Thursday, 25 October 2012

Drawing ''in the bow''

Drawing ''in the bow''

I admire the English Longbow archers in many ways. They are one of the few groups within the archery world who do archery as historically accurate as possible. This includes arrows, hand forged historic arrow heads, shafts, fletchings, nocks, the bows, bow design, bow length and also historic draw weights and the technique to pull and release.

These are some websites I really like and recommend:
English Warbow Society:
Dutch Warbow Society:

The draw weights they use are typically from 100lbs to 160lbs with some individuals shooting even more powerful bows.
One thing they always say is the "Drawing in the bow".

What does "Drawing in the bow" that mean?
Imagine a heavy metal door with 2 sides sliding sideways to open. You can stand at arms length and try to pull them apart, but you will not be successful. Go half a step forward, arms are bent now, you will have more power to slide the doors apart. If you continue this example you will see that you can transfer energy most if you are really close to the door, basically ıf your chest touches it.
Same way with a bow, the closer you come between bow and string, the easier it will get, the better you are going to be able to use your back muscles.

Why is it important? 
Because this is the only way to pull a bow with historically authentic drawweight. This is archery.
There is no other way.

Why are the English longbow archers the only ones telling this? 
Because they are the only ones using historic draw weights. For bows lower than 50 lbs you can use any technique. And that's what you see mostly e.g. in traditional shoots or horsearchery tournaments, people pull their 30 lbs bow not with their proper back muscles but often just with their wrist, or pull it in front of their faces calling it "floating anchor". This is not historic and you can only do it with low poundage bows.

What is the sequence of the pull?
When you start pulling you put your string arm elbow high and while pulling you bring your chest (or rather the line between your 2 shoulders) as close as possible to the bow. Almost as if you are "stepping into the bow". It is important to do this as early as possible in the draw. This way you will "roll your shoulder" as the English longbow archers say.

Why am I telling you all this?
It is exactly the same in Ottoman/Turkish flight archery. High drawweights in order to shoot farther, the only way to pull these bows is to use a proper technique where you use the correct muscles. The English call it "Shooting or Drawing in the bow", others might call it differently but for certain this is the way to do it.

Longbow pull

Ottoman Turkish Hornbow pull


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Making Ottoman Shalvar Trousers

Ok, not really a Turkish Archery article but many friends reenact Turkish archery or mounted archery and it seems there is a need to clarify ''How to make a shalvar''. Shalvar are the historic trousers of the Ottomans (those baggy pants). I just found out that they are fashion again and called ''Harem Trousers''..
One thing we all did wrong in the past was to make veeery big trousers and put an elastic band around the waist. This was good for Halloween parties at best but not for Hstorical Reenactments

A brief look at the shalvars in the Topkapi Palace collection in Istanbul reveals that shalvars were not just oversized trousers but had a certain cut and shape. The cut is made so intelligently that the waist is not too big but it gets loose around the legs which guarantees a good airconditioning in a hot climate (and a certain room for movement).

Let's have a look at a few museum pieces:

In historic miniatures the colour of Ottoman shalvar trousers is mostly red but other colours can be seen as well. Gold, silver and coloured embroidery may have been used. Also don't forget, the shalvars in the Topkapi Palace museum will have mostly belonged to the Sultans or high officials so they may be more expensive, more embroidered and more golden. Also the fabric will most probably be silk. Ottoman Shalvars were very wide, this can be seen from miniatures but there is also historic accounts from foreigners on how wide the trousers were.

I made a shalvar replica according to approximate shalvar measurements and cuts:

This is the folded version and can be used as a template. You can cut 4 of these and stitch them together. I say 24cm at the waist in the folded version; I recommend a bit wider just in case, but not too wide. You can measure it easily. Measure your waist and add 5cm for the seam and 5cm for the belt. Divide the number by 4 and you will get the measurement which you will have to cut out as above. Once opened the shalvar looks like this:

You can turn over the top, stitch it and make a place inside for the belt (the belt should not be fixed to the shalvar). One thing I noticed in my last visit to the Topkapi Palace, some shalvars have a strip attached at the bottom to go under the foot. I assume this was the Shalvar to prevent from sliding upwards when riding.
Alright this is me wearing my shalvar, compared to the miniatures it looks similar:

Some more museum pieces to give you an idea: