The bow and arrow, the weapon of choice for thousands of years! It provides the user with deadly accuracy from a good distance away, no wonder it became so popular.
Though a bow and arrow is no match for the modern weaponry and artillery of today, a bow can still be a useful weapon that will help you save your life if you ever get stuck out in the wilderness.
Being able to make a bow, having the know how and the skills can be vital in the event you are ever stuck having to fend for yourself without any resources.
Then again, it can just be a really cool thing to show off to your friends, ‘hey, look what I made!’
What do you need?
- A piece of wood
- A knife or similar shape tool for shaping.
- Bow string; nylon rope, hemp cord, twine, or fishing line are all good.
- Sticks- select straight and firm ones.
- Hot coals.
- Metal, stone, glass, or even bone for an arrowhead.
- Fletchings/feathers (If possible).
Let’s set the scene; you were out in the forest doing some good old hiking, but you get lost and can’t find your car, your phone has no signal, and its getting dark soon.
What do you do? Fashion a bow, prepare yourself a campsite and see it through the night, so you can get back to safety in the morning.
For now though, you will need to eat, and the forest is full of food. You may be lucky and find a hare, a hog, or a deer, depending on where you were hiking.
So, how are you going to catch them? Well, you could set up a snare, but that won’t always work, and we humans are not the stealthiest of animals at the best of times.
Making the Bow
So, lets make a bow and arrow to see if you can catch some dinner!
1) Construct the bow
Start off with the construction of the bow. You need to find a long piece of wood, which shouldn’t be hard if you are stranded in a forest. You want it to be long, avoid branches with twists, smaller branches coming off of it, or ones that lack strength. Ideally you want it to be dry and dead, but not gray or cracking. Good wood for this would be oak, lemon tree, hickory, yew, teak, ash, and so on. It should be close to your height in size too. You also want it to be flexible as well, in this case young bamboo is useful.
2) Find the natural curve
Now that you have your wood, you need to determine its natural curve. This curve will determine where you place its features. Place the wood on the ground with one hand at the top. With your spare hand press lightly in the middle, it should swivel so that its natural belly faces you.
3) Find the right handhold and limb placement
It’s time to determine the handhold and limbs. To find the handhold make marks that are around three inches above and blow the center point, anything within these marks is the hand hold and anything above or below is the upper or lower limbs.
4) Shape the bow
Next we must shape the bow. Did you bring your knife? Place the base of the bow on your foot, with your other hand you need to press outward, so the belly faces you. Use your knife to shave off the wood on the unyielding spots on the bally until both upper and lower limbs curve near identically. When you have a nice flexible curve you can stop shaving at the bow. Remember also, the bow should be at its thickest in the handhold. For this reason you should be mindful to only carve from the belly.
5) Cut the notches
Now you want to cut notches to hold the bow string, you use your knife for this. Notes begin at the sides and curve around toward the belly. You should have one on each side that is about 1-2 inches from each end of the bow. Do not cut into its back and do not make them so deep that they compromise the strength of the bow.
6) Find a good string
Do you have some string with you? There are many things you can use; nylon, rawhide, hemp, fishing line, cotton or silk from caterpillars, twine, etc. It should not be a stretchy string as the power comes from the bow and not the string.
7) String your bow
String your bow, tie a loose loop with a secure knot at both ends, make sure that the string is slightly shorter than the bow, so that both the bow and the string are taut. Once this is done tiller the bow, hanging it upside down by the handhold, so you can pull downward on the string. Check to limbs bend evenly and that you can pull it as far as your jaw.
Making the Arrows
1) Find good arrow sticks
You want sticks about half the size of the bow, with no leaves, or bends. Again make sure these are strong and dry. Shape them so they are smooth and round. You can also straighten an arrow over hot coals, just don't burn it!
2) Find arrowhead material
Give it its point, an easy arrow head is a carved point on the front of the arrow, whittle it with your knife and fire it over hot coals.
3) Craft your arrowhead
You can make an arrowhead with stone, metal, or even bone. Use a rock to chip it into a point and notch the wood, inserting the arrowhead into the notch and then lashing it to the wood with string or cord.
4) Add fletching to your arrow
You can also add fletching to improve the arrows flight, use feathers and tie them to the back of the arrow. They are much like rudders on a ship that help glide the arrows through the air for accuracy.
Now you have your bow and some arrows, all ready for you to capture a meal to help you get through the night ahead.