Today, I’m going to show you step-by-step How To Make A Bow And Arrow just like the Native Americans did it but with modern tools. Native Americans did not have the luxury of using modern day tools so the process was much longer without them. The steps I’m going to show you today come right out of the best selling book The Lost Ways II written by Claude Davis who is a best selling author and Wild West Historian.
Making a bow and arrow takes a lot of hard work and time even though we will be using modern tools. However, when your bow and arrow are complete. You will have a weapon that you can use for hunting, archery or just to hang on your wall at home. Whatever you decide to use your bow and arrow for is up to you but if you follow the steps below. You will have a weapon of war just as reliable as those built thousands of years ago.
Archeologists studying the North American plains have discovered that the first bow and arrow didn’t arrive on the scene until about 500 A.D. Native American Indians first used spears to hunt with long before the bow and arrow. It wasn’t until around 500 A.D. that the first bows and arrows were used which is some 11,500 years after the first people came to the North American continent. Native Americans benefitted in many ways from using the bow and arrow.
One of the biggest benefits from switching over to the bow and arrow was the amount of materials needed to build this weapon. This weapon could be used over and over again and they could shoot their prey from long distances. Unlike using a spear where they had to up close to the prey risking serious injury or even death. This made a significant difference on how they hunted and how they fought Native American wars.
How To Make A Native American BOW And ARROW
Before we get started, take a look at the amazing video above and see how you can make a bow and arrow. This is a time lapsed video but you will get a good idea on how it’s done. I decided to add this video because it’s a perfect example of the step-by-step process we will be using from The Lost Ways II Book. Go ahead and watch the video and then we will get started. Make sure your sound is turned up because there are some very important tips mentioned in the video. Enjoy!
I sure that you enjoyed the video as much as I did. As you can see, Making A Bow And Arrow takes a lot of time consuming work but you will feel a sense of accomplishment once you’re finished. Even though it takes a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of time. You don’t need to be a master woodworker to make your bow and arrow. It is relatively easy to make and anyone can do it if you have the right tools and follow these directions. So, are you ready to get started?
Here Are All The Tools You’ll Need:
- Carpenter’s pencil
- 1 wax crayon
- A piece of shattered glass (optional, but will give you a smoother result in the end)
- A finer and a harder hone
- Some sort of universal glue
- A tape measure
- An ax
- A Carpenter’s saw
- Pair of work gloves
- Round file
- Flat file
- Triangle file
- Smaller and bigger chisels
- A knife
- PVC pipe with one of the ends sealed off
Step #1. Finding your Wood
Now that you’ve gathered all the tools to make your bow. It’s time to find some wood. In order to make your Native American bow, you’ll need to find a log or branch that is at least two to three inches in diameter and four to six feet long. Your piece of wood need to be straight and if you are using a branch. There cannot be any other branches on it similar to the branch in the photo below.
Make sure that you choose your wood from a tree that’s hard and durable but is also flexible because you will be bending it quite a lot. It is recommended that you choose one of the flowing trees to make the best bow possible which is maple, yew, acacia, ash, hazelnut, mulberry, hornbeam or cornel. Native Americans used ash, hickory, locust, osage orange, cedar, juniper, oak, walnut, birch, choke cherry, serviceberry and mulberry woods or whatever else they could find.
Step #2. Drying your Wood
The next step is to dry your wood, The best way to do this is by leaving your wood outside for at least six months but ideally for two years. I know that you want to get started so the next best thing to do is put your wood underwater for about a month. The best option is to place it into a river close by. After it’s been soaking for a month, take it out and place it inside a dry, dark place. In about another month, your wood will be ready to make a bow.
The wood in this tutorial is about 5.10 inches and the smaller side of it is around two inches in diameter and the larger side is about four inches.
Step #3. Preparing your Wood
The next thing you want to do is to cut the wood into two pieces using two axes and make sure you cut them as straight as possible.
Make sure you do this right, that way both pieces will come out perfectly straight and without any burls on them. This way, you’ll get two chances to make your bow. If for some reason you do end up with a burl, just drill a hole into it. Then, go ahead and use some wood glue and a wood dowel from a different type of tree. The next thing to do is place it inside the hole and let it dry for 24 hours. After that, your piece of wood will be ready to be made into a bow.
