Personal Kit for Traditional
Archery is somewhere between 10 and 20 THOUSAND years old. In modern archery, we have compounds with cams and release aids and telescopic sights. Recurves with aerospace carbon risers and precision machined sights. Arrows are made of recently created materials (aluminium 1825 and carbon fibre 1860). Yet for the vast majority of archery’s existence, archers didn’t have these things … archery was much simpler. It was a much more instinctive art with less science, engineering and technology intruding into the experience. Today, we call this traditional archery and lots of archers like their archery historic, based in judgement and instinct. As a new archer, you may feel the draw of our archery forefathers and would like to investigate what personal kit you might need. Well, traditional archery doesn’t use tabs like in recurve. Certainly not release aids like compound and even bracers are very different .. So, what do you need?
First thing to consider is a 3 fingered glove for your draw hand. This protects your fingers from nerve damage/burst blood vessels just as a tab does but you wear it meaning it can’t be dropped .. something that would have been important to hunters or archers in battle. There are a variety of designs, but all do the same job. Merlin do quite a few at prices from under £10 to over £40. More expensive usually means nicer leather/more robust stitching used in the construction but something like the Timber Creek premium glove is probably a good quality glove for reasonable money.
If you are considering going down the authentic horse archer path**, we would recommend The Hu for musical inspiration and a thumb ring instead of a finger glove. This is because the Asiatic approach uses protective horn over the thumb which is the only finger that hooks the string. Think OK hand symbol with the thumb inside the index finger and the string hooked at the first knuckle of the thumb. Also (for righties) the arrow rests on the RIGHT side of the riser (on your thumb). This is tricky for those of us raised in the Mediterranean style of archery (3 finger draw/rests on back of hand) and can be frustrating. We mean shoot the grass a lot frustrating, but it’s another style for you to consider on your archery journey.
**(Try to limit any desire you have to carve out an empire around your club or genocide any nearby housing estates! :o)
If your bow of choice doesn’t have a shelf to shoot off of – longbows and horsebows – you need a bow hand glove. The arrow rests on the back of your hand (or thumb) when shooting these bows. As a result, you can get cuts from feathers as the arrow leaves so some protection is required. Again, Merlin has a nice collection of gloves ranging in price from £6 to £15 with durability and quality of the leather being the difference as the price rises. When sizing these puppies, you want snug otherwise they will not be a good launch pad for your arrow.
The next item is less protective of you and more protective of your arrows assuming you are shooting traditional wooden shafted arrows. It’s the Archers Tassel, which seemingly is an integral part of every longbowers kit. This is an arrow cleaner that hangs from your quiver or belt and is used to clean up your arrows if you shoot them in the soggy dirt. The wool is good at absorbing moisture which will rot the wood if it gets behind the arrow point. In construction, this is just many strands of wool about 12-14 inches in length. These are then folded in half and tied at the midpoint to make a loop. Multicoloured material is often used for quite a striking effect and the handle can be carved wood or leather as well as less tradition materials. If the tassel isn’t your kinda thing, a small towel will suffice.
Finally, bracers. These predominately leather or suede arm guards protect the forearm from string slap which is more common in traditional archery than in the more modern approaches. An authentic style for the medieval period would be a simple piece of leather that wraps round your forearm and secured with a leather thong laced through eyeholes punched in the leather possibly with some decorative tooling. These are murder to put on yourself. More modern approaches to this exact same device uses elastic and hooks making putting on your bracer a whole lot easier and a one archer job. Merlin again carry a good variety of stock with a wide range of prices.
So, there you have it. Much more traditional versions of common archery items. Ideal for horsebow, longbow, selfbow, american flatbow and even the fieldbow. If you want to embrace our archery roots, go for it. There are still badges to get … you just don’t need as much stuff as the modern archers do, you’ll never feel stress like they do, and we doubt a Mongol horde ever took 20+ minutes to put their bows together! :oD
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As noted above, Merlin carries quite a bit of the more traditional style of archery than most stores, but they are not the only supplier of such items.
The Longbow Shop carries the usual modern interpretation of these items but also some personal kit that our medieval forefathers would have approved of.
Obviously, there are reenactment suppliers that will supply you with medieval arrow bags or other such accessories if you want a little more authenticity to your gear. Just don’t go down the green tights route, please! ;o)
Csaba Grozer, a fantastic bowyer whose horsebows are awesome, also does horsebow style accessories like bracers as well as bow cases and quivers. Very nice workmanship.