Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dick Wilson, Archery Great, President of Shakespeare Archery, dies

I have some very sad news. Archery has lost another great from the Golden age. In 2012 began looking for Dick Wilson, President of Shakespeare Archery in the 1960’s. I had posted in forums and blogs with little luck. In late July his niece contacted me. Dick’s granddaughter was interested in learning archery. She did a search on her Grandfather and discovered my blog article on Dick Wilson. His niece said Dick was excited about sharing his experiences with Shakespeare and his friendship with Ernie Root. Unfortunately Dick was hospitalized within days of us finding each other. He died Friday. I will be rewriting the blog post with the help of Dick Wilson's family.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

THE WAMBAW Model X5, X12

Shakespeare Wambaw Model X5, X12

Shakespeare hunting bows are named after famous Hunting regions and National Forests; THE WAMBAW is named for Wambaw Creek Wilderness in South Carolina. The word Wambaw may be a combination of an extinct Native American dialect with an African language and refers to “dark water”

Wambaw Model X5 (year unknown), X12 1975.
  • AMO 58”
  • Brace Height: 8-9 inch
  • Riser pistol grip style- X12 has five piece wood lamination, X5 one piece of exotic hardwood.
  • Tips - X12 wood overlay, X5 no overlays 
  • Riser window 5 inch
  • Limbs:  1 3/4 inch in Black Glass
  • Weights: 40lb, 45lb, 50lb, 55lb
  • X 12 Stabilizer insert, X5 no insert
  • Arrow speed for X12: 12 shots average, 410 grain arrow 45lb bow-173.62 FPS

My 45# Wambaw X12

Wambaw X5
Researching this bow has been extremely frustration. Since the demise of, there is precious little that can be found online about this bow.
I do own a 1975 Catalog and found the X12 listed. I have managed to piece together some information from chat rooms, blogs and auction sites. There are two models, X5 and X12. Not much is known about the X5 it may be a 1976 model. I have never found a 1976 catalog and in 1976 Shakespeare Archery closed . The X5  is similar in shape but there are no lamination. it has no stabilizer insert, and there are no tip overlays. The 1975 catalog description mentions that X12 isn't a new design, The X5 has the the newer Buck logo and a Shakespeare Archery Equipment logo, and has a sticker found on 1970s bows. I believe the X5 was a 1976 bow.  
my Left Hand Wambaw X12 with Lewis Kent's Right Hand Wambaw X5

nock comparison between an X5 and X12
I have never actually held a X5. I have only seen two at auctions and one of them my friend Lewis Kent won. I photographed his right hand bow with his left hand bow to compare the differences in these two models. The nocks on the models are quite different. The X5 has no tip overlays but X12 does, and X12 has a string grove.
X5 can't be a mid-1960s bow because the marking are from the 1970s
 I had thought that the X5 was a mid-1960s model that had been resurrected. But now, looking at Lewie's bow it is obvious that the X5 is from the same time period, maybe it is from 1976 and one of the last of the Shakespeare bows??
The really interesting thing is that this bow even has different 
serial numbers. I studied the serial numbers of the most popular Shakespeare models, not much came from my efforts but one constant trait was that every model had a string of numbers and letters and each model ended in an identical letter, but these end in "T" and "C"..("T" was used for the Sierra X18 bows)..weird. The X5 is an odd ball, it is a rare bow, it does not appear in any catalogs and if it is one of the last of the Shakespeare bow, why the heck did they number it X5??? 
Virtually every reference to this bow is a positive review, most call it “a greatly underrated bow” I can’t find any advertising material on the bow either. It is a bit fancier than other Shakespeare of the same period. It has multiple laminate woods in the riser and it has wood overlay tips similar to The Necedah. In auctions it can go from $50 - $200 for RH and even higher for LH but value depends on the condition of the bow. Like many recurve bows if may have suffered the same fate as most recurves – the introduction of the compound bow. Recurves quickly fell out of fashion or, in the case of Shakespeare Archery, the manufacturers went out of business. Shakespeare closed its archery division in 1976.  Personally I was very surprised by this bow. I paid more than I wanted to for my bow but the lefty bows are hard to come by so I bit the bullet. Since there wasn’t much information on the bow I thought it might not be worth what I paid….I was wrong. I tested it against my #45 Bear Kodiak Magnum. The #45 Wambaw is just as smooth and accurate. It is becoming one of my favorite bows.
The moral of the story is.. Don’t trust the hype- Bears are great bows but you can buy an equally fine shooting bow by Shakespeare for half the price. 
It was true in the 1960-70 and it is still true in the 21st century.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Shakespeare Longbows