After cutting your wood in half, make sure to get rid of all the bark with your ax but you can use a drawknife as well.
Step #4. Giving your Bow Its Shape
Take your wood and mark out 3.14 inches from the middle on both sides. This is going to be the handle.
The next thing you want to do is draw out the form of your bow on the other side of it and then start chipping away the back side. This is the side that faces you when you draw your bow.
Now what you want to do is take a piece of plastic rope and place directly in the center of your wood. You may have to fiddle around with it a bit to get it right but make sure the rope in exactly in the middle of your wood.
As you can clearly see in the images, your line may not exactly be in the middle of depending the curvature of your wood. To fix this, draw a line one niche away from the center on both sides of the blue line. This will be the area that you’ll be working on.
Next, you want to draw another line with your wax crayon. Starting at the handle, you want to mark a point at the one inch mark on both sides of the rope and on the other end of your wood. Then draw a half inch point based on the rope and your connected lines.
Now you want to use your ax and carefully cut away the extra wood that you don’t need until you get the form you want.
From this point on, you’ll only be working with your drawknife. You first start cutting away at the front of your bow taking away the smallest pieces you can until you completely removed the upper layer.
Now with the help of your draw knife (you can use a regular knife as well), start giving it the form that you want.
After working your wood to the form you want, you’ll have marks on your wood just like the ones in the image below. You can smooth the marks out with sandpaper or a small sander.
After that, cut out the place where your string will go later on.
Then you want to work it down to a round form with your round file.
The next step is to start smoothing out the bigger cuts you got using your drawknife.
Now you can use a piece of broken glass to smooth it out even finer. This method will help you achieve the best results. All you have to do is go over the wood with a scratching movement until you feel that it is smooth enough.
And to finally finish it off, you’ll go over it one more time with sand paper. You will first use a rougher sandpaper and use a smoother one at the end to finish it off.
Step #5. Bending Your Bow
Before you can bend your bow, you’ll need to make a bow bending piece of wood to put onto it. You will need a three foot long piece of wooden plank to get started. Make a cut on your piece of wood at around every inch for every cut. These cuts need to be deep and wide enough so that the bowstring can get caught up on them.
Next, you’ll need to grab a piece of plastic rope and attach it to the bow loosely. The next thing you want to do is place the bow onto the bender slowly going down on it and watching to see how your bow is bending. You can see in the image below that the left side of the bow is straighter so you would have to work that down.
The best way to do this is by grabbing your knife and as gently as you can. Start taking away the least amount that you can by scratching it down. You can use a piece of broken glass to do the same thing.
You will have to continue the process until you get that perfect form you see in the image below. Your bow should resemble a parabola.
Here’s a better look at it.
You’ll know when you have the perfect size and form to your bow when you can place your hand onto the handle and give yourself a thumbs up for being awesome and building your own Native American bow. If the string is just barely touching your thumb, you have exactly what you’ve been looking for.
In order to preserve your bow, you need to coat it with linseed oil three times with a day in between each coat. It’s important to only give your bow a light coating each time.
Step #6. Covering your Handle with Leather
The guy building the bow in The Lost Ways II Book took an old leather jacket and cut around 0.40-0.50 inch wide strips and attached them with glue until he got a 4.11-6.6 foot loot strip. He also made another smaller piece of leather strip that will be used later to finish off the project. After the leather has dried, you start putting on the leather by holding one end and placing in into your handles halfway point.
You need to hold the leather in place with your left hand and start going around the handle and covering it making sure that everything is real tight as your wrapping your handle.Keep doing this until you get close to the other side of the handle until there is about one inch left to cover.
Next, you want to grab and extra strip of leather and make a loop with it and place it so that is is overhanging the already covered handing making sure that the loop end hangs over the place you want the end of the leather to be, Ideally, it should hang about 0.75 inches.
As soon as you reach the end, push the end of the leather through the loop and carefully holding it so that it won’t unwrap itself.
Make sure that you hold onto the loop and start pulling it through until you get the end of the cover completely under itself and the loop to come out.
