[Horsebow] Looking to purchase first horsebow and have questions

Kaidonni

New member
Having recently tried out a friend?s 25lb Mongolian horsebow, I?ve decided I?d like to buy one for myself. I currently own a 30lb recurve bow and want to add some variety to my bow styles in the realm of traditional archery. I?m not interested in Longbows, nor am I interested in Flatbows. My interest in Asian history is what draws me to Mongolian horsebows in particular.

I know there are Chinese retailers on ebay that sell horsebows for affordable pricing (read that as not starting at a few hundred ???s, but double digit figures instead), and I?ve narrowed down the colours of the bow that I like alongside the poundages available for those. To that effect, I have a number of questions I?d like to ask before I proceed any further:

1) Which material is better, pigskin or cow leather? Is there any advantage of one over the other? I don?t like the aesthetics of the snakeskin coverings, so those are out.

2) The bows come with one of two string types, nylon or tendon. Which is better? Where might I be able to get replacement strings in the future?

3) Arrows ? I assume I will be needing to use different arrows to the ones I use for my recurve? They are #. The fletchings themselves are plastic, and given that I need my pressure button on to prevent them scraping against my riser, it doesn?t seem like a good idea to use them with a horsebow. I won?t buy them off ebay after reading one of the reviews on this site about the quality of the arrows that come in the special bundles.

4) Thumb rings/shooting style ? is it absolutely necessary to use a thumb ring? I am used to shooting with my recurve using the standard style with three fingers, but this probably won?t work so well with a horsebow. Can I get away with two fingers? As for holding the bow, well?when I tried my friend?s bow out, I was holding it like I hold my recurve, completely vertical ? this helped with the kick horsebows have and the strain on my wrist due to no wrist sling, but am I correct in assuming they shouldn?t be held in this style for maximum performance?

5) This leads to my next question ? wrist support, and what kind?

6) Finally, how durable are these bows in general? How long would it last if I used it regularly, every few weeks or even couple of weeks?

As far as hand protection goes, I know about proper gloves for the hand I use as an arrow rest. I didn?t find it out the hard way either, I asked immediately about it before shooting even one arrow (yes, I?m a wuss!).

Hopefully I can actually decide which of the ones I've shortlisted I will purchase soon. Thank you for any help here.
 


Berny

Member
Having recently tried out a friend’s 25lb Mongolian horsebow, I’ve decided I’d like to buy one for myself. I currently own a 30lb recurve bow and want to add some variety to my bow styles in the realm of traditional archery. I’m not interested in Longbows, nor am I interested in Flatbows. My interest in Asian history is what draws me to Mongolian horsebows in particular.

I know there are Chinese retailers on ebay that sell horsebows for affordable pricing (read that as not starting at a few hundred ???s, but double digit figures instead), and I’ve narrowed down the colours of the bow that I like alongside the poundages available for those. To that effect, I have a number of questions I’d like to ask before I proceed any further:
I'll embed my answers in your below:

1) Which material is better, pigskin or cow leather? Is there any advantage of one over the other? I don’t like the aesthetics of the snakeskin coverings, so those are out.
? What about the aesthetics of a block of fibreglass hiding under the wrap?
Get a colour wrap you can live with.


2) The bows come with one of two string types, nylon or tendon. Which is better? Where might I be able to get replacement strings in the future?
I reckon something most probably got lost in translation & it will likely be a dacron(=polyester) string!

3) Arrows – I assume I will be needing to use different arrows to the ones I use for my recurve? They are #. The fletchings themselves are plastic, and given that I need my pressure button on to prevent them scraping against my riser, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to use them with a horsebow. I won’t buy them off ebay after reading one of the reviews on this site about the quality of the arrows that come in the special bundles.
Make your own woods/boos & fletch with feather!

