Like most sports, archery involves equipment and accessories. After all, you cannot be an archer without a bow and arrow.
To become an excellent archer, it is essential to learn about the equipment, including how bows and arrows are produced. By knowing how are bow and arrows made, you will be able to communicate with your customers more effectively.
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Brief History of Bows and Arrows
Archeologically speaking, experts believe that hunters from as early as 50,000 years ago used primitive bows and arrows. Indigenous people used these for hunting and warfare, as well as for recreational use in sports, especially in Egypt, China, and India.
Bows from this era are made from any springy material, such as bamboo and wood while the bowstrings were made from animal gut. Native American and Asian bow makers made a trailblazing innovation when they glued animal tendons to the back of the bow which added reinforcement.
The composite bow was invented 4,500 years ago by reinforcing the bow’s back with up to three layers of shredded tendon mixed with glue and strengthening the face of the bow with a layer of animal horn glued on the exteriors.
Primitive arrows are typically made with wood shafts with arrowheads shaped from hardwood, bone, horn, flint, bronze, and steel. India made the first experimentations in using an all-metal arrow during the third century B.C. which is made for warfare and hunting.
The most simple type of bow is a longbow. It is formed by bending a straight shaft and is mounted with bowstrings on both ends.
Recurve bows give more power and offer better stability by permanently curving the bow’s back concave from end to end.
A recurve bow consists of three key parts: two flexible limbs rigidly attached on the opposite ends of a rigid riser. It is generally 50 to 70 in long with a riser measured at 20 in long, which provides a comfortable handgrip and a ledge on which the arrow rests.
Compound bows can provide more power than the bows mentioned earlier. It is a mechanically assisted bow that attaches the bowstring to a system of pulleys rather than at the ends of the bow. These pulleys multiply the force, thus arrows can be shot further.
The disadvantage of making a bow from a single piece of wood is it can warp easily from moisture and become brittle in cold weather. It can also permanently disfigure the curved shape attained when the bow is strung. When this happens, the bow’s springiness is decreased and it loses its power.
To solve this problem, bow makers used fiberglass which is more flexible and more sturdy in cold weather and moist environment. However, it also has its disadvantage: it reduced the bow’s performance characteristics.
By combining composite materials to form the bow, gluing together layers of various woods, fiberglass, or carbon fiber, the best results can be obtained. Woods that are typically used for bows are red elm, maple, cedar, bamboo, and exotic woods such as Bubinga.
Primitive bow strings are typically made from sinew, twisted rawhide, gut, hemp, flax, or silk. Modern-day bowstrings for wooden longbows are often made with linen thread. On the other hand, compound bows use steel wires as its bowstring.
Recurve bows typically have a Dacron bowstring, a polyester fiber that is well known for its durability, consistency, and quality. Nylon thread is wrapped around the Dacron bowstring to reinforce it at the ends and in the middle where the arrow and the archer’s fingers contact the string during shooting.
Arrows are traditionally made from solid shafts of wood such as elm, oak, willow, cedar, and spruce. Nowadays, modern arrows are made from aluminum, fiberglass, graphite, or carbon fiber.
In most cases, feathers are made from turkey wings and are mounted on the shaft on one end that causes the arrow to spin during flight, steadying its path. Because of better sturdiness and moisture resistance, blades made of plastic or molded rubber have become more popular than natural feathers.
A nock is attached to the back end of the arrow together with the fletchers. Arrowheads, which were primitively made with flint, bone, horn, bronze, or hardwood, but now, they are commonly made of steel and aluminum.
The Manufacturing Process
With great material, comes greater products. Here in ArcheryBay, we only outsource the best materials that when put together, can produce premium quality archery equipments. Each product is individually inspected and tested to provide our clients with durable, reliable, and top-performing bows and arrow.
The following is the step-by-step process of the construction of a recurve bow with permanently attached limbs:
- The main material is cut into rectangular wooden planks for the layers of the limbs. These wood layers are treated with dye to achieve the desired color. Glue is applied, and the layers are stacked in the proper placement.
- The stacked layers of the limb section are mounted in a mold that will determine the curvature. While attached to the form, the limb is cured in an oven at 180° F for six hours.
- The riser is made of a solid block of either aluminum or a block of laminated layers of various woods. The block is cut basing from a basic outline of the final shape and then pins are inserted near the riser’s ends to allow attachment of the limbs.
- Holes are drilled in the limbs to meet the position of the pins in the riser. The limbs are attached to the riser temporarily to the riser. After the joints are sanded, the limbs are detached from the riser.
- With the help of a template, a bow maker marks the limbs to be cut. The bow maker uses a power saw and sander to taper and shape the ends of the limbs from their originally rectangular shape. The ends of the limbs are carved to make grooves where the bowstring can be mounted.
- The bow maker begins to shape the riser by cutting out sections to form a shelf where the arrow can rest and can provide a sighting window. Using a power saw, a sander, and a wood file, a contour is carved in the riser into a shape that will be comfortable to grip.
- The limbs are attached to the riser and assembled into place by gluing it together. The entire bow is polished by hand and then finished with a protective coating of clear epoxy
This is how we make our own quality bowstrings:
- Each bow model has its own bowstring quality needed. First off, the number of strands of thread needed is determined. The bundle of strands is divided into three sets, and each set is coated with beeswax and resin.
- Once enough cord has been formed, a loop is formed by bringing the cord’s end around and slicing or weaving it into the new section that is being corded.
- When the bowstring’s desired length is achieved, the string is pre-stretched by hanging it from the initial loop while attaching a weight to the free end. The length is reevaluated, and cording continues until the desired length is obtained Forming another loop finishes off the string.
- “Serving” is applied by wrapping nylon thread around a 10 inch section in the center of the bowstring and a 5 inch section near each end loop. A nocking point is attached at the point where arrows will be mounted against the string.
The following steps will show how wooden arrows are made:
- The arrow’s production starts with the shaft. Long and hollow aluminum tubes are cold stretched by a machine to become thinner until the appropriate shaft thickness is achieved. This will be the core.
- Carbon is wrapped around this aluminum rod and then proceeds in industrial ovens to bake for reinforcement. The reinforced rods will proceed in a machine that grinds and polishes them until smooth and even.
- Processed shafts will go through a weighing scale to determine if it weighs accordingly. The strength and durability is also tested by applying physical force to the shaft. If a shaft is not correctly weighed and can bend easily, they are rejected to proceed to the next phase.
- Shafts who passed the clinical tests are grouped together for painting and branding. They are painted manually and individually checked for imperfections and misalignments. Next, they will go inside an industrial oven to bake dry so they don;t rub off easily.
- The shaft is fletched by gluing trimmed feathers or plastic vanes to the shaft. Usually, three feathers are applied, with one feather facing directly away from the bow when the arrow is mounted for shooting.
- An arrowhead is mounted on the shaft. The arrowhead’s shape is determined by the purpose for which the arrow will be used, either for target shooting or hunting specific types of animals.
From the humble beginnings of a primitive wooden bow and arrow to the modern-made complex compound bows, archery has been through a lot of technological advancements that show this sport’s enduring and perpetual impact on humanity.
By providing our clients with premium quality archery equipment and world-class customer service, we guarantee that your transaction with ArcheryBay is a hassle-free experience.