hey, great to be in the blogosphere.

I´m a traditional bowyer, and so this blog will focus on traditional bows´n arrows and stuff, no fakes no!

I´m a traditional bowyer since 19 years. If one is asking how to become a traditional bowyer, I usually reply: I don´t know, somehow it happened. That´s really true, when I was a kid I never dreamt of becoming a bowyer, I dreamt of becoming a pilot. Now I´m an arrow- pilot  I guess I´m driven by the same time- wave, that drives all these people more or less hooked on primitive techs and traditional crafts and arts.

Some years before I had a dream about being a bowyer: It told me that a bowyer is a kind of energy- transformer. I try to be always aware of this dream.

I´m running the REDHAWK- workshop, making bows for privat customers, for exhibitions and museums and I do bow- classes for adults and at schools.

20 years traditional bowery means 1001 stories to tell about the making of wooden bows, arrows, trees, horns, sinew, natural glues, primitive tools, ancient cultures and above all about our origines and Mother Earth.

So the bowXplosion is a stage, last but not least a pic of myself adjusting a spindlewood- nock to a flightarrow- shaft in my workshop:

that´s me, Michael Bittl.........

Here you can get or share your experiences dealing with real bows made of wood, sinew, horn………….primitive tech at its best in the digital world…………………have you ever heard about the digital natives (great term, I´ve found as a title of one of Don Tapscott books, you need to read his books).

You´ll find a lot of making- offs of traditonal bows´n arrows with infos, pics……………………..

Much more very soon!


Sorry, it is February now, much more very soon?

Yeah, today I´ll begin with IL SELFBOW- MANIFESTO……..

If you don´t trust in wooden bows or in wood or in nature, if you like techno- bows, don´t go on reading this manifesto, leave this blog or better leave this wonderful planet…………that´s not the place for you to feel comfort………….

Why do I wooden bows?

The wooden bow is as old as bows are prooved: there are  petroglyphes posting bows dated 11000 years back, artificial fibre bows have about 50years. Due to the fact that the basic raw material for artificial fibres, petroluem will run out soon, before running out it be will unpayable, artificial fibre bows will turn out to be the smallest side- story  in bowery ever.

All the hype around the artificial fibre bows will turn out to be a lie, they are nothing else than a sales- product faking our memories of the past, our dreams and our true feelings about being a warrior, hunter or amazon…………………

As a Native American told me……………..these techno- bows are money- makers.

In the beginning of the 1990ies some crazy enough bowyers in the USA decided to publish their experiences with the wooden bows they just made for their own. Everybody of them likes archery, but was frustrated about modern bows…… shot such a techno- monster is not any challenge………………..

So these guys, Tim Baker, Jim Hamm, Paul Comstock………….many more published the TRADITIONAL BOWYERS BIBLE, really the best publication focused on traditional bowery, the first volume was soon followed by a second, a third and a fourth volume. If you want to discuss with some of the writers join the PALEOPLANET- forum, check out my link at the right.

Go on soon, really, Michael

I just go on with the IL SELFBOW MANIFESTO……………………….

Wood as a bow´s raw material is absolutely outstanding, is the best choice you can do.

It fits the needs of bowyers, hunters and warriors for about 10000 years, you know we´re still living here on this planet.

The outstanding quality of wood for to make bows is its breaking and compression strength compared with its physical weight. Glass fibre and horn are much more heavier. The physical weight of a bow affects its performance a lot, it determines how many energy is needed for to move the limbs of the bow themselves. This energy is lost for to cast the arrow. Even a bow- string being being to heavy causes the performance of a bow. Several times I participated in some researching projects about historical bows, as a side- product, we found out that 15grs. of physical weight causes the bow to shoot an arrow 1f/s faster or slower. Keep in mimd that´s an average value, depending on the bow´s design and raw- material.

Above all its due to Tim Baker, one of the authors of the Traditional Bowyers Bible, that actually a rising numbers of bowyers is furtherdevelopping traditional selfbow- designs. Tim Baker has kept a clear and cool view at the historical designs, he tested them all. Within all the hype about the recovery of the selfbow he was and is still able to keep his enthusiasm.

After having got a general idea what are the old bows are able to perform, he posted his results and went a step further: how could we improve these designs.

I´ve to agree, its 2010 and with the www we´ve never known overview on all the historical bow designs, within no time you can get all the needed infos about any bow- design. I feel somehow obliged to furthterdevelop the great work of the old bowyers. The meaning of the term handcraft in some native dialects is ” to honour the elders”.

I would recommend you to read above all the stuff posted by Tim Baker, Paul Comstock, Marc St. Louis, Steve Gardner in the Traditional Bowyers Bible or go to the PALEOPLANET- forum.