4) Thumb rings/shooting style – is it absolutely necessary to use a thumb ring? I am used to shooting with my recurve using the standard style with three fingers, but this probably won’t work so well with a horsebow. Can I get away with two fingers? As for holding the bow, well…when I tried my friend’s bow out, I was holding it like I hold my recurve, completely vertical – this helped with the kick horsebows have and the strain on my wrist due to no wrist sling, but am I correct in assuming they shouldn’t be held in this style for maximum performance?
Shoot how you like, start with what you know & then try other techniques.
Hold your bow how you like - dunno why you should get kickback(=handshock) from a 25# horsebow unless it has massive limbs.
Get an SKB if you can, or a Kaya KTB - light & fast with no handshock, made with slim laminated limbs not block of fibreglass!


5) This leads to my next question – wrist support, and what kind?
Again, what for?

6) Finally, how durable are these bows in general? How long would it last if I used it regularly, every few weeks or even couple of weeks?
You get what you pay for - you may get durability at the expense of looks & performance.

As far as hand protection goes, I know about proper gloves for the hand I use as an arrow rest. I didn’t find it out the hard way either, I asked immediately about it before shooting even one arrow (yes, I’m a wuss!).

Hopefully I can actually decide which of the ones I've shortlisted I will purchase soon. Thank you for any help here.
 


Raven's_Eye

Active member
Ironman
Having recently tried out a friend’s 25lb Mongolian horsebow, I’ve decided I’d like to buy one for myself. I currently own a 30lb recurve bow and want to add some variety to my bow styles in the realm of traditional archery. I’m not interested in Longbows, nor am I interested in Flatbows. My interest in Asian history is what draws me to Mongolian horsebows in particular.

I know there are Chinese retailers on ebay that sell horsebows for affordable pricing (read that as not starting at a few hundred ???s, but double digit figures instead), and I’ve narrowed down the colours of the bow that I like alongside the poundages available for those. To that effect, I have a number of questions I’d like to ask before I proceed any further:

1) Which material is better, pigskin or cow leather? Is there any advantage of one over the other? I don’t like the aesthetics of the snakeskin coverings, so those are out.

They are both leather of some form. Cow is a bit more tough but not that you'd notice. I have a pigskin bow and it's fine, not sure about in the rain though haven't tested it yet.

2) The bows come with one of two string types, nylon or tendon. Which is better? Where might I be able to get replacement strings in the future?

If you are looking at the ebay ones in double digits it's not a standard string, it's about 4 strands of quite thick material. Could easily replace it with standard string material though.

3) Arrows – I assume I will be needing to use different arrows to the ones I use for my recurve? They are #. The fletchings themselves are plastic, and given that I need my pressure button on to prevent them scraping against my riser, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to use them with a horsebow. I won’t buy them off ebay after reading one of the reviews on this site about the quality of the arrows that come in the special bundles.

Yes different arrows will be needed, remember a horsebow is more akin to longbow when it comes to arrows. Shooting off the fingers you will need feathers, not plastic veins. Wood would be better suited or bamboo. Might need a different length too.

4) Thumb rings/shooting style – is it absolutely necessary to use a thumb ring? I am used to shooting with my recurve using the standard style with three fingers, but this probably won’t work so well with a horsebow. Can I get away with two fingers? As for holding the bow, well…when I tried my friend’s bow out, I was holding it like I hold my recurve, completely vertical – this helped with the kick horsebows have and the strain on my wrist due to no wrist sling, but am I correct in assuming they shouldn’t be held in this style for maximum performance?

You can shoot it with three fingers like other bows you don't have to use a thumb ring. If you want to try a thumb ring remember the arrow will go on the other side of the bow. I don't know which society you shoot with, but under AGB a horsebow will be a barebow so you can use a finger sling if you like.

5) This leads to my next question – wrist support, and what kind?

Wrist sling/finger sling, under AGB it's a barebow and they are allowed either.

6) Finally, how durable are these bows in general? How long would it last if I used it regularly, every few weeks or even couple of weeks?

How long is a piece of string, it's fibreglass wrapped in leather with wood. Could last years could last weeks same as recurve limbs. I've had mine for a year or two but I shoot it rather rarely.

