Stuff we Like: Medieval Arrows

One thing we are starting up in East Kent once we are allowed out again is is a Warbow Shoot in Broadstairs. With this is mind, I thought it would be good to speak to some makers of all things medieval archery. This time round with I speak to Will Sherman…

Tell people a little about yourself

My name is Will Sherman, and I’m a full time fletcher and arrowsmith.  I specialise in making accurate copies of early to late medieval arrows, primarily those used for warfare.

How did you get started making arrows?

I made a yew bow many years ago as a way to try something traditional, and as I started shooting I realised quite quickly that arrows were very expensive!  Making them was just a way to save money at the start.  Fairly soon I started posting photos of what I was making on social media, and a few orders came in.  At that point I decided it would be best to really dig into the research and focus on making truly accurate replicas of extant arrows. 

Where do you research your arrows?

Most of what we know about military archery comes from the wreck of the Mary Rose, that sank in 1545.  It was recovered with hundreds of perfectly preserved military bows, and thousands of arrows.  There’s virtually nothing else to go on, other than one arrow discovered in the roof of Westminster Abbey from the 1400s.  The great thing about the Mary Rose is that every time I go back and handle and examine the arrows (and the bows) I learn something new, and we’ve still got countless things to look into before we can truly say we understand what they were doing back then!

What is your favourite arrow?

There are a couple of really beautiful little arrows on the Mary Rose – most of them were much smaller than people realise, and a few in particular are incredibly delicate and well made.  The nocks are gracefully tapered to around 7 or 8mm, with paper-thin tapered horn inserts and silk binding and those are the arrows I really enjoy examining and copying.  The Westminster Abbey arrow is very similar – just over 28″ long, 7mm nock diameter and subtly barrelled for maximum aerodynamics.  They really knew what they were doing back then!

Can people request their own designs?

They certainly can, but I do try and keep everything I make as historical as possible.  Fletching colours, binding colours and choice of heads are all up to the archer of course, but if the design starts to stray too close to fantasy, or I think the arrows won’t fly well from the bow I will try and help guide the design towards something suitable.

Do you just sell medieval arrows?

I sell complete arrows, and my hand forged heads, but I don’t sell components to make arrows as I’m not stocked up with items other than those needed to fulfill orders, so it’s always going to be easier and cheaper to buy fletching materials from the bigger shops. 

Where can people buy your items?

My website is where you can order all sorts of cool stuff, or just email through the website if you’ve got specific orders or questions and we can have a chat about making the best possible arrows or heads for your needs!