re: [SCA-Archery] fiberglass in the period division?
- Leif and others
As for the true center-shot cutout window, I believe it came about with the
development of balanced-limb modern composite bows with the first semi
pistol-grip risers - around 1947 or 1948.
Before that, without the balanced limbs (developed by Hoyt and Son), the best
one could do was to get a partial window, or a narrowing of the riser in
proportion to the limb width. This would have been no more advantageous than
the narrow riser on the Saracen recurve.
Arrow rests are not found on European bows until long after the time of the
bows from the Mary Rose find, and not on Eastern bows even today.
True engineered rests like our leather flaps and plastic flaps were not even
relatively common until just before the mechanical mass production of bows
started, in the late 1920's. Previous to that any rests would have been
similar to a shelf. I have seen mention of a leather 'bump' being added to the
sied of a bow just at the top of the handle wrapping, but it is conjecture as
to whether this was to assure proper hand position of the bow hand (making sure
the knuckle 'rest' was in the same position each time) or if it was an actual
As for fiberglass - if you consider that Kassai's bows are fiberglass
laminates, they shoot very much like a composite bow of the same type (speed,
cast, etc...), then you are actually keeping an entire area of shooting open by
allowing fiberglass. I don't usually fall into the cost arguement, but when
you consider that you will pay about half the price of some new cars for a good
composite Saracen horsebow (and those that are cheaper are seldom worth
anything), then it is prohibitive in the extreme to insist that people don't
use the fully acceptable fiberglass composite substitutes
Also, for those of us who have been stung (literally) by a breaking steel prod
on a crossbow, fiberglass is a godsend, and it shoots with the same efficiency
as a composite prod on a period bow, though it does shoot faster and flatter
than an equivalent wood or metal prod. For safety reasons, it would not be
good to remove fiberglass prods from the period division of crossbows. (Yes, I
know, there are some good steel prods out there. But any metallurgist will
tell you that every spring will fail if continuously stressed, and a prod is a
spring...) Fiberglass doesn't bust up like steel, so on the 100 pound plus
bows with severe arch height (a crossbow prod), you can't blame some people for
feeling more comfortable with 'glass.
Better yet to require (on honor, of course) a bow that performs like it's
medieval counterpart. A modern fiberglass or fiberglass-laminate longbow does
not perform like a wooden bow - from draw to arrow impact almost everything is
different. But an English longbow of Osage (though never found in period
Europe) does perform like a well made second-string wood longbow that would
have been available in period.
I am much more interested in seeing people learn how to shoot like a medieval
archer than making them conform to some generic specifications. Sure, this
will take equipment different than the modern shooter uses, but it is in
everyone's best interest to keep the range of equipment allowed as large as it
can be while still promoting period practice and technique.