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Medieval Longbow Training @ AEMMA

AEMMA continues the research and development in the resurrection and reconstruction of medieval martial arts extends to the realm of medieval longbow.
The longbow is constructed in the traditional manner of a minimum of 5' 6", of a historical authentic "D" cross-section in which the shooting style is by an instinctive method not incorporating artificial aids such as scopes, arrow rests or sites.

Brief History

Evidence of bows bearing cross-sections of the traditional "D" shape, others rounded while others flat have been in use for approximately 5,000 years.

Although the longbow was not considered one of the "knightly weapons", it was a strategic weapon of war. Examples of its capability can be seen at such battles as the Battle of Crécy, August 26, 1346. This battle amongst the many fought during the 100 Years War, was a victory for the English longbow men by the army of King Edward III and King Philip IV of France. The French army numbering approximately 30,000 - 40,000 against the English army of approximately 12,000 - 13,000 of which 6,000 - 7,000 were longbow men, each carrying 2 sheafs of 24 arrows.
With a range of approximately 300m, the English longbow men shot volley after volley of arrows. For more info on this battle, visit Longbow-Archers.

Originally the longbow was made entirely of Yew, mainly from Spain and Italy. Because of the wetter climate English yew was coarser-grained and therefore generally less suitable. To obtain yew for longbows staves, duties for wine were set as a given ratio of number of staves of yew for each barrel of wine imported. Nowadays it is difficult to find yew of the same close grained quality that was available in Europe during the Middle Ages. The best source of yew is now from Oregon in the United States.

The physical evidence of the longbow and arrows original characteristics can be seen in Portsmouth in the items recovered from the Mary Rose. More than 3,500 arrows and 137 longbows were found. The bows were made of a single baulk of yew. This was cleft into triangular billets (using the sapwood layer to preserve the natural laminate of the wood). The heartwood performs better under compression and the sapwood under tension. The bow were shaped in a D-section with a flat back of sapwood and a rounded belly of heartwood.

Training & Courses

Archery training is limited to individuals 16 years of age or older. AEMMA offers regular weekly archery shooting practices on Saturday, and periodically offers course on making your own longbow, making your own arrows, and introduction courses on longbow shooting.

Longbow Archery Class: scheduled two to three times annually. This 6-week class, instructed by AEMMA and providing the training bows & arrows teaches the students the fine art of traditional archery, focusing on the English longbow. Check the AEMMA website or blog for periodic notices on upcoming archery courses, scheduling and pricing or contact AEMMA via email to request more info with .

Bow-making Course: scheduled periodically when enough individuals form a class consists of six classes, bowstaves and bowstring materials are included in the fee, detailed instruction and coaching on its construction are included. Check the AEMMA website or blog for periodic notices on any upcoming bow-making courses, scheduling and pricing or contact AEMMA via email to request more info with .

Winter (October - April): training occurs at the 927 Dupont Street, 2nd floor training location between 3:30pm - 5:30pm or till too tired to continue each Saturday except for long weekends. The shooting range is approximately 18 - 20m, providing a good range to practice on targeting over the winter months.

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This clip is from an event in Ottawa, Aug 2003. The shooters here are shooting a target that is approximately 100m away. Notice the angle of the flight in order to reach the targets. This clip is from the same event in Ottawa, the shooters here are challenged to achieve the best targeting at a target that is approximately 20m away. Some people are using recurves, but the dominant bow is the longbow.

Summer (May - September): training occurs at the archery shooting range south of the Ontario Science Centre on Don Mills Road between 3:30pm - 5:30pm or till too tired to continue each Saturday except for long weekends. For rain days, training moves back indoors to the salle at 927 Dupont Street, 2nd floor. The area has 6 ranges, beginning with approximately with 20 yards, 40, 60 and 90 yard ranges. Students are requested to abide by the rules as stipulated by the City of Toronto. Click on the images below to view enlargements of the images for clarity.

Click here for more information on annual membership dues and monthly training fees.

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The interior "range" during the winter is the 927 Dupont Street, 2nd floor training facility which is fitted with protective arrow netting draped across the back wall, and up to 3 butt targets. The range distance is 18m and 20m. This is an excellent range to develop the skills of shooting. Once the warmer weather is upon us, training will be moved outdoors to the archery shooting range south of the Ontario Science Centre (see directions above).

Equipment requirements are relatively simple. The student is required to purchase their own longbow and arrows. Accessories such as quivers, 3-fingered leather gloves, vambraces are optional and can be readily purchased from a supplier in Waterloo. AEMMA is happy to create a bulk order for equipment in order to possibly obtain better pricing and to distribute the cost of shipment amongst the purchasers.

Longbows can be purchased for up to $150 CAD that possess a draw weight of 45 lbs. These bows are perfectly suited for the beginner student. A good source for entry-level longbows of 45 lbs draw weight is Woodbow.com. This English Longbow is made from Red Oak backed with linen. It pulls approximately 30 pounds at 28 inches. The bow is 72 inches in length and up to 1 1/4 inches in width at the handle. It is flat on the back and rounded on the belly. You can request up to 45 pounds for approximately the same price range.

Arrows can be purchased for approximately $65/dozen from The Bow Shop located in Waterloo, ON. The arrows have unfinished, wooden shafts and target-type of tips. Other accessories can be purchased from the same shop and which can be shipped to Toronto for a small shipping fee.

Heavier bows of 60 lbs or more can be purchased from the UK at Quicks, nicely finished with hocks made from horn. They are priced at approximately $500 CAD.

For details on AEMMA's training program, equipment requirements, armoured tournaments info, and ranking system, click on "training" on the navigation bar at the top of your browser window.



For more information, contact:

AEMMA (Toronto) at email:

A Few Links & Resources


Copyright © 2009 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)
Released: June 12, 2003 / Last modified: March 05, 2012