For some while we have heard whispers from "up north", it seems there are some extraordinary English Longbows being produced by one Aidy Hayes, national target records are starting to fall and the word "in the greenwood" is that these bows are startlingly fast. We have tracked down the bowyer responsible and in addition to a couple of bows we have on test right now we thought we should find out a little more about the man.
1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN ARCHERY AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED ?
I have been involved in Archery for just over 35 years. I was introduced to archery at the tender age of eleven by my parents who also participated in the sport, along with my older brother. Ironically my father was involved in an accident which broke his fore arm and was advised to take up a sport to improve the muscle rehabilitation, hence Archery. My parents went on to start their own club (Whitcliffemount Archers) along with some of their friends. So from then on my brother and I were taken along and eventually I caught the archery bug and have never looked back since.
2. WHEN DID YOU MAKE YOUR FIRST BOW AND WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
I am a qualified Joiner by trade, so have always had an interest in carpentry, which in turn lead me to making my first bow in the early part of 1990. I had shot recurves and compound bows for many years and now wanted to venture into the realm of the traditional longbows/stick men. I bought my first long bow from Ron Palmer for £70.00 and thought, “Just a minute, I could make one of these.” and so I did.
My very first bow that I made had a combination of three laminations, Hickory, Purple Heart and Lemonwood and the performance was excellent, even if I say so myself. Although it had a very basic style/cast, the first tournament I used it at was the Yorkshire Championships and I won.
3. WHAT’S THE ONE TOOL IN YOUR WORKSHOP WHICH YOU COULDN’T DO WITHOUT?
The one tool in my workshop which I probably use the most and which I would be lost without is the band saw. This basically cuts out everything I need, from the wood laminations, the basic bow shape after the laminations are glued together, the handle joints and cutting out the basic shape of the horn nocks. Without this piece of kit life would be much harder.
4. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT BIG INNOVATION IN BOW BUILDING WILL BE?
If you are referring to the next big innovation in longbow building, then my answer would be, none. The fact is that in no way can you improve on natural materials and the Traditional Longbow consists of natural materials. Yes, people will experiment with different woods from around the world and different lamination combinations, but at the end of the day, I am a firm believer in that not everything requires change.
5. WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU ENJOY USING THE MOST?
Wood of course! Only joking….. Bamboo every time, because when you purchase this material, you know there will be no hidden defects, unlike Hickory and Osage Orange which can have shakes throughout the wood staves. This can cause all sorts of problems from start to finish, but with Bamboo, what you see is what you get.
6. WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR BOWS OR THE WAY YOU MAKE BOWS THAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER BOWYERS?
The combinations of the woods which I use for the laminations are a key factor in the high performance of the bows which I produce. They also have a very smooth draw and numerous customers have commented on the fact that the poundage that they ordered for distance, when at full draw seems less, (which is always a bonus) showing that the bows have an excellent cast. I also have the Knowledge, patience and time, which are other key factors that are required when custom building bows, as every individual customer specification e.g. Draw length, poundage etc. is unique and if this is not taken into consideration when a bow is ordered then the outcome can be disastrous.
7. DO YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO SHOOT?
Oh yes! I can always find time to shoot. At the end of the day everyone needs a hobby, a time to relax, me time. My wife says I, “Eat, sleep and breathe Archery,” and she’s right for once! So my Mum went out and bought me the t-shirt.
I try to shoot at least two to three times during the week and I’m always travelling up and down the country to tournaments most weekends. I shoot my own bows, as this allows me to test the merchandise first hand and I am proud to say that I have achieved National Record status at Double and Single Fita Clout and I hold numerous County Records which must be a good advertisement for my bows.
8. WHATS THE BEST SHOT YOU EVER MADE?
In 1991 I won the Scorton Sliver Arrow, hitting the black spot at 100 yards, so I think that this must be one of the best shots I‘ve ever made and one of the proudest Archery moments. To be awarded Captain of the Arrow was a great achievement.
9. HOW MANY BOWS DO YOU MAKE A YEAR?
Due to popular demand and more archers becoming interested in trying the more traditional method of Archery, my bow production has increased to approximately 100 bows per year.
10. WHAT’S THE SPEC ON YOUR PERSONAL BOW OF THE MOMENT. ALSO, WHAT’S THE SPEC ON THE ARROWS YOU SHOOT? WOOD - (POC, SITKA, PINE OTHER?) CARBON/ALLY, TOTAL WEIGHT, FLETCH SIZE, POINT WEIGHT…ETC THE FULL SPEC.
The bow I am shooting at the moment is an Aidy Hayes original and consists of three laminations which are Bamboo back, Lemonwood core, Ipe belly. It stands 5”11 tall, weighs 56lb at 28“ draw lengh, has a Nylon braided handle and a 16 strand double Flemish looped - fast flight string. My arrows are from Little John Arrows and the shafts are 5/16th - parallel matched pine arrows, 28 ½ “ long with 63 grain piles, with 3” fletchings, plastinocks and the total weight of the arrow is 400 grains.
Archers Review is dedicated to carrying on the great tradition of sharing archery knowledge, in many ways we are still re-discovering the skills of our forefathers, unlike just about any other competitive sport, in archery the learning never stops, as we grow as archers the enjoyment increases, so we invite you to share with us all the skills, tips and hints that will help us all to be the best archer we can be.
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