After all of that, your leather handle should look just as awesome as the one in the image below. Just finish it up by trimming off the little bit of leather sticking out and your handle will be perfect.
Step #7. Making a Bow String out of Intestine
Take a trip to your local grocery store or meat market and pick up some pig intestine. It usually comes salted so you are going to want to rinse in water thoroughly inside and out. The next thing you need to do is cut off any excess fat from the intestines. This is extremely important because fat will not shrink as much as the intestine and will make your string look uneven.
Just use a knife and cut away the bigger pieces of that that you can see. In this tutorial, he chose four pieces that were the size of the bow and laid them out on a board. Ideally you want to choose pieces that are 9-18 inches longer than your bow.
If for some reason your pieces aren’t long enough, you can always slice them together into one long piece. Just lay out the ends of the guts onto a board or something to flatten them out and cut two small holes into them.
Now put the end of the first gut into the gut you cut the holes in and then put the second gut into the second hole of the same gut forming a circle.
All you have to do now is start pulling them together until the two become one. Go ahead and wrap the flattened ends onto themselves to finish it all off.
Next, grab two of the guts and tie them together onto a nail that you need to hammer to a plank that is longer than the guts. Then slowly start twisting them separately and then over each other until you reach the end.
Once you reach the end, tie a knot and put them under pressure letting them dry for at least 24 hours. Then go ahead and do the same thing with the other two pieces of intestine and then let both of them dry thoroughly. You can use intestine to hold everything together so make sure you place some extra pieces on as well.
All you have to do now is just let them sit by themselves with some pressure on them and let them dry for 12 hours so you’ll be able to work with them but get them stiff enough to hold everything together.
After everything has dried, grab them and measure out three inches of them. Tie them at that point with a piece of gut and start twisting and crossing them over each other the same way. Do this until you’ve reached roughly three inches and then put the open end of the gut over them while twisting the two ends onto the guts and continuing the process until it makes a loop. Then continue to until you reach the end and then tie a knot onto it to finish the string.
The next thing you need to do is find some beeswax and heat it up so you can cover the gut string.
Make sure that you only do a light coating on the string, just barely enough to cover it. This will help the gut stay dry and protect it.
After that, all you have to do is put the looped hole onto your bow and tie the other end highly on your bow. The looped side will be where you’ll move it to a resting position when you are not using it as the other side will stay fixed. That’s it, your Native American bow is now complete but it’s not going to do us any good until we make some arrows.
Step #8. Making Your Bone Arrows
The branch in the image below was cut down from a willow tree This particular branch was chosen because it was the straightest branch on the tree. If you can’t find a perfectly straight branch, you can easily straighten in out yourself.
The next thing you want to do is remove all the bark off of your branch and then start working on straightening it with sandpaper and a knife. Go over the bumpy places on the branch and cut them down until your branch is relatively straight. You can also use sandpaper to smooth out your wood so go over it as many times as necessary until your arrow is straight and smooth.
The ideal size for your arrow is 8-9 mm in diameter. In the illustration above, his arrow was a little bit off. One end was 9 mm and the other end was 12 mm. The total length of the arrow is about 31 1/2 inches.
The next step is to get a PVC pipe and one end of it with a wine cork plug or something similar.
Once that’s done, go ahead and fill the pipe with some linseed oil and place your arrow inside. Make sure not to fill the pipe all the way up or you will get oil all over the place. The best thing to do is put a little oil in to test it out with the arrow until the oil completely covers the arrow. Then all you have to do is leave it in.
The length of your PVC pipe should be the same as your arrow so it will completely cover it in oil. The oil will go 1 mm deep into the wood and give it a nice protective coating making it waterproof. You can let your arrow soak for as long as 24 hours but it is highly recommended that you let it soak for at least 48 hours.
On one end, cut in a 1.4 inch deep cut; this is where you are going to add your arrowhead later on.
On the other side of the arrow, you are going to make the place for the string to go when you draw your bow. The hole you’ll have to cut is 6 mm wide and about 12 mm deep. Make sure to add some leftover dried gut onto it for extra support as seen in the image below and it looks great too.
The next thing to do is go back and work on the cut you made for your arrowhead. Go ahead and use a file until you think it would match the size of the arrowhead you are going to make. You want to make sure your arrow does not fit to highly. You can always file some more if you have to.
