A longbow is a type of bow that is tall roughly equal to the height of the person who uses it; this will allow its user a fairly long draw, at least to the jaw. A longbow is not significantly reserved. Its limbs are relatively narrow so that they are circular or D-shaped in cross section. Flat bows can be just as long; the difference is that, in cross-section, a flat bow has limbs that are approximately rectangular.
The longbow is based on the late medieval English longbow in use during the 12th to 16th centuries. The historical longbow was a self bow, often made from yew. Modern longbows may also be made from modern materials.
Because the longbow can be made from a single piece of wood, it can be crafted relatively easily and quickly. Amateur bowyers today can craft a longbow in about ten to twenty hours, while highly skilled bowyers, such as those who produced medieval English longbows, can craft wooden longbows in just a few hours.
One of the simpler longbow designs is known as the self bow. By definition, a self bow is made from a single piece of wood. Truly traditional English longbows are self bows, made from yew wood. The bow stave is cut from the radius of the tree so that the sapwood becomes the back two thirds and the belly, the remaining one third, is heartwood. Yew sapwood is good only in tension, while the heartwood is good in compression. However, one must make compromises when making a yew longbow, as it is difficult to find perfect unblemished yew. The demand for yew bow staves was such that by the late 16th century, mature yew trees were almost extinct in northern Europe. In other desirable woods such as Osage orange and mulberry the sapwood is almost useless and is normally removed entirely.
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