The Bow used in Korean Traditional Archery

The Bow of Korean Traditional Archery

By comparison to the bows of western European archery, the bow used in Korean Traditional Archery is quite short. Bows are typically around 125cm in length when strung, although both synthetic or traditional bows can be made to order, and range in size from small to large. However this range is minimal, and a typical Korean 'longbow' used in Traditional Archery can be in the range of 127cm, a nearly imperceptable increase in overall length.

These bows, much shorter than much of western archery's diverse range of bows, was a versatile and agile weapon. Historically, the use of these bows wasn't limited to archers under seige in a fortress, but also included horseback archery.

Korean traditional archery can be practiced with either a modern synthetic bow or the more traditional horn bow. Both types of construction have many all natural elements, such as the mulberry siyah, leather covered bow nocks, and birch bark bow backing. The principle difference between a traditional and modern bow is in what makes the limbs themselves flex. In the case of a modern synthetic bow, the spring comes from a mixture of fiberglass and wood. In the traditional Korean bow, the horn of a water buffalo is sliced thin and layered with sinew and natural fish glue to create an extremely long-lasting and powerful spring. The relative costs of producing these more historic horn bows have made the modern synthetic bow very popular both in Korea and abroad. While the synthetic bow is usually found for around $300 CAD, a horn bow may cost upwards of $1000 CAD. Also, the recent Korean governmental boycott on imported horn products has caused this cost to skyrocket. For more information on this international dispute, and what it may mean for the future of Korean Traditional Archery, please visit the website of Thomas Duvernay. This is a link to his webpage about the issue.

At KTA Canada, all students will start with the synthetic bow, as it is more forgiving and far more consistent for the beginner. Included in the tuition is the rental for equipment, and all students will undergo an evaluation with the teacher to make sure they are using the correct length and strength of bow for their body and their ability level. As the student develops their skill and their strength, he or she may consider purchasing their own equipment. At the bottom of this page are the links to several companies in Korea from which bows can be purchased. However, it is strongly advised that students only make this purchase together with the advise of their teacher, to make sure they are buying the best bow for their future use.