Ian Sturgess Ash Longbow - English Longbow

Reviewed By Steve

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Just recently our club took an archery holiday to Austria where we shot some of the best archery courses in the Alps in the Austrian Tirol. Our club is a bit different to most in that we all compete together, regardless of the bow you shoot, the arrows you favour or the style that you use. This makes for a realistic participation of the sport… it goes without saying that scores are made secondary to the actual shooting, as you will have someone using a hybrid R/D bow or a recurve archer using carbon arrows side by side with an archer using an English Longbow and wooden arrows.

What this means is that the archery isn't all about "points" – which can be a false indictor of both how good you are and how much fun you are having. Because of this there is less segregation or snootiness about what kind of bow you shoot or arrow that you use. Given this free spirited approach to archery it's interesting that only 1 archer in the club even dabbles with compound bows ( and even then mostly in private !)

So a question I hear a lot is…" where can I get myself an inexpensive Longbow to see if it really is as much fun as it looks ?" – I am of course talking about an English Longbow, what is quite amazing is that our top English longbow shooters can equal and on occasion out score recurves and flatbows, folk who have never shot one are always astonished that someone with a bent stick and some wooden arrows can shoot as well as those with the $1000+ bows.

Ian Sturgess Longbow

As there are such a lot of different Trad bows within the club many of the archers swap between bows, which probably accounts for the incredibly high standards and why our club takes so many medals at open shoots.
Sadly since the passing of dear old Ron Palmer there are few, if any, capable bowyers prepared to produce real value for money Longbows that folk can purchase cheaply but be assured of a proper Longbow experience with a decent level of performance. As with most stuff on sale these days people tend to equate price with quality… if it costs more it must be better- right ?

 Archery, and especially English Longbow archery, like many niche minority sports, does tend to attract enthusiasts, passionate folk who love it so much that the mercurial aspect of producing something is of far less importance than the fact that the article itself must be "true" – true to its purpose, true to its heritage and true in its form.
I came across Ian by pure chance, he is into Warbows, heavy weight Mary Rose style bows that can send out real artillery arrows the full distance – he does however, acknowledge that not everyone has the strength to haul a 150# bow to 32".
So, for those working their way up to the big weights or for those who just want to shoot a more moderate Longbow he produces, in his spare time…and for fun, a range of Ash bows that will be "true" longbows but are easier for him to make and therefore cheaper for an archer to buy.

There are plenty of folk making English Longbows these days and when some of these guys are charging over £500 for essentially £30 worth of materials we expect that it will be a performer – so when we see custom hand made bow for just £100, despite how attractive it may look from a price point of view ….. you have to ask yourself.. "is it any good ?"
At least, the cynic in me will ask this question, some folk would grab one of these with both hands and start running purely based on price…. and they would be the smart ones because this little bow is a cracker.

 A good bowyer will start with good material and even a quick glance at this bow tells you what you need to know in that regard.. the bow is a self ash bow and the grain is as true and straight as you will find, it doesn't run out to the sides of the bow and is blemish free its whole length.

It has a lovely profile and a fine smooth finish, it's unvarnished, I guess if you wanted to varnish it you could but for a simple bow such as this the finish is just right, it tapers elegantly and possesses the sexiest little nocks I have seen for some time, the handle is simple and there is no strike plate.

In years past when you bought a bow the bowyer would have given explicit instructions that only Dacron was to be used for the string, increasingly these days bowyers are selling bows with fast flight strings – what's surprising here is that Ian has supplied the bow with its own fast flight string – this is after all a budget bow and fast flight is way more expensive than B50 – however it is a measure of confidence in his work that even his budget bows sport a high performance string. Modern string materials can be hard on stick bows and a poorly designed bow can suffer not just at the tips but in the handle area when subject to the stresses of non stretch string materials.

No such worries here though, the bow shoots with the manners of a skilfully made bow – I would go so far to say that in all departments this bow shoots better than its price might lead you to believe and is probably the best value ELB I have seen in a long time – and just because I used words like "value" that does not mean it's OK "considering its price" – The Ash self bow has been around millennia and in times past folk used bows for hunting and survival, they were not making them for sport and Ash was a favourite bow wood, it's strong, has good elasticity and recovery properties, stores energy well and produces a fast bow.

This bow will hold its own in any company – it ticks all the aesthetic boxes and when it comes to the shooting it is a beauty. Sure it is light weight but there is virtually no handshock, the draw is smooth right out to my full 28" draw. No hint of stacking even when I pull it through to 30" – The thin 8 strand string adds some small measure of extra speed and held at a slight cant I find the bow supremely accurate. Albeit only 38# it's fast and with the right arrow you will have no problem using this as a target bow or a field bow. Over the chrono here are some speed figures- using my far from scientific but, real word test… 12 shots off fingers. The top 2 and bottom 2 results discarded and the rest averaged….

380gn     10.5gn/#          143fps
480gn      13.33gn/#       133fps

 So… is it any good ? without doubt the best value English Longbow available today… As I mentioned before lovely old Ron Palmer used to produce great little bows at a super keen price, he enabled many thousands of archers to discover the pleasure of the Longbow – when he passed away so many of us knew that his boots would be hard to fill and he left a huge gap in the archery world for those looking for a quality bow as a sensible price – There is an old saying " cometh the hour, cometh the man"- Ian is just what the Longbow community needs right now, as the Longbow continues its resurgence of recent times these brilliant bows at a superb price can only be good news to all those wanting to know what all the fuss is about and looking to get into the Longbow. It is always reassuring when your bowyer is a fanatic and really into archery himself, it's much more likely that he will produce a bow he would want to shoot himself and although Ian shoots big bows he acknowledges that everyone has to start somewhere which is what these Ash bows are all about – here he is shooting one of his own 160# English Longbows- this is a few years old now and was taken when he was just 18 !!!….

We don't usually provide links to websites but you will need to contact him and this is easier than googling…

Click here for Ians' website: www.BostonBows.co.uk


Features & Design  
A lovingly produced bow from a bowyer that cares about bows, he shoots himself and has a keen passion and understanding of Warbows – this is made in the style of the "bend through the handle" medieval bow.
When it comes down to it an English Longbow has to be judged on performance – this little beauty shoots superbly and looks right.
Value for Money  
All the way…. get on the phone now as I am willing to bet he will be inundated with orders within weeks of this being published.
If ever there were a "No Brainer" this is it… for almost no money you can have a real, proper English Longbow experience – just about no handshock, plenty of speed and performance and it shoots straight too… £100 ????? worth every penny and a whole heap more… better be quick..

Your Comments

Tell us what you think, do you agree with the review or have something to add?

  • Posted by: Bruno Silva on Sep 26, 10:23

    I’d love to get one but his website seems to be down, any email you might share so I can ask some questions? Cheers

  • Posted by: Steve@archers-review on Sep 26, 12:14

    Be patient he will be back online shortly

  • Posted by: John G flamson on Oct 2, 20:28

    I have had two of Ians bows in the past six months and i have just made enquiries about a third I just can’t seem to hang on to them I sold my bow for no profit to members of our club after they had a try and they could not believe how good they are Buy one at your peril as you won’t own it long you will be pestered as I was until you have to sell to get five minutes piece .Keep it going Ian there is a growing ELB archers by the day at our club.

    All the best John G (Coach)

  • Posted by: Rob on Feb 11, 08:03

    His website says this bow, the Ash Longbow, is no longer available. Which is a disappointment as this price bracket was exactly what I was looking for in a longbow (I’m not an avid longbowman, preferring horsebow or compound, but I wanted a lower budget longbow for those times when I want to join my wife in the Longbow class)

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