As far as hand protection goes, I know about proper gloves for the hand I use as an arrow rest. I didn’t find it out the hard way either, I asked immediately about it before shooting even one arrow (yes, I’m a wuss!).

Can get a shooting glove, but if your nocking point is right and your arrows are the right spine then your hand should be safe. In fact some will tell you not to have a glove so that if it's wrong the cut on your finger will tell you. Another reason for feathers over plastic vanes unless wrong a feather will leave you alone, a vane will hurt even if the arrow is right.

Hopefully I can actually decide which of the ones I've shortlisted I will purchase soon. Thank you for any help here.
 


Just to be different I'll reply in random order..... ;)

What's a wrist sling?? just hold the bow (not too tight) and don't drop it! ;)

As said - wooden arrows with fletches (not vanes). If you're really worried about it - you can raise the nock point on the string about 1/2 a nock width and the arrows will clear your skin no problem. If you're anywhere near London I'd recommend a trip to Carol Archery for an arrow matching session - she has a store of all weights and spines so you can shoot a variety until you find the setup that suits you and your bow. Takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.

Longevity - depends on what you get. A cheap ebay 'mongolian' will probably be fibreglass under the leatherwork so will last ok, whereas a genuine Mongolian made with traditional raw materials may well need more looking after (will also be far more expensive). As said - for your first one, it may well be worth getting a 'mass-produced' bow from a reliable, known manufacturer - eg Samick SKB, or Kaya. Then look at investing in something from someone like Kassai or Grozer.

I use Med-loose with my horsebow and it's fine. Also shoot with the thumb on occasion but it's hard work...... For reference I shoot a 60lb Samick Mind50 - a Korean modern interpretation of a horsebow (it's a carbon version of the Samick SKB). I shoot without a bow-hand glove, I've only nicked myself once or twice with the 4" shields I use on my arrows. Thumb draw with a bow this strong is a case of drawing back until the string rips itself out of your grip! ;)
 


BillM

Member
I have a Flagella Die horsebow which cost under ?100 including delivery from Hungary. Does exactly the same thing as a ?300+ Grozer or other expensive horsebow. It was my Christmas present 3 years ago and it has been used quite a lot. Dropped several times but no apparent damage and still shoots fine. It's yew over ash and covered with a skin of fibreglass - looks good. Have a look on ebay and see the variations available. It is light in the hand but about 50# draw weight. I shoot 40# on my recurve and can manage the horsebow without much difficulty. I use the same technique as my recurve but don't use a finger sling, just lightly grip the thing. Wooden arrows with feather fletches, made up by me, and a small protector on my bow hand as the first time I shot it the new feathers cut my hand. Adjusting the nocking point sorted that out. It came with a Dacron string and I've stuck with Dacron when I made a spare one.

As stated before, you get what you pay for but do try before you buy as I've heard that there is a large variation in the quality of some bows which are available. I'm pleased with my Flagella Die bow and would buy another one if I need to.

BillM
 


TJT

New member
I started off with a Kaya Windfighter and think it was an excellent starting point. You could get a very similar Kaya SKB for about ?95 new. These, in my opinion are basically indestructible no-fuss bows. Very fast and efficient. I sold my Windfighter for not much less that I paid for it so total cost of ownership was very low...

I shoot with a longbow glove, three under or shoot thumb-ring style but use a basic kyudo glove rather than an actual ring.
 


Kaidonni

New member
I'll embed my answers in your below:

1) Which material is better, pigskin or cow leather? Is there any advantage of one over the other? I don’t like the aesthetics of the snakeskin coverings, so those are out.
? What about the aesthetics of a block of fibreglass hiding under the wrap?
Get a colour wrap you can live with.
I ought to have been more clear with that one - since the handle is made out of the main covering also (in some cases, anyway), is there any particular material that might wear easier against the arrows brushing against it?

