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Mary Rose and HMS Victory, 22 May 2017

On Monday evening 6 November, 35 Bowyers and guests crammed into the private dining room at Bangers' Wine Bar for a brilliant illustrated talk by Mike Loades on the Asian Composite Bow, as used in centuries past by the Scythian and Parthian horseback warriors, and still in active use today. Mike is well known as an author and TV presenter on historic weapons; he is a skilled horseback archer himself, and founder of the 'California Centaurs' horseback archery club. He also has a sideline career in Hollywood as fight arranger for historical films.

Mike talked us through the origins of the composite bow, examples of which have survived from as far back as far as 700BC, preserved in the Siberian permafrost. The bows had a complex construction from glued-together pieces of wood, horn and sinew, creating extraordinarily flexible bows of great power, as illustrated by the depicted Scythian-type bow being drawn to 120lbs at 28 inches. To maintain stability and balance for shooting while riding, the Scythians and Parthians developed special designs of saddle, some of which have also survived in the permafrost; a recreation of one (to a Parthian design) can be seen in he final photo showing Mike shooting at full tilt on horseback.

Mike lives in California these days. He was visiting London to give a couple of talks at the British Museum in connection with its current exhibition on The Scythians, and we were fortunate that he could find time to give us this superb talk, which will remain long in the memory.

Mike's books (available on Amazon) include 'The Longbow' and 'Swords and Swordsmen' as well as 'The Composite Bow', and he has just finished a new book on the 'The Crossbow' too, due out in 2018.

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