The Craft Guild has developed an enviable reputation in the archery world, through the acknowledged experience of its members as master craftsmen and the standard of workmanship required for entry into the Guild.

Training the next generation of bowyers and fletchers is an important function of the Guild; and that training should be seen to be as rigorous as the standards required for membership – hence these learning objectives.

Table of Contents

General objectives

  1. To ensure that the apprentice is enabled to produce bows, arrows, bowstrings, and/or arrowheads to a professional standard
  2. To continue the traditional skills of a bowyer and/or fletcher, stringer or arrowsmith for future generations of craftsmen and archers

Learning objectives

A. Core units (common to all apprentices)

By the end of the respective unit, the apprentice should be able to do the following:

  1. Workshop set up
    1. Arrange the environment to ensure maximum ease of use of all equipment
    2. Assess, and where necessary ensure installation of, correct lighting requirements
    3. Determine necessary storage facilities and make sure they are sufficiently robust, secure and safe
    4. Calculate and ensure installation of adequate ventilation for each workshop activity e. install necessary equipment to remove dust in accordance with normal safety levels
  2. Tools and maintenance
    1. Demonstrate appropriate techniques for sharpening, setting etc all relevant tools employed
    2. Show appreciation of the need to keep all tools clean and demonstrate appropriate techniques for cleaning
    3. Appreciate the appropriate method for storing each item safely in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and industry standards
    4. Ensure that storage of each item is consistent with quick and safe access to it when required.
  3. Health and safety.
    1. Show appreciation of the correct methods for handling hand and power tools
    2. Be aware of the potential hazards to health when handling glues and vamishes and the dangers of inhalation of toxic fumes
    3. Identify potential toxic effects from materials such as different timbers, mother-of-pearl, metals etc
    4. Understand the implications of dust and the appropriate methods of dust extraction
    5. Show understanding of current requirements or the provision of first aid equipment and training in relevant workshop environments
    6. Demonstrate knowledge of the use of all installed pieces of fire equipment in accordance with current Fire Service regulations .
  4. Client care A
    1. Assess the appropriate requirements for a client’s needs
    2. Demonstrate effectiveness in the taking down and confirmation of client orders _
    3. Show appropriate professional knowledge and courtesy when dealing with queries
    4. Recognise the client’s legal rights and service expected of Craft Guild membership and the implications of the standard guarantee offered
    5. Be able to show complete records of transactions for each client when needed
    6. Liaise with the client in order to ensure a professional level of after-sales service

Specialist units By the end of the respective unit, the apprentice should be able to do the following:

B1. Bowyers

  1. Selecting and cutting timber
    1. ldentify the most suitable timbers for making the intended type of bow
    2. Select an individual piece of timber as to its quality and suitability for purpose
    3. Show knowledge of how, and for how long, each type of timber should be seasoned and stored
    4. Appreciate and demonstrate ability to saw abillet effectively and efficiently
    5. Demonstrate ability to cleave timber and split billets etc
  2. Design and performance options
    1. Appreciate the characteristics of each element of the bow in ensuring that the design matches the purpose of the bow accurately
    2. Demonstrate the significance of arrow dynamics in the bow’s perfomance
    3. Illustrate with examples performance and energy storage
    4. Show ability to build a bow to agreed specification within professional tolerances
    5. Understand the characteristics of differing tillering profiles
  3. Building backed bows
    1. Show understanding of the reasons for backing a bow
    2. Explain the function of the handle in terms of its proper construction
    3. Appreciate the correct position of the arrow plate and the characteristics of the materials used in its manufacture
    4. Demonstrate accurate tillering throughout the working section of the bow-limbs
    5. Demonstrate ability to carve and fix a pair of nocks accurately and appropriately
  4. Building three-piece bows
    1. Explain the function and purpose of the central core
    2. Argue the advantages of this form of bow construction
    3. Demonstrate ability to cut tapers in each piece accurately
  5. Building self bows
    1. Construct target longbow and ‘war’ bows in suitable traditional timbers such as yew and ash
  6. Bows from billets
    1. Appreciate the differences between the V and Z types of handle splices and demonstrate them by example
  7. String making
    1. Appreciate the differences in the characteristics of the main materials used in string making
    2. Make strings using the different types of construction
    3. Appreciate the advantages of using each type of construction _
    4. Calculate the appropriate weight of string, given the bow-weight, size of the arrow-nock and breaking-strain of the string matenal used
  8. Finishing
    1. Show appreciation of the main options for finishing each type of bow and their characteristics
  9. Repairs
    1. Cut a bloom into a limb to replace cracks/chrysals so that the characteristics of the limb are not compromised
    2. Replace a limb that accurately replicates the functionality of the previous limb
    3. Assess and analyse the reasons for a failure
    4. Identify the problems that need to be rectified
    5. Demonstrate the use of scarfing in limb repair -

