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38 comments

Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

Posted April 13, 2009 11:00 PM by Del the cat

This style of bow has a lot of recurve and rigid tips to the bow limbs or siyahs. The tips act as levers, a bit like the cams on a modern compound bow.

I was interested in the geometry and feel of Asiatic recurve bows. I happened to have some old fibreglass laminations, and the first maple bow I made this year (which was too low a draw weight).

So why not combine the two?

I set about it, doing some of it the "wrong" way because I'm a tightwad. I based the geometry on a composite crossbow prod I'd made years ago, information from various books and web sites, and a huge amount of guesswork.

By using assorted rasps, the old maple bow was worked down to become the core of the Asiatic recurve bow. The levers were made from a piece of ash with a natural curve that I cut from the limb of a fallen tree, and split.

The levers were spliced onto the tips. Then the fibreglass laminations were glued on with epoxy one limb at a time, on a former made from some scrap plywood.

(Doing it one limb at a time is a bit mad, but I had suitable timber).

The whole area was then bound with linen thread coated in epoxy.

Ha! This is where the mistakes and guesswork became apparent! It looked good, but there wasn't enough timber on the levers to cut in the deep nocks needed on this type of bow.

I cut some water-buffalo horn to enlarge the nock area which solved that problem and looked good too.

Then I put a long string* on it and winched it back. It took 60 pounds just to get it to the braced position! (That's where it is when it's strung, but not drawn). That was far too strong for the 75- lb target weight. (I wanted it to be comparable with my longbow.)

So I grasped the nettle and stripped the glass off the belly. I didn't mind doing this as I felt I hadn't done a very good job of the gluing. (I got some good advice - "epoxy doesn't like sticking to epoxy" - and a couple of other hints from Blink.)

I carefully worked the maple core down by about 20%. This was a reasonable guess; stiffness being proportional to the cube of the thickness (note my usual mathematic rigour).

Anyhow, here's the result. 55lb @ 28" and it will draw back to 30" and beyond with no problem.

Here are the string bridges. This picture shows the bow braced but not drawn up so that you can see how the levers/bridges line up.

* Putting a long string on a bow can give slightly unrealistic draw weights, I think the angle of the string changes the leverage, but I probably need a mechanical engineer to write a discourse on this. As an illustration of this, the first inch or two always feels very easy.

Note: Here is a link to a learned discourse on the topic which may interest our more mathematically-inclined readers. The conclusions are, I think, slightly woolly however.

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#1

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/14/2009 6:57 AM

Nice work, Del! The power of glue never ceases to amaze me..

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#2
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/14/2009 7:09 AM

Cheers, I was a tad anxious when I winched it back the first time.
Del

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#7
In reply to #2

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 1:28 AM

Hey Del.. are you selling those in the states?

My son has a bow shop..

Donald

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#9
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 2:42 AM

I'm probably going to do the odd commission this year for a 'primitive' bow.
I just sell the odd items to cover the cost of my hobbies.
Mind you with my job becoming less attractive I may retire completely and look to make money at it.
The prob is I'd need a decent workshop and of course (I tend to scratch about and make stuff from junk with inappropriate tools half the time), once it becomes work, some of the fun dissappears.
If there is anything special that no one else can make, let me know, and I'll tell you if I think I can do it.
Del

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#12
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 12:05 PM

Del,

Write "how to" articles for archery magazines and write a book. What I have seen on this forum is clearly good enough to go in magazines - maybe there is some money there.

The book could range from one of the Tab do it yourselfers to the definitive work on the subject. Is there already an equivalent to "Grays Anatomy", "Bowditch on Navigation" or "Horowitz an Hill" for bows? If not, you have the skills to do it.

Dave

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#13
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 12:30 PM

Cheers for the vote of confidence...
There is already an excellent series of books The Traditional Bowyers Bible.
But I do enjoy writing and could maybe write stuffs for mags.
I'm just a tad wary of turning an enjoyable hoby into a job of work...that's why I enjoy doing these blogs...no deadline and an appreciative audience.
(I'll send Mrs Cat around with the hat later)
Del

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#16
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 12:59 PM

tell Mrs. Cat that I will be the guy holding the tin cup. If we had a third with a tambourine..............

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#3

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/14/2009 6:07 PM

Enjoyable as always Del, good work.

