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A laminated bow is an archery bow in which different materials are laminated together to form the bow stave itself. Traditional composite bows are normally not included, although their construction with horn, wood, and sinew might bring them within the above definition. This term usually refers to bows made of wood, fiberglass, or other modern materials. Such bows may have any side-view profile; the modern recurve bow is one example, commonly made mainly of fiberglass, and many modern longbows and recurves are made by laminating wood.

The technique has many advantages as compared to making a self bow. It enables the bowyer to use materials on the back of the bow that are particularly strong in tension, and materials strong in compression on the belly; it is also easier to apply powered machinery to the manufacturing process so as to save time. The bow may be curved during lay-up, so that different bow shapes can easily be achieved. Lamination may make it possible to apply a strong backing to wood that would not otherwise make a good bow. A laminated backing may also save a great deal of time that would be spent following the grain of a natural stave in order to make a self bow.

Other bow construction techniques include cable-backed bow and compound bow.


Laminated bows were rare in most of the world before modern waterproof glues became widely available, almost unknown before about 1900CE, and outside Japan and Northern Asia they have never formed a significant proportion of traditional bows. The modern Japanese bow however is a laminated bow, as is the Korekawa bow from the late Jōmon period in Japan,[1] and the Saami and their neighbours[2] across Northern Eurasia [3] also made laminated bows for centuries. Insulander speculates that these may have been a step in the evolution of the composite bow.[2] Hijāzi Arabs may also have used a laminated bow.[4]


  1. The Korekawa bow at Nara National Museum Accessed 2007 June 15th
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ragnar Insulander. The Two-Wood Bow. Acta Borealia 2002; 19: 49-73
  3. The Neolithic Age in Eastern Siberia. Henry N. Michael. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Ser., Vol. 48, No. 2 (1958), pp. 1-108. doi:10.2307/1005699
  4. Arab Archery. An Arabic manuscript of about A.D. 1500 "A book on the excellence of the bow & arrow" and the description thereof. Translated and edited by Nabih Amin Faris and Robert Potter Elmer. Princeton University Press, 1945.

Further reading[]

  • (1992) The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 1. The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-085-3
  • (1992) The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 2. The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-086-1
  • (1994) The Traditional Bowyers Bible Volume 3. The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-087-X
  • How to make fiberglass-laminated modern bows by John Clark, available from Ausbow Industries
  • The Design and Construction of Composite Long (Flat) Bows by John Clark
  • The Design and Construction of Composite Recurve Bows by John Clark (2002)
  • Design and Construction of Flight Bows, a supplement to The Design and Construction of Composite Recurve Bows by John Clark

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