The Origin of the Longbow, Arrow and the Fletchers P. 3/4
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The efficiency and power of the longbow as a weapon of war and a tool for hunting and leisure sports secured the craft of the bowyer and the fletcher across hundreds of centuries and up to present days.
Bowyers and fletchers were very skilled jobs and they were paid the same rate as the archers. These craftsmen accompanied the army on the march and fletchers had to maintain arrows, keep them useable and ready for battle use at all times. The Medieval arrow, like its present day descendant, had three parts: the shaft, the arrow head and the fletching (feathers).
The shaft could be made using many different woods like ash, birch, oak and yew and could be up to a metre long. Ash was often used for war arrows because it is strong.
(The arrow at the top in this display is typical Medieval.)
The Medieval arrow had three feathers but not just any feathers were acceptable. Medieval archers preferred the flight feathers from the grey goose because they were tough, durable, cheap and were easily obtainable (see photograph).
Arrowheads were shaped to fit different purposes: the bodkin type (left in picture) was an armour piercing head; the hunting head (4th from left) and the broadhead (2nd, 3rd and 5th from left). The broadhead type was a flesh piercing arrow and sometimes was smeared with beeswax, resin or tallow. The barbs on the head would prevent the arrow being easily withdrawn.