Book Review by Rik Hinton


Alaskans are a different breed. They hunt a little harder, live a little larger, and they certainly don’t follow the herd. That’s why they choose to live in Alaska! Such is the case with Jack Harrison, one of traditional archery’s foremost bowyers, whose latest book, “Traditional Bowyer, More Unnecessary Fun” takes the art of bowmaking to a new high.

With 744 pages, over 1,000 photographs, and weighing in at six pounds, “Traditional Bowyer” explains in detail how to design and build exceptional longbows, with 14 in-depth, extensively illustrated chapters on bowmaking theory and construction, plus other equally well illustrated chapters on:

  • Setting up a new shop
  • Making bow forms
  • Bowstring construction
  • Arrow art
  • Professionally applying high-quality snakeskin backings
  • The most extensive and useful arrow ballistic charts I have seen in print
  • Bowhunting strategies
  • And more.

Much of the book’s extensive information covering bow design and performance results from a $285,000 archery research grant provided to the author by the State of Alaska. This funding allowed Jack to employ physics professors and engineers from the University of Alaska to study and improve longbow design, manufacturing techniques, and construction. The results of their studied input and professional research directly dispute and contradict many long-held, often-published myths about bow design and performance. Jack’s scientific approach and clear writing style make the information he presents easy to follow and understand.

It's refreshing to read the work of an author who, in addition to answering questions, actually asks them. What a concept! The book is filled with information and examples that will educate and inform bowyers and bowhunters interested in learning all they can about bows and bowhunting. However, “Traditional Bowyer” is far more than an extensive resource and reference book for bowyers, it is also an eye-opening, interesting book to read for anyone who enjoys traditional archery and bowhunting.

If you make bows, or just love to hunt with them, “Traditional Bowyer” will definitely make you stop and think about what you do, and how or why you do it.

Early in the book, Jack states “The goal I kept in mind during the development of my bows was to meet the challenge of building a longbow which drew 60 pounds at 28 inches, and shot a 540-grain arrow 200 feet-per-second (fps) or faster. Early in 1991, I was able to reach this goal, and by the time I began writing this book. . .”

If that quote intrigues you, this book is a must-have for your archery library. If you love to bowhunt big game in North America, and want to learn more about bow design, performance, and bowhunting, this book is even more of a must-have for your library.

Listed below are two sample pages from the book to show you the level of detail you will find in the photos and illustrations, and below that is the table of contents. I think you’ll like what you see.


— Rik Hinton


Forward To Traditional Bowhunting: Interview with Sgt. Curt Beddingfield, Alaska State Trooper; Divided We Fall

Chapter One, My Early Misadventures

Chapter Two, Foreword To The Past

Chapter Three, Getting Started

Chapter Four, The History Of My Takedown Sleeve Fastener

Chapter Five, Longbow Design Theory

Chapter Six, Step # 1 — Data Preparation Sheet (Document)

Chapter Seven, Step # 2 — Preparing & Grinding Laminations

Chapter Eight, Step # 3 — Riser Preparation

Chapter Nine, Step # 4 — Laying Up The Limb Lamination Bundles

Chapter Ten, Step # 5 — Preparing The Riser Overlays

Chapter Eleven, Step # 6 — Attaching The Sleeve Fastener

Chapter Twelve, Step # 7 — Laying Out The Bow

Chapter Thirteen, Step # 8 — Shaping Nocks, Grinding And Tillering . . .

Chapter Fourteen, Step # 9 — Spray-Finishing Bows

Chapter Fifteen, Step # 10 — Wrapping the Handle Of A Bow, Traditional Method Of Making A Brush Rest, Backing A Bow With Snakeskins

Chapter Sixteen, Continuous-Loop Bowstrings

Chapter Seventeen, Setting Up A Bow Shop

Chapter Eighteen, Building A Heat-Box

Chapter Nineteen, Building A Bow Form

Chapter Twenty, Arrow Art

Chapter Twenty-One, Shooting A Bow And Arrows Upshot

Appendix One, Takedown Sleeve Fastener Patent Information

Appendix Two, Ballistics Tables ·Arrowdata kp xl (tables)

Appendix Three, Decimal Equivalents Of Drill Sizes

Appendix Four, Bow Data Worksheet Bibliography Index