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15630Re: [SCA-Archery] Turkish bows

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  • John Rossignol
    Jul 19, 2004
      Hi, Jenna. I currently shoot a Hun bow, so I had have at least some
      experience with horse bows. Since you said "turkish" I will assume that
      you meant specifically that. If not, however, just be aware that there
      are many related styles of bow available which might fit your persona,
      and might be somewhat easier to shoot (more about that below).

      A source I know for Turkish bows is Traditional Archery Scandinavia, who
      market bows made by Csaba Grozier in Hungary. Mr. Grozier makes some
      really beautiful bows. Purchasing via Traditional Archery Scandinavia
      is a bit easier than dealing directly with Mr. Grozier because you can
      use credit cards, etc. I have not personally bought a bow from this
      outfit, but I have bought other things. They were recommended to me by
      other archers at the range where I shoot. Here are the URLs:
      (For the Turkish bow, choose the button labeled "Török")

      HorseBows, in Madison, Wisconsin, markets very nice horse bows made by
      Kassai Lajos in Hungary. This is where I got my Hun bow, and I am very
      happy with it. Edwin Gilbert, who runs HorseBows, is an SCA marshal and
      an honorable man. Unfortunately, none of Kassai's bows look to me like
      the classic Turkish bow design. If your persona is not specifically
      Turkish, however, you might find another related design appealing. Here
      is the URL:

      Both Kassai and Grozier are expert archers both afoot and on horseback,
      and use their own bows.

      As far as draw style, a thumb draw is of course authentic for a Turkish
      persona, and to my knowledge a 3-finger draw definitely is not. But
      with a Turkish bow, you also need to be aware of "pinch". Pinch is what
      happens when one draws a bow back far enough that the "V" angle of the
      bowstring at the nock point becomes small enough to squeeze the fingers
      of the bowstring hand. This is never really a problem with a tall bow,
      but many horse bows, especially Turkish bows, were historically quite
      short, and even the taller versions now available are generally shorter
      than a typical longbow or modern recurve. Because of pinch, a
      western-style 3-finger draw does not generally work well with short
      bows. It depends on the bow, your draw length, and the size of your
      hands. The thumb draw works well with both short and tall bows, and may
      also allow you to use a heavier bow, if finger strength becomes a
      limiting factor.

      If you want to learn the thumb draw, be sure to but "Kay's Thumbring
      Book" by Kay Koppedrayer. It is available through HorseBows. (I
      couldn't find it at Amazon.com) When you try out the thumb release, be
      careful. I found that at first it is easy to release the string without
      meaning to. The thumb release is not as easy to learn as the 3-finger
      release. It can be very hard to hit the target at first. I recommend
      going to the archery range early in the morning, when no one else is
      there (to save embarrassment). Once you learn it, however, the thumb
      release works very, very well.

      Turkish bows of traditional design can now be found in two "sizes": the
      traditional very short size, and taller sizes which are more popular for
      non-mounted archery. When I say short, I mean that the strung height of
      the bow might be 1/2 the height of a longbow for the same person -- very
      handy on horseback. A taller version may allow you to use a 3-finger
      draw. I do not know whether the taller versions are period for SCA, but
      I wouldn't let that bother me. I do know that they are much easier to
      shoot than the shorter versions. Short bows tend to be very
      unforgiving. Unless you plan to use the bow for mounted archery, I
      would definitely recommend a taller version, at least for your first
      Turkish bow.

      There are a couple of other things you should be aware of about Turkish
      bows. The first is that even the taller versions are not as easy to
      shoot as a longbow or modern recurve. They are a very high-performance
      design and are not forgiving of small mistakes in technique. The
      contact person at Traditional Archery Scandinavia specifically warned me
      about this when I enquired about their Turkish bows. A Turkish bow
      could be quite a trial for an archer without a fair amount of
      experience. On the positive side, the Turkish design is very
      efficient, and produces a somewhat higher release velocity than, for
      example, a longbow of the same draw weight. This results in a flatter
      trajectory (always good) and greater range. For sheer efficiency in
      propelling an arrow, the Turkish is probably the best among traditional
      bow designs.

      Another thing is that a traditional Turkish bow, like most horse bows
      and many longbows, has no arrow rest or shelf, and no cut-out like a
      modern recurve. The archer rests the arrow on his/her bow hand. On the
      positive side, this allows the arrow to be placed on either side of the
      bow, which can be quite useful to counteract the wind effect of a
      galloping horse. On the negative side, the lack of a cut-out makes
      correct arrow spine more critical, and the absence of a fixed arrow rest
      means that for consistent shooting you must always grip the bow in the
      exact same place. However, many longbows are the same way. One gets
      used to it. There are special hand guards available for the bow hand,
      but I just wear a leather glove.

      One last thing -- for your first Turkish bow, at least, I don't
      recommend a composite constructed with completely traditional materials.
      These are what Grozier call his "Extra III" models. The traditional
      horn/wood/sinew design is good, but the problem is the glue used to hold
      them together. The traditional glues, including the ones used by
      Grozier (I asked), soften in wet weather. The bow won't work right when
      the glue is soft, and trying to use it then could permanently damage it.
      Authentic composite bows are also pretty expensive, so they can be
      something to look forward to when you become a connoisseur. ;-)

      Good luck! Horse bows are neat!


      Jenna wrote:

      >I would like to purchase a turkish bow to stay in persona and i
      >rather like the look of them... I was wondering if anyone has delt
      >with a particularly good dealer for one, and also, do you have to
      >shoot such a bow with a thumb ring or are you basically able to use
      >either method of shooting on any type of bow in general?
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