How to make Bow and Arrow and How to make Arrows for a Bow – Traditional Archery

Authorities claim that the best materials from which to make bows are mulberry, sassafras, Southern cedar, black locust, black walnut, apple, and slippery elm, in the order named; but if a boy selects what appears to be a good sound piece of wood, with straight grain, he has something which will suit the purpose.

Excerpt from the book – THE BOY CRAFTSMAN
Practical and Profitable Ideas for a Boy’s Leisure Hours
BY A. Neely Hall
(Published, August, 1905.)

How to make Bow and Arrow

Fig. 241.—A Boy’s Bow.

The Length of the Bow should be about the height of the person using it. Figure 241 shows a five-foot bow, with the other proportions such as are on makes to be found in the stores.

Cut your piece of wood five feet long, and, after placing it in the bench-vise, shape it down with a draw-knife or plane until it is one inch wide by one-half inch thick at the handle and three-quarters of an inch wide by one-quarter inch thick at the ends.

The bow can be made round on the inside or face toward the archer, and flat on the outside or face away from the archer, or the two faces may be made round.

Cut a notch in the bow two inches from each end, as shown in the illustration, from which to attach

The Bow-string.

A cord with as little elasticity as possible should be used for this. If you care to spend the money for it, a good cotton string can be purchased from a dealer in archery goods for twenty-five cents.

With a home-made bow-string, a loop should be made in one end and bound with thread, as shown in Fig. 242.

Slip the loop over the upper notch, bend the bow until the centre of the string is about five inches away from the handle, and attach the loose end to the lower notch by means of a slip-knot similar to that shown in Fig. 243.

The bow should be sand-papered until smooth, and thoroughly oiled with linseed-oil. A piece of velvet about three inches wide should be glued about the centre for a handle.

The Arrow-shafts twenty-four inches long and one-quarter inch thick. Whittle them out of straight-grained strips of wood, round them nicely, and cut a notch in the ends large enough to fit over the bow-strings.

It is not supposed that boys would care
Bow-string Ends.
Fig. 242-243. Bow-string Ends.

To Prepare Arrow-heads of stone or bone as the Indians did, for there are other schemes that are simpler to carry out. If the wood is reasonably hard, the heads can be cut on the ends of the shaft, as shown in Fig. 244.

For target practice, a wire nail driven into the end of the shaft, as shown in Fig. 245, with the head of the nail filed off and pointed, has proven very good, and a thick piece of zinc or lead, cut the shape of A (Fig. 246) and set into a slot cut in the end of the shaft, with cord bound around the shaft to hold the metal in place, makes another excellent head.

The metal points should be used only for target practice, and then with proper care, to prevent injury to yourself or companions.
Schemes for Arrow-heads.
Figs. 244-246.—Schemes for Arrow-heads.

Feathering is the next operation. Turkey or goose feathers are generally used, but the former is considered the better of the two.

Strip off the broader side of the vane of three feathers, and glue them to the shaft one and one-quarter inches from the notch, spacing them equidistant from one another. One feather should be placed at right angles to the notch.

This is known as the cock-feather, and should always point away from the bow when the arrow is shot.

A Quiver of some sort should be provided, large enough to carry a dozen or more arrows, and this should be three inches shorter than the arrows, so that their ends will project above the top. It may be made out of any thick cloth, as shown in Fig. 247.

A circular piece of cardboard is placed in the bottom to which the cloth is sewed, and a piece of heavy wire, bent into a circle, fits in the top to keep the bag open.

The quiver should hang on your right side, being suspended by means of a cloth strap long enough to pass over the left shoulder.
A Quiver.
Fig. 247.—A Quiver.

To Shoot with the bow, take the position shown in Fig. 248, with both feet flat upon the ground, and the heels in line with the target.

Hold the handle of the bow in the left hand and place an arrow on the left side of the bow, slipping the bow-string into the notch and letting the head of the arrow rest upon your left hand.

Catch the bow-string with the first three fingers of your right hand, so that the end of the arrow comes between the first and second fingers, and draw the string until the head of the arrow rests upon the left hand; then aim quickly and let go of the arrow.

By always taking the same hold upon your bow and arrow, you will soon be able to know just where the arrow is going to strike.

The boy who has had the hobby of collecting Indian arrow-heads has no doubt often wondered how they were made, and also how the bows and arrows were prepared.

The ways in which all uncivilized people do things is interesting, and especially when it is remembered that they had but raw materials with which to work and only such tools as they could make out of stone.
Correct Position for Shooting with bow
Fig. 248.—Correct Position for Shooting.

The Indian’s Bow was made of different woods, and, though it varied in shape and size, was generally about forty inches in length, so as to be conveniently carried and handled on horseback.

The bow-string consisted generally of a deer sinew or a strand of deer-skin rolled or twisted, and this was strung very tightly from a notch cut on one end of the bow to a notch on the opposite end.

Now, while an Indian generally made the greater part of his weapons, there was always a warrior in the tribe who was skilled in the art of arrow-making, and, as the preparation required far more care than the bow, he was intrusted with this work. The arrow-shaft was made of various woods, reeds being often used, as they were straight and required but little cutting.

Their lengths depended largely upon that of the bows.

For the feathering of the shafts, wild turkey feathers were considered best and used when they could be had, and these were attached to the shaft with deer sinews.

A great variety of materials were used for arrow-heads, among which flint, obsidian, horn of deer, claws of eagles, and the spurs of wild turkey-cocks may be mentioned. Many of these are being picked up annually in the mountains and on the plains, which were once the battle-fields and hunting-grounds of the redmen, and in excavating for building purposes they are frequently found.

A few specimens of stone heads showing a variety of the shapes and sizes used will be found in Fig. 249. The preparation of these heads was usually left to the old men who were unfit for any other work.

Some Specimens of Indian Arrow-heads. 
Fig. 249.—Some Specimens of Indian Arrow-heads.

In making the flint head, the Indian made a loop in a piece of buckskin which had been thoroughly wet in cold water, and then taking a piece of flint, heated it, and with the strip of buckskin chipped off what was not wanted until the head was of the correct shape and size. As hornstone is more brittle than quartz, the heads made from that material were broken and shaped by striking them against the latter. The stone heads were attached to the shaft by means of sinews, generally from deer. For hunting small birds, the Indians often made wooden arrow-heads, hardening the wood by fire after shaping it.

Excerpt from the book – THE BOY CRAFTSMAN – Practical and Profitable Ideas for a Boy’s Leisure Hours BY A. Neely Hall With more than four hundred illustrations by the author and Norman P. Hall
BOSTON LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO. Published, August, 1905.