Shakespeare's Three Ambidextrous 
Dual Shelf Longbows. 
From the sister blog:
 Yup, Shakespeare made longbows!

Shakespeare has been producing fishing equipment since the late 1800's. In 1959 Shakespeare acquired Parabow Archery Inc. and began the Shakespeare line of archery equipment. They first produced solid fiberglass longbow and recurves. The style of these bow were simple and they were often the first bow of a youngster. In 1959, along with the Parabow line, Shakespeare introduced the 100 through 600 series of recurves. Around this time Ernie Root began designing and building the bows for Shakespeare. These were beautifully crafted laminated wood and fiberglass. They had leather wrapped grips, and if right handed, had the name of RH-100, 200, 300, etc. If left handed, they of course were LH-100 and so on. The Model 100 and 200 were the top for the line, the Model 300-400 mid-price range and Model 500-600 lower price range  In 1961, the leather grip was dropped, so was the RH 100..LH100.. designations which were replaced with the X Models and the bows took on a more sleek design, showing the Ernie Root influence.

1959-60 Model 600
1959-60 Model 500

The RH and LH 100-600 bows were the first composite woodand fiberglass bows made by Shakespeare archery. These bows have been described as hybrid bows. Of course that is a recent term. They are semi-recurve; fully working recurves but has traits of recurve as well as long bows. The riser is not more vertical than modern recurves, showing less reflex. They resembled 21st century Longbows.

1961 Model X20-58

From 1961-64 many of Shakespeare bows were re-designated with “X” plus a number. The Model X20 in 1961 was a 58 inch entry level bow with bright red fiberglass. The X20 looked very similar to the 1959-60 Model 600 which also had ambidextrous arrow rests, had an identical profile and was just two inches longer. The 1961 X20 was also the last Shakespeare laminated model with a leather wrapped handle. The 1962 X20 was no longer an ambidextrous bow, it was offered as either a RH  or LH option and the leather wrap was dropped. The real interesting thing is all three of these bows were NOT recurves but were the only longbows made by Shakespeare Archery.

1959-60 Model 500 & 600
  • Contoured handle with spiral leather grip
  • Model 500 – 60” AMO, Model 500- 56” AMO
  • Draw weights: Model 500- 30 lbs. to 60 lbs. Model 600 25 lbs. to 50
  • Riser: maple
  • Limbs: Parallel Glass, 1 ½ inch. Model 600  face is red back and white belly, Model 500 red back and white belly
  • Semi-recurve
  • Brace height:  7 ½
  • Model 500-600 were ambidextrous models

   1961-62 Model X20-58
  • Contoured handle with spiral leather grip
  • AMO: 58”
  • Draw Weights: 25 lbs. – 40 lbs.
  • Riser: Maple
  • Limbs: Woven fiberglass- Maroon, 1 ¼ inch
  • Semi-recurve
  • Brace height:  7 ½
  • Ambidextrous

Thursday, May 29, 2014


The Fabulous Root - RANGE MASTER
Ernie Root didn’t worry about keeping precise records, he published catalogs without dates and they often didn’t include information which can help identify his bows; he was more interested in getting his hands dirty building exceptional bows. So reconstructing the chronology of many of his bow models can be a daunting task. I recently bought a lefty Range Master and immediately found very little information about the model. So I began piecing things together by looking at the printed material I had which are ads, excerpts for dealer catalogs, and my three Root catalogs. 
1950s Root Ranger

