Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Collect Shakespeare Bows?

Why do I collect Shakespeare Archery? 
  • After all, there are many archery companies that outlasted Shakespeare Archery. 
  • There are many that were founded long before Shakespeare. 
  • There were many that have more collector interest.
  • There are many archery producers that made more lasting technological contributions, so why this interest in Shakespeare? 

 Why Collect Shakespeare Bows?
I was a child during the late 1950s and early 1960. My summers were spent in the woods, making my own bow and arrows and chasing imaginary villains with my “lethal weapons” My parents sent me off to camp and I soon found I had a knack for archery. I had always struggles with school so for me the recognition of my abilities with the bow helped my self-esteem immensely. Summer school camp was books in the morning, fishing, canoeing and bows in the afternoon. I was handed a solid fiberglass bow and was told to shoot. I noticed the name “Shakespeare” and remembered something about a story of how archers helped win the crown of England. I struggled with school but I was a bright kid. “Shoot the bow kid!” was the order barked at me. I shot and hit the target dead center. “Luck” was the barked reply. I repeated the shot exactly and the barking stopped. Later that summer I won my first trophy in an archery competition. It was my first feeling of achievement and self-worth. Archery would remain an important part of my life.

During my adolescent years archery remained on the outskirts.  I finished art school and began my life as a starving artist. I learned to make bows again and started to literally put food on the table with them. After years of hard work I was hired to my dream job of teaching art in Alaska. My love of archery was fully reawakened again. I made long bow, recurves and a few native style bows. I shot in competitions and amassed a small collection of trophies and metals.  I collected and refurbished vintage bow but Shakespeare never crossed my path again until one long late fall moose hunt. It was cold as it often is in Alaska. I had been working a ridge near a slough that had lots of moose sign. It was late and I was drained. I decided to headout before I lost the light. As I crisscrossed my trail I spotted a glint of white near a large spruce stand. Upon close inspection I realized it was a very old moose kill, there was a remnant of a skull with the antlers removed.  That was when I noticed Shakespeare. He was resting against a tree exactly where he had been placed forty or more years earlier. The hunter had placed the bow there while he field dressed his moose and while he made several trips to pack the meat. In his exhaustion he left his bow and it stood there for decades unmoved, waiting. It was aged and cracked from the relentless cold of Alaska’s winters. Proudly the name of Shakespeare emerged from the mold and grime. It was a Parabow and its draw weight was readable at 55# enough power for a well-placed wooden arrow to take down a moose. I never got my moose that year but I did have that bow. I knew it could never be shot again but it became my first Shakespeare bow.

 I lost the bow years later in a car break-in; I lost that bow and several others that I stupidly left in my car. But that Shakespeare fiberglass bow was special. It stood unyielding for decades, waiting me to come along. I started collecting again a few years ago and soon found a rekindled love for the Shakespeare bow I had known as a child. So when I hear “Why collect Shakespeare?, they aren’t worth much are they?” 
I shake my head and chuckle because I know that they are priceless. 
Chris Libby's wonderful article on Fiberglass Bows.
Early 1960s Shakespeare Parabows

Sunday, October 21, 2012

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 1965? , X12 1975.
  • AMO 58”
  • Brace Height: 8-9 inch
  • Riser pistol grip style with  5 piece wood "random hardwood" laminated
  • Tips - wood overlay 
  • Riser window 5 inch
  • Limbs:  1 3/4 inch in Black Glass
  • Weights: 40lb, 45lb, 50lb, 55lb
  • Stabilizer insert
  • Arrow speed: 12 shots average, 410 grain arrow 45lb bow-173.62 FPS
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 has to be an earlier version of the X12. The X5  is similar in shape but there are no lamination and there are no tip overlays. The 1975 catalog description mentions that X12 isn't a new design, I do not own 1963-65 catalogs so I believe the X5 was a 1964 or 1965 bow. 
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.

Please comment if you have any additional information on The Wambaw

My 45# Wambaw X12

Wambaw X5

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shakespeare Wonderbow THE MANCOS model x40.

One of Shakespeares Last Bows?

