How to Make Traditional Archery Bows

the archer 11 image by Paul Moore from

Things You'll Need

  • 36-inch to 64-inch piece of hard wood or stick free of knots or limbs (preferably flexible)
  • Axe or knife
  • Nonflexible string
  • Straight sticks half the length of the bow
  • Bone, glass, metal, or rock

If you enjoy old-fashioned crafts or like to re-create historical weaponry, you may be interested in learning how to make traditional archery bows. Even though bows and arrows are ancient weapons dating back centuries, they are still used today in sports and for recreation. Historical reenactors try to have the most authentic gear possible, including archer’s bows. You’ll feel a thrill when you notch that first arrow into the bow string of your very own hand-made bow.


Wood Selection
wood image by anna karwowska from

Select a somewhat flexible but hard piece of wood or stick. The wood should be free of any knots and limbs and thick enough to hold securely and feel comfortable in your hand. The wood can either be purchased or found in the woods. Remove any bark from the piece of wood. Determine the natural curve of the wood, and hold the curved side facing your body. The curved side facing you will be the side that you will be shaving down and shaping.

The natural curve
young boy shooting an arrow image by Piter Pkruger from

Hold the wood in the center. Leave about 4 inches above and below your hand free. Use an axe or knife starting from the measured point and begin shaving the inside of the wood toward the end points, leaving the wood about a half-inch thick at the ends. Once finished, you will have a nice thick center that tappers toward the ends of the wood.

Sturdy string
silver thread image by Christopher Hall from

Cut a 1/4-inch-wide notch on both ends of the wood angled toward the tip, leaving about 2 inches at each end. Tie string securely to the notch at the top of the bow. Bend the bow enough to tie the string securely around the opposite end.


A straight stick
martial arts - boy with stick image by Daria Miroshnikova from

Select several long, straight sticks for arrows. They should be at least half the length of the bow. The wood should be dry and hard.

Shave the wood to smooth the surface. Cut a 1/4-inch notch on the back end of the arrow to accommodate the bow string.

Arrow Head
indian arrowhead image by Jim Mills from

Carve the tip of the arrow to a point using a knife. Find some feathers to attach to the notched end of the arrow. This is know as fletching, and it improves the arrow’s flight.


  • Arrows can kill!.Be cautious with your traditional archery bow and never point it at a person.