The most extreme designs of wooden bows you can find by studying wooden flight bows. Flight bows are bows only made for a long and far arrow- flight, there´s an annual meeting of flightbowyers and flightarchers at the Great Salt Lake in the USA. Obsessed by the idea to shot an arrow as far as possible these men and women met for to check out their newest ideas and ecperimental bows. Flight- archery is really the ultimate challenge for to check out what bows and fitting arrows are able to perform.

again…….I´ll go on soon

again…….I go on…………..

Every serious bowyer has to care for flight- bowery for to find out what to do for to “pimp” a design or for to find out the best designs. But the bow is only one half of the game, the arrow is the other half. Flight arrows have to be light, but a low arrow- weight means low material but the arrow has to be stable enough. It´s a game, I call it the spider- web- game, the bow/ arrow- entity has be as light and as stable as possible, like a spider´s web is able to withstand the power of a storm.

Take care, flight- bowery is a drug, I´m suffering from it.

Originally a bow is a weapon for hunting and warfare. Usually warbows were done stronger than hunting- bows, its arrows were done heavier with bigger heads. Hunting- bows has to be somewhat mobile, a drawweight of about 50lbs is enough, heads were fitted to the kind of hunted animal.

What are wooden- bows able to perform?

Warbows have to meet the needs of the warriors, depending on military tactics.

Hunting- bows have to kill a hunted animal within the reach of its flightzone, heavily hunted animals like antelopes and deers have a flightzone of about 30 yards. That´s the best distance for target- shooting, within this range you should be able to shoot your selfbow clean and accurate. If you shoot your selfbow( let´s say 45 lbs) for distance, it should cast a normal arrow(about 350grs) about 145 yards…………A flight bow(65lbs) is able to cast a flight arrow about 350yards, but it depends on the bow(design, material), on the arrow, on the circumstances(wind) and the capablities of the archer.

………I´ll go on soon

………..I go on

I´ve tried to outline the capablities of selfbows.

So you´ll find here almost everything what you need for to make your selfbow, post your comments, questions, critiques, post pics of your selfbows…………………


Go out, choose a fitting piece of wood( the stave), debark it, maybe you´ve to split it, let it dry for about 18 month, or check the internet and buy a stave from a serious bowyer. Look for a comfort place, take an axe, hatchet or draw-knife for to cut the bow. Make a string of natural fibres( flax, hemp, ramie, silk), wax it. Brace the bow a, draw it a bit, check its bending, its drawweight, that´s called tillering the bow. The most delicious moment in bowmaking:  is this bow a great performer, an average bow or fire- wood?  Maybe you´ll have to cry or be the most happiest human, but be cool and courageous. If the bow breaks, do another one, right now………………or leave it.

Make your arrow of a twig, cut it into an arrow- shaft, fix the feathers and the tip.

Go out, brace your bow, take the arrow, take a deep breath, draw the string and the arrow, breathe out and release……………………………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a very precious experience:  you´ve got your power back, this is  shamanic. If you buy an artificial fibre bow, you do nothing but to leave the money, you´ve been worked hard for to one of the usual money- makers. By the way your personal dreams of being once a warrior, hunter, amazon………….have been faked.

For beginners I recommend to do a bow- class or have a look at some selfbow- tutorials( again PALEOPLANET).

Experience bow- making as often as you´ve the time till your hands, your fingers, your body, your cells know the way to do it right.


Experience shooting your bow as often as possible,  less people are good archers by nature. Practice counts for to get the feeling to hit the target 10, 16 or 35 yards away, for to get the feeling how your bow and your arrows are working.

To withstand and release, that´s it, if you practice enough this will affect your daily life, more and more you´ll experience what you want, how and when to get it.  You´ll get a feeling for to get the point. Most archers do nothing but target- shooting,  sorry,  that´s boring. I like flight- shooting much more, enjoy a long flight of a selfmade arrow, rove around, shoot at at an apple you´ll eat after you´ve hit it or walnuts hanging in the top of a tree………………….

Check the countless bow and arrow games of the Native Americans or Arabian cultures.

Keep always in mind your bow is a powerful weapon, you can hurt people or animals seriously, take care!

Selfbowery is a strong experience of history, even if you cut your bow- stave with modern tools, you have to do it like your ancestors some thousand years before. To fix the feathers at the arrow- shaft with sinew- fibres, it so primitive but highly effective, a thousands of years old technique. You´ll learn how to cooperate perfectly with natural materials, with Mother Nature.

Participating at a traditional archery tournament you´ll meet a Native American Plains bow, an English longbow, a Scythian hornbow………………..globalised world.

Making your own bow you´ll learn a lot about the growing patterns of trees, you´ll experience raw- materials like hide, natural fibres, feathers,  natural glues and pigments, you´ll get confident with axes, hatchets, drawknifes, maybe stone- tools. You will meet the principle of the lever, pressure and tension,  shear forces……………………

Above all: you´ll meet beauty itself…………no wooden bow looks like another wooden bow, they are all made of wood, but every wooden bow posts its own environmental circumstances…………a beauty of its own!