4) Thumb rings/shooting style – is it absolutely necessary to use a thumb ring? I am used to shooting with my recurve using the standard style with three fingers, but this probably won’t work so well with a horsebow. Can I get away with two fingers? As for holding the bow, well…when I tried my friend’s bow out, I was holding it like I hold my recurve, completely vertical – this helped with the kick horsebows have and the strain on my wrist due to no wrist sling, but am I correct in assuming they shouldn’t be held in this style for maximum performance?
Shoot how you like, start with what you know & then try other techniques.
Hold your bow how you like - dunno why you should get kickback(=handshock) from a 25# horsebow unless it has massive limbs.
Get an SKB if you can, or a Kaya KTB - light & fast with no handshock, made with slim laminated limbs not block of fibreglass!
I might have been holding the bow incorrectly or just unused to that type, and after a short while it was quite comfortable also.

Can get a shooting glove, but if your nocking point is right and your arrows are the right spine then your hand should be safe. In fact some will tell you not to have a glove so that if it's wrong the cut on your finger will tell you. Another reason for feathers over plastic vanes unless wrong a feather will leave you alone, a vane will hurt even if the arrow is right.
I do think I will go with a hand glove though, I'd rather not cut my hand (especially due to the fact I own an aquarium, so I'd rather not have cuts when I'm messing with dirty fish water - if I can help it, anyway).

This is one of the ones I've been eyeing up. I'm have a particular interest in Chinese and Japanese history, so am more drawn to bows relating to their culture and history (the irony here being that the Mongols invaded and established a dominion over the Chinese for a time). I live in the West Midlands, smack dab in the middle between Dudley and Wolverhampton. The closest bow shop to me is Bowsports, and while there doesn't look to be a lot in the way of horsebows on offer, they do have this Samick SKB 50.

You can shoot it with three fingers like other bows you don't have to use a thumb ring. If you want to try a thumb ring remember the arrow will go on the other side of the bow. I don't know which society you shoot with, but under AGB a horsebow will be a barebow so you can use a finger sling if you like.
I'm a member at Wolverhampton Company of Archers, so I am a member of GNAS.

What about draw weight when it comes to horsebows? My recurve is 30lbs at 28", and with my pitiful saplings-for-arms I'm pulling about 6lbs less at my maximum draw length. Would a 30lb horsebow be a good place to start, or would it be better to go a little higher than I would with a recurve?

Thank you for the replies everyone, it's certainly helping me to finalise any plans.
 


Berny

Member
I'll stick to responding to a few points:

if you're worried about handle/arrow-pass wear, stick soemthing sacrificial on it: insulating tape, thin leather, etc.

- a typical horsebow is just a short(er) recurve - so if 30# is your max with a recurve of a length
>60" say, why would you want to shoot a heavier bow that's shorter? (Chinese bow in your link is 56", SKB 50").

Also, I reckon a laminated SKB will out perform (cast) a solid block of fibreglass under a wrap
& any warranty issues may be better served through a UK based retailer.

- you don't say anything about your budget - what is it?
Is there not someone in your club who has one or both of these you can try?
I & my club have examples of both of these for people to shoot - have you asked at yours?
....or try asking at clubs near you - as a GNAS member you should be able to go along & try if someone is willing,
with a draw-length of 25/26" you're unlikely to run into issue of overdrawing someone else's bow.
 


Kaidonni

New member
I'll stick to responding to a few points:

if you're worried about handle/arrow-pass wear, stick soemthing sacrificial on it: insulating tape, thin leather, etc.

- a typical horsebow is just a short(er) recurve - so if 30# is your max with a recurve of a length
>60" say, why would you want to shoot a heavier bow that's shorter? (Chinese bow in your link is 56", SKB 50").

Also, I reckon a laminated SKB will out perform (cast) a solid block of fibreglass under a wrap
& any warranty issues may be better served through a UK based retailer.

