Making an Indian bow and arrows with your kids is an educational craft that will bring hours of entertainment. Several different kinds of wood will work for the bow, but make sure the stick is green so that it is more bendable. Native Americans primarily used a bow and arrows for hunting and sometimes as a weapon. Use your bow and arrows for target practice and hold contests to see who can shoot the farthest.
Choose a green stick approximately 6 feet in length and about 1 inch in diameter consistently from one end to the other. The best woods to use include cedar, ash, elm, willow and hemlock. Pine is not a good choice since it breaks easily. Green sticks are the best because they provide flexibility.
Carve a shallow notch around the circumference of the stick about 1 inch from one end of the stick. Repeat on the other end so both ends of the stick have notches. These are to hold the string in place.
Cut a piece of nylon string about 6 to 8 inches shorter than the bow. Tie one end of the string to one end of the bow, fitting it into the groove.
Make a slipknot in the loose end of the nylon cord. Place the end of the bow with the tied string against the ground. Slowly bend the bow until the slipknot fits over the other end of the bow into the groove. Tighten the slipknot. This forms your bowstring.
Check the fit of the bowstring by holding the bow in the middle with one hand and gently pulling the string back. The string should be tight and the bow should bend without breaking.
Wrap duct tape around the middle of the bow. This makes a handle so your hand does not slip while shooting the bow. Add extra tape to the top of the handle to make it thicker for an arrow rest.
Select five to six straight sticks about 3 feet in length and approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. A hollow reed or willow branch work best. The stick can be either green or dry.
Make an arrow tip by whittling one end of the stick into a sharp point. If using a green stick, char the pointed end over a fire to harden it.
Cut a 1/4-inch notch into the stick opposite the pointed tipped end. This makes a place to rest the arrow onto the bowstring. Add a feather if desired to this end. Cut a small feather down the middle. Attach each half of the feather on opposite sides of the stick on the notched end. Use hot glue to hold in place. If desired wind leather cording around the back edge of the stick holding the feathers in place. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for all the arrows you are making.
Instead of whittling a pointed end on the arrows, add an arrowhead instead. Carve a notch into one end of the stick, insert the arrowhead and hold in place by wrapping tightly with leather cording. This will make the arrow heavier, so it may not shoot long distances.
Do not use pine for the bow and arrows as it tends to break easily. Do not shoot your arrows at another person. Instruct children in proper carving knife use and supervise their whittling.
Tips and warnings
- Instead of whittling a pointed end on the arrows, add an arrowhead instead. Carve a notch into one end of the stick, insert the arrowhead and hold in place by wrapping tightly with leather cording. This will make the arrow heavier, so it may not shoot long distances.
- Do not use pine for the bow and arrows as it tends to break easily.
- Do not shoot your arrows at another person.
- Instruct children in proper carving knife use and supervise their whittling.