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The Best Wood to Make Bows & Arrows

Updated March 16, 2017

Bows and arrows are relatively easy to make. Typically all you need is some wood, some string and a knife. A wooden bow made from the proper type of wood has the same stopping power as a modern, fibreglass bow. If you intend to travel in the wild, or if you are simply looking for a new craft or hobby, consider making a bow. When making bows and arrows, using the proper type of wood is a must.

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Wood for Bows

Bows can be made from almost any type of wood, but some types are better than others. When choosing a type of wood, the key characteristics you are looking for are strength, elasticity and weight. A good bow is lightweight, strong (so that it will not snap in two when pulled back) and "springy" (in that the bow transfers energy well and propels arrows fast and accurately due to the flexibility of the wood).

Therefore, look for traditional types of wood. Yew and osage orange are common choices. Yew trees have provided the wood for bows since the bow was invented more than 4,000 years ago. Yew wood has all the characteristics you are looking for in a good bow: strong, elastic and lightweight. When using yew, take wood from the youngest part of the yew tree, right where the wood meets the inner heartwood.

In addition to yew, osage orange, Southern red cedar, apple and white ash pine wood also make excellent bows. Steer clear of spruce, fir and willow wood. These woods are softer and therefore tend to be weak and break easily.

Wood for Arrows

Once you have the wood for your bow, you need to make some arrows. Arrows are meant to fly through the air and strike you target with force. They perform different functions than your bow and therefore need to be made from different wood. The key characteristics in an arrow are toughness and durability. Birch wood is a hard, tough wood and makes an ideal arrow if you can find a piece of birch that is straight enough (if the wood is bent or curved it will affect the arrow's flight). If you cannot find birch wood that is straight enough, consider using willow wands or wild rose shoots. Willow wands and rose shoots were used for centuries by Native Americans because they were easy to find, straight and tough.

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About the Author

Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.

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