15 Minute PVC Bow





Introduction: 15 Minute PVC Bow

About: I like to take junk and make it better junk. I'm LDS, an Eagle Scout, aspiring mechanical engineer, IB student, and school 3D printer technician.

This bow can be made in 15 minutes with absolutely no prior experience with PVC forming. It also requires no super specialized tools - only a propane stove and your hands. I made it one day because I was extremely bored and found a piece of PVC lying around. It fires well and pulls like a normal bow, but is easy to make and maintain. This design is totally open to later modifications with anything - string, bow, arrows, bungee cords, etc.

What I Made:
I made a PVC bow. The bow itself does not flex much, but instead the bow gets its power from bungee cords at each end of the string. It works like a normal bow, except for the bungee cords are really loud. I remedied this by wrapping electrical tape around the hooks, but there is definitely a better solution, as this prevents the bow from being unstrung. I used a Coleman (no relation ;) ) propane stove, a piece of PVC I found in a shed, paracord from Wal-mart, and two bungee cords. I also needed some arrows, which I borrowed from my brother who has a legit compound bow.
How I Made It:
I got the idea for this bow from several other Instructables. I have been looking for a use for the random pieces of PVC lying around our property, and this was a simple, good use, as I have been searching for a decent bow at a decent price. This one is free and almost as good as a normal wooden bow.
First, I acquired a piece of PVC. It was about four feet long at the start. With a small propane camping stove, I heated the PVC where I wanted to bend it. During this step I worked OUTSIDE - carbon monoxide from the stove will KILL indoors. When it was heated enough, I bent the PVC against the ground, forming the shape of the bow. I tried to make sure that everything was perfectly symmetrical, but just smashing a piece of PVC into pavement usually doesn't do the job. :) After I had the right shape, I went inside and started messing with my two bungee cords and my paracord from Wal-mart. In the end, I simply tied a taut-line hitch on the top end of the bow and a bowline on the bottom. (See pics for help.)  The knots go around the bungee cords to complete the bow string.

EDIT - The taut-line hitch went all the way to the bungee cord. I couldn't get it to stay normally.

Where I Made It:
I made this bow on a piece of my driveway (PVC forming) and in my basement (making the string). As it was spring break, I had plenty of time to tweak and adjust the design. Well, before I left on exchange to Japan. This bow was a good stress reliever before I left, just going out in my backyard and shooting.
What I Learned:
I finally learned how to shoot off-hand! I've been wanting to try it for a long time, and this bow was a perfect opportunity to do so, as the (nonexistent) grip is ambidextrous. I also completed my first PVC-forming project. The string was kind of difficult. I originally tied two taut-line hitches, but they kept slipping. In a last-ditch effort to save all my work, I tied a bowline on one end, letting the other taught-line slip to the end. It worked! In hindsight, it would have made much more sense to tie the knots on the ground (see pictures) so that the hooks of one bungee cord were a few inches shorter than the bow. But I didn't. :) Another lesson learned: plan ahead!

SAFETY: DO NOT POINT AT PEOPLE OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU DON'T WANT TO HURT. I am not responsible for damages done by or with this project. This can be fun if the proper steps are taken!



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    18 Discussions

    Does anybody have an idea for how to make the bungee cords not be loud? They are really annoying while I was shooting, but my electrical tape idea isn't awesome enough. Currently they are just hooked in the end of the PVC pipe, so they slam against the PVC when the bow is shot.

    2 replies

    maybe ranger bands made from cut inner tubes, double wrapped over hooks ? just brainstorming.

    Well.....it's in the shape of a bow, and it works kinda like a bow, and it shoots arrows like a bow... :)
    Yes, it's not really a bow in the strictest terms. But it was made quickly, for fun, for cheap, and it works to a certain extent! Those were the most important aspects when I made it.
    Thanks for your comment!

    my scout leader made something similar to this, he used a heat gun cause apparently a flame will make it crack when pulled back, and instead of using bungee cords he just made the PVC flat-er at the ends at least. it turned out quite well about 25-35 pounds (he made 3) we might make them sometime, ill make a instructable on it when we do.

    5 replies

    Yeah. These are very basic instructions to make a very simple, yet effective, bow. There are a lot of things that can be improved with it, and I am confident that many of you will do so.
    I actually tried making the ends a little flatter, but it didn't work at all. How did your Scoutmaster do it?

    sorry it took so long to get back to you, were making them tonight and i will post an instructable on it shortly.

    you know what the like most plastics PVC is more water tolerant than wood cause wood will get soft unless its laminated/coated/chemically modified  but that’s so expensive you could build at least 1 of my bow on my article for that price here's the link https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-PVC-tape-mini-longbow/ trust me I tired pvc it’s not as dangerous as you think unless you heat it up and pollute so much it causes acid rain and poisons those drinking from the rain no offense in any of this but what about considering the future of our planet earth but what about the poor kindergarteners at recess when the teachers are not watching well which I do not do it too much to effect the environment, I personally like kids and they are so cute I would feel so bad for myself if I started the acid rain

    2 replies

    I like your thinking about the environment. And I was just thinking - do you think that the bow could be made out of recycled plastic?

    at your own risk while attempting

    but one way how you can do it you can torsion the pvc
    make sure it long enough

    then tension the string tie it again then have
    a press shield hammer it 

    make sure the string does not whip out and the bow arm does not shoot out.

    then unstring it properly so it does not explode

    then you got one to string while your done

    as being conerned for our future of our lungs, the plastic in the plastic paracord is the same effect as the melting of the pvc it,if everyone did that on earth we might as well have robobotic lung cleaning industry likely to be issued by the health department potentally

     *small print

       but its to be nice from the same enthosizasim as a hero
    please pardon my spelling but i have to warn all you guys before its too late

    *please share on related stuff

    you know its the percentage diamiter per length & the matrieal is really what would of allowed you make it flexable enough to make it like a regular bow just to let you know this is a great chance to be constuctive

    2 replies

    I don't know any of the specs on the pipe I used. To be honest, I didn't work super ridiculously hard on it. But the final product works enough to keep me happy.
    I am sure that somebody (or...probably...everybody...) can make this design a lot better.
    Thanks for commenting!

    fine with me just saying i personally made a bow and arrow out of pvc i might eventually post a acticle about it bepending what my mother says