Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bow and arrow

I was asked to do a bow-and-arrow making activity for a girl's birthday party this summer. I guess she had read Island of the Blue Dolphins and was really obsessed. It seems so easy (I mean, it definitely is really easy) but I had trouble finding any tutorials on the web that just explained how to make this super basic version. Sure, we could soak the sticks overnight or carve a piece of wood into C shape, but who's got time for that? We've got arrows to zing!
Most important of course is just the stick and the string. That's all you really need. Take some string/twine with you next time you go camping and make bows and arrows galore with sticks that you find. Finding a good stick is key, of course. Strong, bendy but not too bendy, nice smooth bark. I used dowels for the arrows because they fly better when they're perfectly straight, but of course that's not necessary.
So, look at your stick and decide which way your stick wants to bend. On the skinnier end of the stick near the top, cut a small groove. The groove should be on the outside of the C shape that will be your bow. Make your groove so that it's slanted downward a bit. The bowstring will be pulling downward from the groove so that helps prevent it from slipping out.Now, take a good long piece of twine, about twice as long as your stick. I used this hemp cord that I had, it works really well. You want nice strong twine that won't stretch out too much. But of course bow strings are easily replaceable so don't worry too much about it, just use what you have. Tie a nice strong loop at one end of your twine.
Now fit it into the groove at the skinny end of your stick:Cut a shallow groove all around the thicker end of the stick.Turn your stick upside down so the skinnier end is on the ground. Now pull your bow string nice and taut and wind it around the fatter end of the stick several times.
You can now just tie a knot or two to finish it off. Cut a little groove in the end of each of your arrows. It's not necessary but it will help your arrow fly farther.Finish out the arrows by gluing spongey arrow heads on if you wish, and tape or glue feathers on the base. Make sure you attach the feathers farther up the arrow so that they don't get in the way when you're fitting the bowstring into the groove at the bottom.
Now go zing some arrows!


minnie said...

ooo I'm bookmarking this to do with my kid! fuuun!

Kami said...

Cool, minnie! Tell me how it turns out!