About Shannon Primitives
Welcome to the newest addition to the Shannon Outdoors brand, Shannon Primitives. We are incredibly excited to offer you a new type of wooden bow, a bow that will revolutionize how whitewood bows are made: The Fire Dancer Bow by Shannon Primitives. Fire Dancer Bows are the first bows of their kind to be made and offered in modern history. I say “modern history” because it’s well documented in early accounts (albeit sometimes vaguely) of the techniques used by the American Indians to make their tools and weapons. However, Native hunters in the Eastern and especially the Southeastern U.S. had to combat the ever-present humidity and moisture that would significantly affect the performance of all wooden implements, including bows. But what if there was a technique that would make white wood bows immune to moisture? What if this technique was forgotten after archery was supplanted by the modern firearm? And what if, centuries later, this technique was rediscovered by a modern primitive archer with an innate curiosity of ancient ways? That’s what led to experimenting with fire-hardening that gave birth to Fire Dancer Bows. Fire-hardening transforms plentiful but second-rate bow woods like hickory, elm, white oak, and even sweetgum into weapons of incredible speed, power, and consistent performance even in the humidity-soaked eastern U.S.
Fire Dancer Bows are made using a unique fire hardening method that significantly improves the energy output of the wooden limbs without sacrificing elasticity or durability. The performance improvements are backed by science and have been proven by our own extensive research, bow building, and torture testing in real hunting scenarios. The Shannon Fire Hardened Method unlocks the hidden potential within these white woods to create the finest and best wooden bows we’ve ever seen. These bows can match and even exceed the performance of the most expensive fiberglass longbows and recurves. Fire Dancer Bows do not have the typical moisture absorption problems that plague even the best raw white wood bows.
These bows are extremely durable, fast, accurate, stable, and a pleasure to shoot with almost no hand shock. The most significant advantage of Fire Dancer Bows is the transformation of the cellular structure of the wood after fire-hardening. This change makes the wood hydrophobic, meaning it resists moisture absorption even in the stifling humidity common in many regions across the U.S.. Because of their affinity for moisture, regular white wood bows are notoriously weak in compression, resulting in bows that stay bent (take a set) after unstringing. The excessive set leads to a decrease in power, responsiveness, and arrow speed. Fire-hardening the wood transforms it to such a degree that it essentially becomes an entirely different wood and should be thought of as such. The wood becomes extremely dense and very strong in compression while maintaining elasticity. Fire Dancer Bows hold their shape exceptionally well and become permanently resistant to high humidity, making them ideal hunting weapons in a variety of climates. The fire-hardened wood in no way resembles the raw white wood from which it came, nor does the fire-hardened bow resemble any other white wood bow made in modern history.
I’m also teaming up with two well-known primitive archers, Thad Beckum of Beckum Outdoors and Billy Berger of Primitive Pathways, to offer you an archery experience that will change the way you look at whitewood bows forever. If you are looking for a unique one-of-a-kind bow that has an apparent ancient background and is a dream to shoot, try a Shannon Fire Dancer Bow.
Many common white woods will make a serviceable bow. However, the most common problems with raw white wood are the moisture absorbing properties. When the moisture in the wood of the bow is over 10%, which is at 55% humidity, the bow will develop considerable string follow, resulting in poor performance. However, if the same damp wood is dried to 6% moisture, the properly designed bow would then have the potential to break world flight records. But considering that raw white wood is hydrophilic (water-loving with a tendency to absorb) that very dry bow will once again absorb moisture to high, power-robbing levels when introduced back to high humidity. With average humidity between 50% and 90% in the Eastern United States, raw white wood makes a second rate bow material at best.
About the Indians
The Eastern Indians were master bow makers, and it was noted by the early explorers that “they make perhaps the finest bows and arrows of all mankind.” The many tribes used various white woods to make their bows, and they all had the same problem we do, which is moisture. It used to puzzle me how the Indians could make the powerful bows described and have them function properly in our humidity. From Spanish and English drawings, it is obvious the Indians used fire and heat to shape their bows. It was also noted that “they seasoned their bows over the fire.” They were masters at using fire for such things as wood removal and fire hardening many things such as wooden arrow points, ax handles, darts, clay pots, and heat-treating flint. Much of their fire hardening was for the sole purpose of waterproofing. These Indians had extreme knowledge of using fire to transform materials into something different and better, and they were very much aware of the waterproofing benefits. It is the totality of their understanding of fire hardening that is the most significant evidence that they fire-hardened their bows to some degree.
Shannon Fire Hardening Method
“TRANSFORMS SECOND RATE WOOD INTO WOOD THAT IS SECOND TO NONE.”
