My disclaimer here is that I have no religious affiliation. I do however love history and stories. A couple years ago I purchased a book for Jamie's birthday and it is a most interesting read. "The God Tree" by Janis Fry & Allen Meredith.
It is a history of the yew tree and its connection to legends and actual events throughout our past. And definitely has a different perspective on some stories that we take for granted.
One of these is the story of when Jesus was killed and of his resurrection. Please note that this book has extensive references and you almost have to read the whole book as so much relates to one another. (For instance they spend a couple chapters explaining why the Tree of Life is a Yew tree, then this is the understanding for the rest of the book.)
A few years back we decided to stop taking custom orders for arrows. We were so focused on keeping up with the crafting of our traditional longbows, that the arrows unfortunately had to take a back seat. There are only so many hours in the day for a small family business and we decided to focus on what we most enjoyed.
Luckily for us, we met a great local Fletcher named Blayne Prowse, who owns and operates Beaufort Traditional, a small business specializing in custom made wooden arrow and archery supplies. After a few back and forths and some test batches of arrows, we were very pleased with the quality of the arrows being produced and put in a good sized order to provide some fresh stock for our website.
Just recently we took possession of our newest batch of arrows and they are lovely. 14 dozen in total and.we have all of the spine weights covered between 30 and 70 lbs.
We've had a good month working in the shop. Jamie had a solid week to himself when I took off with the kids to go visit a friend down in the US. Upon our return I've been working to finish up these beauties (oiling, handles, strings).
I have never thought of myself as an artist. I was one of the kids in school with straight A's and a D in art (which I think I received only because an F would probably have made the teacher look questionable). But outside of school I enjoyed calligraphy. I liked the order to it, that there was a system to it, and that it looked beautiful. And throughout the years I have doodled with Celtic knot work as well (for the same reasons of order & beauty).
About 4 years ago Jamie was teaching a workshop in Vancouver and I was there (helping a little, but mostly keeping our then almost 1 year old out from under hatchets). Near the end of the workshop one of the participants pulled out a wood burning kit and burned some knot work onto the back of his bow. Jamie had some concerns about violating the back of the bow (where there is tension placed), but I was thinking how cool it looked, and that maybe I could do something like it.
So I went ahead and purchased a pyrography set (wood burner and pen with interchangeable tips). And started playing around with the burning. I took a basic knot design and customized the ends, with one looking a little like an arrow tip.
On my first trip to the UK (October 2015) I was fortunate enough to visit the Leeds Armoury in Leeds, UK. I had a few days off between bow making workshops and I decided to take a day trip north to visit one of England's three royal armouries.
The trip started out a bit hectic, despite my best efforts to figure out the train times online to make the journey as smooth as possible. My first train from Birkenhead to Liverpool was stopped mid journey for mechanical issues. After a twenty minute wait we boarded a different train to complete the Journey into Liverpool. After running down the tunnels and up the escalator I arrived just in time to watch my train pull away from the platform. After an hour wait and a cup of coffee I was on the next express train heading north to Leeds. The train seemed to travel really fast so I asked the conductor just how fast we were going and I was suprised to hear that we were clipping along at 90 mph.
When I started first building yew selfbows over 10 years ago I was motivated entirely by my own interests in the yew tree and my desire to create a hunting bow using local natural materials. I set a personal goal to build my own gear and eventually harvest a deer with it, which still to date remains incomplete. At the time I did not know anyone else interested in this form of natural archery and my first teachers were the authors of the first volume of the Traditional Bowyers Bible (TBB). I read the book cover to cover and sucked up as much info and wisdom as I could. Over time I met two other local guys who were also playing around with yew wood bows and we we were happy to share our secrets around what has worked for us and what has not. Those get togethers were where I first tried out the farriers rasp, which changed my whole perspective on wood removal and I also picked up the tricks to the Flemish twist bow string. Looking back, they were my only in person teachers as I got started. I also picked up a lot of knowledge through the strong community support on the Primitive Archer forum boards, as well as the the 4 volumes of the Bowyers Bibles. All of my other techniques and theories have been hard earned through trial and error, with nearly as much error as trial.
Just finished off a great week with 5 great folks. Here's the video showing the bows. 3 flatbows & 2 longbows in the batch..
Ravenbeak Laminate Bamboo Backed Yew English Longbow by Jamie MacDonald
Tradition has always been interesting to me, often we look around the world and see things that we consider have been around for time immemorial, however that often isn't the case. Food is a big one, many of the staples we see in diets across the globe were completely unheard of only a few hundred years ago, go back a little further and tomatoes and potatoes simply didn't exist in Europe before the discovery of the Americas.
This question has come up a lot and I thought this might be a good opportunity to write it down so others can read it.
Archery has always been a part of my life. As a small boy I can clearly remember watching my father shoot the very first arrow from his 55lb recurve. I had been playing with his bow for some time and was trying hopelessly to pull the thing, in fact I thought it was impossible. One day we hopped in the truck and drove out to a farm to pick up a few straw bales, once home he set them up in the yard and told me to stand back. As the first arrow hissed across the yard I was mesmerized by the speed and that image has been forever burned into my mind.
If you've ever wondered why Ravenbeak? Here's the story:
I don't want to copy it here, since google is funny about duplicate wording on a site. But we just put it up. It's a good story and wanted to share it.