From the Author
I originally started writing The Backyard Bowyer as a way to learn the bowyer's craft. As I built bows and taught myself through trial and error, the concept of the book changed. It has been a long road, but fueled by my passion for traditional archery, I have never tired from it. I hope that this book allows anyone interested in building bows to just go ahead and do it.
My new and final mission for this book is to teach how to build basic bows from inexpensive materials and with a minimum of investment in tools and space. This book will not show how to make an enduring wooden bow that will last generations, nor to build a bow that will be your lifelong companion. My goal is to simply allow you to build bows, to have your first bow in your hands. I want youto make your own mistakes, conquer your own challenges, and grow as a craftsperson. There are many books on bowmaking theory and history, and while this knowledge is very powerful, the best way to learn something is to do it.
I hope that with the basic steps outlined in this book, you will break the boundary between knowing and doing. Build your first bow, and then the theories will begin to make sense. I almost didn't start bowmaking at all, even after I had become hooked on traditional archery and wanted to make my own bows. The first book on bows I had ever read was the great Traditional Bowyer's Bible, which at once filled me with wonder and abstract concepts that I could not fully grasp.
My first bow was a disaster, the product of too much knowledge and not enough practice. I had tried to put too many ideas into that bow, and it snapped under the strain. I had tried so hard to follow rules that I didn't understand, to try and make that first bow the best it could be. I nearly gave up, nearly threw it away and moved on with my life. I hadn't even touched my father's old Ben Pearson fiberglass recurve for months after my failure, but with that bow in hand, I was ready to try bow-making one last time.
And that's when I stumbled across another book. The Archery Handbook, written in the forties, was truly a godsend. It was a simple book, with simple instructions on building the type of bows that were mainstream back then. My second bow was very simple, and although it lacked many qualities of a fine wooden bow, it worked. That was good enough for me. Soon I had another, then another. They got better as I struggled with not having a teacher or a good guide to show me what to do.
That's why I wrote the Backyard Bowyer. It is a guide that will help you build a bow that will work. The methods and materials are far from traditional, but are easy enough to master and obtain to allow anyone, regardless of workspace, income, or level of interest to craft a wooden bow. And that's all you need to get started. Once you experience the thrill of firing an arrow from your very first bow, feel the wood flex beneath your fingertips, hear the thud of the arrow, you will know you've created something special. My only adive to you, don't ever let that fire stop burning.
-Nicholas Tomihama The Backyard Bowyer
About the Author
Nicholas Tomihama was born in Honolulu, where he lived until graduating high school. From there he went to Hilo on the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) to study business management at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Even before going to college, he had a knack for making things and working with his hands, perhaps coming from his father who was a jeweler and general jack-of-all-trades. In highschool, Nicholas made hand-turned wooden pens, collected coins, fossils, and toyed around with his father's hunting bow.
In Hilo, Nicholas was exposed to the party life and turned away from it, instead passing his time exploring the island and getting to his Hawaiian heritage. He began researching and studying native hawaiian crafts, carving bone hooks, crafting woven slings, and other hawaiian arts.
After becoming more interested with craft than education, Nicholas returned to Oahu without a degree and married his highschool sweetheart, who had kept up with him in a long-distance relationship for the duration of his stay in Hilo.
Nicholas now lives on Oahu with his wife and young son, Levi. He is an artist who makes hand-crafted bows and arrows and enjoys the sport of archery. He is also an avid reader and prolific writer, who recently published his first book, The Backyard Bowyer, which teaches how to build simple wooden bows for the complete novice.