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Make an authentic Native-American arrow




Click here for a PDF version of these instructions.

I make arrows the way my Iroquois ancestors did long ago. You can, too.

In our modern world, the hard part is getting the material, but you can use some alternatives that I’ve suggested.

Just remember: These arrows might look crude, but they’re not toys. Use them for target practice only, under the supervision of an adult, or display them in your room. Be careful!

The finished arrow

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • Adult help and/or supervision.
  • Quarter-inch or 5/16-inch dowels.
  • Bone, metal or slate, ground to shape, for arrowheads.
  • Stout thread or cordage to attach feathers and arrowheads to the shaft.
  • Hot glue, wood glue or ferrule cement.
  • Wing feathers from a craft store.
  • Water- or oil-based paint.

Step 1STEP 1: Shafts should be about as thick as your little finger and a couple of inches longer than the distance from your armpit to your fingertips. Make sure they’re straight as an arrow! After you gather them (get permission before cutting any growing thing), bundle them in groups of five and let dry for a few days. Dowels can be used as a substitute; they are available at lumber and building-supply stores.

 

Step 2STEP 2: Once the shaft is dry, scrape off the bark until the wood is smooth.]

 

Step 3STEP 3: Cut a notch (about as deep as the diameter of the shaft) for the bowstring by scraping one end with a sharp stone. To get a sharp stone, find a piece of quartzite cobble (river stone) and break it in half with another rock. At the end of the shaft that receives the arrowhead, scrape out a notch that is 3/8 – to 5/8-inch deep. You can also use a knife, small saw or file.

 

Step 4STEP 4: Grind an arrowhead into the right shape by scraping the material against a sidewalk until the arrowhead has a point and a sharp edge. It’s a simple but tedious process. For safer arrowheads, you can round off the point.

 

Step 5STEP 5: Using the sharp rock, gouge a notch on either side of the wide end of the arrowhead for holding the cordage.

 

Step 6STEP 6: Place the arrowhead in the notch, wrap it with a piece of cordage 8 to 10 inches long and glue it with hot glue. I use resin, which is made from boiling pitch (sap) from trees. Making resin can be dangerous because natural turpentines must be burned off. For cordage, I use sinew, which I prepare by pounding deer tendons between rocks, then separate them into long, stringy fibers. Before I can use the sinew, I must chew it. The enzymes in saliva help dissolve the collagen that holds the tissues together, and this is what makes it work like glue. (Soaking it in water won’t work.)

 

Step 7STEP 7: For fletching (arranging) the feathers on your arrows, make sure each vane comes from the same side of the wing. Split each feather down the middle of the spine (use scissors or pocketknife) and trim it to size.

 

Step 8STEP 8: Glue the feathers onto the shaft, making sure the top feather is aligned with the bowstring notch, then space the two others equally from the first. Wrap more thread around each end of the feathers and set the arrow aside to dry for a day.

 

Step 9STEP 9: Once the wrappings are dry, the arrow is ready for painting. I put animal fat in a tin can and melt it in the sun. Then I mix in some reddish earth and daub it on the arrow with a paintbrush. You can use watercolors or oil-based paint.

 

Now it’s time for target practice!

Comments about “Make an authentic Native-American arrow”

  1. wolf man says:

    cool! I will try it out it was useful for a school report.

  2. ricky says:

    The arrow it worked out great for my son he just got his hunting licence.

  3. BSA boy says:

    It really works

  4. awesomeness:o says:

    i like weapons too I find arrows down at my creek that real Indians had made cause my dads great great grandmother was an Indian who lived there.

  5. why, comatose, why??? says:

    This looks awesome! totally gonna get the metarials from the woods (branch, rocks, feathers)… but i have a question:

    what type of feathers should i use? large owl feathers? or smaller, goldfinch feathers? maybe robin feathers? or hawk feathers? chicken feathers? …

    any help would be appreaceted! Thanks!

  6. awesome6150 says:

    this could be very useful because I am running out of arrows

  7. x.a says:

    To make a bow use piece of white pvc pipe. It helps if you heat it up over a fire and flatten it

  8. bob says:

    This looks fun!

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is cool i made it and it works

  10. Hi says:

    I have not tried it yet but I think it will be cool

  11. archer guy says:

    I haven’t tried it yet but I think this will do for my bow and arrow project for school. ill respond back when i get my results

  12. katniss says:

    awsome but too much stuff

  13. silus Robertson says:

    This should work pretty good with my long bow.

  14. The mockingjay says:

    I have a bow and made these arrows. I tried them out and they work quite well.

  15. chiwea says:

    ive made one without the tip and useing magnolia leaves as the flechings

  16. Big Mac says:

    Ok that’s so cool tomorrow I’m going to the river bank to look for flint rock to carve arrow heads

  17. Retrodude says:

    Good tutorial. Thanks.

  18. 👾 says:

    Awesome! I’ll try it; it seems better made than mine!

  19. god says:

    thanks Iv got a quiver so i need a bow and arrow i gonna make the bow later and the arrows

  20. blue eagle says:

    Thanks for the instructions, i’ve made arrows but these seem better than mine. also it will help for target practice!

  21. bob says:

    i try that

  22. venisin lover1224 says:

    i got a hand crafted bow made from a cherokee nativve american will these arrows work?

  23. Theuniverseman says:

    Great Instructions! I have obsidian arrowheads so i’m going to make two arrows for my cousins using a dowel as the shaft.

  24. kk says:

    but how do you make a bow

  25. Liam says:

    nice arrows!

  26. tsukkgin says:

    this will help me kill deer thanks for the tutorial

  27. master says:

    i create wepons most are spears and javlins but im also intrestid in arrows i realy want to do this and eddit this

  28. says:

    I am going to make a native American weapon for social studies. Do you recommend this?

      • Rampancy says:

        It is inadvisable to bring any form of weapon (replicas, artifacts, or otherwise) to a school, as you will likely be expelled, unless the school’s administration staff (dean, principal, etc.) give you clear permission.

  29. Ryan James says:

    Ya neat I love weapons pretty cool

  30. olizandri says:

    i used this for my bow, it flies good

  31. lil j says:

    Im 10 and i have already made a bow. it uses ruber bands and string and works well. this arrow helps but im making a blunt head.slso my uncls makeing me a crossbow.(shoots these arrows

    • Awwjay says:

      You might need to modify these if you want to shoot them from a crossbow as crossbows cannot shoot arrows. They shoot bolts, which are shorter than arrows and have a different fletching method.

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