A bow and arrow are functional hunting tools that increase the gap between you and your target of attack, like an animal.
Knowing how to make a bow and arrow in a forest or an emergency situation is a vital skill for keeping yourself fed and having a resource for self defense.
So, in this article we’ll teach you how to make a bow and arrow so you can hunt for food in any survival situation!
Here’s what a good survival food resource looks like.
Table of Contents
- 1 How do you make a bow and arrow in the forest?
- 2 Steps to Crafting A Bow
- 3 How To Create A Bow
- 4 Create a Bow String
- 5 Stringing Your Bow
- 6 How to Make Arrows in the Wilderness
- 7 What kind of wood do you use to make bows and arrows?
- 8 What is the best wood for making a straight or recurve bow?
- 9 Why is a recurve better?
- 10 What are the benefits of recurve bows?
- 11 Who can use a recurve bow?
- 12 How to Make a Recurve Bow
- 13 Where can you source these materials?
- 14 Step by Step Recurve Making Guide
- 15 What are the parts of a recurve bow?
- 16 FAQ
- 17 Should I unstring my recurve?
- 18 What are the parts of an arrow called?
- 19 What might happen if an arrow is too short for the bow?
- 20 Is a Bow considered a weapon?
- 21 Finally
How do you make a bow and arrow in the forest?
Common to Native American tradition (or movies with Katniss Everdeen), the bow is one of the most practical and vital weapons while in a forest.
Self bow making is pretty easy to do and you’ll find parts easily accessible. However, because it lacks crosshairs, its ability to make precise shots is limited when you’re far away from the target or animal.
Evaluate Your Bow and Arrow Making Strategy
Here are some quick start tips when it comes to quickly making a bow and arrow.
More helpful reading:
- 14 Homemade Survival Weapons: How to Make Your Own Makeshift or DIY Self Defense Weapon (Easy to Create)
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Prepare All Your Items
Collect all the items you’ll need and store them in an accessible place or inside your backpack until you’re ready.
You can’t use a bow without making an arrow, so we’ll also be covering how to make wooden arrows as well.
To find good sticks for arrows, you should find trees or bushes that have thin, long sticks.
To find feathers (or fletching), wild birds are a good resource. If you can find seagulls, feathers fall off often. Feathers should be cut, split, and then added to the shaft of your arrow using fine cord and glue.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to keep 100 MPH tape in your survival kit. This makes it a lot easier to attach your fletching.
Keep in mind that good feathers can be hard to find. If you can’t find what you need, arrows can still be used without them to kill game.
If you’re able to trap and kill a bird using a homemade snare (like this one), this can provide you with a large collection of feathers that you can use to make arrowheads.
Steps to Crafting A Bow
- Young, easily bent sticks from small tree shoots
- A branch that’s 4-5 feet long
Bow making tip: your height is what determines the ideal length for you.
How To Create A Bow
Cut two notches at each end of the bow. To be deep enough, each notch should be cut nearly half an inch deep in both sections.
Make sure the notches are made on the correct side of each end of the bow, opposite of the natural curve of the branch.
You’ll also want to use a right angle on the branch to make sure the notches securely hold the bow string in place.
Create a Bow String
There are several different materials that can be used to create a bow string. These can include plant fibers, hemp, linen, sinew, rawhide – or even silk.
Really, almost any fiber can be used if it’s an emergency. You won’t typically find sinew or plant fibers on a modern recurve bow or compound bow, but they are still effective for traditional wooden bows.
More helpful reading:
- How To Make a Snare Trap Step By Step (Build, Set, Tie, Wire)
- The Best EDC Knife: 32 Knives For Everyday Carry & Self Defense
Stringing Your Bow
At this point, only the stringing will be remain.
To complete this, pick up your string. It should be around 3/4 in length of the the size of your bow. This helps put tension in your bow and increases its power.
While a shorter string increases the power, it does make it more difficult.
Now, tie loops at one end of the string and the other.
Make sure that the loops perfectly fit around the notches you made. Now, take your loops and wrap them around the notches on both edges of your stick.
A simple way to do this is by placing your foot on the interior belly of your bow to gain leverage and attach the loops of your bow string.