Early in my bow making years, I often wondered how the Eastern Indians had such excellent and powerful bows using white wood with it’s known moisture problems in the high humidity environment in which they lived. It seemed inconceivable that those moisture plagued bows would have been of the quality that their lifestyle demanded. My thought was that they must have been doing something different than what we do.
Considering the Indians applied fire-hardening to practically everything and being aware that the known modern heat treating methods improve white wood somewhat, I decided to experiment with actually fire-hardening the wood.
I was immediately astounded at the performance of the bows made this way. Now, many bows later, I know that if done right, fire-hardening can transform what is known as a second-rate wood into a world-class bow wood that is second to none. The Shannon Fire Hardening Method thermodynamically transforms the wood into an entirely different kind of wood. A wood that is very dense and that will maintain its profile much better because of much higher compression strength while preserving elasticity and, most importantly, makes the wood permanently hydrophobic (repels moisture) and virtually moisture-proof. According to known scientific data and the many tests I have performed, fire-hardened white wood and hickory, in particular, will only contain a little over one half the moisture content of raw wood in any given humidity. At 70 % humidity, the moisture content of raw wood will go to 14%, while the same fire-hardened wood will be about 7% to 8%. By the very act of fire-hardening for the purpose of moisture-proofing, several very unique things happen, the wood becomes much denser and much stronger, most times causing the bow to gain 30% to 35% more draw weight.
This substantial increase in poundage requires wood to be removed from the limbs to get the weight back down, which lightens the limbs, which causes the bow to shoot an arrow much harder with less hand shock. The Indians were extremely knowledgeable about fire-hardening and used it to waterproof most wooden implements, including fishing arrows, gigs, and many other tools.
Considering this, it is implausible to think they didn’t apply that moisture proofing knowledge to their bows primarily since it was written, “they seasoned their bows over fire.” Fire Dancer bows are the first bows of their kind to incorporate this well-known ancient knowledge in modern times.
Making and Designing a Fire Dancer Bow
Every bow begins with my personal selection of each tree. It is carefully split into staves and air-dried. Each stave undergoes my custom proprietary fire-hardening, which transforms the natural raw wood into a permanently hydrophobic and very dense wood, rendering it free from its typical moisture problems and substantially increases compression strength. This makes a powerful bow that can tolerate long string times and will perform with the best of the best, even outperforming many fiberglass bows for flat shooting and excellent penetration. Being confident that how I make my bows are in keeping with the way my native American ancestors did, I also make the styles that most resemble the Eastern Indian bows. After a tremendous amount of study, bow building, experimentation, and testing, it is now evident that there is very little if any, performance difference in an excellent recurve and an excellent longbow. It may be surprising to many but our stone-aged ancestors used some of the very best bow designs that were ever developed all over the world. The designs I have come to appreciate the most are the simplistic flat bow styles used by the Eastern Indians. While I don’t usually make actual replicas, I do use the general styles with slight modifications to enhance performance and feel. These designs, along with my Shannon Fire Hardening Method, make some of the most powerful, hardest hitting, flattest shooting bows you will put your hand on. I go to extreme measures to expertly tiller each bow for a smooth, no stack draw. These bows have virtually no hand shock, are exceptionally quiet, and do not have the common moisture problems of other white wood bows.
All bows were tested with the same 520-grain river cane arrow and shot with the aid of a shooting table to eliminate the human influence. All tests were documented on video with three participants and will be part of an upcoming video about making the fire-hardened bow.
- 56″ Takedown Big Horn Recurve- 56 lbs at 28″ draw- 177 fps avg. (Fiberglass)
- 66″ Sky Long Bow-Designed by Earl Hoyt, Jr.- Reflex Deflex- 60 lbs at 28″ draw- 178.5 fps avg. (Fiberglass)
- 64″ Osage – 1.5″ Reflex- 57 lbs at 28″ draw- 174.5 fps avg. (Self Bow)
- 64″ Raw Hickory – 1.5 Deflex- 59 lbs at 28″ draw- 162.4 fps avg. (Self Bow)
- 62″ Shannon’s Lightning Bolt- 1″ Reflex- 60 lbs at 28″ draw- 182 fps avg. (Self Bow)
- 62″ Shannon’s Smokin’ Sudbury- 2″ Reflex- 54 lbs at 28″ draw- 177.6 fps avg. (Self Bow)
- 62″ Shannon’s Lightening Bolt- 3″ Reflex- 52 lbs at 28″ draw- 175 fps avg. (Sinew backed)
Even though all three Fire Dancer Bows, pound per pound, clearly outperform every other bow, they were not built to be speed bows but instead designed to be somewhat short, durable, stable, smooth drawing and accurate hunting bows.
I don’t think a human could survive [in South Carolina’s swamps] more than a couple of hours without the protection of a properly fitting Bug Tamer suit.
The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, SC