Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shakespeare Parabow Solid Fiberglass Bows

“Archery’s Greatest Improvement” 
Howard Hill

   Shakespeare Parabow 
Solid Fiberglass Bows 
by Larry Vienneau
 Solid 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, Zeus, 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. .I have had many debate with folks in traditional archery forums who fail to recognize the contribution that the humble Fiberglass has made to American archery. I recently bought a vintage 1954 archery book "Archery Handbook" By Edmund Burke. There are plenty examples of fiberglass bows in the book but the most remarkable are a series of photos of Anne Weber (Corby) Hoyt shooting a Fiberglass recurve.
A young barefoot Ann Weber Corby shooting a fiberglass bow
Ann Weber with fiberglass bow

Ann Weber (Corby) Hoyt, wife of Earl Hoyt, was one of the finest female archers in history.

She won the International Field Archery Championship in 1959, National Archery Association Champion, 1940-46-47-52-53, International Field Champion 1959, and was the only woman ever to win both the USA National Target and Field championships, according to the Archery Hall of Fame. She was among the first to be inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame in 1972. She managed the U.S. Olympic Archery Team in 1984, the same year she received the National Archery Association’s Thompson Medal of Honor.

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

© Copyright, Larry Vienneau Jr.
All rights reserved.


  1. where might i get a string for a b-2 brushmaster 60 inch draw wgt. 50lbs. at 28inch

    1. Hi Mark
      I order strings from eBay vendors, they are all pretty good. You'll need a string 56 inches, 14-16 strands. You could also use a fast flight string with it too

  2. Hi my name is Paul and this seems to be the only knowledgeable place on vintage Shakespeare archery equipment. I have a question on what string you would recommend for my B-1 hunter I just found. I has been years since I have done archery and could really use the help of someone who has this much knowledge. the specs of the bow are 55" with a 45 lbs draw. also the leather wrap is quite ate up. is there a specific leather I should use?

  3. Hi Paul
    sorry for the delay ! needed to find the address for the leather wraps. I use a tennis racket leather wrap. The only problem is most have a logo embossed. I found one that does not Tennis Warehouse in San Luis Obispo CA. I have one wrap left but I can't find my invoice but it is 22mm x 1300mm x 1.3mm in tan "TWLG2213" SCAN BAR number 2Y70G
    web address:
    I do a practice wrapping to figure out length, then soak it in water for a couple mins. after I apply it I wrap it with a ace ankle bandage and let it dry. then trim the excess.

  4. Hey i had a similar question to mark, where might i get a string for a B 9 Fury 46 inch draw wgt. 18lbs. at 22inch

    1. Hi Michael
      You will need a 42 inch string, 12 strands or less. There are many good venders on EBay

  5. I have a nice parabow hunter 2 40#. I always see just the hunter. Is the hunter 2 a different bow or is it the same thing? I have the original set that it came in with the wrist guard over shoulder bow holder and target. Also has original string and the 1958 nfaa hunting manual. I can't find another set like this anywhere and am curious to find out more.
    Thanks alot

    1. hi
      The Hunter B1 and B1-c are the same bow. I think the difference was one was sold as a kit like the one you have. send photos and I will add it to the post

  6. I inherited several 1950's through 1960's recurved bows. The one I am working up to using is 5 and a half feet tall. I am 6ft 2inches and this bow is a genuine beast.

    However I am going to begin with a 1950s Shakespeare Paramore Recurved Bow that my Uncle used regularly before he died of cancer at 21 years of age.

    I was named after him so their is sentimental value but I want to work my way up through all of the bows.

    What kind of bow line would I need to purchase to restring the Shakespeare Parabow?

    1. Hello Douglass, What is the length of the bow and what is the draw weight?
      your string should be 4 inch shorter than your bow length.
      With a solid fiberglass bow you can have either a B-50 Dacron or Fast Flight string.
      for D-50
      12 strands- up to forty pounds
      14 strands- up to fifty pounds
      16 strands - up to sixty

  7. Any one give me some info on the b 8 rocket

  8. Any one give me some info on the b 8 rocket

    1. Hello Teri
      What exactly do you want to know?
      These were available 15-45lbs, and were Right handed bows.

  9. I found a B-6 Parabow in the closet with the original string and it says 40 on the front of the bottom limb. There's no other stickers. My husband passed in 2012 and I think this was his bow when he was younger. Any information you can give me would be appreciated.

  10. Hi JoAnn
    It is hard to tell you much without decals or photos. Thev40 means it is a 40 lb bow

  11. The single pic of Ann is with an Apollo steel bow from the UK. You can clearly(?)
    see the distinctive nocks & sight!

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  13. Just got a brushmaster cat B-2 it says use a 60 inch string. I also got a cat B-3 but it has no other info. I'm curios what the pull weights are on them

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I have a 1960 catalog. The B3 actually could be up to 65lbs

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  15. What length of string should I get for the b-3 it says 35# at 28inch