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Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Three

Earlier today I answered an email from someone looking to get into archery but was on a tight budget. Fortunately I had already written a number of articles on the topic previously.

Examples

DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget, which details how to make your own bamboo laminate bow on a tiny budget.

Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Two, which is a guide to buying used equipment, the pros and cons of it, and what kind of equipment a person should be looking for.

Optional Archery Equipment: Need or Don't Need is a list of optional equipment that people don't really need / can craft themselves with very little skills. eg. Sewing your own bow sock or knitting your own quiver.

Years ago I also wrote a piece on the topic of "The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Archery Lessons", which explained a step by step approach to getting into archery and not paying for archery lessons.

Looking over those older articles published in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 I realized that perhaps it was time I wrote a Part Three on the topic. So here goes...

DIY Archery Equipment with (Almost) No Money and No Skills

Step One, read the PDF for Volume I of the Traditional Bowyer's Bible. Henceforth referred to as "TBB".

The PDF is available on Scribd and other sources.

The most important chapter to read is the one on bow design. Reading the other chapters are also handy as you will learn quite a bit about archery and bow making from Volume I of the TBB alone, so you don't necessarily need to read Volumes II, III or IV.

Some libraries might also have a copy of the book. Or if you know someone who already has this book perhaps you can borrow it from them. Whatever you do, find a way to read this book.

Note: Make notes from the various things you learn.

Total Cost: $0.

Step Two, determine what tools you actually have available that would be useful for bow making.

Ideally it would be nice to have the following:

  • Hatchet or Axe
  • Draw Knife
  • Rasp and Files
  • Carving Knife

Hopefully you will already have most of everything you need. If you don't ask to borrow some tools from some friends / family members. If you can get every tool you need without spending a penny then you will be in a good position to start bow-making.

Total Cost: $0.

Step Three, acquire the raw materials to start building a bow.

This might involve:

1) Cutting down a small hardwood tree with the above mentioned axe, and then splitting the tree into several staves the correct length for bow-making. If you get four staves from one tree then you will have enough to hone your skills 4 times.

2) Finding a piece of old oak / hard maple or other kind of hardwood that is a good length and shape for bow-making. There is a chapter in the TBB which details what kinds of wood are good for bow-making.

3) Buy a piece of hardwood. I find oak is one of the easiest pieces of hardwood to find and work with, and it relatively inexpensive.

4) Getting a piece of bamboo instead of using wood. This might involve having to buy bamboo, as it is not something people normally throw out. If you go in the bamboo route you will want to research everything you can about making bamboo bows. I recommend starting by reading DIY Archery Equipment on a Frugal Budget, as I cover one method on how to make a bamboo laminate bow in that article.

You will also need an extra piece of scrap wood for making a tillering stick.

Total Cost: Varies or $0.

Step Four, start bow-making using what you have learned in the Traditional Bowyer's Bible.

Tillering the Bow
Don't expect your first bow to work perfectly. In fact, expect your first bow to probably break. Pay attention to the tillering process and try to make a fairly light and easy to use bow. Don't try to make something really powerful like a "50 lb longbow capable of killing a bear" because chances are likely that bow will be sluggish, the arrows will fly really slow, and will be horribly inaccurate.

A common beginners mistake is to try to make a powerful bow. Instead try to make something that is easy to use, takes about 20 lbs to pull to a draw length of 28 inches, and shoots the arrows nice and fast because that is really your end goal: A bow that shoots arrows quickly and accurately.

After you've made several bows your skills will have progressed and you will have gone from having no bow-making skills to having a good start at learning how to make bows that shoot fast. Then you will be ready to try making something more powerful.

Total Cost: $0.

Step Five, making arrows / etc.

To make arrows and other archery equipment, you are basically just reading different chapters from the TBB and applying the same principles above. A scrap of leather for a shooting tab or an old pair of leather gloves to protect your hand. Buy or find the necessary parts for arrow making and fletching: Straight wood shafts + feathers for fletching + obsidian, flint, metal or glass for arrowheads.

The blue glass arrowhead shown below is made using flintknapping. All you need is a piece of glass and something hard (eg. a large nail or bolt works well) to hit it with to begin the process of learning how to flintknap.

Total Cost: Varies or $0.




But what if I don't want to make my own equipment?

Well then you are left with the following options:

1. Buy equipment that is used. In which case I recommend reading Frugal Archery Equipment, Part Two.

2. Buy equipment that is new, but try to save money by making your own accessories. In which case I recommend reading Optional Archery Equipment: Need or Don't Need.

3. Borrow equipment from a friend who also does archery until you can afford to do one of the above options. Your friend is going to want the equipment back and if you break any of it, you will be expected to buy/replace anything you broke.

4. Ask friends / family members to get you archery equipment for your birthday / Christmas / etc. Be patient, that might take awhile to get everything you are looking for.

5. Sell / trade / barter old things you don't need any more to get archery equipment. That old bicycle you don't use any more? Sell it and buy archery equipment.

Got more ideas on how to get or make your own archery equipment? Post your ideas in the comments section below.

Happy shooting!

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