- you don't say anything about your budget - what is it?
Is there not someone in your club who has one or both of these you can try?
I & my club have examples of both of these for people to shoot - have you asked at yours?
....or try asking at clubs near you - as a GNAS member you should be able to go along & try if someone is willing,
with a draw-length of 25/26" you're unlikely to run into issue of overdrawing someone else's bow.
I tried a horsebow like the one on eBay - someone else at the club purchased one, but it was the wrong draw weight (they wanted 28lbs) so they got another one and gave the 25lb to the other member, the one that I tried out. It was okay for my first run with one. I'd be able to try out the Samick at Bowsports if they have one in store.

My budget...I'd say I'm not wishing to spend too much, to be honest. I woudn't say much above ?100, otherwise I feel it is going a bit far at the moment for a first horsebow.
 


Kaidonni

New member
I have a Flagella Die horsebow which cost under ?100 including delivery from Hungary. Does exactly the same thing as a ?300+ Grozer or other expensive horsebow. It was my Christmas present 3 years ago and it has been used quite a lot. Dropped several times but no apparent damage and still shoots fine. It's yew over ash and covered with a skin of fibreglass - looks good. Have a look on ebay and see the variations available. It is light in the hand but about 50# draw weight. I shoot 40# on my recurve and can manage the horsebow without much difficulty. I use the same technique as my recurve but don't use a finger sling, just lightly grip the thing. Wooden arrows with feather fletches, made up by me, and a small protector on my bow hand as the first time I shot it the new feathers cut my hand. Adjusting the nocking point sorted that out. It came with a Dacron string and I've stuck with Dacron when I made a spare one.

As stated before, you get what you pay for but do try before you buy as I've heard that there is a large variation in the quality of some bows which are available. I'm pleased with my Flagella Die bow and would buy another one if I need to.

BillM
Do you mean from this site? They seem to have a few bows on there, all look to be within my self-set budget, including this one, a Mongol Reflex Bow. However, the advice from Berny as per fibreglass is making me think that this wouldn't be what I'm after.

EDIT: Oh yes, I've just gone and double-posted...

I know I probably had some odd questions, but since I've never purchased anything like this before, I just wanted to cover certain points on the materials used on the bows. I appreciate all the replies I've been given. Thanks. :)
 


Berny

Member
Whilst Flagella Dei's wood/laminated bow finish quality can be dubious his construction is usually "honest"
in that you can see it i.e. the wood lams & glass finish - you know what you're getting
....which you don't get with a wrap covered bow.
 


Kaidonni

New member
Whilst Flagella Dei's wood/laminated bow finish quality can be dubious his construction is usually "honest"
in that you can see it i.e. the wood lams & glass finish - you know what you're getting
....which you don't get with a wrap covered bow.

I've found this on ebay, I assume it is made by the same people? From the description it doesn't appear to be a block of fibre glass, so that is always a good thing. I'm just concerned about the quality of the construction - I've been searching for other threads on Flagella Dei, and while some people are happy with what they got, one wasn't happy about the quality of the construction...which is enough to make me worry.
 


BillM

Member
I'm just concerned about the quality of the construction - I've been searching for other threads on Flagella Dei, and while some people are happy with what they got, one wasn't happy about the quality of the construction...which is enough to make me worry.
A club member of mine had his ?300+ longbow from a very reputable bowyer explode on the 3rd time of use. I loaned an archer my new recurve limbs at a competition when his new expensive ones broke. I'm sure there are many more examples of this but how many times do you hear of the long life of some equipment. The recurve I shoot indoors is now in it's 13th season and the only breakage was a limb bolt which I eventually sourced after I had bought a new replacement [limb bolt = ?12 : new bow = ?750+]. If there is a fault in the construction of anything it is most likely to surface in the early part of usage and will have a warranty. The case of Flagella Dei was simply solved with a replacement bow. Mine is wood construction with a skin of fibreglass so looks just like a wood only bow (and the Yew looks great). There are lots of different types of bow out there so best try as many before you settle on one. I tried someone's Grozer before I simply settled for something that looked the same but at a much reduced price. Still shooting it after 3 years, but need to keep replacing arrows which is why I make up my own. If you can get along to a supplier like Bowsports then you will always get good advice (with the intent of selling you a bow).

