Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shakespeare Parabow Solid Fiberglass Bows

“Archery’s Greatest Improvement” 
Howard Hill

     Fiberglass bows can’t really be compared to wood core and laminated recurves and longbows or the contemporary compound bow. Today’s archers tend to forget that these simple self-bows were one of the most important part in the development of modern archery. Aspiring young Robin Hoods honed their skills with solid fiberglass bows. From the early 1950s though the late 1970s millions of tough fiberglass longbows and recurves were mass produced by archery manufacturers like Indian, Herter's, Paul Bunyan, Ben Pearson, Bear, Ply-Flex, Stream-Eze, Outers, Stemmler, Lockleys, York, Fleetwood, and of course Parabow and Shakespeare..

     William Shakespeare, Jr. invented a patent for his fishing reel, and began producing fishing equipment in the late 1800's. In the 20th century Shakespeare became a major producer of sporting equipment. In 1959 Shakespeare Cooperation acquiring Parabow the Ohio-based Parallel Products Company, a maker of archery equipment that was organized into Shakespeare's Archery subsidiary. Parabow was one of the main producers of solid fiberglass bows in the 1950. Shakespeare was an early pioneer of the application of fiberglass to fishing rods. The merger of these two companies was a match made in heaven. During the sixties and seventies Shakespeare produce fiberglass and wood laminate bow but it did not forsake its Parabow line of solid fiberglass archery equipment.

     The 1950’s was the time of Happy Days, Twinkies, Howdy Dowdy and mass production. Literally Millions of solid fiberglass bow were produced. Parabows, like all solid fiberglass bows, don’t have the smoothness and speed of wood and fiber glass laminate bows and heaver bows are prone to stacking. However there are some very positive features to these bows:

Expense: The cost of a solid fiberglass bow has always been much lower than laminated constructed equipment. For the beginner, or budget archer, the simple one piece, mass produced design is easy choice. Kids are rough on bows, and it makes sense to buy inexpensive equipment while they are learning.  Used solid fiberglass bows are plentiful and can often be purchased at a yard sale or on E-bay for a few dollars.

Resilience: Fiberglass bows can be slogged through snow, shot in the rain, dropped in mud, left outside in the wet ground overnight; the bow is will not delaminate. Fiberglass bows have little danger of being over drawn. They can be left strung for long periods of time without fear of the limbs following the string, they nearly indestructible and ideal for bowfishing, hunting, canoeing or boating.  If you want to purchase a more powerful model you are restricted to the used market because heaver bows are not made today. Always check for cracks and hairline splits in the glass, as well as twisted limbs before buying.

Efficiency: A solid fiberglass bow is not as efficient at casting an arrow as well as a built laminated recurve and longbow. Despite this fiberglass bows are lethal; many trophy animals have been harvested with them. The main problem is the narrow limb design which tends to cause stacking in heaver bows. If you chose to use a fiberglass bow for hunting deer, add an extra 5-10 pounds to compensate for the slower cast. My B7 Comet 45 lb. shoots at 158.27 FPS while most of my other 45 lb. recurves are between 170-184 FPS

Shakespeare Parabow #50 RH Brushmaster (Thanks to Lewis Kent), #45  Model B-7 Comet, #18 Model B-9 Fury
Early Shakespeare Parabow Sharpshooter Longbow 40 lbs. with a Waverly Ohio tag
    Shakespeare Parabow bows range in weight from 18 lbs. to 65 Lbs. Many models are ambidextrous, however some are not. If you are a lefty you need to know that some Parabow models were right hand only. Parabow B2 Brushmaster, B1 Hunter, B11, B-8 Rocket, B12, and B12 Omni Bow are only available in right hand models. I was unaware that these bows were RH and bid on a 50# Brushmaster. When it arrived I was disappointed but it was a beautiful bow, fortunately my friend bought it and it is featured in this blog.

     I think everyone has memories of these humble bows. My memories are of shooting them in camp as a child and using them when I was a late teen to target shoot. The most moving memory was when I found a 50 pound Shakespeare Parabow Brushmaster leaning against a tree while I was moose hunting in Alaska; it rested there undisturbed where a hunter had placed it over forty years before, waiting for me to come along to find it.

Chris Libby with son Clint
 Chris Libby wrote a much more in depth article on solid fiberglass for Traditional Bowhunter "Ayuh…Fiberglass!" ( In his article his last paragraph brilliantly places the Solid Fiberglass Bow into its rightful place in modern archery.

“Dismiss my affection for "self bows" made of fiberglass, as nostalgia, and the bows themselves as children's toys and mere junk, if you will. However the fact remains that these bows are as much a part of the history and culture of archery during the last century, as are Howard Hill's bamboo longbows and Fred Bear's Kodiak recurves. If it wasn't for the solid fiberglass bow, millions of people wouldn't ever have known the feeling of standing under a blue sky in the warm summer sun, and watching an arrow arch in its mystical path toward the target. Given the importance and overall usefulness of this basic but deadly introductory weapon to our sport, as far as I'm concerned I'll agree with my Grandfather; "Ayuh…Fiberglass!" “

Here are some beauty shots of George Stout's Parabow. Looks like he had a great day!!!

Thank you George