WATCH: How to Make a Quickie Bow to Hunt

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You can make a good bow quickly with these instructions. Quickie bows are carved from a sapling or branch.

It is called a “quickie” bow because it is produced when the wood is harvested, rather than waiting a year or more for the wood to season (as is typical for ordinary bow building). This bow is immediately usable. As it dries out, the quickie bow may break. Carefully drying a quickie bow over a few months can make it a long-term bow.

Picking wood
Choose the suitable materials first. Osage orange, yew, ash, black locust, and hickory are good bow woods, although most hardwoods will work (other examples of hardwoods include oak, maple, and beech).

A straight sapling or branch without knots, side branches, or twists is best for a quickie bow. This straight portion should be 5 feet long and 1.5–2 inches wide. Avoid fractures and splits when cutting the sapling or branch. This is your bow stave.

2. Finding belly, back, handhold, and limbs
Stand the bow stave upright on the ground, grasp the top loosely with one hand, and press outward lightly on the middle of the bow. The stave will swivel to show you which way it is slightly bent. The outward bend of the curve is termed the “back,” while the interior bend of the curve is the “belly.” Leave the bow “back” alone. The bow breaks if the back breaks. This is one of the most crucial bow-making instructions.

Find the stave’s center and designate your handhold region 3 inches out in both directions. The handhold location will likewise be left mostly intact. Upper and lower limbs are above and below the handhold.

3. Shaping
Now put the bottom tip of the bow on top of your foot and grasp the top end while pushing outward from the belly side of the handhold. Only press outward a few inches. Watch the limbs bend. See which parts bend. Begin removing wood with a knife from the belly of the limbs where they do not bend while leaving the material in the parts of the limbs that bend a lot. Remember: only remove wood from the belly side of limbs. Leave the back untouched. At this point in the procedure, the goal is to get the limbs to bend equally in the shape of a parabolic curve (like a satellite dish) along their length.

Slowly remove the material and check the limb bend often. The handhold and tips should be straight or have a minimal bend. You are ready for the next step of bow-building instructions once both limbs are no longer stiff and can flex equally along their length – thick staves will take plenty of carving, while narrow-diameter staves may need very little shaping.

4. Notches for the bowstring
Carve little notches on both sides of each tip without cutting into the bow. They only need to be deep enough to keep a bowstring in place. Tie loops onto both ends of nylon, sinew, or plant fiber string, using a length that will allow 5 to 6 inches between the string and the handhold when the bow is strung. String the bow; be careful not to pull back on the string yet (doing so can damage the bow).

5. Tillering
Hang the bow up horizontally on a branch or piece of scrap wood by the handhold. Now pull down a few inches on the string while noticing how the limbs bend. Now, you want each leg to bend uniformly over its length and each limb to bend exactly the same amount (a mirror copy of each other).   Tillering is another crucial bowmaking step.

Observe which limb bends less and slowly remove more material from the belly of that limb until both limbs bend equally and evenly. Check the string periodically, drawing down a little further each time until you reach your draw length (Your draw length can be measured by imagining holding a bow and pulling the string back to your upper jaw to a shooting position – the distance between the handhold and your upper jaw is your draw length).

The tillering operation is accomplished if all limbs flex equally and evenly and the draw weight (pounds of pressure necessary to pull the string back to a full draw) is at your target poundage. For example, a 25 to 35-pound pull is suitable enough for hunting small wildlife, whereas 40 to 60 pounds is needed for larger animals like deer.

The poundage can be tested by placing a five-foot 2×4 piece of timber vertically on a bathroom scale, then balancing the bow horizontally by the handhold on top of the lumber, and pulling down on the string to a full draw length. The scale will register the draw weight.

6. Finishing
For outdoor survival circumstances, the bow can now be used as is. Never dry-fire the bow (dry firing is when the string is pulled back and let go without an arrow). This can break a bow. To finish it up, you can sand the belly smooth and oil it with mild oil to prevent it from drying out too rapidly. Many bowyers choose linseed or tung oil. To care for your bow, shoot and lubricate it periodically and adjust the tiller as needed.


Featured Image screenshot from embedded YouTube video.

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