A long time ago, man first discovered that he could propel small shoots of wood at the animals he hunted using a slat of wood formed into a spring. The evolution of this weapon from the Atlatl was a major step for mankind. No longer did man have to run up to large game and throw a large spear into it. Hunting in this manner put him at risk at the same time. Now with his new weapon, man could hide in the bushes and propel his killing weapons from a protected location. No need to risk life and limb as before. He also found that this new weapon could be more accurate at longer distances than he could have been before. He could make attempts on swift-footed game that eluded him before this. Now he was able to expand his reach and cover larger areas and accomplish his goals without having to expose himself too as large of a risk.
The romanticism of the bow and arrow has been around for many centuries. Man used this weapon to provide meat, protection and wage war. Some of the mysticism and love of the bow probably came from the many hours needed to become proficient with the weapon. This was not like a knife or a club, which you just, picked up and used. You need to use it often and use the same one all the time while practicing. The bow and the archer became as one and it was part of the archer life. Without the one he used he would not be consistent. It could mean life and death or getting food or being hungry. They were crude weapons at first, but they were effective. Over the eon’s man learned to perfect these weapons into what we know now as the bow and arrow.
There are many books out on making an all wood bows like those used by many societies predating us. There are books on English longbows, American Indian bows, Asian composite, Turkish composite and many other types of all wooded bows. I am sure I missed a few, but I think you get the idea I am after. There are, however, very few books, which really go into to depth about the process of making primitive arrows from raw materials. There are plenty of books on how to fletch and finish arrows in a traditional archery style. Some of them show you how to make your own shafting without a table saw and a router, which are not very primitive. Most books will spend endless time educating you on making a bow. Then dedicate no more than a chapter on making the arrows.
Every good archer knows that the quality of his arrows are more important that the quality of his bow. Of course a good bow performs better than a weak and cheap bow. The bow is but a spring that provides the energy to propel the arrow. The arrow is required to be of excellent condition and proper spine so that it can fly straight and true to its target. If the bow is good and the arrow bad it would be impossible to be actuate. If the bow were bad and the arrow good, you would have good flight other than the poor cast you would get. So you can see even a poorly made bow could perform at short yardage, but a poorly made arrow will not perform well at all. Al Herrin writes in his book “Cherokee Bows and Arrows” about Cherokee elders saying about how arrows where harder to make than bows. It went something like this; anyone can make a bow, but it takes great skill to make a good arrow. This might be an exaggeration because a bow is not really easy to make, but there is a point they were trying to make. You can be partially consistent with a poor bow, but you will not be good at all with poor arrows.
This book will deal with the process of gathering your own material from the woods and making arrows just like an early European or an American Indian. The process and customs of primitive people’s will also be added so that you can copy their styles and make an arrow just like theirs. We will list the materials and show why it is a good shafting or what its flaws are. How you can get around these flaws and still make a good arrow. We will discuss the process on gathering and drying the raw materials and what are the best ways for each material to be processed. We will show you how to bring those raw, gathered sticks into finished, beautiful, primitive arrows. By the end of this book you should be able to, or at least have the knowledge to, make your own primitive arrows from wild available wood.
I have done my best to present you with all the information I have been able to find and collect. I do not at anytime wish to represent that this book will be a total and complete reference library of all arrows from all cultures. I am sure I will never learn everything there is to be know but I will do my best to present everything I can find and be as thorough as I can in trying to find every piece of information that is available to me.
I have included technical type chapters in this book. There are sections that talk about arrow spine in static and dynamic measurements, Kinetic Energy and Front of Center or FOC. Some of these are considered taboos for some primitive archers. I really do not care what you consider to be “Abo legal” for yourself. Everyone has their own limits that they set as to how primitive you are. I have seen guys that will only use stone tools, some using metal tools and other using band saws and power sanders to make bows and arrows. It is all up to you on defining what your “Abo legal” limit is to be. I personally use all metal tools and no power tools. That is just my limit and I do not look down on any one using power tools it is just not for me.
I wanted to present you with all factors of archery and things that will affect your arrows and their performance. You may choose to not calculate FOC or Kinetic Energy but if you understand them you would be able to design your equipment to give you good qualities of these without even having to measure them. The point is even if you do not actively use them understanding them may give you fundamentally better equipment in your designs.
I hope that during the time you spend reading this book that you too will feel the romanticism of old world archery. I hope that I will have inspired you and you will yearn to set the soul of the wood free and turn it into a majestic arrow. That someday you will want to learn the old traditions and pass them on to someone else that might want to learn.