Book Review: Guide to the Longbow by Brian J. Sorrells

“Inside every bent stick there is a bow, and in the wake of every arrow’s passing there lies a story.”

Brian J. Sorrels has published three archery books available on Amazon and is a long-time contributor to Traditional Bowhunter magazine. Despite that, I had never heard of him before I blindly picked up Guide to the Longbow. I’m glad that I did, however, and I’ve already applied some of what I learned within to good results.

The book begins with a history of the longbow, which is nothing new for an informational book about archery. It is the most interesting chapter in my opinion, and the hardest to put down. The author’s love for the bow really shines through in this chapter, and it will serve to fully convince you to jump into archery if you’re still on the fence.

The rest of the book covers everything a new archer needs to know about archery equipment (including accessories), tuning a bow, different methods of shooting, a recommended method of practicing archery, and some basic tips on hunting. The information is comprehensive, but only covers an appropriate amount of detail for each topic.

Perhaps it’s my fault for binge-reading most of this book during a red-eye flight, but one thing I found missing after the introduction was the “fun” factor. The information is presented in plain language and is easy to understand (pro), but lacks the passion found in the historical chapter (con). The recommended approach for practicing and learning archery is heavily results-driven. There is no “just do it” vibe – the learning process is very methodical. I’ve no doubt the author is a proficient archer and successful bowhunter, and discipline and hard work will absolutely make one better at archery. If this was my introduction, however, I personally would not have stuck with archery given the lack of fun I had while doing it. Somewhere in between thousands of shots within 10 yards of a target, one needs to get out and go stump-shooting with a friend or squirrel hunting in the woods, just to keep the passion alive.

“If you’re serious about the longbow and learning to shoot it, you’ll understand that the process takes time and patience now that will be rewarded later.”

I purchased my copy of Guide to the Longbow as a Kindle e-book, and I have to mention that it has the best formatting I’ve seen in any e-book, ever. I can’t remember a single typo. There is an index in the back with clickable links to specific pages. The pictures are thoughtfully framed and scale well even on a phone screen, something I’ve never seen an author or editor do successfully in an e-book. A lot of work obviously went into the presentation, and this book achieves that goal with flying colors.

In summary, Guide to the Longbow is a comprehensive book about traditional archery that presents strictly informational text to the budding archer with a no-nonsense approach. Following the author’s advice about shooting will undoubtedly make you a good archer, thought it may not be the most fun approach for everyone. If you read e-books this one is a treat – there isn’t a better formatted e-book out there.


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