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#4

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/14/2009 6:54 PM

Nice.

I particularly liked the epoxy-soaked whipping - I made & repaired fishing rods many years ago, and this sort of reinforcement takes a lot of beating. Some of my mech. design chums are putting together a structure using carbon fibre tube, and they're getting problems with cracking at the joints while it's still at the trial assembly stage. I've already wagged a finger at them & told them to whippet whip it. They'll probably use heatshrink tubing as a quick way out, and live to regret it.

"So I grasped the nettle and stripped the glass off the belly..." - did you bung it back on after thinning down the wood?

Nice, again.

John

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#8
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 2:37 AM

Yeah the glass went back on, the glass is the strength, the core thickness is the 'how much strength'.
Once I got a blade under the glass fibre lamination it came off fairly easilly. I had to clean it up really well before I could re-use it, in fact the belly laminations have been glued 3 times, as they were stripped off an ols project years ago.
It's fun recycling stuff.
Del

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#5

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/14/2009 11:05 PM

Nice job.

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#6

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 12:00 AM

You have a licence for those? good job

i am waiting in anticipation for the Gatling repeating crossbow

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#18
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 3:07 PM

Hi, Del!

Speaking of which, do you have a repeater in mind for a future project (either based on the Chinese or more updated models)? I'd really like to see how that one gets built.

Mark

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#20
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 3:12 PM

No repeaters planned at the mo'.
Del

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#10

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 6:02 AM

Very Nice!! I assume it shoots as well as it looks.

I've been looking for a couple of authentic looking long bows for my son & I. For when we play LARP.

It can only have a max draw of 30 lbs. It will be shooting heavy foam tipped arrows. I can find pleanty of fiberglass or plastic but I want wood or mostly wood.

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#14
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 12:37 PM

What's LARP?
There are 're-enactment' bows available over here for about £160 , but I'd have thought the low draw weight would make it fairly easy to make one yourself if you go for a wideish flattish cross section. Just about any timber will make a bow as long as it has had some time to dry out, always worth having a go as long as you don't expect too much from your first go.
A guy at my club shoots a stick of Holly with no tapering at all ! He cut it, lopped off the branches and put a string on it...he's a pretty good shot too, mind it only shoots about 100yards.
Del

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#28
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 5:53 AM

LARP=Live Action Role Playing

Think Dungeons & Dragons but using Live people & Foam Weapons.

http://www.legacieslarp.org/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpmvFK02jY8

YES we are GEEKS but its one of the few ways I can interact with my kids.

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#29
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 6:50 AM

Sounds fun to me...bags I'm Legolas.
There is a fair bit of battle re-enactment in the UK.
Del

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#32
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 8:32 PM

What do you play a troll?

Some friends of mine do that (i am more of a paintball guy)

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#11

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 6:39 AM

Nice job, the "Empirical way" gives the most fun I feel.....when if it goes wrong, you can always use the Math to find out why and how to do it better the next time....!!

One point, Epoxy, when used correctly will always stick to Epoxy AND even Polyester, but Polyester will not stick to itself if the base coat is already fully hardened. It may will only stick to itself when the older coat is still very "Tacky"....

Cleanliness is next to Godliness is most important both in the wood in your case and when glueing over previous layers. The cleaning/scrubbing of the wood is most important. Slight surface roughness is helpful too, particularly machine or blade cut areas must first be sanded to open up the "pores" of the wood to allow good penetration. (I believe that the Mosquito Aircraft suffered from glued joints not remaining glued because this was forgotten!). Any liquid cleaner must have time to evaporate before laying up starts.....

Usefully, Meths (the usual Methanol based sort) cleans sticky fingers and tools admirably from the resin, if used before the resin goes hard!

Even with Epoxy, a better join between two layers is achieved when the first coat is not fully dry. But most important, protect from dust that may be attracted to the wet resin.....dust reduces joint strength.

When a boat (especially a big boat) is built using fiber glass & resin (invariably Polyester), the workers must work in relays until the whole boat is laid up and the full thickness achieved....no layer may harden before the next layer is applied. 24 x 7 if need be.....

Heat can help in many ways, not just in speeding up the curing process, but especially when using resins with long cure times, as these types of resin often becomes very "liquid" at first and seeps well into the wood fibers, before hardening like a rock.

