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A longbow is a type of bow that is tall – roughly equal to the height of the user – allowing the archer a fairly long draw. A longbow is not significantly recurved. Its limbs are relatively narrow so that they are circular or D-shaped in cross section. Flatbows can be just as long; the difference is that, in cross-section, a flatbow has limbs that are approximately rectangular.
Longbows for hunting and warfare have been made from many different woods by many cultures; in Europe they date from the Paleolithic, and since the Bronze Age were made mainly from yew, or from wych elm if yew was unavailable. The historical longbow was a self bow made of a single piece of wood, but modern longbows may also be made from modern materials or by gluing different timbers together.
Organisations that run archery competitions have set out formal definitions for the various classes; many definitions of the longbow would exclude some medieval examples, materials, and techniques of use. Some archery clubs in the US classify longbows simply as bows with strings that do not come in contact with their limbs. According to the British Longbow Society, the English longbow is made so that its thickness is at least 5⁄8 (62.5%) of its width, as in Victorian longbows, and is widest at the handle. This differs from the Medieval longbow, which had a thickness between 33% and 75% of the width. Also, the Victorian longbow does not bend throughout the entire length, as does the medieval longbow.

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