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Longbow Making Workshop

“What a fantastic few days. I had an absolutely wonderful time on this course. The course is well laid out and well structured. From carpentry beginners to experts, experienced archers to those who have never picked up a bow this course is accessible and enjoyable for all” Graham Wells

Course Content

The start of your journey through the world of traditional archery begins by exploring aspects of bow design, how this relates to bow making and the woods that can be used. We will look at the elements employed in bows as diverse as the eight thousand year old Holmegaard bow and compare these elements with bows from European history especially the English longbow the subject of our study.

The bow making then begins in earnest, using the design elements discussed and working with the properties of the individual stave. You will craft your own Traditional English Longbow and join the growing ranks of traditional archers.

The choice of timber is from locally sourced native hardwoods felled specifically for the course.

There will also be instruction on string making and assembling arrows it is planned that you leave the course with a fully working bow, tillered to your requirements, a laid in Flemish style string and a couple of arrows to set you on the path. More importantly than the weapon, you also armed with the knowledge to make it all again.

We will cover Bow history and bow design, factors effecting bow efficiency, wood selection, tillering, string materials and construction, arrow woods and design, fletching and archery techniques. There is a saying that “a great bow is nine tenths broken at full draw”, but by understanding the properties of timber and with skill, we can take timber to its limit (and return!) to produce an implement of incredible beauty and practicality.

If this course is full please contact us to be placed on a waiting list for cancellations.

Should enough people express an interest we may run extra dates.

Course Dates 2024

  • 12-15 September 2024

Course Dates 2025

  • 20-23 March 2025
  • 8-11 May 2025

Course Dates

Longbow Making Workshop

Please read the following information before booking:

This course is part catered offering an evening meal only and we can accommodate meat and vegetarian diets, if you have allergies, a specific or complicated diet or are a strict vegan then you will have to make arrangements to supplement the food provided with your own provisions. Please contact the office prior to making any online booking if you fall into this latter category if you need to discuss your options. we work late into the evening camping is not a requirement but you are welcome to camp at our site if you prefer

NB: Camping is not integral to this programme, it is something we offer for the convenience of our students it is not part of the course fee. With this in mind please be aware that should you choose to stay on site you will be expected to help with the small tasks, that facilitate the smooth running of the camp

You need to be 18 years or older to attend  

The course location is near Heathfield, East Sussex

Longbow making workshop Sept 2024 Full

Course: Longbow Making

Training: 12-15 September 2024

Location: Nr Heathfield East Sussex

Start Time: 5.00 pm

Completion Time: 4.00 pm

Course Leader: Phil Brooke

Course Size: 8 (maximum)

Cost Per Person: £395 (Deposit £100)

Longbow Making Workshop March 2025 Places

Course: Longbow Making

Training : 20-23 March 2025

Location: Nr Heathfield East Sussex

Start Time: 5.00 pm

Completion Time: 4.00 pm

Course Leader: Phil Brooke

Course Size: 10 (maximum)

Cost Per Person: £350 (Deposit £100)

Longbow Making Workshop May 2025 Places

Course: Longbow Making

Training: 8-11 May 2025

Location: Nr Heathfield East Sussex

Start Time: 5.00 pm

Completion Time: 4.00 pm

Course Leader: Phil Brooke

Cousre size: 10 (maximum)

Cost Per Person: £350 (Deposit £100)

Course Reviews

Toby D

Epic! A huge thank you to Phil Brooke and the Woodcraft  School team for their incredible guidance during the 3 day Longbow making workshop. I am not confident in woodcraft, I asked countless questions, pestered him and his team constantly and was initially very cautious of my tools in case I damage my bow in the making process. But

Phil’s knowledge and skill was only surpassed by his ability to share both so simply and effectively, having the opportunity to learn from someone with so much passion and devotion to the art was an honour, and an incredible insight into the life of a bowyer. On top of that he’s a great laugh and has some awesome life experiences and stories.

Definitely one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended, a lot of hard work involved using traditional techniques but the result is amazing. I have an Ash Longbow made with my own 2 hands, her name is Lucy.

Dave Watson

Having made various simple bows over the years I decided to invest in taking this further by attending a Traditional Long Bow course at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex. I chose this course as it was being run by John Rhyder from the Woodcraft School who I have known for many years. His clarity, professionalism and depth of knowledge stand out and I was very confident that I would learn a few valuable tips from his teaching. The reality is that I learned a great deal from him. With his humour and the refreshments from the museum this course was really outstanding and I would highly recommend it to anyone who really wants to understand the art and the science behind bow making.

Dave Watson    Director of Woodland Survival Crafts Ltd

Bill Eldridge

I wanted to record my thanks to both you and Joe, please pass on my thanks to him.

I do not think I could have wanted a more knowledgeable and supportive pair of trainers. Lesser mortals would have given up on me and my heavy weight stick. You didn’t and I was able to go home with a functioning bow. Your sense of humour and optimism never flagged and you kept a diverse bunch of trainees with very different levels of skill and experience on track, amazing.

Thank you once again

Gareth Owen

I just wanted to say thank you so much for such an awesome few days! I wasn’t sure what to expect but you exceeded anything I could have imagined.
Your course was interesting, insightful and seriously good fun. I am grinning even now thinking about firing the bow I made!
You and Joe are great at teaching and helping us all to succeed. But more than that you are both great people full of amazing facts and interesting stories.  You especially, a real legend!
The venue was truly brilliant with all you need, in a lush green woodland.

