Skip to next element

Ben Burckhalter

Primitive Archery: The Art of Bow Making and Crafting Arrows for Wilderness Hunting

Primitive Archery: The Art of Bow Making and Crafting Arrows for Wilderness Hunting

The bow and arrow are classic hunting tools. These are still popular because they allow you to hunt from a distance. As a result, your chances of catching game increase significantly. However, when you are in a survival situation, you must know how to make a bow and an arrow. The life skill of bow making is highly useful. In fact, it can make a key difference between just surviving or thriving in the wilderness. Therefore, here in this guide we will learn about wood for archery bows and how to make a bow and arrow with precision.

Selecting the right wood for archery bows

Choosing the right wood for bow making is a critical step in ensuring optimal performance and durability. The selection of wood for archery bows plays a significant role in determining the bow's strength, flexibility, and overall shooting
experience. So, here is what to consider during your selection of wood for archery

Density of wood

The density of the wood affects the bow's overall weight and power. Dense woods, such as Osage orange, hickory, or yew, are known for their excellent energy transfer. Therefore, bows made of dense wood result in faster arrow speeds and greater shooting efficiency.


Flexibility is another crucial aspect for drawing and releasing energy smoothly.
Woods with a good balance of flexibility and stiffness are often favored for their
ability to store and release energy efficiently. Flexible wood for archery bows
includes bamboo, lemonwood, or mulberry.


Stability is the ability of wood to maintain its shape and resist twisting over time.
Stable woods, such as ash, maple, or elm, are suitable for their durability and
longevity. Besides these qualities, there exist various wood choices which are popular for archery bows. These choices usually include:

  • Yew
  • Osage Orange
  • Hickory
  • Bamboo

How to make a bow?

Bow making can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. It allows you to connect with the ancient art of bow-making. Additionally, you can also create a personalized tool for wilderness hunting or archery practice. Do you want to learn how to make a bow? Here, we have a comprehensive step-by-step guide for you on how to make a bow.

Wood Preparation

Once you have selected your wood, it is time to prepare it for bow-making. Start by removing the bark and any knots or imperfections that may affect the bow.
Use a drawknife or a sharp knife such as WARPATH BLADES KITCHI to shape the wood into a rough stave. The sharpness of this knife will ensure that the wood is straight and free from any twists or bends.

bow making steps

  • Gradually remove wood from the limbs, starting from the handle and tapering towards the tips. This step involves removing small amounts of wood to achieve the desired bend and flexibility in the limbs.
  • Take your time and frequently check the bow's flexibility by bending it slightly. Make adjustments as needed to achieve an even bend on both limbs.
  • You must ensure to have a thicker handheld area. Additionally, you must carve from the bow’s belly area only.
  • Once you are satisfied with the shape and flexibility of the bow, it's time to finish it. Use sandpaper or a scraper to smooth the surface of the bow. Also, remove the rough edges or imperfections. Apply a protective finish to seal the wood and enhance its durability.
  • Measure the length of the bow from tip to tip and add a few inches for stringing. Attach the bowstring to the notches at the tips of the bow. Ensure that your bowstring is tensioned properly. It must be centered on the handle.

It is important to test the performance and make any necessary adjustments in your bow after completion. Find a safe and open area where you can shoot arrows. Then, assess the draw weight, accuracy, and overall feel of your bow. You can also make adjustments to your bow if needed. You must remember that creating a perfect bow may require some trial and error. So, be prepared for that.

How to make an arrow?

When it comes to learning how to make an arrow, there are several things you need to know. Just as complex as crafting your bow, your arrow requires skill. We will describe steps and key instructions on how to make an arrow.

  • Firstly, you need to choose wood for your arrow. Ensure that you have the straightest possible wood for your arrow. Your chosen wood must be dead and dry to make efficient arrows.
  • Every arrow should have a length of as long as you can draw back your bow.
  • You need to keep your wood smooth around your arrow’s circumference. You can heat the shaft on coals to straighten the wood for your arrows. It is important to avoid burning or scorching the wood.
  • Now, carve a small notch of the wood in each arrow’s back tip. It is essential to accommodate your bowstring.
  • The simplest way to create an arrowhead is to create a carved point on your arrow shaft’s front. Use a knife such as HOLTZMAN SURVIVAL KNIFE to whittle this point. Then, gently heat it over the coals to harden it.

Fletching the arrow (Optional)

Fletchings play a vital role in stabilizing the arrow during flight. Traditionally,
feathers are used due to their lightweight and natural flexibility. Measure the length of the Fletchings and trim them if necessary. Apply a small amount of glue to the base of each feather and attach them to the arrow shaft. A fletching jig can assist in achieving consistent and precise placement.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to create a bow and arrow by hand not only provides a deeper understanding of classic hunting art. It will also help you foster a connection with
nature. It allows you to experience a sense of self-sufficiency, simplicity, and ethical hunting that is often lost in the modern world.

Share on:

Load Scripts