Introduction: How to Make a Bow and Arrow

Picture of How to Make a Bow and Arrow

The classic bow and arrow, made simple.

Step 1: Some History

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The bow that we will be making is called a longbow. It is very simple in design, and could be made from things almost everyone has.Longbows were ideally made from yew, Italian yew being the best, but white woods elm, ash, and hazel were commonly used due to availability. Longbows were often built to be as tall as the archer and a well made bow could shoot well in excess of 300 yards (275 meters) using flight arrows. A longbow archer could shoot up to 12 arrows per minute as a crossbow man could only fire up to three. For the rest of this article click here. Now lets get on to the fun stuff!

Step 2: Materials

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This bow and arrow will be made from wood. The wood must be easy to bend, and is easiest to get from small trees. You will need a branch about an inch in diameter and 4-5 feet long for the bow and a branch about a half an inch in diameter and a foot long for the arrow. The length of the bow really depends on how tall you are. I'm about 5 and a half feet tall and my bow is around 4 and a quarter feet tall.

Step 3: Making the Bow

Picture of Making the Bow

Making the bow is very simple. All that needs to be done is to cut two notches in each end of the bow. The notches should go about half way into the bow, and should be about half an inch from each end of the bow. Also the notches must be on the side of the bow opposite the inside of the natural curve of the branch. It will help if they are at as much of a right angle as possible. These notches will be used to hold the bow string in place when it is in use. This is a little hard to explain so check the pictures below for some clarification.

Step 4: Stringing the Bow

Picture of Stringing the Bow

Now all thats left for the bow is to string it. To do this cut a piece of string that is about three fourths of the size of the bow. The string must be smaller than the bow in order to give the bow more power. The shorter the string the more power you will get, but it will also get harder to string the bow as the string is made shorter. Next, tie loops at each end of the string big enough to fit around the notch that you made in the last step. Take the loops that you just tied and put them around the notches on each end of the stick, the easiest way to do this is by placing your foot on the inside of the bow for some leverage. If the notches were made right then they will hold the bow string in place.

Step 5: The Arrow

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The arrow can be made out of either a branch or a wooden dowel. I find the the wooden dowels work the best; however, I will show how to make one out of a branch because it includes an extra step that the dowel does not. If you have a dowel you can skip this step...

The first thing to do is to trim off the bark from the branch. The bark adds on weight that we don't want, and makes the arrow rougher. To do this just take a knife and widdle the bark off of the stick, but make sure to leave two inches of bark at the base of the arrow, this bark will be used to glue on to in the next step. Next if you want to, you can sand the arrow down to reduce drag and to improve the accuracy but it really isn't needed.

Step 6: Adding Feathers to the Arrow

Picture of Adding Feathers to the Arrow

Feathers are used on the base of the arrow to make the arrow spin during flight, which made it more accurate. Most people don't have extra feathers lying around, so we will use heavy paper (card stock). Plastic could also be used as an alternative to the paper. Take the paper and cut right triangles out of it, the legs of the triangle should be about 1 and a quarter inches by 1 and three fourths inches. (The legs are the sides of the triangle that are not opposite the right angle.) Take these triangles and glue the second longest side near the base of the arrow about a quarter of an inch away from the very bottom. Make sure to evenly space the triangles out around the circumference of the arrow. Now cut a small notch into the center of the base of the bow for the string to sit in, without this notch the arrow would be extremely hard to shoot.

Step 7: How to Use Your Bow and Arrow

Picture of How to Use Your Bow and Arrow

In the movies they make shooting a bow and arrow look like a piece of cake, but its not! Hold the bow with your weaker arm in the middle of the bow. Then grip the arrow with your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers each in between one of the paper feathers. Pull back the arrow against the string as far as you can, and watch the arrow fly, you will be amazed by how far this easy to build bow can shoot.


tonydingler (author)2012-09-20

There is nothing wrong with being a predator as long as you are ethical .Never use an animal for target practice . Do not kill or wound for pleasure . People who harm living things for fun are soulless, cruel, and mentally damaged .

Exactly, I despise of people who Kill for fun or pleasure

sspeck12 (author)everett.butts2016-04-17

So while ur sitting on ur fat butt eating a hamburger your commenting about how people are cruel if they hunt because hunting is killing for fun it's a sport but yet u eat ur hamburger not yelling at McDonalds saying that they are I hate people like u

JeffW208 (author)sspeck122017-01-19

Learn to read you ignorant prick! If watching living creatures suffer turns you on that much you deserve to die of cancer.

Witch is one reason I am a vegetarian!

Dragon Princess (author)sspeck122016-04-23

they mean if you kill an animal and don't eat it

OldC1 (author)Dragon Princess2016-04-30

If I can catch it I eat it. Don't you like critters? You may starve when the stores close.

Adonay101 (author)2016-05-02

this does not work

Bradley Hogan (author)2016-04-30

  • rawhide
  • thin nylon rope
  • hemp cord
  • fishing line
  • strands of cotton or silk from caterpillars
  • ordinary twine

Are some bow and arrow strings you can use

BryanS12 (author)2015-04-07

what type of string???????

MarkusO2 (author)BryanS122015-04-12

any type of string should work, as long as it's strong enough.

DIYEruza (author)MarkusO22016-04-18

How about yarn?

mad cuber (author)MarkusO22016-04-01


JamesR222 (author)2016-04-13

Would tulip poplar be good for the bow?