If the notches were made well, they’ll do fine.
How to Make Arrows in the Wilderness
After finding reed, willow, or another young tree shoot, sun dry them for a day and then peel and dry them in the shade for two days ( or heat them over coals to cure them).
Once you’ve finished this, you can trim your sticks to make them as straight as possible, harden the ends with fire, and then cut a sizable notch at the end of the shaft at both ends. You’ll want the shafts to be about 2 feet long.
The nock edge should fit your bow string easily, while an arrowhead should fit the point. A saw works well for cutting notches as you go. You’ll need to be careful during this process to avoid breaking your wooden arrow shafts.
Fix your feathers (fletching) and determine what type of arrowhead or point you’ll be using.
Important tip: never use your homemade arrows with a compound bow. Because of the design of a compound bow, DIY arrows will typically explode when you release them and can cause injuries.
What kind of wood do you use to make bows and arrows?
There are various types of wood to make a bow. These include yew, osage orange, ash, hickory, black locust, and green wood.
You can also use some of the hardwoods, such as maple or oak.
What is the best wood for making a straight or recurve bow?
The best woods, especially when making a recurve, is a tie between hickory and maple.
These are two of the most common and reasonably priced woods. Suitable wood has flex sappiness and the durability needed for your recurve.
Let’s discuss these woods in detail.
Tip: If you are a beginner on the DIY scene, then hickory should be your go-to wood.
It’s cheap and readily available in various parts of the world. Hickory has good tension, which is ideal for a bow.
Also, hickory carries a powerful tensile strength like bamboo, meaning that you should choose a thin piece of wood. The only downside is that hickory has a high moisture absorption rate, which limits its performance in damp regions.
Many survivalists prefer using maple because it comes with a proper snap.
Hardwoods are popularly known for sustaining potential energy once flexed. This gives your arrow more force once you release it. Maple also offers you the flexibility you require to build your bow. Even though numerous modern components are used today, you can still find many maple-laminate bows on the market.
Other woods you can use for your bow include:
Experienced survivalists who’ve made recurve from Osage list them as some of their favorite ones. It comes with excellent tensile and compressed strength, which helps balance. One good feature about Osage is the fact that it doesn’t rot, even when you burry it. However, it’ll become overly supple when exposed to heat. As a result, you’ll want to protect it from excessive heat. Still, being bendable means it’s not only flexible, but you can also make it in a wide range of designs.
Red oak is cheap, and you can find it in your nearest hardware store. Exercise caution when choosing this wood and ensure you don’t pick a piece with earlier developed rings. Instead, make sure the rings are lately grown and thick as they’ll be less bristle. While this wood is thick, you’ll need to reinforce it just like you do on any other wood. Doing so gives it proper support.
While bamboo is cheaper and easier to find compared to some of the woods we have mentioned here, it requires more work. However, bamboo is resistant to heat and can last for many years. It becomes more elastic when exposed to heat. Again, it snaps back well which gives your arrow more force. If you choose bamboo to make your recurve, ensure your exterior surface is the belly of the bow to maintain balance.
Ipe is a strong wood that you can use to make thinner and lighter limps. Expert archers may use this wood but still reinforce it using bamboo. Ipe is commonly used in deck making because it’s highly resistible to decay and this makes it an excellent option for crafting.
Dogwood is popularly used to make them in Europe. It’s dense and comes with robust compression. However, you should exercise caution when choosing dogwood to ensure you get the best quality that’s free of knots. Knotted dogwood doesn’t bend well and may sometimes crack in the middle. However, when you find a free-of-knot and pin-less piece of dogwood, then you’ll have an easy time making it.
Eastern Red Cedar
This wood is light and brittle, with features that make it ideal for making recurve. It comes with a weak tension but robust compression. However, finding it can be a difficult task.
More helpful reading:
- How to Field Dress a Deer (Gut, Dressing, Skin, Clean & Quarter)
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Why is a recurve better?
A recurve sustains more energy and conveys it better compared to the straight-limbed bow. This increases the speed and energy of your arrow. Further, each recurve limb exerts stress on components used in the making process.