I suspect that the Range Master began as the Ranger during the mid-1950s. Ernie Root loved long limbed bows. He began his shooting career as a tournament archer.  Longer limbs add stability and allow for a longer draw length with no “stacking”. These bows were about 64 inch long, were made with alternating maple and exotic woods and had leather wrapped risers. Like the Range Master, the Ranger was also a mid- priced bow.
1959-60 Root Ranger without leather wrap
 In the early 1960’s the bow gained one inch, 65” and lost its leather wrap. The riser had a more contoured form and the riser was made from a single piece of wood rather than laminations. 
1961-63 Ranger with solid wood riser
By 1963 the Ranger was now 66” and the profile was distinctive, a profile which Root would use in many of his bow as well as in the bow he designed and built for Shakespeare Archery. After 1963 I believe the Ranger became the Range Master. The Range Master was designed as a target bow, a bow for all-round field or stump shooting, and a hunting bow.
1964-66 Range master
  The 1964 Range Master had a very similar profile to the ’63 Ranger and it was also a 66” bow, the main difference was the white fiberglass and a slightly longer riser. 
Late 1960s Range Master

By the late 1960s the profile of the bow had changed completely. The versatile all-purpose Range Master had stabilized handle section and “pendulum” balance found in much more expensive target bows (Pendulous and Professional X10). Range Master had a full view Center shot sight window and 1 3/4" wide limbs with “Micro-Tapered” laminations. The handle and riser section is sculptured from imported hardwoods and had a comfort-contoured thumb rest. All of the Shakespeare Bows were designed and built by Ernie Root. The Ranger and Range Master would morph into the Shakespeare Wonderbow x17 in 1962 and Shakespeare Trident X25 in 1964.

1950s – 1962 Ranger

  •  64”-65” AMO
  • Riser – laminated hardwood. Leather wrap before 1960
  •  Limbs 1 3l4 inch
  • Fiberglass: green woven until 1960, white parallel glass after 1960
  • Draw weight 25-55 lbs
  •  Hardwood tip overlay
  •  6 inch sight window
  • Leather rest 

1964- late 1960s Range Master

  • 64” 66” AMO
  • Riser- solid exotic hardwood
  • Limbs 1 3l4 inch
  • Weight 25 to 50#
  • Brace height 8”
  • 6" center shot sight window
  • Feather rest — leather arrow plate
  • Stabilizer insert on late 1960s models
    Chronograph: 39# Range Master- 410 gr arrow, 12 shots average ---161.14 FPS

The eBay photos for my future lefty Range Master
My Left Hand Range Master

I was excited to win my 1964 Range Master. The seller’s photos were poor and his description was sparse but the bow came with 10 cedar arrows fletched with orange and black turkey feathers, a nice bonus. I contacted him to ask how the limbs looked, any twists or delamination’s?  I also asked about the material on the riser. He said it had been there when he bought the bow and he never removed it. When the bow arrived I was pretty happy, it needed some refinishing but overall it looked good. I removed the riser material and discovered that someone had bound the riser with cord, hum…not good, and then I saw the crack in the riser, my heart dropped. I took the chance of bracing the bow and saw the crack open but nothing creaked or popped which was a good sign. While the crack was open I filled the fissure with Loctite 420, which is a deep penetrating superglue. I completely filled it until it ran out the sides and fill the top of the crack then clamped it closed and unstrung the bow. The next day I removed the clamps and braced the bow and the crack held, then I drew the bow awaiting the dreaded snap, crackle, pop. But it held. I took the bow out and shot over 140 arrows and it held up. I refinished the bow and added a leather plate and made a red feather arrow rest for the bow. It is a very consistent shooter, and a welcome addition to my Root collection. 
My Resurrected Left Hand 1964 Root Range Master