Mary Lovehandmade
Winnipeg, Canada

How to Make an Arrow

Arrow. How meaningful this small element is. Its history goes all the way back to the ancient history when our ancestors used it to hunt in order to get food or to protect themselves from the enemies and wild animals. It is officially one of the most ancient types of gun. You can find the arrows in many legends, myths, and tails. It is an attribute of heroes and warriors, symbol of freedom, braveness, and even love (let us not forget about Cupid and his arrows of love).

It is obvious, that arrows play a significant role in history. Moreover, in tandem with the crossbow, they are one of the most popular equipment to play with. Children all over the globe love such outdoor activity because it is interesting, fun, and very useful. Shooting from the bow with the arrows improves the concentration, trains the patience, and positively affects the feeling of responsibility.

The really cool thing about this kind of activity is that it does not require any investments. You can do it on your own by using natural resources that surround you. All you need is to find several key ingredients and join them together in the proper sequence.

Let us compartmentalize the process of making arrows by hand.

The key parts of an arrow

An arrow consists of pretty simple parts that everyone is familiar with. The key elements here are:

  1. The head of an arrow. It is the fore part that serves as the trajectory setter and is responsible for hitting the target. As a rule, this part has cone-like shape, sharp end, and relatively heavy weight.

  2. The shaft or the core of an arrow. This part has a noticeable impact on the arrow flight and allows using a bow. Basically, it is a long and straight stick.

  3. The tail of an arrow. This part is responsible for the smoothness of the flight, its range, and fighting against the air turbulence. In most cases, as guiding elements of an arrow, it is expedient to use feathers.

  4. The end face of an arrow. It is the smallest but very important part of an arrow, which serves for basing it in the bow. It is not a separate detail but a structural nock-like element at the end of the shaft.

The short guide of making a DIY arrow

If you are keen to discover how to make a wooden arrow, here is the detailed easy-to-follow instruction.

  1. The proper shaft

  • If you live near a forest, it would not be a problem for you to find a proper tree branch. Very popular woods for this purpose are different kinds of fir, ash, bamboo. However, you can use any other tree branch if it is straight enough.

  • When choosing the shaft, make sure that its length corresponds to your parameters. If you are a novice, you need an arrow that is slightly longer than your reach. To check this, place the shaft on your breastbone and reach your arms forward, holding the shaft between your stretched palms. At least 2-3 inches of it should go past the fingers.

  • In practice, it is almost impossible to find a completely straight stick, so before assembling an arrow, make sure that you align the bends. To do it, look along your future arrow, determine all the bends, and bend them to the opposite side, one by one. Remember, balance is crucial and the straighter shaft is the smoother flight will be.

It is possible to machine the shaft in order to get an ideal one, but let us leave it for the future when you become an experienced arrow maker.

  1. The end face (the nock groove)

  • Once the arrow’s core is chosen and lengthened, you have to make a nock groove at the back end of an arrow. First, make the arrow’s end straight and then cut the nock in it. The nock has to be deep and wide enough to fit a bowstring.

  • When making the nock, make sure that the inner surface is smooth in order to prevent the arrow’s sticking.

  1. The head

The first thing you are supposed to do at this stage is to choose the material of the head. There are several options, so you can pick any of them or come up with your own idea. When choosing the proper head you have to consider three preconditions. First, it has to be heavy enough to zip through the air easily. The second rule is that it has to be cone-shaped in order to minimize air resistance. Finally, yet importantly, the arrowhead is supposed to be sharp to stab the target.

  • The stone head. It is the most common tip of DIY arrows. However, you have to be patient and look for the proper stone. It has to be not too big but not too small as well. If you found a good stone but it is not sharp enough, just sharpen it with another stone. You need a strong string to join the stone head to the shaft. Just tie it up tightly to ensure a reliable connection. It is possible to make additional grooves on the shaft to ensure the better mounting seat for the stone tip.

  • The tin head. This kind of head requires more efforts but they will pay off because you can do tailor-made head that fits exactly your arrow. To make such an arrow tip, melt a piece of tin and pour it into the mold made in the wood. In this case, to join the tip with the shaft, just sink the fore end of the shaft into the molten tin. Thus, when it solidifies, the connection becomes extremely strong.

  • The glass head. To make such a head, take a piece of thick glass, give it a triangle shape and sharpen its edges with the stone or any other heavy tool. After that, just tie it up to the shaft. You can use porcelain as well.

  1. The tail (arrow fletching)

The best option for the arrow tail are the feathers so let us focus on how to make the best tail from them. First, you have to find the proper feathers: straight, big enough, and rigid. As the practice shows, turkey wing feathers serve the best. You may as well use the crow feathers or any other you can find. Once you have two feathers at hand, you can continue your arrow making process.

  • Cut the feathers along the rachis (the calamus) to get four separate halves.

  • Use the glue (it is possible to use a glue gun as well) to connect those parts to the back end of the arrow. Place them evenly around the shaft like corners of a square.

  • If you wish, you can glue them like a helix to make the arrow spin during the flight. However, it requires some skills to place them properly, so it is better to start with the straightly placed feathers.

If there is no feather around, it is possible to make an arrow fletching with the duct tape. Just glue several layers together, give it a proper shape (feather-like), and join it to the shaft.

The alternative way

If you do not have an access to the forest or turkey, you still can make an arrow on your own. We live in the heyday of crafts so, luckily, it is possible to buy all the components in the craft store. You can buy a finished arrow or just its separate components and assemble them by yourself. The first option definitely is easier, but the second one is far more interesting. Especially now, when you have a guide on how to make a wooden arrow.

Additionally, if you lack some elements you can buy them and assemble with the elements you have at hands. Thus, you will still have a handmade wooden arrow that fits your bow.

As your first arrow is ready, it is necessary to test it to find out if something has to be made better. Maybe, the tip is too heavy or the tail is too short. Before letting your arrow fly, check if all the elements are connected tightly and the length is proper for your bow and your reach. If everything looks great, aim, shoot the arrow from your bow and observe its flight. After that, you can perfect it if needed.

Finally, remember that any arrow is a dangerous tool. Be careful, never shot in people or animals, and do not let the small children play with it.

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