B2. Fletchers

  1. Selecting and cutting timber
    1. ldentify the most suitable timbers for arrow-making ‘
    2. Select an individual piece of timber as to its quality and suitability for purpose
    3. Show knowledge of how each type of timber should be stored and demonstrate by example
    4. Appreciate and demonstrate ability to saw a billet effectively and efficiently
    5. Demonstrate ability to take the shaft down from the square
  2. Design and performance options
    1. Determine the most suitable design of arrow for the purpose for which it is intended
    2. Demonstrate ability to make arrows to the precise specifications required by the client
    3. Understand the principles of arrow dynamics
    4. Calculate the appropriate design to match a specified bow weight
    5. how ability to spine arrows accurately and consistently
    6. Weigh and group arrows into matched sets
  3. Arrow profiles
    1. Understand the meaning and nature of the main arrow profiles: straight, bob-tailed, breasted and barelled
    2. Explain the reasons for using each type of profile in different circumstances
    3. Demonstrate appreciation of the characteristics and use of the “Standard” arrow
  4. Footing
    1. Show appreciation of the suitability of different timbers for footing
    2. Demonstrate ability to cut the shaft accurately to receive the footing
    3. Cut the footing accurate to match the receiving section of the ste
    4. Demonstrate ability to fit both two-point and four point footings
    5. Explain the reasons for footing arrows compared to unfooted ones
  5. Fletching
    1. Demonstrate techniques for stripping and cutting feathers
    2. Calculate the correct positioning of the fletchings
    3. Demonstrate correct techniques in binding an attaching the fletchings to the shaft
  6. Nocks
    1. Demonstrate ability to cut the slot
    2. Show how nock pieces are inserted and demonstrate “V” inserts
  7. Piles
    1. Explain the appropriate suitability of the main types of pile: parallel and shouldered
    2. Demonstrate the methods of attaching and pinning the main types of pile
  8. Finishing
    1. Appreciate the characteristics of the paints and vamishes employed .
    2. Apply colours evenly and consistently to each shaft
    3. Apply evenly the correct vamish and finish to a professional standard.
    4. Show ability to match a full set of arrows with identical crestings
  9. General problems
    1. identify problems
    2. Analyse and correct failures

B3. Arrow-smith

  1. Show the ability to forge most medieval types of heads in both wrought iron and mild steel to the highest standard with regard to quality and accuracy of forging
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the historic periods, types and uses of arrowheads manufactured in England and Europe
  3. Show a sound knowledge of the manufacture, properties and uses of wrought iron and steel with particular reference to the histonc development of their production
  4. Understand in depth the history of the English longbow and its uses in the medieval period

B4. String-maker

  1. Show understanding of the main materials used in string making in the past and present in terms of their characteristics and usage
  2. Demonstrate ability to spin raw materials into thread: silk, hemp, flax and nettle
  3. Demonstrate traditional techniques for retting raw fibres for use in unspun strings: hemp and nettle
  4. Show understanding of the formulation, characteristics and uses of the main glues and waxes employed in string manufacture and preservation
  5. Produce examples of strings made using the traditional techniques of laying-in, braiding and endless loop, both single and double ended as appropriate and correct served


  1. ‘Test pieces.
    Production of practical examples as directed in each unit as appropriate. These tasks should be related specifically to the skill being acquired a that time, with measurable outcomes in terms of the item being created. Each task should be achievable for the apprentice at his/her stage in training and should be realistic in context. The time taken for each task should be related to the need for a professional speed of production at the end of the apprenticeship and should therefore be linked to the aspirations of the apprentice in terms of their desired future career.
  2. Written examination
    This is to test the apprentice's general understanding of the subject and its more theoretical aspects.
  3. Final piece
    A ‘Masterpiece’ that is to conform to the requirements of the Craft Guild as laid down from time to time in consideration of Guild membership.

Apprentice Work Diary

A diary style work record will be required and sight of this will be required annually at the Guildmote.

Diary content shall be decided by the apprentice, but a record of how much time is spent on each syllabus item would be desirable. A few lines after each session would be sufficient, although you are free to provide as much detail as you wish.

Items that might be included are as follows.

*General workshop notes, *areas of the syllabus being covered and time spent, *notes on and test results of projects, *reference to any form of research or reading, * problems encountered and how they were overcome*notes on any written work set, *any points you wish to draw to the attention of the Court