The early Epoxies were mainly all fairly liquid, slow in hardening (12 to 24 hours depending upon temperature) and to my mind, still the best of all......especially when machining.....

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#15
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 12:39 PM

Cheers, it was the smooth vs rough surface which was one of my Qs, the Maole core was V smooth as I'd finished it with a file, I roughed it up a bit with an old hacksaw blade dragged along it... (& cleaned with meths)
Anyhow it seems to have stuck ok.
Del

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#17

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 3:03 PM

Hi, Dell!

Could you compensate with more arm body or another thin ply across the bow face if you made the grip shape more egonomic, and perhaps with a more centralized window cut into it?

Mark

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#19
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 3:11 PM

Could you compensate with more arm body or another thin ply across the bow face if you made the grip shape more egonomic, and perhaps with a more centralized window cut into it?
Errr. sorry I don't understand.

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 4:59 PM

Hi, Del!

I was referring to just a standard 'look' to a bow created by narrowing the grip and providing a deeper cut for the shooting window to allow for greater accuracy.

The "Window" I'm referring to is the cut or narrowing on one side of the grip that allows the arrow to be rested closer to the center of the bow arms (limbs, siyahs) for more accurate shooting.

Normally, sighting along the arrow without a window requires a repositioning of the bow off center to make the shot. NP, and accurate. But with a window, there's less-to-zero bow offest, and normally not enough distance to place more strain on the bow arm (so long as the grip isn't too far off center, although seeing some of them makes me wonder sometimes about just how far off center one can go and still draw comfortably).

Your old fiberglass bow probably had two windows and and an ergonomic grip arrow rest, since the manufacturer could never know if it was being purchased by a right or left-handed archer.

In order to cut the bow near the center and avoid it snapping in two when drawn, the depth of the arms (limbs, etc.) as they cross the middle of the bow would seem to require reinforcement acrossed a narrowed ergonomic grip and/or window to take up the draw strain.

In the photo of your new bow, I noticed that the limbs seem to narrow either very slightly or not at all across the grip; so I was wondering if it could be altered to fit the hand and arrow in those ways using reinforcement.

So, that's what I was enquiring about.

Mark

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#22
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 5:45 PM

Ah, yes I see what you mean...
It was designed on the style of a Turkish flight bow.
The grip is quite a bit narrower than the limbs, and the cut out length is limited by the Maple bow which the core was made from, so there isn't much length for a long sight window.
I tend to shoot with the bow canted over at a slight angle anyway, and no sights.

Some time I may make an American Flat Bow, or a Recurve, both of which are more like you describe although fibreglass isn't really my thing, the bow was just a way of using scrap material and learning a bit about the geometry of the levers/bridges.
Here's a pic, which shows the grip better (the workmanship isn't all that hot as it's no where near symetrical.)


THe 'DH' monogram is a bit Kitch too.
Cheers
Del

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#23
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 6:17 PM

Hi Del!

Some day in the future, somebody's going to look at your bow, recognize who made it and when, and value it at a great deal of money as a valuable antique!

Mark

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#24
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 6:19 PM

"Your old fiberglass bow probably had two windows ... since the manufacturer could never know ..."

I may be talking out of turn, here, but I've a feeling Del was the manufacturer (if, indeed, there was an old fiberglass bow involved).

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#25
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/15/2009 6:32 PM

Hi, JohnDG!

You never talk out of turn! Do you?

In any case, whether ol' Del made the original FG bow limbs or bought 'em, yer standard commercial FG bow is sold both-sided. 's what I was referring to. I have a couple in my gun cabinet.* One's a little one for kiddies. Sweet.

Mark

*and a compound short enough to be a tree bow and a crossbow. Left over from my bow hunting days. Don't use bows anymore --just rifles; but if you ever hear of somebody developing an arrow-held bullet for an instant bow kill, please let me know. I miss bow hunting, and target practice was only fun when the two were connected. -M.

This was off-topic. I forgot to check the box. Sorry!

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#26
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 2:44 AM

Just for the record guys... (I don't want any squabbling)
The fibreglass laminations were bought from D G Quick an archery shop in the UK about 25 years ago, when I was into crossbows.
The bow of my Chinese Repeater is laminated from the same batch of material. I probably salvaged the laminations from a first attempt which wasn't quite right.
They were never bought as a bow or as finished limbs.
I would never actually buy a bow... why bother when they grow on trees.
Del

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#27
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 2:56 AM

Oh, yew kidder, yew!