Cinder12 (author)2016-03-16

That is so cool how do you make a traget

cobra1977 (author)2015-07-01

Dose it hurt when u fire it?

JoshH54 (author)cobra19772015-12-01

probably not. It won't if you hold it correctly

jennifer2430 (author)2015-10-18

Can this bow be made with materials available during the stone age?

howtomakeabow (author)2015-06-09

interesting. I also share a instructable similar to this, but use fiberglass,wood,leather as the material. The finish bow can be used for shooting&hunting.

nataliel (author)2014-10-15

hi i cant make one

Keli33 (author)2012-03-31

Hey, what kind of string did you use?
What kind of string is the best for bow strings?

everett.butts (author)Keli332014-10-13

Thin nylon rope should work fine.

Turtlepirate101 (author)2012-01-23

btw firstly a notch in the bottom at the side of the arrow is more reliable than a slit in the bottom and secondly the arrow is to be held with the thumb and the index finger ( the first crease from tip of finger)

I am an archer, and another way is to put your index finger on top of the arrow and your middle finger underneath the arrow

lovehunting (author)2014-09-01

I'm sorry but I don't think u had to explain how u have to shoot the bow if they don't know they don't need to know how to make one in my opiain

Flash67 (author)2014-07-07

I agree with colbynguyen. And wouldn't the paper fletchings give you paper cuts while the arrow is flying?

yoyinsola (author)2013-03-28

thanks for the post

colbynguyen52 (author)2012-12-31

you put the fletchings too close to the end... it needs to be a little farther to the tip so that you can hold the bow properly.......

laydbkleo (author)2008-11-23

the fletching is to provide spin on an arrow in the same manner that the grooves on a modern firearm barrel cause a bullet to spin. this improves accuracy and stability tremendously while increasing the distance your projectile will travel. that is why smooth bore muskets are obsolete. it is simple physics. you will also increase your draw strength if you make your limbs of more than one type of material and laminate together. making a real bow is a very time consuming and intensive project if you want something that wont fall apart after the 5th shot.

temp (author)laydbkleo2009-04-02

No. the feathers create drag on the back of the arrow. this causes the front of the arrow to "lead" the rest of it as it goes along. While some arrows are designed to spin it isn't necesary. Bullets are stabilized by spinning causing a gyroscopic effect. That's why smooth bore rifles are VERY innacurate.

tonydingler (author)temp2012-09-20

Smooth bore rifles ?

laydbkleo (author)temp2009-04-07

you're correct as to the fletching (feather) creating drag. as an amateur archer I conducted an experiment. I fletched my arrows straight and with a spin. the ones with spin were noticeably more accurate. also, every store bought arrow I ever saw was designed to spin.

temp (author)laydbkleo2009-04-15

But were you able to still make fairly accurate shots with the straight fletched arrows.

laydbkleo (author)temp2009-10-08

they were passably accurate fletched straight but were probly 25% more accurate with spin.

Metalcaster14 (author)2009-09-20

actually I think the flights are for keeping the arrow on a straight course

There not called flights there called fletchings trust me iam in archery .

So if you're "In Archery" shouldn't you know this?:It does not matter what you call them but vanes are only plastic or rubber. I've even heard my friend saying "Fletches".

End of argument

ChuckIorn (author)2012-08-28

If not using your bow for a while then take the string off it, so as not to make it weak. I only ever put two flights on my arrows and us tape for it...........

rimfire13 (author)2012-08-02

Vanes are plastic fletchings are natural and flights is the term for both referring to some system of stabilization of the arrow in flight wether it make the shaft spin or just not flip end over end.

I have extra feathers laying around ...

abeliha2000 (author)2012-04-25

I've been experimenting with making crossbows which are praps a little easier to make though don't have the same range. Being from Aus I can't source the traditional woods mentioned but I found that the Chinese Plum (prunus mume) is a good substitute. @archery+softball I used a trianlgular rasp. @Keli33, gamefreak360 I started off using kitchen twine but it kept stretching too much so I had to keep restringing my bow. Builders' line is excellent; it does stretch, but returns to its origional length instead of distorting. Hope that's useful :)

lukeocartwright (author)2012-04-14

use a thin cane as ashaft for the arrow it makes th errow extremely light and will fly further

gamefreak360 (author)2012-04-07

could i use some fishline string for this.

archery+softball (author)2012-04-06

with step 3, what's the best way to make the notch?

ethiran (author)2012-02-23

i think you must use a nylon string not a string

zingadude123 (author)2012-02-05

This was a really good instructable. I made a decent bow, but the string is really tight. I was wondering how to make the bow bend more. Should i keep it strung for a while?

esmith37 (author)2012-01-31

The fletching on an arrow shouldn't come that close to the nock. You want enough space for your fingers to fit between the nock and the fletching. Then you can draw the bow properly, using all your finger strength. Just curl the fingertips of your index, middle and ring finger around the string with the arrow between your index and middle finger.

viola90 (author)2012-01-06

That's a common mistake that a lot of us have.

saxis (author)2011-11-18

I have read all the comments and am confused that there has been very little criticism of the actual quality and workmanship of the bow. I am no expert but it does look a little on the shonky side. I am sure that Bear Grylls could comment further on this and give some technical advice.

poboyle666 (author)2011-08-15

Yeah, we have ASDA in the UK but you'll never find arrows in there!

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi! I'm a freshman in college at California Polytechnic State University, majoring in Aerospace engineering. I interned for a short period at Instructables and ... More »
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