Due to this, your recurve may produce some noise during the shot.
Recurve come with a unique arched shape that allows hunters to sustain and convey a high amount of energy inside compared to other types. A recurve accelerates your arrows when you shoot.
A recurve was used during the ancient days by people who needed a light bow that produced fast shooting arrows. In the modern-day, you can still use a recurve. However, you’ll need a lot of practice and excellent skill to shoot accurately using it.
What are the benefits of recurve bows?
It shoots arrows faster and more accurately.
Recurve bows help hunters become more accurate when shooting and decrease the need ofr any additional accessories such as bow sights.
It comes in a collapsible model, which makes it easy to transport and store.
Recurve is cheaper and ideal for beginner archers.
Who can use a recurve bow?
The recurve is recommended for hunters who’re seeking more excitement and challenge. You can use this to practice and enhance your innate skills. It is also ideal for archers who plan to go hunting in the middle of thick bushes and rough terrain.
If you are enthusiastic about target practice or are a beginner, then this bow can be a great option. The recurve bow comes with excellent features, and it’s also affordable, which makes it ideal if you’re just starting out.
How to Make a Recurve Bow
Recurve is favored because it is versatile.
Making a recurve bow is both energy and time-consuming, which means you need a high level of commitment to learn how to make one. However, knowing how to make one can be satisfying.
Here are some steps to help you make a recurve bow in the easiest way possible. It’s worth mentioning that there are other elaborate and advanced methods of making a more sophisticated recurve.
What You Need to Make a Recurve Bow
The components and tools we discuss here should be used to make a standard size recurve bow. Remember, you can change the size of your bow to make it comfortable or depending on your preferences. To achieve this, you’ll only need to alter the amount of wood laminate, wood boar, or yew you use.
Here are the tools and materials, respectively.
- A saw
- Axe vice grip or hatchet
- A flat file and another long cylindrical knife or file
- Large screw clamps
- Draw knife
- Heat gun
- Tillering stick
- A pencil
- Bow shaping frame
- A rasp
- Ruler or tape measure
- Wood. You can use lemonwood, maple, oak, black locust, hickey, or yew. You want to avoid birch, bamboo, and any other woods because they don’t work in this case.
- Wooden laminate
- A wooden board that must be two by four feet
- A bow stave
- Finishing material which can be oil or wax
Where can you source these materials?
All these materials are readily available, and you can source them from your local hardware or home improvement store.
Remember, you don’t need to purchase lots of components.
The most critical material that you need when making a recurve is wood. Depending on where you are in the world, you can choose a readily available option. One of the easiest methods to purchase wood is to establish a wood mill and sample their vast selection of wood available. However, if you’re a survivalist you could source wood directly from the forest.
Remember, if you aren’t in a survival situation, take some time to understand the forest laws within your region before using it. You can easily source all the other tools and supplies from a woodworking or hardware store near you.
Step by Step Recurve Making Guide
The process of making a recurve bow will often take a month from start to finish. However, this will also depend on the amount of time it takes to collect materials and tools you need, as well as prepare the wood.
Remember, carving (shaping) the designs of your recurve bow can take a lot of time.
Step 1: Obtain the Stave
Acquire your stave (long wood plank). To do that you’ll need to cut down a small tree such as ash or oak tree. Identify a tree whose diameter is 20cm or less. After cutting the tree, you want to trim it down up to between 1.6 and 2 meters. Now split your piece of wood into quarters.
Smear some glue on the back of the bow and end parts to prevent it from cracking in the future. For the wood, let it dry for approximately one month. If you are working against time, then you don’t have to go through this long process. Instead, you can simply buy a pre-made stave. It will be shaped from the stave, and it should be the same length as your bow and consider diameter. A stave should be made from flexible, robust, and malleable wood.
Step 2: Collect Tools and Chase Your Ring
Instead of using a large round item and a knife, you want to have proper tools for the task at hand. In this case, make sure you’ve got a bow shaping frame, vice grip, tillering stick, heat gun, large file, a drawknife, and some screw clamps. Proper tools make your work easier.
