Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tri Laminated English Longbow

Having sold some of my surplus cycling gear and parts I decided to complete my traditional archery collection with the purchase of an English longbow. Traditional archery, especially in a historical context, has always been a favorite subject and nothing speaks history like the venerable longbow.

As an "off the knuckle" archer I had acquired an American flatbow, Hungarian and Mongolian horsebows but was missing a traditional D shaped longbow. Traditionally the best bows were crafted from Yew but it is now a rare and expensive wood. Modern bowyer techniques can reproduce the special qualities of yew through the use of lamination. They still adhere to the rules of the English Longbow Society but are built using modern methods and materials.

Opted to pick up a tri laminated "68" inch longbow from Ebay seller Archery Bowman, an American based bowyer with excellent feedback...

The description is as follows.....

"This bow is made with a touch of recurve giving it much more cast and very little, if any, string follow. Made with a barrel tapered Moso bamboo backing a Jatoba center core and an White Hickory belly. Custom buffalo horn tips, right and left handed  Ipe strike plates, a deer skin and sinew handle wrap and finished with clear polyurethane. Conforms to all specs from the English Longbow Society for Proper Longbows...."

Cost of the longbow along with shipping to Canada came it at about $278 CDN which is very competitive in the longbow market. Unless Canada Post goes on strike(union is currently in labor negotiations) I should have the longbow no later than the second week of August.

Stay tuned........

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Trio Of Misery; Allergies, Strains and Gluten?

To say it has been a challenging summer is an understatement to say the least. That said I think I have things sorted out for the most part.

Pollen season has ended in Nova Scotia and is it a coincidence that I am feeling much better? Sinuses, upper chest, ears and throat finally feel normal. Not sure why I would develop a late life allergy to pollen but it sure looks like it happened? Ragweed season usually begins in September so lets hope for the best come Fall.

I`ve been having stomach issues but think it might be two actual problems causing some confusion. My symptoms have been bloating, discomfort, aches and just weird "feelings" in my belly.

 I suspect I actually may have a abdominal/oblique strain from pushing some heavy weight at the gym of late. Located in the upper right quadrant near the bottom of the ribcage. That would explain post cycling/lifting pain and a deep ache in the area radiating down the right oblique muscle. Cycling ice and heat along with topical ointments I am able to relieve my symptoms. To fully heal it requires rest so I`m trying to limit my cycling to my MTB as it is more of a relaxed upright geometry which is easier on my torso. No strength training either. That is the drag of abdominal injuries - pretty much everything, including breathing, works the abdominals. Definitely need to get it sorted before ball hockey starts again in September.

Along with the aches was the bloating, discomfort and odd feelings that might just be a gluten sensitivity?
Its summer and, in hinesite, I`ve been eating sandwiches steady the last month or so. Too hot/lazy to cook. Brought some sprouted grains breads thinking they are better than normal bread. Truth be told they do offer more nutrition but still have gluten and other anti-nutrients. I even found myself eating muffins at work of late....something I never usually do. Also began drinking beer again. On a hot day having cold beer is awesome but it always gives me a bloated feeling. I don`t think I`m intolerant to gluten but have some sensitivity that leads me to a "tipping" point. That would explain the symptoms I have been experiencing so I am going gluten free. As of this writing I am three days free and feeling much better. After an elimination period I will see how I feel and may reintroduce grains to see if my issues return. Or maybe not - if I feel good I might not even bother.

Going to give myself the month of August to see if I can get my issues sorted. If they remain despite my efforts its off to the doctor`s office. I`m getting old so discretion is the better half of valor.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Traditional Archery - Revisiting The Thumb Release

Had an opportunity to take the 40# horse bow out on a Monday afternoon opting to take some vacation time on a nice summer`s day. I originally picked up the Mongolian bow when I was having some hockey related shoulder issues so rarely do I shoot it anymore. That said whenever I do I usually attempt the thumb release technique as the lower poundage is forgiving and perfect for practice.

The thumb release you ask? Many traditional Asian archery traditions used the thumb release as opposed to the three finger styles used in the West. Among them were the Mongols, Koreans, Chinese and Turks. It was used in conjunction with a thumb ring, usually made out of horn or bone.

"It defines a pull-and-release technique where the major work is done by the thumb and the other fingers of the hand are involved in reinforcing the hold...."

Made famous by the horse archers of Asia and the Middle East the thumb draw was fast and offered the archer some advantages.....

"Since the archer’s paradox occurs towards the “opposite” direction compared to the Mediterranean release, the bow is “loaded” from the right side. This way the arrow follows a direct, shorter and flawless path to the string. Therefore, nocking the arrows is faster. The string hand is closed in a special manner to form a lock (“mun-dull” in Turkish), so that the arrow is held in place with a slight pressure of the index finger. This grip assures great stability during the entire shot sequence. The archer pulls and releases comfortably, on foot or horseback, backwards, in kneeling positions, with the bow canted in any direction, at any angle. Unlike when shot with three fingers, the string hand can hold extra arrows that can be nocked and shot faster consecutively. During the shot, the archer’s paradox occurs not only towards the opposite direction but also in a less acute manner, i.e. the arrow shaft bends less. It makes a wider spectrum of spine values match a particular bow. Practically, this allows the archer to shoot other arrows he may find on the battlefield with better accuracy. Another advantage of less-bending shafts is supposed to be a decrease of lost energy and, consequently, a higher initial arrow speed...."


 I do not have a thumb ring but did pick up a thumb release glove from 3 Rivers Archery. It works quite well for anyone wanting to experiment with the technique.

 To say it feels strange is a definite understatement. Not only is the arrow placed on the opposite side of the bow compared to the Mediterranean draw but I find I need to cant the bow to the right ( I draw with my left hand) to get a better sight picture of the target and to keep the arrow in place on my thumb ( as opposed to my knuckles).

It really takes some effort to develop a comfort factor using the thumb release as you are definitely loosing arrows "out" of the proverbial "box". I`m not very accurate but practice makes perfect. I just need to work at it more often to build a familiarity with the technique and, most importantly, develop a smooth draw and release.

Here`s an older video I created back in 2013. Looking at it now I was actually doing pretty good at that point in time but I was using the thumb release much more often. Guess that old saying holds true...if you don`t use it you lose it......


Here`s a cool You Tube video from the historical Turkish Ottoman military perspective.....


 Finally another You Tube video showing the speed and effectiveness of horse archery....