Few things can compare to the satisfaction of making your own archery equipment. Many traditional archers pride themselves on outfitting themselves completely with homemade gear. At traditional archery meets, participants sell and display handmade hunting and target-shooting supplies. While the majority of compound shooters are waiting for the next techno-gadget, the traditional archer is learning to craft his equipment from materials found in nature. This level of commitment to the origins of the sport runs deep for a majority of archers who live the "Traditional Only" lifestyle.
Many archers build their own bows. These bows can be as simple as a shaped section of yew or hickory, to an elaborate composite bow, with many laminates of wood and fiberglass. A self bow is made from one solid piece of wood. Everything, including the handle, is carved from the same piece. Self bows are a challenging, but enjoyable, project. The bowyer quickly becomes expert at such topics as wood density and grain patterns.
Many archers make arrows from common wooden dowels. This works out well if the dowels are reasonably strong. The dowels are shaped by the archer at each end to receive a nock and a point. The fletching is cut from feathers that have been found. When a traditional archer walks through the woods, he is always looking for material for use in his next project. Cedar is largely considered the best wood among archers. It stays relatively straight and is durable. If the arrows see extreme use, many archers choose ash instead of cedar. Ash makes a very dense and heavy arrow.
Bowstrings are surprisingly easy to make. The archer uses a jig, which is often homemade as well. The bowstring is wound around the pegs of the jig in a particular pattern, until the string is complete. The loop ends and center are treated to a wrapping of "serving." This is a layer of thread that locks a section of string strands together. Many archers make these strings from a polyester fiber.
Some archers make their own arrowheads from flint. The flint is bought in rough form and the archer "knaps" the piece into a sharp broadhead. Another effective point is made from old pistol brass. The empty brass is glued over the tip of the arrow, blunting its sharpness. These blunt arrows fly at a high rate of speed and the casing helps keep the end of the arrow from splintering. Arrow points can also be hand-carved from a section of animal bone.
A quiver, or holster, can be made from a thin-walled piece of PCV pipe. An archer simply glues a cap on the bottom and cuts the pipe to length. The pipe is then covered with leather and a strap is attached. A piece of foam is added to the bottom to prevent the arrows from rattling. This same design can be used with a base on the bottom. This type of construction is often used to create stationary ground quivers for use during target practice.
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