Chasing your ring is the process of evening out the entire back of your stave to have one growth ring. This process helps you get rid of any spoilt wood on the exterior of your ring. To chase your stave, you’ll need the following: a drawknife, sandpaper, a regular knife, and files. For this step, mark the ring of your wood piece before you can remove the external side of the wood. If you notice any remaining thin layer, you can remove it using sandpaper.
Step 3: Outline the Design
The layout of your design depends on the stave’s part that you want to use. You’ll want to mark your stave with a pencil or marker.
Measure a quarter inches from your markings on both ends of the stave and cut them off to ease maneuverability. Your stave will now be half an inch longer than the desired size.
Determine the middle point and make a line over your stave that will mark the center point of your handle.
Put strings around the tips where the hooks should be. Once the strings are fixed, draw a line using a marker or pencil across the strings.
Sketch the arrow, limps, and the remaining part of your bow using a pen.
Lift the stave with one hand and sway your hatchet with the other hand.
Use sandpaper to smoothen each side as much as possible.
You can choose between narrow, wide, and flat limps. A tip, mark your preferred location for the handle.
Step 4: Shape the Limps
Once you’ve outlined your bow and the hatchet, you’ll need to shape the limps. To do this, place the handle part of your stave across the vice and stiffen it. The back should be facing upwards.
Take your drawknife and draw it in long strokes across the stave. Continue doing this until the stave reaches the thickness you prefer for your bow.
Step 5: Targeting the Thickness and Weight
You should select a target draw weight. Assuming you’re targeting a 50-pound draw weight, then you should ensure that the bow also weighs 50 pounds. For this step, you’ll have to make a line across each side of your stave for ½ an inch from the backside.
Step 6: Bending and Testing Your Stave
To begin with, you’ll want to set the Recurve into the tips after greasing your stave. Heat a tip over coals, bend it over a round rock and let it cool in position. This is a similar process to straightening arrows.
Another way to set a bend if a good rock isn’t available is to place the tips of your bow’s base against the deepest part of your foot. The bow’s back, in this case, should be facing against your foot.
Seize the handle with your hand and put your other hand against the bow’s back. Bend your stave gradually while maintaining the same degree on both ends.
Continue bending your stave until it reaches around 15 to 20 cm. Avoid bending too sharply or hard because you could end up damaging it.
Step 7: Add Strings
To add the strings, you’ll need a parachute cord, knife, and a tillering stick. These materials will help you create a notch at each end of your stave.
Use your tillering stick gently to cut your stave where you’d previously marked for your string. However, you should only do this after bending your stave at your preferred position.
Create a loop along the edges on a string that should be twice longer than the bow string you’ll be using.
Attach the loops along the notches and place your stave across the tillering stick. Now pull your tillering string.
What are the parts of a recurve bow?
Here are some of the critical parts of a recurve bow. We shall also discuss how each operates with a tip here and there.
The riser is where you hold your bow. The handle is formed to fit an archer’s hand well. Recurve bows are specially designed for both right and left-handed users. You may want to choose the kind of bow you want to have. Numerous types of conventional bows can be used by both left, and right-handed people. The riser comes with the following features.
This feature lies above the riser. A lot of recurve archers, especially competitive and target archers fix a raised rest on their bows and shoot arrows from it. This process is different from shooting from the shelf. For some people, shooting from a raised rest enhances precision. A big percentage of bows come with a raised rest that archers can affix to their riser.
Also known as a shelf, this is where you can place your arrows when you draw. Shooting arrows from this platform is referred to as shooting off the shelf.
Some archers choose to use a bow sight because it eases target archery. However, many archers do without a bow sight and shoot intuitively. A lot of recurve bows feature a segment where you can affix a bow sight, but many traditional options don’t.
This feature is ideal for competitive archers. After being in the archery industry for some time, you’ll realize that your bow may start to shake slightly whenever you hold it. With a stabilizer, you can hold your bow with a more stable hand. You don’t have to worry about this feature if you’re a beginner in archery. However, you may need it at some point once you’ve mastered the game. A stabilizer is usually affixed to the riser.
