I’ve started sharing some bits and pieces I know about shooting a Longbow onto Facebook and thought I would collate the information here in case anyone would like it!
Here is part one:
I thought I would add a few extra details for those using medieval archery in their stories – I use a longbow, and it is very very different to using a modern recurve.
Hopefully this will be useful to someone!
Gloves – Your medieval archers are going to wear gloves. Probably thick leather gloves, because otherwise they’re going to lose the skin on their fingers and at the top of their hand. It’s really painful. Speaking from experience…it’s really painful to have the skin ripped off the top of your hand.
Draw string – the string is tough, it has to be. If you’re drawing back the string with your two fingers (medieval remember – only those pesky Victorians started using three fingers) That’s a lot of rubbing between a string and the inside of your fingers. If you just take some twine and pull it hard against your fingers it might not hurt the first time but after thirty goes it’s going to rub away skin.
An alternative to a glove on your draw hand would be a little leather tab that can hook between your fingers. These are still used today for modern archery and very useful.
Why gloves? Part two: Your medieval longbow doesn’t have an arrow rest on the staff (or stave). So you’ve nocked your arrow on the string. If you pinch the arrow to hold it in place, it’s going to swing all over the place and it won’t shoot anywhere you want it to go. So you have to rest it against something to keep it beside the staff. In longbow, this is your hand.
The way I get into position, is to hold the staff at arms length in front of me, with a straight arm. Then you lift your thumb against the staff so that the line between your thumb and first finger knuckle are as level as possible. This is where the arrow will rest. If your grip isn’t level, then you’re aim is going to be all over the place. But if you’re not wearing gloves, this is again where you’re going to lose skin. And you’ll lose it after the first shot. It stings and then you don’t want to do it again. Yes, it’s possible to build up callouses (the same for the draw string) but that’s really going to hurt, and leather gloves will save the day!
I’ll be honest, after a lot of shooting, it’s still going to hurt. The leather is going to heat up from the arrow running over the top of it and that’s really where you’re going to build some resilience and start working on some callouses.
Hope everyone is keeping safe and well. Happy writing.