The yew longbow's main advantage is that yew is one of the strongest and most resilient woods available. Additionally, longbows, unlike recurve bows, have less likelihood to torque or twist the limbs, allowing arrows to fly straighter. The yew longbow was arguably the most formidable hand weapon of the Middle Ages and is still a weapon to be reckoned with.
Yew longbows are traditionally made of half a yew branch, with the interior heartwood forming the belly, or concave, side. It is best able to stand up to compression. Yew sapwood can stand up to tensile forces. The long curing time of the wood, up to two years, ensured that it was ready to use on the battlefield.
A yew longbow could have a maximum draw weight of up to 180 pounds with an accurate shot range of 80 yards. This weight was too heavy for most archers, so they had to work up to it from childhood with constant practice. This greatly increased the skills of English longbow archers, making them one of the most lethal forces on the battlefields of medieval Europe. Even though the yew longbow was and is as directly effective as a firearm, the ease of training with firearms, compared to the years of training for a longbow, led to the longbow's decline.