Longbows can regularly last as long as you can use the bow. With proper maintenance and care, a longbow can last around 20 to 30 years. It will still be in good shape to pass on to someone else.
A longbow is known for having a classic bow shape and has a minimal part to replace or break. Having minimal features is one of the reasons why longbows last for a long time. The life of a longbow can end because of the following reasons:
- Inadequate storage includes extreme temperatures, dampness, humidity, and leaving the bow under intense tension.
- Poor maintenance – Storing the longbow for too long without checking results in drying its wood and cracking.
- Mechanical damage – Improper maintenance can result in cracks in the body and broken tips.
- Poor shooting form happens when you intentionally or unintentionally put the torque on the bow’s body.
All the factors mentioned above are in your control. That is why the longevity of your longbow also depends on how you take care of it. Wooden bows like longbows need more care and maintenance than synthetic bows because woods need a lot of warming up and conditioning before you can use them for shooting.
Wood is sensitive to temperature, humidity, and moisture. The best practices you can follow are storing it unstrung and putting it in a dry and cool place to avoid too much moisture. However, putting care to your bow right can last longer than you think.
Good habits and consistent maintenance of your longbow can ensure an average lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
How strong is a longbow?
A longbow will require a force of as much as 150 to 200 pounds to draw. The power of a longbow depends on different factors. These factors are the bowman’s strength, the bow’s size, the arrow’s weight, and the height and thickness of the bow.
The strength of a long bow indicates that its draw weight would be anywhere between 360 newtons of force to more than 650 newtons of force. However, it takes considerable training and long years of practice to fire arrows accurately and control a longbow’s strength.
The history of longbows indicates its strategic value, especially when knights and armor dominated the battlefields. A trained longbowman could easily penetrate the most expensive and advanced armor. In terms of power, longbows have been in a league of their own since before.
Longbows are commonly six feet (1.8 meters) tall and were the predominant weapon of the English empire during the 16th century and in the Hundred Years’ War. The longbow played an essential role in the battles of Poitiers, Crécy, and Agincourt.
The best longbows during that time were made of yew. Longbows can shoot arrows with a cloth-yard about 94 centimeters or 37 inches long, with an effective range of approximately 450 to 1,000 feet (140 to 300 meters) depending on the arrow’s weight. These longbows require a force of as much as 150 to 180 pounds or 70 to 80 kilograms to draw.
Is the longbow challenging to shoot?
Longbow is more challenging to shoot than modern bows. It is also one of the most challenging bow designs to shoot out of all the different variations of bows throughout the history of archery.
Quite often, the modern version of the longbow has designs that are more forgiving than the traditional ones. However, even modern longbows made using the latest technology and materials are difficult to use effectively because it still needs a defined level of strength to control.
Most archers believe that shooting a longbow requires a lot of precise techniques to fire, even on short distances at large targets. Longbows also give intense and raw feedback to the archers, making them challenging to shoot for regular shooting and the hardest to use safely.
One of the main reasons why it is difficult to use a longbow is its sheer size. Longbows are enormous and at least the same size as the archers, which makes it hard for them to aim precisely. It is also difficult to pull the strings as they require a lot of force to aim precisely and to draw with a meaningful level of penetration.
Even practiced archers and those with proper coordination and strength find the longbow challenging to control. There is a reason why longbowmen are often professionals who grew up shooting longbows is that they continue to use longbows to earn a living until their adulthood.
One of the best benefits of using a longbow is that it is much quieter than any other type of bow. So, if stealth is essential to you when shooting, then the longbow is the best bow for you.
Another advantage of a longbow is that the difficulty and awkwardness of using it pay off because it can outrange the rest of the historical types of bows.
Moreover, longbows would have given an immense advantage in warfare, as demonstrated by the English and Welsh soldiers during the Hundred Years War.
What factor affects how far can a longbow shoot?
The type of wood of your longbow can affect your range because it is directly proportional to the bow’s weight. Therefore, the heavier your longbow is, the harder it is to control and increase your accuracy and penetration.
