Thursday, May 5, 2011

How To make a Bow and Arrow

Things You'll Need

  • A Hardwood Stick; About 1 Meter In Length (For The Bow)
  • Non-Stretchy String( Weed eater line, 50 pound fishing line, etc.)
  • Wood-Cutting Tool (Knife Or An Axe)
  • Straight, Dead Sticks; About 1/2 Meter In Length (For Arrows)
  • Feathers (For Fletching)
  • Flint Stone; Metal; Similar Materials for Making Arrowheads
  • Steel Wool (If Making A Green Bow)
  • Skill


Choose a piece of wood for the bow or stick. This piece of wood should be flexible, such as juniper or mulberry.You can even use a shaft of bamboo or cane but take care that it is not too thick.For that you can use a young bamboo which is strong as well as flexible. Find a piece of dry, dead but not gray and cracking hardwood--oak, lemon tree wood, hickory, yew, black locust, or teak for example--about 1 meter (1 yard +/-) in length. The wood should be free of knots, twists or limbs. Green wood can be used if absolutely necessary, but it should be avoided because it does not provide the same power as dry wood. If using green wood, try for pine. It is the easiest to cut, and clean. Steel wool is usable to clean it off. Also if using green wood, skin it and soak it in hot water. This will help the bow to bend. If it is green wood once you bend it you can steam it over a fire to dry it. Also try to get one that curves enough, so that when you release arrows, the string doesn't slap the side of your hand which is very painful.
Determine the natural curve of the stick. Every piece of wood will have a natural curve, no matter how slight. As you construct the bow, be mindful of the curve.
Shape the bow. Ideally, you will want the bow to be strong (and hence thicker) in the center. A thick center will also serve as a good handle. Using a knife or similar tool, shave wood off the inside of the curve (the side that faces behind you when shooting) on the thicker half of the stick until it has the same width and pull as the thinner half. If the stick is roughly the same diameter all along its length, you may need to shave both ends to some degree. You want the bow to end up with a thick, strong center portion flanked by two thinner, more flexible end segments of roughly the same thickness and length (see Figure 1).
Figure 1:  The finished bow.  Inset: Notch for bow string. 
Cut notches to hold the bow string. Use your knife to cut notches about 1-2 inches from each end of the bow. The notches should be in the shape of a half moon on the outside of the bow's curve.
Select a bow string. The string can be made of rawhide, thin nylon rope, hemp cord, fishing line, strands of cotton or silk from caterpillars, perhaps even vines or sinew. If you are stranded in the wilderness, it may be difficult to find a suitable string, and you may need to try a variety of materials before you find one that has the necessary strength. The string should not be stretchy, as the power comes from the wood, not the string.


Select sticks for arrows. Some strong, straight plants for arrows are goldenrod and mullen. They can be found in fields. Arrows should be formed from the straightest sticks you can find. The wood should be dry and dead, however green wood does work if you can give it some extra time to dry out naturally, as the sap may ignite if placed over a fire to dry; each arrow should be about half as long as the bow, or as long at the bow can draw back. It does not work to have arrows that can't be pulled back to the bow's potential.
Shape the arrows. You will need to whittle the wood smooth around the circumference of the arrow. You can straighten an arrow by gently heating the shaft over hot coals--do not scorch or burn the wood--and then holding the arrow straight while the wood cools. Carve a small notch at the back end of each arrow to accommodate the bow string.
Construct the arrowheads. The simplest arrowhead is simply a carved point on the front of the arrow shaft. You can whittle such a point with a knife and then fire harden it by gently heating it in coals (again, be careful not to burn or scorch the wood). You can also construct an arrowhead from metal, stone, glass, or bone and attach it to the arrow's tip by notching the wood, inserting the arrowhead into the notch, and then lashing the arrowhead to the wood with some sort of string or cord.
Find some feathers to make the fletchings and glue them (if possible) onto the back ends of the arrows. You could also split back of the arrow, slide the feather in, and tightly wrap a thin thread ( possibly obtained from your own clothes)around the fletching. If a fletching is not feasible, skip this step. While fletching improves the arrow's flight, it is not necessary for a field-expedient weapon.

You can get friends to shoot with you too.



  • When shaping the bow, make sure to shave wood off the inside of the curve (the belly of the bow). Otherwise, the bow is likely to break on its first use.
  • The bow and arrow is not easy to use effectively. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to hunt to survive, you may be better off constructing traps or a more easily-used weapon.
  • This bow and arrow is a lethal weapon. Exercise caution when using, and never aim at anything you do not intend to kill.
  • Use extreme caution with the knife or axe.
  • You may want to carry a bowstring with you when camping as they are hard to make from scratch.
  • Keep bow and arrows out of reach of small children.
  • Always wait for everyone to finish shooting to collect arrows.
  • If you cut the arrow too short and you pull the bow back it can go through your hand.


  1. Bookmark'd Always wanted to make a bow.

  2. I'm going to be honest, this seems a little beyond me. Very interesting though, at least now I theoretically know how to make one haha.

  3. I want to make a Longbow like the badass archers from AoE2 :D

  4. I really love all the how to's you post, all very interesting. Keep it up. One day I will get around t making one lol