BillM
 


iangriffin

New member
Firstly , may I point out, in History there is no such thing as a Horsebow. A bow itself maybe from 40inches to 84 inches long or there abouts. The Horse archer prefers to use a short bow, normally of 35 - 50lbs. This is because the Horsearcher needs to have a field of fire with the widest possible arc. Any bow can be used. I seen a person use a Longbow 80lbs from a horse. The Mongols carried 2 bows, 50lbs to use on horseback, and 120lbs to use on foot. As regards your selection, it should be budget controlled as the first bow you get probably won't be your last. Keep in mind that the shorter the bow, the more a thumbring may be necessary. You don't need a bow hand glove. If you go for a thumbring you even need a bracer. But I strongly recommend use a med draw to gain more experience. A good ring that works properly and lasts can be made from many materials. BUT the fit is the most important point. YOU CANNOT buy a good thumbring. You have to make it yourself. Because it must be made very specific to your own thumb. I make them out of solid bone. I can make you one for about 100 pounds, all you have to do is send me your thumb. Henceforth learn to make a ring first, there are a few books around. I can use my ring on all my bows. As regards Arrows, these should be made to suit the bow and your draw length. If you use a ring, you must increase the arrow spine. There are two reasons for this, firstly, because using a ring gives you between 10 - 15% more speed, and secondly your draw length will increase.
The best advise I can give is just get on with it. Buy a bow to suit your budget and practise a lot more that every couple of weeks.
 


T

the-poet

Guest
Firstly , may I point out, in History there is no such thing as a Horsebow.

The Mongols carried 2 bows, 50lbs to use on horseback, and 120lbs to use on foot.
Might they not have referred to one of them as their horse bow?

When did the term Horsebow come into use if not "in history"?
 


If you use a ring, you must increase the arrow spine. There are two reasons for this, firstly, because using a ring gives you between 10 - 15% more speed, and secondly your draw length will increase.
The best advise I can give is just get on with it. Buy a bow to suit your budget and practise a lot more that every couple of weeks.
Not wanting to get into an argument, but.... surely the extra spine required on the arrow is only going to be necessary IF the archer increases his draw length?

EG - I can draw my Mind50 to my ear with a Med release quite easily - and if I'm going do that, a bit more spine would be a good idea because I'm obviously using more of the bow. (I'd estimate about 3-6 lbs more than just drawing to the face - would depend on the bow, natch).

but if I use a thumbring, and don't draw to my ear - then I'd not need the extra spine on the arrows because I'm still using a similar amount of bow.
 


dvd8n

Supporter
Supporter
The closest bow shop to me is Bowsports, and while there doesn't look to be a lot in the way of horsebows on offer, they do have this Samick SKB 50.
I had a Samick SKB 50 for a while and I'd recommend it to anyone. It's a cracking little bow; good cast and light as a feather. I eventually sold it as I decided I was more into my takedown and Reiver, and I got more money than I paid for it.
 


iangriffin

New member
One reason for using a thumbring is get a bit more draw with the same or virtually same effort. Assuming you use the same anchor point.The distance between your fingers and where your thumbring would be is approx 1.5 - 2.5in. If you look at the triangle made by the string at full draw using a med draw its a triangle with the point end cut off. With a ring you get the extra length I said earlier. Also it means that you get a bit more cast. The extra spine needed by a ring is another debate. The answer is really you may need go up a bit, but at the end of the day its ''suck it and see''. If you speak to someone, who is a champion archerin Mongolia, they will tell you that ''we only have 2 spines, stiff and extra stiff''. No mention of draw weight or anything else. In my experience I prefer to go up 3-5lbs/inch of extra spine over a 28 draw length. For example, assuming you now draw to 30in. Go up 6 -10lbs. But, lets not forget the weight of your arrow point. So, in conclusion, by far the best and most accurate way to do it is, Suck it and see.
 


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