"Penobscot Primitive Longbow"

Jim Boswell
8120 Parke Creek Rd.
Ellensburg Wa. 98926
The penobscot bow originated hundreds of years ago in Maine,.It was the bow of the Penobscot Indians that lived there.Many say it is the first compound bow.Regardless it is a very unique primitive longbow and One that I have enjoyed very much since receiving it.This design has been on my wish list since I first saw pictures of one.

The bow is very unique in that it has an adjustable draw weight.You will not find this in any other longbow, or any traditional bow for that matter.The adjustment is made possible by twisting the strings that run between the main bow and the buddy bow on the front.Jim Boswell at Rudderbows has directions for relieving the tension from the small bow to twist the strings, but as usual they seemed inconvenient to me.The first time I changed the draw weight I just placed the main bow tips on 2 logs,pressed down on the riser and removed the strings for tightening.That was easy and clamping the bow down like the directions say was not needed.This method made it adjustable in the field,away from home.It also allows a string to be changed anywhere. While this was a good way to do this what would I do in prairie country where logs are not available.A sceond way was needed to make adjustments, and it was just to simple.By placing the stringer on the bow backwards the bow could be flexed to relieve the tension and change a string or make adjustments.It works great.
Both bows are made from Hickory and are not backed.Because of the design of the Penobscot the main bow has a  very light draw weight and is not likely to fail.The power comes from the short front bow.Speaking of power this little bow has ample power as well as a very smooth low shock  draw and release.At the chronograph I recorded average speeds of 160Fps with 465 grain arrows at my 27" draw length.It shoots very well with the right spined arrows for the weight you are shooting it at. Because of the adjustable draw weight it is also a great bow to grow with for the younger shooters.

  Draw length  Draw weight 


  13   15
  14   18
  15   21
  16   23
  17   26
  18   29
  19   32
  20   35
  21   37
  22   40
  23   43
  24   46
  25   49
  26   52
  27   55
  28   59

From the table above you can see it has a very even draw and at 28" it just begins to show signs of stacking.this is also at 4 pounds more draw weight than it is designed for. I think this is quite remarkable for a primitive design.Shooting the Penobscot took very little to get used to.The grip is narrow and although it is not center shot cut it easliy shoots good groups with consistancy.Hand shock is not an issue with the Penobscot, it is very mild  for this type of bow..I found that it shoots best for me with an 8" brace height,and it also shoots well with a brace height as low as 7".

The fit and finish on the Penobscot is good.There are no rough edges or surfaces.It is evenly sanded and sealed with clear laquer.Tiller is very good on the main bow and between both bows.The straight grip is nicely contoured to fit your hand.This is a primitive bow with good workmanship.It is not an Adcock or a Massie and it is not portrayed as one either.It is a well made primitive design bow that is very capable of taking game or providing  many hours of fun.The Penobscot will also be the topic of conversation at any ranges or meets that you take it to.We rarely get to see these bows today and it is a pleasure to pass it around at the range.

I would like to see the short strings between the bows made from Dacron in a flemish twist like the main string .The bow comes with a nylon chord that does nothing to please the eye but it is functional.I also think that the bow is to white for hunting as it is,so I have striped the finish and stained it to darken it down for the fall trip it will go on. I am sure that Jim at Rudderbows will stain it  for you at a reasonable price if you ask when you order it. Jim was  very reasonable and helpfull when I ordered the Penobscot.

I was going to edit the above paragraph after talking to jim about my concerns there,but i decided to leave it as is and advise you of the new changes that have been made since the initial draft review was written.I will copy/paste them from an email that jim sent me.I feel that this way we can all see how he is dedicated to continualy improving his bows and listening to his customers concerns.

Below is the excerpt from Jim's e-mail to me: 

"Pete, WOW ! Nice review .   Only a couple small things that I have changed permanently.( I made these changes In light of your advice and some other people giving us constructive input . The back strings are now a short flemish twist Dacron string and will be on every bow we sell.No longer will we use any Nylon. The bow has a larger window of weight adjustment with dacron because it does not stretch.  the bows are available in stained colors for no extra charge for hunting purposes. The finish will also have at least 3-5 coats instead of the normal 2 .
    These are permanent changes ."
These changes are taking the Penobscot to a higher level of workmanship that will definately make it even better.When the new back strings arrive I will set up the chronograph to see if they also increase the performance level, and I will update the review with my findings.I am expecting to see a modest improvementwith the new strings.

At last count Jim Boswell offers over 20 models of bows as well as bow kits and Bow building classes.He is commited to archery and building afordable reliable bows that we can all enjoy.The Penobscot is a reliable and well built bow for its price tag.Wether you order it finished or in a kit ,the Penobscot will meet any reasonable expectations of a primitive shooter.

Pete Ward

"welcome to my outdoor world"

Copyright 2004 PETER WARD
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