JONNY PHILLIPS: Wood is one of the most versatile materials on earth.
RICHARD AMBROSE: It can keep you warm, it can keep you dry, it can help float, it can help you fly! Ah, yes!
JONNY PHILLIPS: And it can be environmentally friendly and it grows on trees!
RICHARD AMBROSE: Ooh!
NARRATOR: Ooh, bet that hurt.
NARRATOR: There are thousands of different types of wood but there's one in particular that interests us; yew. For a very good reason.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Yew is the wood of choice for making the medieval long bow and we're here to see Richard who knows all about them. Richard, why was yew so perfect for making long bows?
RICHARD HEAD: Two main reasons, apart from it's natural springiness, it has two distinct sections to it, a very, very pale colored sap wood contrasting with the orange hard wood. Now the sap wood is very good at resisting tension so when we make a bow that will form the outside curve. The hard wood good at resisting compression will form the inside curve.
JONNY PHILLIPS: And I understand it's a very powerful weapon and you've set up a demonstration to uh, to show us...
RICHARD HEAD: It is.
JONNY PHILLIPS: ...just how powerful.
RICHARD HEAD: The bows we make these days tend to be for target shooting uh, we're no longer at war with the French uh, so we're just shooting at, at targets.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Shall we see what it can do?
RICHARD HEAD: Let's have a go.
NARRATOR: Used as long ago as the Middle Ages, even today in the right hands, the long bow can still be a lethal weapon.
RICHARD HEAD: That was pretty good, how you doing?
RICHARD AMBROSE: I'm loving it, but my wrist and arm are really aching now.
RICHARD HEAD: It, it will do. The bow you've got there is only 50lb draw weight, a target weight bow. If you were at the Battle of Agincourt you'd be drawing a bow 100lbs maybe even as much as 150lbs.
RICHARD AMBROSE: 150!?
RICHARD HEAD: Perhaps as much as three times the weigh as that.
JONNY PHILLIPS: I'll go and fetch the alternative target.
RICHARD AMBROSE: I'll get some more practice in then.
NARRATOR: So, just how effective was a long bow at shooting an arrow through a Frenchman's armor. Well this car bonnet is the nearest thing we could get our hands on to try and find out. Zut alors!
RICHARD HEAD: Right let's give it a go.
RICHARD AMBROSE: OK.
RICHARD HEAD: So let's put the arrow on to the string and away you go.
RICHARD AMBROSE: Aw, haw, haw, ho, ho, oh, shooting!