KICK ASH BOWS: A HISTORY
Mcafee’s heritage goes back to Colonsay, Scotland. His ancestors, the Macfies, were legendary hunters and fighters equally using bows and swords. “Given my family heritage, I guess it was destined I became a Knights Templar with an interest in longbows and how they were used in battle. When the shutdown happened due to COVID-19, I decided since I had this awesome piece of ash out at the barn, it was a great time to make that longbow I have always wanted to make. I started out trying to find a bow in a piece of ash wood and literally found myself instead.”
What Mcafee calls ‘Kick Ash Wood’ is mainly American white ash, which is different from European ash that was used along with yew in Europe to make longbows. “At the upper echelon of bow woods you have yew and osage. Many think that these are the top two best bow woods. Then your white woods: hickory, ash, oak and so on. With the white woods such as ash, I have found we need to go for a broader flat-limb bow with really straight grain and it makes for a really smooth-shooting, forgiving bow with a decent cast. Ash is easy to work, takes heat treating and bending under heat really well. It has been looked down upon and somewhat pushed aside, but we are finding good strong solid ash now in Tennessee.”
Kick Ash Bows is presently a small company capable of producing two bows a week, and it has added one more designer, named C1N, with hopes of doubling production by the end of 2021. “Ash wood has got a bad name the past couple of decades due to the damage done by emerald ash borers. Before this pest hit, ash was used for all kinds of items, including toboggans, hockey sticks, canoe paddles, tool handles, hardwood floors, electric guitars and baseball bats. Ash wood is, in fact, the source of myth and legend around the world.”
“It is all a part of our overall mission to reinstate the good name and reputation that ash wood once held. We want the world to know that ash is not a fourletter word!” says Mcafee.