How to Make a Bow and Arrow: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Make a Bow and Arrow: 13 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Make a Bow and Arrow: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

The bow and arrow was once the hunting and war weapon of various indigenous tribes around the world, in addition to being a favorite of ancient Turkish armies. Although its power is no match for modern firearms or even archery, a primitive version can save your life in the middle of a forest or mountain, for example. It can be used to hunt and to defend yourself. And imagine showing your friends a bow and arrow made by you! Here we show the step-by-step.


Method 1 of 2: Bowing

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 01

Step 1. Find a long branch for the bow

The following is what you should take into account when choosing the branch:

  • The branch should be dry and dead, but not gray. When wood turns gray, it's brittle. Ipê, Jatobá, Rouxinho, Jatobá and Aroeira are good for making the bow. Look for one that is 1 meter long and that is not twisted, has no bumps and is as straight as possible.
  • The branch must have flexibility. You can use bamboo too, as long as it's not too thick. Better a new bamboo, strong and flexible at the same time.
  • If deadwood branches are not available, one can be used by cutting yourself from a tree. But avoid using live wood, as it does not have the same potency as dry wood.
Make a Bow and Arrow Step 02

Step 2. Determine the branch's natural curve

Every branch has a curvature, however small. As you make the arc, this curve will determine the right points of the parts of the arc. To find it, hold the wood on the floor, with one hand holding it over it. With the other hand, lightly squeeze the middle of the branch. It will turn and the natural “belly” will face you.

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 03

Step 3. Determine the point where the bow will be held and where the top and bottom ends will be

These parts are essential when shaping the bow. To find the right point to hold the bow, make a mark about 8 cm above and below the center point of the bow. Any area between these two marks can be used to hold the bow.

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 04

Step 4. Time to carve the bow

Place the bottom toe on your foot, with one hand on top of the bow. With the other hand, press outward with the belly of the bow facing you. Use this exercise to find where the bow is flexible and where it is rigid. Using a knife or other cutting tool, scrape off the edges. They should be thinner and more flexible than the middle of the bow. When the two ends are equal in curvature and diameter, you are ready for the next step.

  • Ideally, make the middle of the bow thicker to provide the necessary support when pulling arrows. The thicker center is also for ease of handling.
  • Be careful when scraping only the curved part of the wood. If you press too hard on the back of the bow, even the slightest damage can cause it to break.
Make a Bow and Arrow Step 05

Step 5. Make cuts at the ends to secure the bowstring

Use the knife to make cuts that start on the sides and curve around the curvature of the bow and guide to the region where it can be held. Make a cut on each side about 2.5 to 5 cm from each end of the bow. Be careful not to cut the back and not to make too deep cuts that could compromise the strength of the ends. They should be just deep enough to hold the rope in place.

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 06

Step 6. Choose the string for the bow

If you have to make a bow and arrow in the middle of the bush, you will have to try different materials like rope until you find one that is strong and 'inelastic'. That's because the arrow's throwing power comes from the wood, not the string. The following materials can be used:

  • Rawhide.
  • Nylon.
  • Bindweed.
  • Fishing line.
  • Cotton or silk thread.
  • Common string.
Make a Bow and Arrow Step 07

Step 7. Put the string on the bow.

You will need to tie a bow in a tight knot at both ends of the bow before you can fit the string into the cuts made in the step above. Make the string a little shorter than when the bow is not bent so that it is well stretched and the bow well tensioned (which increases its power).

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 08

Step 8. Adjust the bow

Hang it upside down where it is held. Use a tree branch or something like that so you can pull it down through the rope. Pull down slowly, making sure the ends bend evenly. Scrape the wood if any adjustment is necessary until you can pull it to the distance between your hand and your jaw (with arm fully extended).

Method 2 of 2: Making the Arrows

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 09

Step 1. Select the right sticks to make arrows

They should be as straight as possible, and the wood should be dead and hard. Each arrow should be half the length of the bow or be as long as the bow will hold when pulled back. The key is to find the length that harnesses the bow's potential. It's worth testing various lengths until you find the one that's best for 'your' bow. Other points to consider:

  • You can even use new wood as long as it is dry over the fire.
  • Examples of good wood for making arrows are bamboo and Jatobá.
Make a Bow and Arrow Step 10

Step 2. Carve the arrows

It is necessary to cut the arrows with the knife until they are smooth. You can make the arrows straighter by heating the rod over charcoal over a low heat and straightening the rod by holding it until it cools. Cut the ends of each arrow to accommodate the string, which will be the socket for the arrow on the bow (known as a “nock”).

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 11

Step 3. Fabricate arrowheads

The simplest way is to cut the arrowhead into a skewer. To harden the tip, heat it in charcoal over a low heat, being careful not to burn the wood.

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 12

Step 4. You can make the arrowhead with materials such as metal, stone, glass or bone

Make a cut on the arrowhead and insert the material you have chosen and tie it with a rope or thread.

Make a Bow and Arrow Step 13

Step 5. Feather the arrows (optional)

Gluing feathers to one of the arrowheads improves its performance, but it is not essential. Glue feathers to the bottom end of arrows. You can also open a small crack at the bottom end, insert the feather and then tie it together with a thin string (which can be obtained from your own clothes). If you choose this method, anything can be used to feather the arrow.

  • The plumes act similarly to the rudder on a ship or small plane, guiding the arrow through the air with greater precision.
  • They also work like a glider, as they greatly increase the arrow's range.
  • The problem is that they are difficult to improve. If you are looking for a weapon to survive, feathers are not a priority.


  • If you only have new wood available for the bow, try using pine. It is easier to cut and clean.
  • If you want to fish with your bow, try tying a long string to the arrow. So, when you hit the fish, just pull it.
  • Just as you can make cuts at the ends to hold the bowstring, you can make a cut in the middle of the bow to help hold the arrows as you prepare to release them.
  • When testing the strength of the bow, do not pull and then release the string without an arrow or you will end up damaging its power over time.
  • You can increase the strength of the bow by making another bow and tying the two together to form an "X". This is a primitive crossbow type.


  • If you're going camping, it's a good idea to bring a rope or string for your bow, as it's very difficult to find good material in the bush.
  • The bow and arrows detailed in this article are for temporary or emergency use. They don't have a lot of durability. The advantage is that they are easier to make and replace. Change your bow every three to five months to prevent them from breaking.
  • Always wait for everyone to finish shooting before going out collecting arrows.
  • The bow and arrow are deadly weapons. Be very careful when using them, and don't aim at anything you don't intend to kill.
  • The bow and arrow are not easy to use. If you find yourself in an extreme situation where you have to hunt to survive, it's better to set traps or use weapons that are easier to master.
  • Keep your bow and arrows out of reach of children.
  • Take great care when handling the knife or cutting tool used to carve the bow and arrow.

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