Living Longbows

with Jack Pinson

Jack Pinson is a maker of traditional and historic longbows, living and working in Co. Clare. Keeping history alive and sparking imaginations to the life of bygone days is one aspect of his work but as we shall see, medieval heritage is alive and well, even today.


There is archeological evidence of yew wood longbows in Ireland as far back as 940 CE, with the most intact specimen being the Ballinderry bow found in a Viking settlement excavated in county Offaly. There are wood cut depictions of Irish short bows from various eras throughout Irish history, but the medieval artillery bow arrived with the Norman influx.

Every city in Ireland and lots of towns, as well, have archery clubs where members meet up to shoot regularly. There are multiple indoor and outdoor competitions in modern and traditional archery held every year.


I spent the four years between 2011 and 2015 studying longbow making with Master Bowyer Don Adams, a retired bowyer of the Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers and Fletchers. My apprenticeship to Don culminated with my successful presentation of assessment pieces to Craft Guild members in September 2015, when I became a Master Bowyer. Having been interested in archery and woodworking for as long as I can remember, I have managed to combine these two areas in the craft skill of bow making. Living Longbows is a name I came up with when considering a title for my traditional archery business. To me it has a two fold-meaning: that I live for bow making and that the bows are alive, at some level. There are many different kinds of people who buy my longbows, from the archery enthusiast looking for handmade traditional equipment, to the historical re-enactor, or the committed heavyweight warbow archer.


Making a recreational laminate longbow usually takes a minimum of about two weeks. Self-bows (made from a single piece of timber) can take a lot longer, especially when seasoning the wood. This extended period of making is mostly due to the need to let the bow stave rest between sessions of tillering (teaching the bow stave to bend evenly and gradually).


Archery is a great sport which benefits hand eye coordination, positive body stance and posture, as well as discipline around safety considerations. The bows that I make are all hand-made from start to finish. This gives them a very pleasing aesthetic and a ‘live’ feeling when shooting. A longbow really needs to be matched to the archer, therefore I recommend that interested individuals visit and try out what I have to offer for themselves. Visit my Facebook page:

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