Now you want to round it off using your knife just like you see in the image below. This will help make it more aerodynamic and enter the target easier when shot.
Go ahead and do the same thing on the other end as well. Don’t forget to take some extra gut and wrap it around to give more support and to make it look more special. I just love small details.
The next thing to do is go and steal a piece of beef leg bone from your dog and cut a good size piece of it using your saw. Your piece should be a one inch by two inch rectangle.
The next thing to do is to cut it into an arrowhead using a saw. For now, it’s enough to just make the triangle point which does not have to be perfect.
Use your file and start working it down to the arrowheads final shape and make the end that will be used to attach into the arrow’s body.
Start working the edges of your arrowhead. First, use a wetted file and then start using a rock that would be good enough to give even a knife a sharp edge.
You then finish it off with a smoother rock and before you know it. You’ll end up with a razor sharp arrowhead that will be at least as sharp as a traditional knife. And, it will kill!
The next step is to place your arrowhead into your arrow’s body and wrap it tightly with some guts to firmly hold it into place.
Step #9. Putting the Feathers on & Testing It
All right, we are almost done! The first thing you have to do is make some marks on the back of your arrow at three points at every 120 degrees so they are even. This is where the feathers will eventually go. Cut two feathers down the middle, you’ll end up with four pieces. One of them won’t be used unless you’re making more arrows so you can pick the prettiest ones.
Cut the end of the feather to 3/4 inches long. This will give it a better look and it makes working with it a whole lot easier. Once you’ve cut your feathers, place then into position, 1 1/2 to 2 inches away from the end and start tying then onto the spots you’ve already marked out with a piece of gut that you need to cut into four pieces to get a thin but extremely sturdy material.
Now tie the back side and cut off all of the pieces that are still sticking out so that it looks better. Using your knife, glue your feathers on the arrow for extra support.
The next thing you want to do is cut the feathers into a slope that rise towards the back of the arrow like you see in the image below.
This is what your Native American bow and arrow will look like in its resting position.
And this is what it looks like when it’s in use…
The gentleman that made this bow and arrow inside The Lost Ways II Book shot with it to test it out. He was able to shoot to 82-87 feet away.
In the end, he was impressed with the results even though it did take a lot of time to make and had to wait a long time but it is a really interesting project to do and will be well worth the time and effort you put into it. And that’s all there is to it …
Now You Know How To Make A Bow And Arrow Just Like The Native American Indians Did It!
Learning how to make an authentic Native American bow and bone arrow is just one of many awesome chapters inside the The Lost Ways II. This INCREDIBLE book is the second in a trilogy of books written by Claude Davis who is a best selling author and Wild West Historian. Claude is also a survival expert as well and wrote these books to share with you survival skills lost to us generations ago.
The instructions on this page are from Claude’s book including all of the images. These are the exact same steps that can be found in The Lost Ways II Book. Inside this book is a treasure trove of information that is worth way more than its weight in gold. You actually can’t even put a price on it! I’m sure you’ll agree after reading this article that the content in this book is GREAT. There are 408 pages of survival skills our forefathers used on a daily basis just to survive day to day. Without these skills they would have never been able to build the GREATEST country on Earth.
You can say that these are the blueprints on how to live off the North American continent. We live on a continent that is abundant with land and lots of natural resources. Americans today mostly live in the big cities and rely on our modern infrastructure to survive. Should disaster strike, these urban areas become death traps combined with the lack of knowledge on how to live off the land can be catastrophic! Did you know? Most Americans don’t have more than 2 or 3 days of non perishable food. They are just one disaster away from armageddon. It doesn’t have to be this way. Especially, when you have access to a resource like The Lost Ways II Book.
This book is priceless and should be in every American household. Click on the link below now and I’ll give you some more insight on this FANTASTIC book. Now that you know How To Make A Bow And Arrow. Go ahead and make your own. Please make sure that you come back and let me know how it turns out. If you have any questions about this article or The Lost Ways II Book. Don’t hesitate to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you and will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you for stopping by and spending your valuable time with us today.
Thanks again and I’ll see you on the next page,