Dawn Simpson

Hi John

I would like to thank you for the excellent Bowmaking Course.  Despite my worries about camping in October, everything was absolutely brilliant and I was having such a good time, I really did not want to leave your beautiful woodland at the end of the course.The planning and execution of the course was perfect, and trying to twist strings and knock arrows in the dark most demanding, but also funny in a group-type way. Your sense of humour always helped things along. My knowledge of woodwork was absolutely nil and I appreciate all the help you gave in using the tools.  I had not even heard of some of them!!!My finished bow is brilliant and I have been shooting it at 20 yards, very gently as advised, with some success. The first misses managed to fly to 40 yards, which shows it will be a very good bow, once it is trained (me likewise). I look forward to making my next bow.

All the best


Keith Polkinghorne

As someone who had basically no idea on choice of woods, tool use, bow making or even archery. I cannot thank you enough for the experience that your Longbow course gave me. My initial trepidation of taking part in a course like this was taken away by the welcome and initial pep talk. The instruction received from both John and Phil was well delivered and demonstrated, in such a way that even a novice such as myself managed to grasp the principles. The food was great and somehow perfectly timed to always coincide with when we were all slightly flagging giving us the perfect break and time to assess the next ‘move’. Everybody on the course appeared to enjoy both the highs and lows of theirs and each others successes and failures. Which is strange to enjoy your lows, with John, Phil and Scott around, as well as a bunch of people aiming for similar goals the lows were ironed flat into just another step in learning, which they were. I cannot wait to finish off my bow by sanding out the tool marks (and maybe taking a little weight off) and then getting a finish on it. I then want to try a Pyramid bow and Holmgaard (oooh…the Darkside). I had a lot of instruction on my first Bow but I feel I have the knowledge and just enough confidence to try the other Bows and I cannot thank you enough for this.

Jack Watson

Starting this course I was a complete novice in even shooting a bow never mind making my own, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the next few days. From the very first introductions I knew I would be in good hands however and I can’t thank John, Phil and Elayna enough for their hospitality and professionalism. The weather was pretty awful, but I can honestly say it hardly mattered as the camp is set up so well that the working areas remained a hive of activity despite the deluge. It is quite astonishing and very inspiring to witness the depth of knowledge and experience John and Phil have regarding the bow making process. It’s obvious these guys are passionate about the subject and their enthusiasm was highly infectious! They gave the group a detailed briefing before each section, allowing us to chose what type of bow we would be aiming for, with clear and easy to follow instructions ensuring that we all worked to the same level and pace. From the initia l removal of material to the fine carving and then tillering process, John and Phil were on hand to help and give in-depth advice. Despite a few hiccups, every attendee managed to come away with a working bow and a couple of arrows. I have personally taken a lot away from this experience and it’s testament to the quality of the course that this rookie now has the confidence, knowledge and desire to go away and make another bow myself!

Paul Black

Dear Caron and John, I wan’t to express my appreciation and thanks for a great Bow making course this week. Despite the horrible weather conditions, you all maintained a high level of professionalism and a friendly and helpful approach with everyone. I also want to say thanks to Nick too, he was also very helpful and both John’s expertise and Nick’s knowledge of the subject gave everyone confidence in reaching their goals on this course. This is why I personally travel a fair distance to Woodcraft School for quality training and customer service…Hope to see you all again soon. Best regards Paul.

Mathew Noakes

I would just like to say it was a fantastic course with great instructors, who were both patient and knowledgeable, giving time and patients through the whole experience. This course is also cheaper than your average bow even though you cannot guarantee a bow at the end of the three days due to the nature of the making the bow the risk is far out weighted by the experience itself. I found it amazing and gave me new confidence in myself and my own abilities, I would highly recommend to anyone regardless if you do archery or don’t. Thanks once again John Nick and Pete for and amazing three days.

Graham Wells

What a fantastic few days. I had an absolutely wonderful time on this course. The course is well laid out and well structured. From carpentry beginners to experts, experienced archers to those who have never picked up a bow this course is accessible and enjoyable for all. The course covers everything imaginable from the history of the bows being made to the skills needed to craft the bow and knowledge to maintain and shoot the bow on an ongoing basis. The relaxed and friendly approach to the tuition really made the course great fun. The skills I have learnt on this course are applicable to other woodworking projects I have planned too. The food was freshly cooked, healthy and delicious. Great vegetarian selection too. I now have my beautifully crafted bow and a pair of arrows, i also have the skills and confidence to make a second bow sometime soon on my own.

Rich Sewell

As we are all busy, when the day of the courser came I was tempted to try and postpone this 4-day course – I am glad I didn’t! On arrival I realised that I was in for something that was more than just a lecture & practical advice it proved to be an overall experience that included bow-making! The staff were always very attentive: Caron ensured that we had more than enough to eat with meals prepared by her as well as others and John & Nick ensured that we were provided with appropriate levels of learning theory but always with ample practical advice. After selecting a bow-type and choosing a ‘laminated-plank’ we worked from what was just a piece of wood towards a lovingly crafted bow. The skill levels using different tools improved and I found that one starts to get rather attached to what essentially evolves into more than just a stick! Being the first one to break my bow was challenging but John made a suitable replacement in double-quick time allowing me to catch up and indeed finish my bow to the point of linseed-oiling & a good wax! This course is to be highly recommended with all of the amenities being just about right to get participants back to nature, under a canopy of mature trees, and learning in a meaningful way. My sincere thanks to both John Rhyder & Nick McMillen for their tireless approach in making this a wonderful learning experience.

Mark Heasman

Quite simply a stunning course. John and Nick were superb professionals, coaches and encouragers through three wet and wild days. At the end I had a hand crafted bow that worked, hit the target with my own hand made arrows using my own hand made string. Every Englishman should do this course (plus all the rest – there were two Dutch guys on the course who loved it!!).