Share your experience, register at a bowery- forum, run your own bowery- blog, become a member of an archery- club. But be warned, even selfbowery is accepted, there are still techno- bow fanatics, disrespecting wooden bows,  for whatever stupid reasons, they are members of an endangered species. Even hornbowyers are disrespecting selfbows, maybe they are of the opinion that the hornbow is a furtherdevelopment of the selfbow. Untrue, a hornbow is a very clever designed and delicious to do kind of bow, a real powerful weapon, I estimate hornbows high. But hornbows are such ineffective for an individual being, the hornbow is the bow of straight organized societies, empires, tyrannies……Selfbows are ruling!

That´s it…………I still have the feeling to be able to go on for another 10 days or so………………..somehow the selfbow is my life…………….

You´ll find here details of making wooden bows, sometimes I´ll do a sinew- backing or a hornbow and I offer you to accompany it. Post your comments, questions, critics……………

I´ll post a lot of pics and infos from harvesting staves, storing and air- drying staves, cutting bows of different designs, making arrows, shooting…………………………..


I got a lot of mails asking for the basics of selfbowery, I´ll begin it right now as a hands on add- on of the SELFBOW- MANIFESTO. Many non- bowyers and non- archers have read the MANIFESTO, got interested in and would like to know the basics.  I´ve done a lots of bow- classes with adults and kids, millionaires and punks, the last 20 years I saw about 5000 people sweating-  focused on the same dream-  to make a wooden bow and matching arrows with their own hands.

I´ll begin it right now, as a follow up, but keep in mimd, it is very basic: a lots of details and further informations you need to know, you´ll find in the articles, tutorials and build- alongs here at BOWXPLOSION.

At first I would like to introduce the terms we need for to let you know, what I´m talking about:

A selfbow is a bow made of one piece of a wood, choosen very carefully for to match the physics of a bow- it is the so- called bow- stave.

The handle is  in the middle or center of a bow, this is where you hold a bow, with your left hand if you´re right- handed, with your right hand, if you´re left- handed. Usually there is no arrow- rest at the handle of a selfbow, you rest the arrow at the knuckle of the index of your bow- hand.

A limb of a bow is the bending or working part of the bow, just beginning  at the ends of the handle. If a bow is drawn the bending limbs produce energy needed for to cast the arrow. The face of the limb on the string side is called belly, the limbs´ opposite side is called  back. Back and belly are very basic terms in selfbowery, cause the back has to be the outside of the bow- stave, the former bark- side of the tree, the belly is at the opposite face of the stave. When a bow is drawn, the limbs begin to bend, so the back of the bow has to withstand tension and its belly has to withstand compression. Notice it, that´s the key for to undertsand the physics of a bow, we´ll follow up on it  again.

Usually the length of the limb matches the drawlength, this means how far the bow could be drawn. Never draw it beyond that mark, never, if you go further the bow could explode! The drawlength is corresponding the length of the arrows for the bow, so when you draw a bow with its matched arrows, you can´t overdraw it. For to draw a bow its drawlength you need a certain weight, that´s the drawweight. A bow´s specifications may tell you…..45lbs/28″, this means the bow´s drawweight is 45lbs at a drawlength of 28″

At the ends of the limbs are the nocks for to adjust the string.

To be continued…………………

useful pics added

Mindful readers of the bowXplosion should have noticed that the posted bow is the bow, whose making off is told in the “A Bowexplosion”- Article here, look for it, if you´ve missed it.



  1. Hi Frank, sorry for my late reply, but this blog turns out to be a time- consuming thing, I had never expected. But that´s great, I´ve so many stories to tell………………………..I was heavily attracted by the Native American culture, but ´ve done Scythian, Greek, Egyptian…………bows, they are all made the same way, there are so many different cultures on this planet! Thanks to the internet we´re globalised , we´re digital natives now, my heritage is Mother Earth.( look out for the books of Buckminster Fuller, Don Tapscott…………many others)…

  2. Hi Michael, great page! I’m a student of antiquity like yourself, and I share your passion for these types of bows. But I have a question that isn’t exactly related – you live in southern Germany, what type of bow was historically used there? What specie of wood? I’m an American of southern German descent, so I’m of course very curious what our ancestors were making and using. I’d sure appreciate any data you possibly have about this:) All the best, Ryan

  3. Hi Eugene, that´s it: bows from little trees, I love them. Sometimes I write articles for German magazines, but I guess I´ll never do that anymore. I like speed of information, networking, sharing……and my bow- classes.
    Keep in touch, go on making bows from little trees, Michael

  4. Hi Ryan, sorry for the late reply.
    Have you finished your first bow?
    Green ash is great, the Sioux knew the bow- woods.I´m always wondering how simple and so effective the Native Americans have done their bows.
    Mitakuye oyasin, I´ve been in South Dakota at Rosebud Reservation, I like the Plains and to visit the Natives

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.