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Longbows & recurves - selling nostalgia.

Longbows & Recurves--Selling Nostalgia

According to reliable statistics, approximately five percent of America's 2.5 million bowhunters still prefer recurve bows or longbows. This might not sound like much, but it adds up to some 125,000 non-compound consumers. That's an average of 2,500 per state -- a group large enough to warrant your attention.

It is a common myth that non-compound bows shoot with considerably less speed than more modern cable-and-pulley bows. In reality, a good-quality recurve bow propels a medium weight arrow at about 200 feet per second--the same average speed produced by a round-wheel compound bow. Cambows are somewhat faster and longbows somewhat slower, but arrow speed differences are often exaggerated.

Similarly, many consumers believe that recurves and longbows are innately less accurate. These are certainly more difficult to shoot with minimal practice, because they require you to hold full poundage as you aim. For example, a 50-pound recurve bow exerts 50 pounds on your fingers at full draw, whereas a 50 pound compound bow only exerts 17 to 25 pounds on your fingers. Nonetheless, skillful archers who practice with regularity can shoot a recurve bow every bit as well as a compound. The key is keeping fingers tough and shooting muscles in shape.

Recurve bows tend to shoot more smoothly than longbows, and transfer less vibration and recoil to your hand during a shot. The average modern longbow measures about 68 inches in overall length, whereas most recurves measure between 55 and 62 inches long. This makes recurves somewhat handier to maneuver and shoot, especially in a tree stand situation. For sheer simplicity and traditional appeal, however, longbows cannot be beat.

The most popular recurve bows are three-piece takedown models. These have limbs which bolt securely to a metal or hardwood handle, allowing a hunter to own several sets of limbs of different draw weights. Takedown recurves are also especially easy to store, transport, and backpack cross-country.

If you decide to stock a few "traditional" bows in your store, there are plenty from which to choose. Ben Pearson sells two recurves -- the 52-inch takedown Legendary Hunter with magnesium handle, and the 56-inch takedown Traditionalist with laminated hard rock maple handle. Hoyt USA offers three fine recurves for hunting-- the 58-inch takedown Huntmaster with natural wood riser, 66-inch takedown Polaris with laminated hardwood riser, and 48-inch takedown K-Bow with natural wood riser. Bear Archery sells several hunting recurves, including the famous 60-inch Fred Bear Custom Kodiak Take Down and the 60-inch, one-piece Fred Bear Kodiak Recurve. Both bows have beautiful multi-color hardwood handles. Martin Archery sells six hunting recurve bows, including the popular 62-inch Martin Takedown with multi-laminated maple handle, and the handsome 60-inch Super Diablo one-piece recurve with stunning laminated Zebrawood components and clear glass limbs to accentuate the natural beauty of the wood. PSE Archery has also entered the recurve market in 1990, with a fine 62-inch PSE/Jeffery Heritage takedown bow crafted from striking laminated hardwoods.

Fewer longbows are available to dealers, but some excellent models are offered. PSE's 68-inch PSE/Jeffery Heritage Longbow features beautiful hard maple laminations throughout. Martin Archery sells three 68-inch longbows--the Howatt Custom, the Pioneer, and the striking clear-glass Zebrawood Mountaineer. Ben Pearson's 68-inch, hardwood-handled OI' Ben has also been a longtime favorite of traditional archers.

When stocking longbows, it is advisable to offer both traditional models with straight, leather-wrapped grips, and more modern versions with wooden grips contoured to fit the hand. PSE's Heritage Longbow and Martin's Howatt Custom Longbow both display the latter handle design, and some archers definitely prefer a contoured grip.

When stocking recurve bows and longbows, you should realize that an average non-compound shooter is best suited to a draw weight between 45 and 55 pounds. All recurves and longbows are rated for a 28-inch draw length, so you should also stock a bow or two in the 40-pound class to accommodate archers who draw especially long arrows. For every extra inch beyond 28 inches, a recurve or longbow draws about three extra pounds. Consequently, a bowhunter drawing a 31-inch arrow in a 40-pound recurve bow is actually pulling about 49 pounds. Above 55 pounds, many bowhunters tend to experience bruised bowstring fingers and erratic accuracy.

If you stock recurve bows and longbows, you should also offer a few simple traditional accessories. For example, most longbow shooters prefer a nonbow quiver like the Martin all-leather Back Quiver or some sort of hip quiver. Martin also offers a traditional lace-up armguard preferred by some. In addition, almost all non-compound shooters use feather-fletched cedar or aluminum arrows because feathers provide superior arrow-to-bow clearance and much better accuracy.

Recurve bows and longbows are not likely to dominate your archery sales, but it makes good sense to offer the non-compound option. Every once in awhile, you will sell one of these bows and make a customer happy!
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Title Annotation:archery equipment
Author:Adams, Chuck
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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