A longbow with a 30-pound draw weight can reach 150 to 200 yards of a target. A longbow that weighs 35 pounds can hit anywhere between 240 to 260 yards. Meanwhile, a 40-pound bow can hit a target between 250 to 300 yards with a practical and accurate range of 40 to 50 yards.
Certain factors can affect the range or the distance when hitting your target. One of the factors is the type of wood of your longbow. Usually, longbows are made out of yew, but these days, some longbows are made of maple, oak, ash, hazel, hickory, or elm.
Another critical factor that can affect your range is the size of your longbow and the weight of your arrow. Heavier arrows and longer bows can provide more power but lesser accuracy. Meanwhile, lighter bows can provide better accuracy for shorter-range shooting and bowhunting.
Do longbows break?
Longbows can break because of bad storage, poor maintenance, and mechanical damage. The amount of time you use your longbow— whether regular shooting, target practice, or bowhunting also impacts the possibility of breaking your bow.
Regular shooting can put mileage on your bow because light arrows and heavy arrows do absorb different amounts of kinetic energy to your bow. Most of the time, the kinetic energy vibrates and causes stress on the bow. Plus, putting some torque on your bow also puts pressure on it and causes it to wear.
That is why aside from constant string change, proper maintenance of your bow is also needed, as it is the most practical way to expand the lifespan of your bow. The different types of bows have different levels of need for maintenance because of varying components.
You can measure the life of a longbow through the following:
- Frequency of use
- Type and number of arrows you fire regularly
- Usual shooting form
- Accidents like unintentionally dropping your longbow while shooting
- Storage of your bow
- Practices you do for maintaining your bow
The possibility of breaking your bow depends on how much you can wear it out, especially its parts. You can replace some of its parts for most longbows to keep it in its prime shooting condition.
In theory, whether your longbow breaks or not depends on how much you care for it. However, the limiting factors are its spare parts availability and price. To keep your longbow in its best condition, you can do the following:
- Lubricate and wax the bowstring regularly
- Always keep your bow dry and clean right after shooting
- Condition and polish the body
- Check the bowstring regularly, especially after a whole week of using it
- Check for any damage and repair it right away
Another best piece of advice to maintain your longbow in good condition is to look for a bow less than ten years old. Having a less used bow can help you find the latest technology for the replacement parts, and it is also easier to look for spare parts when you need them.
How long can I leave my longbow strung?
You can leave your longbow strung for three weeks if it is from synthetic materials. Keep it unstrung if you plan to store it for a long time.
The best practice is to unstring your wooden longbow after shooting— whether bowhunting or target practices. Strings can remain in your longbow for a few more days if you do not have any plan to store them for a long time.
However, the days you can leave your longbow strung depend on its materials. You cannot keep a wooden longbow strung for a long time, while you can keep a typical synthetic bow strung for a month. Moreover, you can keep those longbows made from other different materials strung for a week.
Longbows made from synthetic materials are less sensitive to stress and damage. That is why you can leave it strung for a more extended period, especially when hung. Most archers agree that you should not string your longbow if you do not plan on shooting it for more than two weeks, especially when you are nearing the off-season.
If you plan to store it longer than two weeks, it is best to unstring it to protect it from losing power and keep it in good condition. When you store it during the off-season, avoid storage with extreme temperature and humidity to avoid wearing off your bow.
Longbows with limbs made from fiberglass are more flexible and take longer to wear off than regular bows. The fiberglass gives the longbow a comprehensive force and high tensile that enables you to leave it strung without any losses or damages.
Some longbows become sensitive through time if you constantly string and unstring them. It can then affect your accuracy and penetration. So, if you want to extend your bow’s lifespan, do not keep it strung for more than two weeks. If you keep it under pressure for a long time, it can reduce its durability and power.
Keeping your bowstring in its best condition does a lot to keep your longbow in its best condition. Moreover, modern longbows already have technologies to keep their limbs in good condition while strung. That is why all you need to worry about is the condition of your string after regular target shooting or bowhunting.