Making the Bow And Arrow
by Tom Brown, Jr.
For me, there is no greater pleasure than being able to make things for myself instead of running to a store whenever I need something. Hunting equipment need be no exception. I believe that the true essence of the hunt is heightened when one must track then stalk the animal, and further enhanced when the hunter has made his own bow and arrow.
There are numerous types of bows and arrows that can be purchased but none so personal and fine tuned as one that is made with your own hands. Each bow is different, whether you use the short and highly reflexed sinewbacked bow in the style of the plains Indians, or the long recurved bow of the eastern woodlands Indians, or you may incorporate styles, as the bow you make is very personal. This difference is what makes writing an article on making a bow and arrow difficult.
I have made many different bows, but through trial and error certain hunting techniques, terrains, weather conditions, and numerous other variables, I have come up with the bow that best suits me. By conveying the descriptions of the various types of bows I use, I hope that through your own experimentation, visiting museums, and field work, you will be able to use these same methods in creating a bow that fits you and your hunting technique.
Please keep in mind that I am not discussing the making of a survival bow and arrow using primitive equipment. Survival bows are of a different technique and design that allow the survivalist to make a strong bow quickly and one that is used primarily for close range hunting. What I will be covering are techniques used in making the long term bows that take much time and effort, not to mention an artistic touch, but will out perform store-bought bows because they fit you.
I have a few different types of bows to fit my hunting needs. I am a tracker, stalker, close-range hunter and I prefer a bow that is recurved like an eastern woodland but smaller, with sinew backing for strength and snap. A small bow is excellent for stalking through heavy brush and getting close, tight shots. In rainy weather I am forced to use a longer recurve bow with a plant fiber bow string to resist the dampness. And when I bow fish, I prefer a long self bow.
In this article I will describe each of the bows, the materials, preparation, and techniques. I will also cover how to make various arrows to fit the bows you have made, and describe how to fine tune a bow so that it fits your hunting style and personal touch.