About the Society

The English War Bow Society (EWBS) was formed on the 23rd May 2008 at an annual two day shooting event at Batsford, England. All those present agreed upon the need for a new organisation dedicated to those who practice the skills and techniques required to shoot the military English longbow.

The aim of the English Warbow Society is:
•   To promote and perpetuate the shooting and heritage of the English warbow.
•   To encourage wider participation in the shooting of the warbow
•   To encourage war bowyery, stringing and fletching
•   To increase our understanding of the weapon and its use

The society also organises shoots, standards and events for its members to enjoy in the company of like-minded archers.

The society is a non profit making organisation, it has no political affiliations and exists purely for the shooting benefit of its members. Although the society is not a re-enactment society there is a strong emphasis on developing the techniques of the late middle ages – that is ‘strong shooting in the bow’ – with help, coaching and encouragement for those who wish to progress.

The society exists in its own right and as such is not affiliated to GNAS, BLBS, NFAS or FITA in any way; although the Society welcomes dialogue with those bodies. Membership is open to all archers throughout the world interested in shooting in this style, although shoots will only be organised initially within the United Kingdom.

Officers of the Society

Officers of the Society were proposed and elected at the 2013 AGM held at the Medieval Archery Festival, Sevenhampton. They are:

Patron: Hugh Soar

Hugh Soar needs no introduction to the archery world. For many years he has been one the pillars of the Warbow community, organising the BL-BS standard arrow compition. Hugh is an accomplished and respected author on the Warbow, writing many books including ‘Secrets of the English Warbow’ and has also written countless magazine articles.

Chairman: Glennan Carnie

Treasurer: Dave Weller

Secretary: Ian Coote

Membership Secretary: Dave Weller

Shoot Coordinator/Equipment Officer: Garry Symonds

Events Coordinator: Chris Dawson

Records Officer: Glennan Carnie

Technical Officer: Joe Gibbs

Technical Officer: Mark “Pudd” Wheatley

Technical Officer: Dave Hewitt

Webmaster: Chris Morris

Financial Arrangements

The society exists as a non profit making organisation, all finacial dealings are properly accounted for and will be published at the end of every year for scrutiny. At the end of each year any surplus will be divided between the Mary Rose Trust, the EWBS nominated charity, and replacing targets as needed.

The Society aims to organise shooting events for its members which reflect the shooting styles of medieval English and Welsh military archers. These shoots include roving marks, clout, wand, butt shooting (note, this does not mean modern target archery rounds), field and heavy arrow distance shooting. Flight shooting, although having little historical reference, is also supported.

Scores, standards and records will also be recorded for the BL-BS Standard Arrow, the EWBS Livery arrow, the Military Arrow and flight arrows.

All other events are in the spirit of friendly competition between fellow archers in their membership categories with no pressure to record scores if the archer so wishes.

Shooting Equipment:

The Bow

The English Warbow was the bow the longbow used in battle by the Plantagenet and Tudor armies of the 14th, 15th and 16th Centuries. The EWBS defines a warbow to be a bow that follows the pattern, profile and tiller of the bows found on the Mary Rose.
The Society imposes a lower limit on bow draw-weight for adult males (70lb at a measured 32” of draw), although there is no lower weight limit for women, juniors and archers over 60.  In order to encourage beginners, further allowance is made for a new member’s first year.

Mary Rose Class Self yew bows in the “spirit of the original” MR bows:

– No shorter than the shortest MR bow (74” – to be confirmed);
– May be to any MR bow profile;
– Heat treatment may be used to straighten a stave but not to induce unnatural reflex (an unbraced bow shall not show any artificially induced reflex);
– Be full compass in tiller;
– Within the 5/8, depth/width rule along the length of the bow;
– Has some profile to the belly of the bow (i.e. not flat bellied); and has no handle grip/covering.

Meane Wood

Self bows made of other woods available to the medieval bowyer, such as Ash or Elm. In the absence of reliable historical evidence of the dimensions of meane wood warbows, the MR dimensions above are to be used for this class, except:

– Not less than 72” in length; and
– Heat treatment may be used to straighten a stave or stiffen the belly but not to induce unnatural reflex (the bow must not be reflexed    when unbraced).

This specification will be revised if period bows of this type are found.


Non Historical Bows made from laminations of wood. Any laminated bow would be in this class, exotic or otherwise, as would backed bows, any join in the handle bows and self bows of wood not used in the above period by Anglo-Welsh armies (e.g. osage). The following shall also apply:

– A maximum of four wood laminations;
– No less than 72” in length;
– No synthetic or horn laminations;
– Bows may have a handle grip or covering;
– No bamboo may be used except for bows used to shoot the Flight Arrow;


The following specifications are also introduced to clarify the Society’s stance on repairs/production.

– Binding – binding of cracks is allowed as long as each binding is no more than 0.5” long and if multiple bindings are used a 0.25” gap is left between bindings. A maximum length of 6” may be bound to repair a bow.
– Blooms – a bloom of the same wood may be let into the belly of a bow to repair crysals etc.
Dutchmen – Plugs of the same wood as the bow may be used to stabilise knots in a stave
Malming – On current understanding of this principle, malming using natural products may be performed on a bow.

Caveat for all three classes for Juniors: bows may be shorter than specified but be of an appropriate length


Arrows must be generally representative of medieval arrows in size, weight and proportion.  Arrows must be of wood and fletched with feathers. Only Self-nocked arrows are permitted for the adult categories; with the exception of flight arrows where plastic nocks may be used.  Heads must be appropriate for the arrow’s role.