What to consider when buying a hornbow?

I get many questions from people interested in purchasing a horn composite bow. I will explain some important points to consider:

The price

Many questions are about the price, and many inquiries come to a halt at this point. The prices for my horn bows are between CHF 1800,-/2400,- depending on the type, and weight of the bow.

Why are these bows  so expensive?

Horn composite bows are completely made from natural materials, they are custom made, and handcrafted. There are many hours of work that go in to the several steps of construction, stringing/tillering , and test-shooting these bows. In my opinion, every self respecting bowyer should therefore ask a fair price for his bow. In a globalised world where mass production of cheap fiberglass and carbon bows dominate, I sometimes sense a misunderstanding for these prices.

Maintenance and Handling   

Horn bows require special attention, especially when stringing the bow. Balancing both limbs and removing twist are important before using the bow. The more reflex a bow has, the more likely it will be to twist. The aim from the bowyers perspective is off course to reduce these factors to a minimum. However, when for example a bow specified for flight archery has to be constructed, it might have a stronger tendency to be instabile. The reason for this is the material reduction in the bow to increase performance.

Do not expect a horn bow to be like a modern bow from synthetic materials. It does not like heat or direct sun (this can kill a synthetic bow as well, but horn bows are more sensitive to this when strung). The glue used in horn bows is moisture and heat sensitive. Bows will also react to weather changes, specifically relative humidity. During the winter the draw weight of the bow will be somewhat higher compared to the summer.

Life expectancy and guarantee

There are antique bows, maybe 100/200 years old that have been successfully strung and shot. This means life expectancy of a horn bow can be high when maintained and handled accordingly. I have bows in my collection that I have been shooting on a regular basis for several years. I don’t sell a bow to a customer when I am not 100% sure it is stable to be shot. And even then, something can happen that destroys the bow. The only thing I can do is to make sure there are no material and construction flaws in the bow. As soon it is out of my hands I have to trust the customer to be well informed on the do’s and don’ts of maintenance and handling the bow.

Guarantee is a difficult subject. I try to do my best to produce a bow that works. If a bow breaks in the hands of a customer, I am at the mercy of his honesty of why and what made the bow break. There will only be a full replacement in case the bow was damaged because of a material- or construction failure, and does not extend the period of 12 months after purchase. Any damage because of false stringing methods, or negligent balancing of the bow does, off course, not fall under guarantee.