Introduction: Preschooler Friendly Bow and Arrow

You may have an active preschooler who is still too young to hold both the bow and arrow properly while lining them up to shoot. Here is a inexpensive and safe DIY toy bow and arrow that allows the youngest child not to have to worry about the mechanics. Rather, just have fun: load, pull, and shoot.

As this toy is a simple creation made from readily available PVC, string and insulation, using basic tools, it is a great project for older siblings to participate in construction and use.

Step 1: Spolier Alert

Here is a brief preview of all the parts and tools needed to construct the bow and arrow.

Detailed instruction in following steps.

The innovation of this project was finding a way to use a four way PVC coupler, to both hold the arms of the bow and cradle the arrow. Where 1/2" CPVC pipe actually fits through the inside 1/2" PVC coupler and fortunately it just so happens that the 1/2" CPVC coupler fits snugly inside the 1/2" PVC coupler.

2 pcs of 1/2" CPVC Coupling, Model Number: T00030D  |  Menards® SKU: 6891006
2 pcs of 1/2" CPVC 18” long, Model Number: CTS120050600
1 pcs of 1/2" CPVC 14” long, Model Number: CTS120050600
1 pcs of 1/2" PVC Cross Pxpxpxp, Sku: 6897204, Model: F01470S
44” of Rope - #18 X 215' Mason Line - Neon Yellow, Model Number: 308551MN  |  Menards® SKU: 2355357
3” of 1/2" Copper Pipe Insulation

Required Tools:
PVC Cutter or something to cut it with.
Work Knife or Scissors
Small Drill or Dremel.

Optional Tools:
Rubber Mallet/ Hammer/Persuader
Cigarette Lighter

Step 2: Cut Up the CPVC

After locating the material it simply needs to be cut up to the measured sizes for assembly.  I estimated the lengths based on the child's size. You may find other lengths work equally as well. If constructing others you may want to reconsider the lengths to minimize scrap lengths from the longer CPVC pipes.

The only really required tool is something to cut the PVC and string. Being a household project, I just so happen to have a PVC cutter Model Number: GKC-100A on hand to make quick and easy work of the CPVC. Other wise a Hacksaw or other cutting method will work.

1. Cut 2 pieces of the 1/2" CPVC pipe, for the arms of the bow.
2. Cut as least 1 shorter piece of the 1/2" CPVC pipe, for the Arrow. (you may want to cut additional pieces for extra bows.)
3. Cut 54" of string.
3. Cut Pipe Insulation 3-4" long, and for effect you can cut them on diagonals to look like an Arrow Tip.

Step 3: Notch the CPVC

It is very helpful to notch the ends of the bow and rear of the arrow, to help catch and hold the string.

First, the rear of the arrow needs a notch on both sides of the rim to hold the arrow as it is pulled back.
Secondly, the one end of each half of the bow needs a V-notch on the rim and a small 1/8" hole approximately 1" from the end, to tie off the string.

It may be possible to make the notch deep enough as not to need the hole.

Step 4: The Arrow Tip

The tip of the arrow is constructed of 1/2" Copper Pipe Insulation. It has been cut on each end to more look like an arrow.
Mounting is simply implemented by cutting a 1/2" slit as shown below and inserting the non-notched end of the 1/2" CPVC 14" long cut pipe.

I had been cutting a hole in the insulation and using electrical tape to secure the insulation, but have found that a slit has enough friction to hold the foam tip.

Step 5: Assembly

1. Insert each of the 1/2" CPVC Coupling into opposing ends of the 1/2" PVC Cross Pxpxpxp.
2. Insert each of the 1/2" CPVC 18” long pipe into the previously assembled 1/2" CPVC Couplings
Taking note to line up the notches on the bow pieces as to allow for a straight string.
3. Press firmly each piece and/or use a Rubber Mallet or other sufficiently persuading object.

Optionally, one could glue these pieces together, as they will pop out if pulled too hard and/or after time. Which in turn, can add unpredictable fun along with constraining the bow's intensity. Note, they are easily re-assembled.

Step 6: String

Notice the placing of the string, as it first goes over the notch previously made and down the CPVC pipe to hold its location then exits out the small hole. It then wraps several times around the end of the bow, so that it may be finally tied off.

I choose to tie a simple knot on one end of the bow and leave sufficient string on the other end shown here as to tie a half shoe lace knot. This allows the string to be easily un-strung, so that it can be re-strung, as it will either stretch, or pop apart.

Optionally, the cut ends of the string can be melted together to prevent unraveling of the string. This can be done using a small flame from a lighter or match to briefly heat and melt the ends of the string prior to stringing the bow.

Step 7: Play

1. load the arrow
2. Pull
3. Aim
4. Let go
Then give to the preschooler and send them outside.

It is advisable to occasionally tap each end of the bow on the ground between uses, as to tighten the fittings, preventing unexpected and spontaneous dis-assembly.