This is a new feature that enables competitive archers to extract their arrows to an accurate length and diameter. Archers position an arrow below the clicker and once the arrow is drawn back over the clicker, it (the clicker) pouches the bow, produces a hard click sound, and informs the archer that they’ve reached the perfect draw length. Further, this is an advanced idea that you don’t have to worry about if you’re a beginner in the archery world.
These features are the core of a recurve bow. They curve back against the archer, before bending to the opposite side of the archer, at the edge of each limb. Each recurve bow limb allow users to pull the bowstring to the maximum. In this case, once the archers release the bow, each limb will move faster and discharge more energy on the arrow.
The curves at the bottom and top limbs usually bend backward and draw the bow limb forward, which exert more speed on the arrow. While traditional bows come with limbs, they curve back towards the user and stagnate there. This factor makes them different from those of the recurve bow.
You’ll come across this term often when studying about recurve bows. Takedown limbs are limb options that you can discard from your riser. This feature is unique because you can purchase a bow complete with 20-pound limbs, and then unscrew them once you’ve mastered the art of archery. Thereafter you can integrate 25-pound limbs to give you a bow that discharges arrows fast with added force.
You could repeat this process until you can draw 60 pounds of limbs.
A takedown bow is a recurve bow that comes with removable limbs, and this is an excellent feature seeing that you can purchase one bow and use it for many years. Often, traditional bows and a longbow are made from a single piece of wood. Through a longbow, this means removing the limbs is impossible.
It also means that you can’t change the draw weight on your bow. A takedown recurve is ideal for beginners in archery. Teens and young children will also have an easy time using them. Seeing that their strength and ability change over time, you may want to get an adjustable bow.
Bowstrings have evolved over the years. The part of a string that you hold with your draw hand is known as the center string serving. The section of the string serving where you fix an arrow is referred to as a nock. A nock is a small metal object that you affix to the string. However, you can create your nock with the help of a thread.
You should place the nock at a specific section, and many bow manufacturers will guide you on where you should place your nock. A lot of bows feature a bowstring, which saves you from having to buy one.
Recurve bows are ideal for people who are just getting started in archery because they are simple to use.
Crossbows or compound bows can be a little complicated.
Should I unstring my recurve?
If you’re a regular shooter, then you may not need to unstring your recurve. It is specially designed to be held and strung with lots of tension. Leaving it strung shouldn’t be a problem, but you should monitor it for any fault or weakness.
What are the parts of an arrow called?
An arrow has four parts, as seen below.
Shaft: The long ridge of an arrow is called a arrow shaft. A modern-day arrow shaft is made of a wide range of materials. Regardless of the shaft material, the arrow should have sufficient stiffness to match the bow. When the arrow is discharged, the end of the shaft bends before aligning in flight. Insufficient stiffness triggers the arrow to fly inaccurately and erratically.
Fletching: These are the plastic feathers or vanes on an arrow. Fletching builds wind drag and can trigger the arrow to spin just like a rifle bullet, and this offers in-flight accuracy and stability. Fletching comprises three or even more feathers or vanes. One of the vanes is usually a different color and is called the cock feather. The other feathers are known as hen feathers.
Arrowhead: This is the arrow’s point. You can find a wide range of arrow points in the market today, each of which comes with a purpose and unique advantages.
Nock: There are open plastic tips located at the back end of an arrow that separates along the string and grips the arrow in place. There’s a particular point along the bowstring that’s called a nocking point where arrows get nocked. You’ll need to adjust this point by driving it up and down the bowstring.
What might happen if an arrow is too short for the bow?
Bending, which is also referred to as archer’s paradox takes place when you discharge an arrow.
If the arrows are heavily or even lightly spun, then the archer’s paradox operation becomes extreme.
This results in a loss of accuracy and bad arrow flight.
Is a Bow considered a weapon?
While a bow and arrow can be lethal weapons, they can’t be considered firearms.
However, they’re still dangerous weapons even though you may just be shooting targets and are careful around children.
Knowing how to make a homemade bow and arrows in the Native American tradition can be all you need to get food in your belly and remain alive during an emergency.
This guide should not only make the task easier, but it should also help you understand recurve bows better.