I've been collecting and shooting selfbows for twenty years. As much as I enjoy and admire glass laminated longbows and recurves, for me there is no glass bow that compares with a masterfully crafted selfbow or backed wood bow, and I emphasize "masterfully crafted". I don't know how many threads I've read over the years written by guys who are looking for a bowyer who makes selfbows, and every single time a bunch or responses will claim that you can just make your own selfbow. Sure, pretty much anyone can get a stick to bend and put a string on it and make an arrow fly, but when you've shot as many selfbows and backed wood bows as I have, there is a world of difference when a selfbow or backed wood bow is made by someone who has made hundreds of them. Joe Don Jones is one of those rare bowyers.
Offhand I can only think of only four selfbow bowyers who qualify as masterful and make bows for sale; John Strunk, Jim Rempp, Gerald Welch and Joe Don. I think there would be more selfbow and backed wood bow makers if they were easy to make. They're not, at least not outstanding examples.
When Joe Don stopped making bows it left a gap that no one else came along to fill. No one to my knowledge has as much experience with osage as Joe Don. I have no idea how many selfbows and backed bows he's made, but shooting one of his bows makes it very clear that his understanding of and ability with osage is something special. I have three bows from JD. The first one was a Phenom made in 2002. It's a reflex/deflex bamboo backed 64" longbow. The only other bamboo backed bow I own that is in the same masterful category was made by Dean Torges. Joe Don also makes recurves, statics, English longbows, reflex/deflex and selfbows, of course. Bamboo backing is offered.
I understand that there's a certain amount of caution on the part of some hunting archers regarding the durability of selfbows and their backed counterparts. That 16 year old bamboo backed osage Phenom that JD made for me still has the same profile and still shoots just as hard. It's lost nothing in all those years and it's still rock solid. It will out live me.
If you've never shot a selfbow or backed wood bow, you really owe it to yourself to get hold of a great example of one and see what you think, and with Joe Don back in the mix your choices are far greater.
Below are pictures of my 16 year old Phenom. Posts: 816 | From: California | Registered: Mar 2003
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Bob, your taste in bows is impeccable. I agree with you there is something truly special about a selfbow or backed/laminated wood bow crafted at the peak of artistic endeavor. THAT bow is a beauty and by the look of that lovely crescent, a shooter! That one reminds me a lot of the Strunk Bamboo Spirit I owned for a spell. Shot as good as any glass bow.
The traditional archery community is a subculture within the overall archery community. The selfbow community, and there definitely is one, is a subculture within a subculture.
When there's little or no selfbow posts on Trad Gang, interest in selfbows can fall off very quickly. There was a time on TG when there was a lot more selfbow threads, but some of the biggest contributors to those threads stopped posting for one reason of another.
I'll try to post more threads about selfbows and pictures of my collection.
Posts: 816 | From: California | Registered: Mar 2003
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JD, we found the same thing when the economy was suffering fewer people wanted "all natural" bows. Seems they would have one bow and not have the selfbow or backed bow for shooting another class.
Selfbows have been #1 in my book for 20 years. They're all I've hunted with, with an occasional sinew backed bow thrown in for good measure. I like making bamboo backed bows, trilams, and such, even a glass bow once in a while, too... but when it comes to quality time in the woods or on the range, 99 times out of 100, I'm carrying a selfbow. I just love em, and don't need anything more... or less
Posts: 2450 | From: Pa | Registered: Apr 2003
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