What do Robinhood, The Hunger Games and the new TV series Arrow have in common? All hit stories involve one of the most popular weapons in history, a bow and arrows. As a child I was always attracted to Indians rather than cowboys. I can’t really explain why. I guess the Indians were more mysterious than the guys who wore hats and slung pistols on their hips. And maybe because American Indians are experts in using a bow and a set of arrows.

If you’re into hunting and the great outdoors, here’s a real treat for you. Let’s discuss how you can make a bow and arrows. Let’s aim to make one that can shoot as far as 275 meters.

Make The Bow.

Carefully select a long piece of sturdy but flexible wood for the bow. You can select from the following list: white woods elm, ash, hazel, lemon tree wood, oak, hickory, yew, black locust, or teak. There are some important points to consider when choosing wood for your bow. Get a piece that is about one meter long. Your choice should be almost perfect; without limbs, twists or knots.

Pick a wood that can bend to your satisfaction. That way, when you release arrows, the string won’t slap the side of your hand. To avoid a painful incident like this, pick flexible choices such as juniper or mulberry—they’re recommended for this purpose. However, I highly recommend bamboo: my personal choice. My advice is also to choose a piece of wood that will fit your grip. A young bamboo stalk is a perfect choice because it’s strong and flexible. Bending it will be easy breezy!

Shape the bow.

The middle of an ideal bow is sturdy, so it’s usually thicker. A bigger center makes a better handle. Moreover, it’s advisable to look for a piece of wood with a natural curve. It’s easier to bend when shooting arrows.

Shave off portions of the wood on the inner part of the curve with a knife, or carve out the side that faces you when shooting an arrow. Make shavings on the thicker half of the stick until its width is identical with the other end. Balance is a crucial factor in this step. If your stick has roughly the same diameter from end to end, it’s recommended that you shave both ends. Your goal is to have a bow with a thick, sturdy center bordered by two slimmer, and more flexible edges that ideally have the same length and diameter.

Create notches for the bow string.

With a knife, make small notches about one to two inches from each end of the bow. The notches should be shaped like a half moon and located outside of the bow’s curve.

Choosing a bow string.

For the string, you can use nylon rope, hemp cord, rawhide, strands of cotton or silk from caterpillars, fishing line, or ordinary twine. If those materials are not available, then you’ll be forced to use vines or sinew. Let’s imagine you’re stuck in the wilderness, in this scenario it could be difficult to look for material for a string. You might need to do a series of trials and errors before you can settle on a choice that meets your needs. A bow string should not stretch too much since, basically, the power comes from the wood, not from the string.

We’re done with the bow. Now, how do we create arrows?

Choose materials wisely for your arrows.

Ideally, arrows are straight; the straighter the better. Look for the straightest sticks you can find. While a dead wood is not recommended for the bow, the wood for your arrows must be dry. The length of the arrows is preferably 50% shorter than the bow, or as far as the bow can be drawn backwards. It’s not wise to have arrows that can’t be drawn back to the bow’s full potential. Additionally, you must take these items in consideration:

Construct the arrowheads.

The arrowhead can simply be a point carved out on the front of the arrow stick. Whittle a point with your knife and then harden it by heating it mildly on coals (be careful, don’t burn the wood). Find the right distance from the heat to do this.

You may also choose to construct arrowheads from metal, glass, bone or stone. You can then attach them to the arrow’s tip by notching them to the wood. How? Cut a notch across the tip of the arrow shaft and insert an arrowhead into each notch. Next, to make sure the arrowheads won’t fall off, tightly fasten them to the wood with a strong cord.

Fabricate the arrows.

Whittle the wood with smooth cuts around the arrow’s circumference. You can harden an arrow by heating the shaft over hot coals gently and then hold the arrow straight while the wood cools down. Create a tiny notch at the back end of the arrows to suit the bow string.

Create fletchings.

Fletchings improve the arrow’s flight. Some will say it’s optional, but personally I suggest you make them. Feathers are the best material for fletchings: simply glue them on the ends of the arrows. Another way is to make a small split at the back of every stick, slide in a feather, and wrap a thread around the fletching.

Now, you can smile. Your bow and arrows are ready for a hunting party. Just make sure you exercise extreme care!

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Featured photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

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