In this instructable you will learn how to create your own Cub Scout career arrow using embroidery floss in coordinating colors to represent each Cub Scout's achievements. These arrows are often presented to Cub Scouts by their parents or pack when they earn their Arrow of Light, and are a tradition that many younger scouts look forward to eagerly. These arrows were awarded during my den's Arrow of Light ceremony this year and are used in some crossover ceremonies or as keepsakes of the time a boy has spent in Cub Scouts.
Many career arrows are created using paint or tape to represent a scout’s major achievements in Cub Scouting, and there is a kit available for purchase from BSA to achieve that effect. This decoration style has a more natural look to it than the usual blue and yellow arrows. The arrows themselves are handmade using traditional methods. and came from Arrow of Light Awards.
Time required for this project was 2 hours/arrow and average material cost is about $20/arrow (includes cost of arrow, shipping and overhead).
Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan
Determine what constitutes a ‘major achievement’ for your scouts and gather that information for each scout. There are many schools of thoughts on this, and it typically varies by leader and how much information you have on each scout. Some leaders will include every achievement earned (http://www.gilanet.com/amerabo/colors1.htm), whereas others pick and choose what to include (http://cubmaster.org/carrows.asp).
Step 2: Measure It Out
Using the career arrow information guide, determine the length of your longest ‘career’ (don’t forget to include room for additional activity pins that might be earned before crossover). I recommend planning on 3/16” separations between each color band. Once you have your longest measurement, you can determine the length of the shaft needed for your arrows. An arrow that includes Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf (1gold 2 silver arrow points), Bear (1gold 2 silver arrow points), Webelos, 20 Webelos pins, religious emblem and arrow of light runs about 17”.
Step 3: Procure Your Arrows
Your total arrow length should be at least 10 inches longer than your measurement from step 2 to accommodate for fletching, sinew ties and arrow point. A 28” arrow was completely filled with 19 activity pins.
If you intend to purchase your arrows, buy EARLY (about 3 months before crossover). The rush typically starts in mid-February. If you are making your own, the same measurements apply, but allow more time for arrow construction.
Get your materials early and if possible, purchase at least 1 extra arrow to use as a test (of for that scout that your didn't think would be able to make the requirements). This will add to your cost and time overhead, but be really worth it in the end. (I wasn’t completely pleased with the way my first arrow turned out using the instructions as written and changed activity badge colors for the rest). Our arrows were purchased from Arrow of Light Awards (http://www.arrow-of-light-awards.com/) who have really great pieces at decent prices. I ordered 3 months early and was able to get some $10 arrows that looked beautiful when completed.
Step 4: Gather Your Materials
Embroidery floss in the following colors (1 skein makes about 4 arrows for all colors except brown, which makes 2 arrows)
yellow #726 - Bobcat
orange #740 - Tiger
red #321 - Wolf
light blue #827 - Bear (sheet says green)
navy blue #823 - Webelos
Scout brown #3787 - Webelos activity pins (sheet says black, green also works)
purple #226 - Religious award
white blanc - Arrow of Light
metallic gold embroidery floss - Gold arrow points
metallic silver embroidery floss - Silver arrow points
black #310 - Color band separators
control GEL superglue
basket with handles
legal size paper for each scout
copy of Cub Scout Webelos Career Arrow Information or similar
completed arrows for each scout
* see tips at end for help making multiple arrows
Step 5: Center Your Work
Use the legal paper and ruler to measure out a guide for each arrow based on the career arrow information. Center the guide on the arrow shaft and mark your starting point with masking tape (allow about 1” fudge room as these always tend to run longer than expected).
Observe the fletching of the arrow and the arrowhead position. Determine on which side the arrow lays flat (not lying on a fletching and with the flat of the arrowhead fully displayed). This is the back of the arrow. Place a piece of masking tape on the back side of the arrowhead to help keep your place.
Step 6: Prepare Your Field
Thread arrow through handles of basket. This will help you keep the arrow in place while twisting it to apply the embroidery floss. Apply a thin line of superglue, approximately 1/8” long to the back of the arrow shaft.
Step 7: First Separator Band
Leaving a 3/8” tail, place your black embroidery floss on the left-most side of the superglue line. Maintaining tension on the floss, roll arrow twice, catching the tail under the wrapped floss.
Step 8: First Color Band
Trim ends of black floss to about 1/8-1/4”. Select your next color, in this case, yellow for bobcat. Leaving a 3/8” tail, place your black embroidery floss so it meets the black band you just created and covers the tails of the black floss. If there is not enough superglue remaining to secure the next color, apply a small dot to secure the floss. Maintaining tension on the floss, roll arrow until a 1” band of embroidery floss is created. Apply a thin line of superglue, approximately 1/8” long to the back of the arrow shaft to finish off this color. Always be sure that your transitions remain on the ‘back’ of the arrow as designated by the masking tape on the arrowhead.
Step 9: Continue Color Bands
Step 10: Finishing Off
To finish off, I used a final black band with the tails trimmed very short and smoothed a dot of superglue over the ends to help them stay down.