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The bubble popped – but I still have the bow!
Roelf Swanepoel tells of his project to make a really unique and original bow, and how he eventually discovered that the idea was neither unique nor original.
>> The author testing his oryx-horn bow.
Every inventor, or anybody exercising initiative, sooner or later has a surprise that makes him or her realise that in these days we live in, the wise words of King Solomon still apply: there is nothing new under the sun. Twice in my short little life it happened that what I thought to be a first in the world proved to have been in existence many moons ago. The first time it was a knife I designed after a conversation I had with a friend who is a taxidermist, but that is a story for another day. Today I would like to share the story of a take-down bow I manufactured from oryx horn.
The thought of creating something "anciently original" came to my mind some years ago. Why not make a bow from a set of oryx horns? And even better, hunt the same species with it? Well, it didn't remain just a dream; the moment I got a pair of horns from a friend I started the project. First I had to manufacture the riser, because the core of the horns was missing. I used a piece of tambotie wood I picked up on one of my hunting trips. Although it was surprisingly close to the shape I wanted, fitting the ends of the riser into the horns was the next major step. The angle of the horns in relation to one another provided a good pre-set configuration that made it possible to comfortably brace the bow once the tillering was done. This was the easy part since I could use one of the belt grinders from my knifemaking-course workshop. The rest is history and the finished bow made me feel like a true inventor of fame.
<< The riser was made from a piece of tambotie wood.
This bubble lasted a glorious three weeks. It was popped when I bought a set of The Bowyers Bible from Marius Bester, a keen traditional archer and friend, when he decided to sell his library of excellent books. The challenge was on to align the horns to the riser and then make the first cuts on the handle. Instinct rather than know-how guided me through the process and sharing this knowledge with someone else can be done in three exciting ways. Around the camp fire, showing one during a demonstration in my workshop, or sketching the process and publishing it. Since I have gained a lot of valuable information from reading Africa's Bowhunter, I would like to share something that could possibly contribute to someone's joy in building an ancient piece of effective hunting technology. Oh yes, my bubble was popped after reading in the Bowyer's Bible that bows such as mine were made probably more than four hundred years ago.
>> String notches had to be made at the ends of the horns.
Something I need to say at this point: my friend Marius is a keen traditional archer and I myself shoot a compound bow. We shared many pleasant moments in competitions in practice and just chatting about our sport, and never have I heard any negative remark from him regarding compounds. I am proud to say that I enjoy my oryx bow even if it was the second time my bubble was popped. One day I would like to trade a set of arrows that will complement my oryx for one of my oryx bows from someone who can make such arrows with the same passion that it takes to hunt the oryx.
Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 4:09 PM