Today we are making arrows!
We bought one-yard 5/16" hardwood dowels from here. They were of much better quality than the ones I found at Home Depot (which were pithy and soft and sorta warped). Also cheaper in bulk!
We sawed each dowel rod in half, to get two 18" lengths. This is the only thing for which I used a power tool (and it was only battery-operated, at that). I'm just saying so to reassure you that you don't need fancy tools to make your own bow and arrows set. You could use a hand saw to do this same thing.
Make a notch in one end. This is the nock of the arrow. I used a mini hacksaw and sandpaper and a file. Make this notch about 1/4" deep. This one is particularly beautiful.
But most of the others were sort of V-shaped and funny-looking. It doesn't matter - as long as it's about 1/4" deep, it should stay on the bowstring.
Here's Jenna demonstrating how we filed those nocks.
Next, we made the arrowheads (I wouldn't call them arrow tips because they're so marshmallowish!).
Remember those foam insulation tubes from which we made the bow grips?
We cut the unsplit tubes into 1.5" lengths for the arrowheads. The original arrows (which we bought at the craft fair) had styrofoam heads, which would've been a lot of work to carve into cylinders. So we improvised. Note that the hole of the foam piece is too big for the dowel. So we wrapped a strip of paper towel around the un-nocked end of the dowel and glued it down
before shoving it into the foam hole (with more glue).
A perfect fit.
The girls all helped to assemble the heads.
Then we busted my fabric stash and cut out circles. I wish I could remember how large they were - I'm going to say about 9" in diameter, but you should take that with a pinch of salt. Funny story: when we decided to mass-produce the bows and arrows for the party, Emily looked worried. She said, "But you need cloth for the arrows. I'm afraid we don't have enough cloth."
Stunned silence before I burst into guffaws.
"Cloth? We don't have enough cloth? If there's one thing I have too much of, Emily, it's cloth."
She then realized how silly her fear was, and grinned in relief at me.
So, circles. And also these short cable ties.
We wrapped a circle around each foam arrowhead and secured its neck with a cable tie, then snipped off the excess.
We made lots!
And we tied them in bunches of three -
with some of those weaving loops -
one bunch for each kid at the party.
But not before Emily and Jenna test-flew every single one, to make sure they nocked properly and flew straight.
I'm guessing that you're thinking: How can these things fly? The have such huge heads! Well, let's just say you need some weight to lead the arrow to fly straight. Front-heavy is good - it prevents pitching and gives a stable trajectory. Back-heavy- not so. This head shape is relatively aerodynamic, at least sufficiently so for a toy. So fear not; it will fly. If you've ever made a paper airplane, you might have noticed the same thing: if you weight its nose, it flies better. But I digress. I always get carried away with kinematics. Sorry. Back to archery now.
Here's Emily demonstrating how to nock an arrow and draw the bow:
1 Grip end of arrow between fingers and fit nock around string. Make sure arrow shaft is horizontal and not slanted up or down- if not, adjust grip height accordingly.
2 Still gripping arrow with fingers, pull back on string
(It might be helpful to slant the bow slightly to the right while the arrow rests on the left of the limb if you're right-handed; vice versa if you're left-handed) while you draw it. Gravity will help the arrow stay on the rest without popping off to the side.)
3 aaaaaand.... release (resist the temptation to push the arrow- just let it go).
One last demonstration - how to use a PVC pipe to retrieve an arrow stuck high in a tree. Slide the shaft of the arrow into the pipe and lift it off the branch. Better than throwing rocks or whacking with sticks to try to dislodge. Very useful, these PVC pipes!