bows and Arrows of the Native Americans" I think I may have looked through it, but I'm not sure. Looks like another quest for sure.
    Out for now
    Archery legend Glenn St. Charles, thank you!

  9. #9
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    I was told that Mongolian's invented the recurve bow because there longbow would hit the horses side when they released the arrows. The game they used to play was. They would bury enemys with just there head showing, ride by on horseback and shoot for the persons head. (who needs polo) with a sport like that.

  10. #10
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    Unhappy Polo anyone?

    I guess you could say it pays to be a winner or a Mongol. Yes I've heard the same thing about their recurves, makes sense though. I'm finding out more and more short bows can be very lethal and a blast to shoot.
    Out for now
    Archery legend Glenn St. Charles, thank you!

  11. #11
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    ex-diver, i also have "bows and arrows of the native americans" by jim hamm. another excellent book.
    don

  12. #12
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    Short bows mostly came into vogue in the Americas with the introduction of the horse, although short bows were common among seafarers because they were easier to manage from a kayak or canoe.

    The natives used an augmented pinch release for the most part. The pinch of the short bow's string on this release caused the archers to employ shorter arrows and shorter draws instead of thumbrings like the Mongols. The bows were strengthened accordingly to compensate for the short draws. They would actually stack significantly near the shooter's armpit and attempts to pull them all the way back to the "standard" anchor point usually break them or the shooter.

    The natives also employed sinew and horn in a manner similar to the Asiatic bows.

    Sinew backed bows were so powerful in fact that they forced the Spanish Conquistadores to adopt the native quilted cotton body armor favored in the Southeast and Mexico over their own plate steel body armor. Obsidian especially can cause nasty wounds after it perforates steel because it tends to shatter and each fragment has fresh, razor-sharp edges to do more damage.

    Altaic peoples took a little different approach, using the thumbs instead of the fingers. Their bows were designed to be used from horseback and featured "sihas" rather than recurves in many instances.

    The siha differs from the recurve in that it is narrow and the string actually loops around it rather than resting on it. This makes the bow very quiet and also very efficient. The draw is not dissimilar to a compound with no letoff, that is to say it seems to reach peak weight sooner and then hold on to it longer than with a conventional recurve thus storing a little bit more energy probably.

    Asiatic horse archers could reliably hit three foot targets at 75 yards from horseback and, with short arrows and overdraw appliances attached to the bow wrist, they could hit horses at 400 yards or more causing havoc when the animals went crazy.

    In addition to the short, barbed-headed, long range arrows they also carried longer, heavier short range arrows with chisel heads similar to the English Bodkins that would handily penetrate most body armor.

    One short range training drill involved shooting into one's mount's hoofprints while at full gallop. This was practiced to facilitate a common tactic where the horsemen would pretend to retreat then fire back at their pursuing foes. It seems to have been a very old tactic too, being employed by the Parthians against the Romans in Mesopotamia.

    In the Americas, the advent of firearms pretty much doomed native archery. By the time the Americans became interested in it, most natives were already using guns instead of bows. They were after all practical people. Even so several of the "fathers" of modern bowhunting benefitted from native designs that differed substantially from the English longbow.

    These designs incorporated flat limbs, duoflexing, recurves, composite materials, et cetera, that were subsequently incorporated into the design of both the modern recurve and modern duoflex flatbow. Indeed, despite the fact that Pope, Compton and others built English longbows for their own use, the designs that persisted were the native ones not the English.

    Often one might encounter native bows in museums strung backwards thus belying their duoflex design. That design was often achieved by simply heating the wood and stepping on it between two parallel logs. English bowyers abhored the practice claiming it weakened the grain of the wood, but the natives didn't care since they weren't adverse to using sinew, horn or both to strengthen the bows.

    While the Asiatics often relied on laquering to protect the composite joints, the natives used hide, which coincidentally can prevent a sinew backed bow from checking in the belly while it's curing.

    I think what many modern bowyers fail to appreciate from time to time is that the ancients probably got it right and there really aren't any new designs for a weapon that might be tens of thousands of years old. Practical people don't miss a lot in thousands of years.

  13. #13
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    Cool Alot of history out there

    Very interesting info.
    I've found first hand how lethal obsidian is down in Mexico. Yes I have the cuts, like an idiot I didn't take this stone serious enough.
    Alot of bow history down there also.
    Have fun
    Out for now
    Archery legend Glenn St. Charles, thank you!

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