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#30

Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 11:49 AM

Good job Del!

We have the same hair style.

A couple of suggestions though: Epoxy will stick to epoxy if the amine blush is removed with wetordry sandpaper (I use 180 grit or purple ScotchBright) and water. Solvents don't work well enough for this.

You will get a more accurate and comfortable stance if you lock your elbow, keep a straight line on the top of your forearm to your wrist, and stick your thumb up (tight against your hand) for a positive and reproduceable nock point on your cheek bone. And don't grip the bow, but let it hang in the notch of your hand.

You can also steam bend the ends in a tall bucket of boiling water, (15-20 minutes for 1/8") 4 or 5 laminations, one end at a time. Use a belt sander to pre taper the ends. That should allow you to get more of a spring effect from the tips. You did a pretty good job of the geometry. It looks alot like my 40 year old Browning recurve @ 54# draw.

Tip: A foam sofa pillow works great as a target. Put it in a backless frame, pin a target to it, enjoy.

Carl

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#31
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 12:33 PM

Thanks, I am actually working on my left arm/grip as at the mo' I tend to take the pressure on the joint of my thumb (2nd knuckle from tip) which gets a bit sore with my longbow. This is all wrong of course but has meant in the past that I didn't need a bracer.
I'm trying to sort this and take the load right down in the V of thumb/palm on the Pad of the thumb.
If you look at one of my earlier bow blogs and part 2 you'll see I've done the steam bending (working recurve) thing, and also managed to smash a sinew backed bow

Cheers
Del

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#33
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 8:33 PM

Excalibur is a bow?

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#34
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 10:51 PM

WOW Del!,

I checked your blog and part 2. That repeater is awsome. Think of how that could have changed history before gunpowder. Scary, wot?

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#35
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/16/2009 11:00 PM

Hi, Tippycanoe!

Where did you fid the story on the Chinese repeating crossbow (which I thought predated the use of gunpowder even in fireworks in that country)? I'd really like to see it.

Mark

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#36
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/17/2009 3:44 AM

This is my blog on the chinese repeater, and here's a link to the video of it working.
Del

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#37
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/17/2009 9:34 PM

Hi, del the cat!

After reading it and watching a few YouTube presentations on the Chinese repeater, I began to wonder if it's possible to make a simple pneumatic repeater crossbow mechanism using levered strength or a small motor to multiply the force of e.g. a compressed CO2 release (maybe with twin cartridges) enough to drive back a 50# pull.

Needless to say, reloading was not one of my favourite crossbow activities.

What fun it could be if a full draw on a meaningful weight could be achieved easily and rapidly. Rambo look out! (Hey, maybe jam the CO2 reloads into the butt!)

Mark

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#38
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Re: Del’s Archery Adventures – The Asiatic Recurve Bow

04/18/2009 3:56 AM

That bow on my repeater is 50 pounds pull, the leverage is such that it can even be operated by attracive girlies....they love pulling back the lever.
It's a bit of a novelty thing really, not much pracical use, although I do wonder what the maximum rate of shooting would be before it shook to bits. Doubling up on the magazine is the easyway to increase rate of discharge.
I reckon you could get upto 65 pounds on that bow and it would still be easy to operate.

The bow needs loads of recurve as the actual working draw (e.g length from braced to fully drawn is only about 8" (I think).
'Draw length' is a bit of a missnomer really, genrally with bows 'draw length' is actually 'arrow length', in reality, the 'draw' or 'power stroke' if you like is the conventional draw minus the bracing height.
Dunno if you followed that.

Anyhow, I do sometimes refurbish my old stuff, but I don't often make the same thing twice (that's another reason why trying to make money out of it wouldn't be so much fun)

Maybe I'll refurbish my 275lb draw weight repro medieval 'light sporting crossbow', it needs a new horn bolt retaining clip/rear sight making...(with medieval nails to attach it)
Del

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Andy Germany (1); artsmith (1); Campbell Lighting (1); Del the cat (14); Epke (3); JohnDG (2); LG_Dave (2); lyn (1); MarkTheHandyman (8); RVZ717 (1); scotchdrnkr (2); Tippycanoe (2)

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