Make Your Own Bow and Arrows

Create your own bows and arrows can be sound difficult for beginner archers. Have you ever wonder how to do it?

The whole “do it yourself” culture has always been quite fascinating to me. I have to say that one of the first things I did once I started to practice archery, was to create my own bow and arrows. My creation is quite rustic and this guide is not meant to show you how to build a complex compound bow or anything of the sort, but you will learn how to create a bow and arrow that are actually going to work accurately. This is how I did mine, but there are many ways to go about this process.

There are many steps that you need to take in order to create your bow, but it’s definitely something that anyone can do as long as they follow those steps. This is not a difficult process as long as you are careful with every step.

Basic Steps

Selecting the wood

The first thing that you need to do is look for a good piece of wood. This is going to be used to create the body of the bow, so you want to choose carefully. I recommend you use oak because this is one of the most common hardwoods. The piece should be dry, but it should have no cracks or appear grayish. Avoid using wood that has knots or limbs. The center of the branch you choose should be thick. Make sure that this piece of wood is at least as tall as you are.

Other woods you could consider are Madagascar Rosewood, Muninga, European Yew, Pear, Cebil, Makore, African Blackwood, English Walnut and Mansonia.

There are many countries that archery is popular, and the common materials to create bow and arrows can be a bit different. Therefore, my best tip for you is to go to the closest ‘Archery shop‘ next to your house and consult the seller, he is normally a professional archer who can give you great tips.

Find the natural curve

Once you have decided on the piece you want, the next step is to determine its natural curve. This is going to allow you to find out where you are going to be placing certain features of the bow. Even if the piece of wood is very straight, you will find the curve by placing the wood on the ground. Hold it in place with one hand and press the middle. This is going to cause the wood to swivel so that the belly faces you.

Define the handheld

Now you need to create marks on the wood for the handheld section of the bow. This needs to be no less than six inches of space right in the middle of the piece of wood. You want to make sure that the handheld is the thickest part of the bow. Remember that this is the part of the bow that you will be holding before you take your shot, so it needs to be strong and it has to be right in the middle of the bow.

Creating the holders for the bow string

You have to cut notches that are going to be holding the string. They should be cut on both ends of the bow and they should be around 2 inches away from each end. Make them deep, but not so much that the wood will be too frail and break. Halfway into the wood would be enough. Make sure that you do this carefully in order to avoid uneven holders, so using measure tape can be a good idea for this purpose.

Choosing your bow string

People might have the perception that a bow string should be easy to stretch, but that is not the case at all. The tighter the string, the better. There are a few different types of strings you can choose from, but I would strongly recommend that you use hemp cord, fishing line or an ordinary twine. Now you need to create lose lops that have strong knows.

The loops have to be loose enough to allow you to slip the string into the bow while you bend it. You place the string on the lower end of the bow and then you bend the bow in order to attach the other end of the string. The string should be slightly shorter than the unflexed wood. This way it will be very tight once you flex the bow and attach the string.

Making your arrows

I would recommend that you use Mullen or Goldenrod. These are both ideal plants because they have straight limbs that are just about the right thickness for arrows. An arrow should usually be about half the length of your bow once it has been flexed. This means the arrows should be half the length of a finished and stringed bow.

If it’s not straight – heat it up

If you feel that any of your arrows are not straight enough, you can heat them up on hot coals, but do not burn them. Once you do this, you can hold the arrow strength while it cools and it will maintain that shape.

Note: I will not be showing you how to make arrowheads, as I do not feel this is necessary, but there are plenty of tutorials on how to make them. In this case, you are simply going to sharpen the front end of the arrow with a knife. It’s a good idea to heat up the tip and this is going to make it easier for you to harden it once it has been sharpened.

Making your fletchings

Remember that these fletchings are mean to help the arrow stay on a straight path while flying through the air, so they are very useful. Bird feathers can be used for this purpose and you can use string or glue to attach at least three of them to each arrow. In addition, I suggest you check the video below for details on how this is done.

Making a primitive bow and arrows

This is an excellent video I wanted to share. It shows a man who is creating a very primitive bow that is extremely effective. He does it all with primitive tools too. I’m not saying you should do this without modern tools, but it shows how this can be done even if you have no modern materials and tools at your disposal. This is definitely an amazing video to watch and I would recommend that everyone watches the entire video. It’s amazing to see the kind of things that people can do with so little in terms of resources.


Avoid any slack on the bow and string

If you have a bow that has any kind of slack, you will have a hard time creating enough power with that bow. In addition, there should be no slack on the string and it should feel very tight. Ideally, you should be able to draw the string all the way to your jaw.

Heat up the bow and arrows

Remember that the idea is not to burn them. Just to heat them up so they will become harder and more durable. Using hot coal to heat them up is ideal.

Have a first aid kit with you

If you are looking to do this in a very rustic and primitive way, you might end up injuring yourself with small cuts. Make sure that you have a first aid kit with you when building your bow.

Learn the details behind this guide

I would suggest that you learn the details behind every step in this guide. You can easily find very descriptive videos for every single step in this guide on YouTube.

Don’t get discouraged

There is a good chance that your first bow creation is not going to be optimal. If your bow fails to work as intended, don’t be discouraged and try again. Even if you follow every step, there is always going to be a learning process to get things right. I will be the first one to admit that my bow is far from perfect. With that said, the fact that I made it makes it a great possession. Creating your own bow is kind of therapy, and as you probably know, there is a strong connection between archery and good health – if you don’t know that, you must read my article regarding this topic.

Primitive bow tournaments

Some tournaments only allow primitive and traditional bows in their rules. These tournaments can be quite fun because you won’t be seeing any high-end bows being used. If you want to put your bow to the test, you might want to check if there are any tournaments in your area. I remember reading about a 3D target traditional bow tournament near my area a few years ago, but I was unable to attend.

Final thoughts

Building something by yourself is always a great feeling. One thing I remember is that I felt a sense of accomplishment when I built my bow. I don’t use it often because I bought a compound bow made by professionals. Regardless, keep the one I made in store and I shoot it every now and then. Some people become very good at this process and they build great bows. With enough practice, anyone could do this and they can create a very efficient bow for practice and for hunting.

Always be safe when you start any kind of DIY project. This is going to allow you to achieve optimal results. Also, be careful if you plan on using any electric tools. DIY projects are fun, but being able to plan them out is important.