Like all of the Wonderbows, this one was named after a wilderness region. Mancos is a Spanish word meaning "one armed or one handed, crippled". The name Mancos refers to the crippled condition of the Spanish explorers' horses after they crossed the San Juan Mountains. Mancos Region was once a large National Forest but is now a complex of Nature Preserves -Mancos State Park, Montezuma National Forest and Juan National Forest in Southwestern Colorado and is a magnet for the year-round outdoor enthusiast.

Initially a 58" bow, it was a cheaper version of The Necedah x28 and The Cascade x29 with no tip overlays, and a slightly different riser shape. The riser appears to be a mahogany or cherry. It is a surprisingly well designed bow, and was intended as entry level bow for the bow-hunter. Introduced in 1975, it never became popular because it was marketed at the dawn of the compound bow and it was one of the last models produced by Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a multifaceted Cooperation and the company closed its archery line in 1976 when it was obvious that archery would be dominated by the compound bow.

There is very little information available about this bow. Most information can be found on auction sites and blogs. It appears that a 54” AMO version was also introduced with Olive green limbs, the date uncertain possibly 1976, it seems to be a scarce model and it could be one of the last bows made by Shakespeare.

MANCOS Model x40
AMO 58” & 54” AMO (scarce variety)
Brace height -8 ¾”.
Weights #40 #45, #50,  #55
Limbs 1 5/8 wide
Shooting window 5 ¼ inch
Black Glass. Green Glass (scarce variety)
Arrow speed-12 shots average, 410 grain arrow, 55# bow 176.18 FPS

I own a handsome Mancos Black Glass 58 AMO #55, I have noticed the price on this bow has increased in auctions lately; I paid doubled what I expected but the bidding is getting higher than it was just a year ago. ( Hunger Games affect?) I have found this bow to be extremely easy to shoot, with very little hand shock and no stacking at 28”.  It is accurate and hard hitting. I enjoy this bow very much and would recommend it to the novice or expert.

My 55# Mancos

October 4th 2012: Today I came home to find my Mancos bow had arrived. It is in excellent condition but needs a little work. I open the mail and discovered that my Mancos Ad had also arrived....a happy coincidence!!!
1975 Mancos Ad
Green Glass variety

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Shakespeare Catalog May 1969

  • 1966 -69 AMO 56 inch, 1970 AMO 58inch , 1971 -56 inch
  • Weights 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60
  • Handle –Benge or Seduha and Zebrawood
  • Tips- Benge and Zebrawood
  • Semi pistol grip
  • Limbs- 2 inch wide, Black glass 1966, after 1967 – 1970 Dark Olive Green,  Black with white glass laminate 1971
  • Brace Height 8 inch
  • sight window -4inch
  • Arrow speed- 12 shots average, 410 grain arrow, 55# bow- 182.80 FPS

Like many of Shakespeare Wonderbows, this bow is named after a national forest; Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. The word Kaibab is a native word meaning “the mountain that lies down” referring to the Kaibab Plateau.

Root Brush Master, Game Master, and Warrior Ad

In 1964 Shakespeare bows started to look similar to the Root Archery. Ernie Root sold several designs to Shakespeare and they modified them and renamed them. Root Brush Master became Shakespeare Kaibab; Root Game Master became Shakespeare Ocala. Shakespeare finally bought Root in 1967. Ernie Root continued to be an important influence in Shakespeare bow design. The first bows after the sale bore the name "Root, by Shakespeare". Shortly thereafter Ernie Root went to work for Shakespeare, and the Root name was dropped completely. This bow is a perfect example of Ernie Root design. In the early 1960’s Root produced the Root Brush Master. The Brush Master had black glass, and the risers were laminated Zebrawood and Seduha. Shakespeare bought Root Archery in 1967 and Ernie was their chief bow designer. The Kaibab is nearly identical to the Brush Master except for slight riser modifications. From 1967 – 1970, The Kaibab was 58 inch long and had dark green glass. After 1971 it appears that Shakespeare was offering lengths of 56 and 58 inch in either dark Green or Black glass and did make custom bows over 60 lbs. The Kaibab was considered a high end quality bow like the Ocala and was Bear Archery’s primary competitor.

My Kaibab x27, 58inch AMO, 55#

I love this bow!! My bow is 55# and it is a silent, level, forgiving, beautiful, extremely fast and a deadly accurate shooter.