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33731Sinew coatings on traditional bows -- how to evaluate?

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  • childcareguy47
    Jun 29, 2013
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      Dear SCA Archers;

      I am a newbie to this list. I hope to open a discussion of Sinew Coated on Bows, Why It Is Applied, and How It Is to be Evaluated.

      First, please allow me to clarify, I am not an archery expert. I am a low level 40+ year lover of archery. I am not a safety expert, I defer 100%, without reservation, to the SCA marshals and Archery Captains.

      In brief, asking a marshal questions is OK, but questioning a marshal, in the field, is not OK. Does that make sense?

      Having said that, I feel that we have before us a possible misunderstanding of the use of a Sinew coating -- final layer -- on a longbow. When we ordered a hickory longbow, the bowyer suggested we add Sinew, for a slight additional fee. He said that it would not change the bow in any way, but it would make it safer, especially if it was ever used in combat.

      The sinew would not make the bow tougher, stronger or weaker, pull any harder or less, not make it smoother to draw. The sinew would only hold the bow together a bit longer if it were to fail.

      The purpose of the sinew was exactly the same as the layer of plastic embedded in some safety glass -- hold the broken pieces together in the event of a catastrophic failure. A defect in the sinew may not make the bow any more likely to fail, or any less safe, if I understand the situation.

      That is the question I hope to raise. I am hoping that actual archery experts will discuss this and come to a consensus.

      I offer this thought experiment. We have an English long bow, hickory, custom made by our local SCA bowyer. The bow is beautiful, strong, free of defects. The bowyer adds a layer of Sinew, for the reasons described above.

      Complication: sinew is a composite material, stringy, fibrous, gooey, and difficult to work. The "net" of sinew adheres nicely to the bow, but it appears to be slightly uneven, with small gaps in the coating.

      *** Does that make the bow less safe? *** If the bow was safe before the sinew coating, may the addition of a good, but not perfect, sinew coating make the bow less safe?

      Is the sinew coating merely cosmetic, of no importance, unless the bow breaks? Can a chip in the paint job of a car make the car less strong or less safe? Is that a fair analogy?

      I am hoping that the archery marshals and archery captains may arrive at a consensus agreement. Perhaps the sinew coating adds to the safety of a bow even if the coating is not perfect. Perhaps.

      Much like a window screen with a tiny hole. A screen with a tiny hole is better than no screen at all. An old pair of work jeans with a small hole provides more protection than no jeans at all.

      And a long bow with a good but not perfect sinew coating is better than the same bow with no coating at all.

      Yes? No? Needs more discussion? Please get back to me. I support SCA archery safety and marshal authority 100%, without reservation.

      Thank you for your time.

      Thomas Starremon

      aka Michael Kauper

      612-827-3481 home

      612-483-0298 cell
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