Bows used in archery and hunting are created from different woods and additional materials, depending on the type of bow you plan to make. Most bows are made with yew, but other woods are an option as well. Other materials include fibres from trees and animal by-products, like horns or sinews.
Recurve bows can be made of several different woods, including hickory, yew, Osage orange and lemon wood. Though these woods are all good choices, maple is most commonly used since it is a hard wood and available in straight grain. Maple will also give the flexibility needed to create the recurve bow since it curves away from the shooter and also curves the opposite way at the ends.
Longbows are the most common and simplest type of wooden bow. These bows are usually made from just one shaft of wood. Flexible woods are needed for these types of bows since it must be able to arch back without breaking. Ash, hickory, cedar, juniper, oak, walnut and birch are all fairly common woods that will create a solid yet flexible bow. Most of these wood types can be found at a hardware store, while others can only be found in lumberyards.
Backed bows are made primarily of wood, but these types of bows also have a backing for reinforcement. Before the days of modern technology, the backing came from animal parts, but now the reinforcement can come from fibreglass or other flexible materials. Wood is still used as the core spacer between layers of fibreglass or other material. Woods like yew, maple, hickory and oak can be used for making these kinds of bows.
Build your Own
The craft of making bows can take many years to learn, but you can find kits that provide pre-cut pieces of wood and any other materials you need to make your own bow. Several archery companies offer bow making kits for recurves or longbows, depending on what you want to build. Kits can be ordered online or over the phone. If you are a beginner, get a kit first so you can learn the parts and pieces before attempting your own bow.