The Dutch Arrow is a weapon I learned to make at scout camp last year. It was a war weapon, but it became a hunting tool and at scouts it is regarded as “ruddy good fun”. As the title suggests it is stabilised by centrifugal force, by its spinning. This is similar to the gyro spinning top toys. Usually you would be able to throw a stick around 5-8 meters, a javelin 10-18 meters but on my first throw I threw it around 30 meters and got it to hit and stick into the ground.
This is a weapon and so is capable of lethality and that is for all people within range. This includes the launcher. Don’t throw when there is wind, rain, or so on that can affect trajectory. If you screw up the throw people may be at risk and it may swing back and stab you. You make this at your own risk. This may be illegal in your area, so check. Don’t blame me.
Now that is out of the way, let’s get started!
By the way you can mix the steps up into what you want to do ( within reason ) this is just the order i did it in.
Step 1: Collect Materials
There are fairly few materials needed for this but the most important is hardest to obtain. most of these are inter-changeable so I’ll say what i used and it’s purpose:
• A 4 foot broom handle, but for some reason it was spiked. It had a end cap that I could use to keep the tail fins together. (you can use anything, really, as long as it has a 1’’ radius and is strait and is around 3-4 foot long – that depends on your height oh and wood is usually best).
• A reel of string.(length can vary but it is usually best to go for some heavier duty stuff – so it’ll last)
• An ice cream tub and it’s lid (this is for the flights, so there are loads of possibilities as to what you can use but I chose this because it’ll last, it’s thin and most of all it was to hand)
• Red Spray paint (just to make it look a bit cooler than a stick with an ice cream tub tied on the back, but the paint peals so any cooler ideas are welcome, just post below.)
The tools are fairly simple:
• A work bench (with a vice to hold the project when sawing)
• A hack saw (or other type of saw, depending on the width of your flights)
• A knife (to sharpen and cut the notch)
• A craft knife - there is a difference craft knifes are sharper and when blunted you snap the section off. (this is for cutting the ice cream tub and tidying things up)
• A bit of sand paper (to smooth down the wood and to tidy up working marks.)
Step 2: Construct the Flights
Cut out your flights using the craft knife it is suggested to use a safety ruler and a cutting mat, but not necessary. They can be any shape or size that fits your material as long as you have an identical one as well so 2 flights shaped within reason.
They should be a mirror image of them selves, so of the four flights there are two pieces of material.
Spray paint them. Leave them out to dry.
You then measure half way along it’s length and cut from the centre outwards on one cut towards the bottom and on the other towards the top. Slide the slots together to from an x shape. Make sure they fit and are level at the ends.
Step 3: Attach the Flights
Leave an inch or two at the end and measure out the flights below that. The bottom of the flights is where you mark out.
Then you need to fix it into a vice and saw down it’s length in the centre up to your marking. Then turn 90 degrees and repeat.
Insert the flights and replace end cap (if you have one, if not just tie the same knot as instructed to in the next step above the flights to hold them in.
Step 4: Secure the Flights
Tie a knot below the flights to stop them from splitting down it’s length.
This knot is tied by making a U bent in the string and laying it parallel to the stick. Leave some of the standing end and wrap the working end around the sick working up to the U bend. Keep it tight. When you are near the end of the string or the U bend you put the working end into the U bend and pull tight on both ends then only on the standing end to allow the U bend to be pulled beneath the coils.
Alternatively you can tie a bunch of half hitches around the stick.
Cut of the exess string from both sides
Step 5: Angle the Flights
Fold the flights from inside top corner to bottom outside corner.the air rushing past will induce and maintain a spinning motion for righties you want it to spin clock-wise and lefties want it to spin anti-clockwise. This is important to remember and it will affect in what direction you fold them along the line from corner to corner.
In the picture I have done it in the wrong way because I am right handed.
Step 6: Create the Notch
Find the centre of gravity by balancing it on your first knuckle and shifting it left to right until a perfect balance is achieved. Then you mark it out c around it’s circumference.
You want string to hold in here when you through then you cut out a groove so the tail end side is slanted but the pointy end side is flat and goes straight in.
Sand the notch down so it is smooth.
This is important as without the notch it would merely allow the string to slip
Step 7: Sharpen It
This is fairly self explanatory but a common mistake is that people OVER SHARPEN it, DON’T. if it is too sharp then it will be easily broken it doesn’t need to be sharp, just to have a general point.
It would be a good idea to sand it down afterwards, to avoid splinters.
Step 8: Throw!
Wrap a length of string around the stick and wrap it over it self. On the first turn do 2-3 turns to start with and add more when comfortable. Wrap the last turn into the notch this must be the fore most wrap.
You can tie the end of the string around your wrist or finger and wrap the rest around your hand.
Give it a throw and watch it go. Don’t forget to follow through to pull off all of the string.
As a key : you want the string to make the stick spin in the same direction as the flights make it spin.
I have heard that you can thorw it up to around 200 yards, with practice and on my first go I got to 30 meters or more! So get makeing and try to beat the target!!