View Full Version : Question about Archery bows?

01-05-2012, 12:48 AM
Ok so I tired to do this research myself but I keep getting lost in the bow lingo.

Slight background: My character Evy. Shes a 105lb, 17 year old girl. The story is a fantasy in a kind of midevilish time frame. Right now i need the perfect bow for her, something small, lightweight, and easy to shoot.

But i know bows aren't like that. So would any bow even have a drawback pressure enough for a rather weak girl to be able to pull back and shoot with?

Alessandra Kelley
01-05-2012, 12:58 AM
I don't know much about the history of bows.

I do know that a compound bow was wonderful when I was a weedy little adolescent girl. It has an arrangement of pullies which makes the bow terrifyingly powerful. But I don't know how long they've been around.

Apart from that, crossbows.

01-05-2012, 01:21 AM
I had an ordinary bow you could buy at Sears when I was twelve. It was a powerful mother-of-a-bow and my parents forbid me to use it except in a large field across the street from where I lived. (Even so, my arrows often flew over the neighbors' houses.) Later I got an even better one, but it was just a simple bow with one string. I could string it though - you had to bend it over your leg. I can't describe it, but I could do it again, if I had to.

I also took Archery 3X in college (we had to get 18 credits in PE I think, maybe 24. It's so long ago, I forget.) It was mostly target shooting, but again I loved it and the bow was a simple curved bow, one string.

When I was twelve I was about 80 pounds and well under five foot. My arrows used to go right through the target and out the other side, and I am no athlete, so I would think with the right bow and training your character could be formidable.

Drachen Jager
01-05-2012, 01:23 AM
Well she couldn't draw a military bow. At the peak of the bow as a military weapon English longbowmen trained from pre-pubescent age to have the strength to pull them. Their skeletons are easy to pick out when archaeologists are combing through remains because the skeletal structure of the forearm is changed from the constant stress.

For a girl like that a birding bow or other light hunting bow would probably be appropriate. Not very effective at killing armored humans, unless she had fantastic aim though.

In a medieval setting, compound bows would not exist.

01-05-2012, 01:28 AM
When I was 12 I had a fiberglass bow with a 35 lb pull. A 17 year old girl could have handled it easily, and you could definitely kill someone with it.

But if you want her to be unusually weak, maybe a small crossbow would do the trick. They've been around in different forms since forever.

01-05-2012, 01:46 AM
When I was about that age (somewhat taller, somewhat heavier, but not particularly "strong") I had a simple recurve bow with a 50 lb draw and didn't have trouble with it. (I mean...I had trouble AIMING it...and in fact was banned from using it shortly after for related reasons...no trouble drawing it, though.)

I did give myself a huge, horrible bruise on my arm before I got wise and bought a friggin' armguard, though.

But yeah...some light hunting bow with a draw 50 lbs or under I should think.

01-05-2012, 02:05 AM
We had multiple simple bows around when I was growing up - my father even made some. There were different weights ascribed to the pulls - 20 pound, 40 pound, etc. I was shooting the 20 pound pull when I was nine with no trouble. To string it, I set one end of the bow on the ground and held it down with my foot, then bent the bow with both hands to get the string into the receptacle. I never had any problems with string burns on my inner arm - but I have seen people get them. Puma

01-05-2012, 03:03 AM
Thanks alot everyone! Your information has helped me alot!

01-05-2012, 03:18 AM
I have a primitive hickory bow with a 35lb draw weight. It would take some practice, but even someone who had never drawn a bow before could pull it far enough to do some damage.
Pulling a bow will definitely build up chest muscles.
It took me several tries to string it. At first I thought it was hard to string, but it was just my technique that was wrong. Once I got used to bending it against my thigh, it was a simple and fairly fast maneuver.

(hopefully you can see imageshack pictures)
This is a picture of my 8 year old daughter with the bow. Obviously she can't pull it all the way back, but she could still get an arrow some distance with practice.

01-05-2012, 05:11 AM
Just so you know, if you want the character to have more power in their shot with a smaller draw weight, a recurve bow would be best. They were also smaller in size. The main drawback being that they weren't as accurate at a distance.

01-05-2012, 08:46 AM
8 year old daughter with the bow.

What a beauty. A true warrior princess.

01-05-2012, 08:58 AM
I've had a longbow made of osage and bamboo for years, 40 lbs draw; 26" arrows. I'm not even 5 feet tall and can pull it with no problems. It was made by a man who did weaponry for the Ren Fest, so despite the materials, it's a Medieval style bow.

As you can see, it's taller than me:


@wicked, I hope the archerlet in the making knows not to dry fire that thing...

01-05-2012, 07:06 PM
What a beauty. A true warrior princess.

Thank you. :) She loves to do all the fun competitions her brothers do. Last year it was tomahawk, knife throwing, and muzzle loader.

As you can see, it's taller than me:


@wicked, I hope the archerlet in the making knows not to dry fire that thing...

Nice picture, Cyia. :)
I'm 5'3, so I've actually to a couple of inches on my bow, but not by much.

No, no dry firing. I'd always been told that, but never knew how bad it could be until you mentioned it and I decided to google. Yikes. I don't think I would ever want to be near a bow that shatters in someone's hand.

I found this video on YouTube that demonstrates a similar method to the one I use to string my bow. My husband laughed his butt off the first time he watched me try it. I nearly tripped myself.

Mark G
01-06-2012, 01:54 AM
My first fantasy manuscript centers around a 15-year-old half-elf girl who's an expert with a bow (and sword). I didn't delve into a lot of detail about the bow, but I didn't think it would be unbelievable for a teenage girl to draw a bow. Especially if she's a tomboy and spends her youth keeping up with the boys, and has to learn to use a bow to hunt. I'm a believer in encouraging young people to believe that they can do anything they put their minds to.

I had a compound bow when I was 18 or so, with a 70 lb draw. It was tough even with pullies; but a 35 lb draw longbow isn't so bad. Especially if you have lots of time to practice. Our 21-year-old boy recently got an authentic English longbow and has come in 2nd place in 2 tournaments; but he only weighs about 120 at 5'8" or so.

The recent movie "Hanna" has a teen girl using a bow to hunt.

If you're talking about a pampered pricess picking up a bow and weilding it, that might be a lot less believable; but not because of her gender or her build. It's all about attitude, perseverance, determination, and a willingness to push your abilities to their limit with anything you do.

01-06-2012, 03:35 AM
What about a crossbow they have been around since about the 4th century BC. They don't require a lot of strength.