Some Thoughts on Making Arrows, an Underappreciated Art - I have been making my own arrows from scratch for a couple decades (since 1987 to be precise) and thought I'd showcase some I have made over the past few years. I don't generally make them to sell and I rarely hunt these days but there …
Today I'm prepping to present some primitive skills on Saturday, from raw materials to finished goods. I'm also getting some kid's activities together to draw in the latest generation. An assortment of stone-age technology laid out to take to the public.
An advertising card from when people appreciated hand made archery equipment. No training wheel, gizmos, releases, or sights. There is no date on the image but I suspect that late 18th century or early 19th century would not be too far off. Apparently javelin throwing was in vogue at the time as well. Now we …
More bamboo arrows from the leatherworking reverend.
I’ve been doing a little consulting to my nephew*, who has been making a Mongolian bow for a school history assignment. His theory is that the Mongolian bow gave the advantage to the Mongols during their invasion of China in the 14th century, so he’s making one and testing it out. I disagree in a greater part, but it’s more important that he can research, develop and coherently defend a theory. I offered to make him some contemporary bamboo arrows to go with the bow, partially because I knew he wouldn’t have time, and partially because it was an opportunity for me to learn some new skills working with bamboo. He’s also going to be a little more forgiving than a paying client if I make a couple of mistakes while I’m learning, or take some shortcuts.
Paleotool has an excellent two parter on making bamboo arrows, I…
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Finding “handedness” in archaeology… using the fletching of arrows as an example. As a professional archaeologist AND primitive technologist I am very skeptical when someone claims they can determine which hand of a maker is dominant on an ancient tool or weapon. One reason for the distrust is that the archaeologist may not have experienced creating the object in the same way the original maker did. I think the Leatherworking Reverend has a valid point in the following article (and not just because it affirms my own experiences).
At most find-sites that have arrows there will be a non-equal mix of S- and Z-wrap on the bindings. The dig report will assert that left-handed fletchers were responsible for those that aren’t the majority direction arrow binding, probably without mentioning whether it’s the Z- or S- that they are talking about. I can’t find where it was written down the first time, but it has been repeated until it became lore. Consider the Ötze website:
According to technical archaeologist Harm Paulsen, the two arrows could not have been fashioned by the same person. The fletching shows that one was wound by a left-hander and the other by a right-hander.
and the Mary Rose Trust:
Hopkins (1998) studied 408 shafts from chest 81A2582 (O9) and recorded that, in every case, the binding thread had been wound in a clockwise direction from the tip end of the shaftment (ie, the portion of the arrow…
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Robyn Hode – England, ca. 1450 A.D. An hundred shefe of arowes gode, The hedys burneshed full bryght; And every arowe an elle longe, With pecok wel idyght, Inocked all with whyte silver [or silk]; It was a semely syght. A Gest of Robyn Hode, lines 523-8 in English Popular Ballads, 1922 edition
A sheef of pecok arwes, bright and kene, Under his belt he bar ful thriftily, (wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly: His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe) Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Prologue, The Yeoman, lines 104-7.
I just posted a "how to" for bamboo arrows on Instructables. It is impossible to teach a complete class in this way but I've done what I can. If you have an interest in arrowsmithing, have a look by clicking the arrows above.
Something for an arrow maker to aspire to. There is much to learn from the old masters in their fields. Wonderfully tapered shafts, great fletchings, and good use of paint. Crimean Tartar Arrows Turkey, 18th–19th centuriesFour military arrows for use with Crimean Tartar bow. Straight wood shafts. Hawk feather fletching, three fletches, radial form, glued on. …