The classic bow and arrow, made simple.
Step 1: Some History
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.