About 20 years ago I´ve harvested a short sapling of juniper at the coast of Southern Toscana near the wonderful Elba Island. I’ ve made my first West Coast style juniper shortie of it.
I love these bows, even it is hard to find a fitting stave of juniper or yew, even they are delicious to tiller. Some of these trials broke, the others turned out to be long lasting and great shooters. Due to the shortness of these bows, they are not that effective in penetration, but shot with matching arrows and a drawlength of about 23″ usually at 40-50lbs they are fast and a highly mobile weapon. Juniper or yew backed with sinew( usually one layer is enough) is a killer- lam.
I prefer to shoot these bows with the traditional fore shaft arrows and bone- tips. The West Coast arrows were made of a main shaft of reed and bone- or stone- tips. The needed thick- walled reed doesn’ t grow in Europe, so I go for small bamboo. Cause of my great experiences with well- grown larch, I use larch as a fore- shaft.
Usually I cut the main- shaft as long as the bow’s drawlength.
The West Coast bow is definitely the bow of Ishi, whom nowadays bowyers are owing a lot. Go here and there for further Information.
Flightshooting has turned out to be a kind of drug to me. If there is some spare time I go for making a new flightbow or trying some new ideas for flightarrows.
Maybe you remember my trials on that gliding- arrow- thing, coming up every now and then in traditional bowery- forums. I have really given it a chance and against my expectations I had ended up 20% succesfully. Sorry, no post about now, but within the upcoming 2 weeks.
Trying gliding- arrows I got the idea that it is not only possible to laminate arrows or to build them up lengthwise( inserting a foreshaft and nocks, like some Native American tribes have done it). It´s also possible to insert a tapered strip of very hard wood into a given common wooden shaft, for to get a relatively light, but anyway hard and barrelled arrow. The following pic will make things very clear:
That´s it! I swear, this is the best arrow I´ve ever shot. I admit not to have shot an Alan Case tonkin- hex- arrow. Cause of the actually very cold winter, I will have to wait some weeks for making some flight- shots, but chronos I´ve done with this arrow are promising a real yards killer.
The building plan:
The making of is not to easy, but manageable and takes some time. First of all check out your wooden arrow shafts, I recommend cedar 5/16″ in diameter and 28″ in length, take the best you´ve in stock: very clear running through growthrings, no knots, physical weight about 150grs, for to end up with an about 180grs. arrow, that´s the best weight for a short flight bow with a drawweight of 45- 49lbs at a 23″ drawlength. Don´t shorten the shaft, the extra length is a must for the making of.
Look for the hardest hardwood you´ve, the inserts should measure about 1/3 of the 23″ arrow length plus 2″ for the taper(1″ in length at each end), a bit more than 5/16″ in width and about 1/16″ in thickness. Make the insert very accurate, I use my small bandsaw and a real tiny Japanese plane for the tapers.
Splitting the shaft exactly along the centerline seems to be very delicious, cause it is round. I fix the shaft on a blank with screws(that´s why the shaft is still 28″ in length), an adhesive tape or glue is thinkable. The shaft has not to be splitted its whole length, I split it from the nock side towards the head, stopping at about 2/3 of its length.
After the shaft is cut, the first insert could be glued in.
When the glue is dry, the second insert has to be made, same procedure, but it has to be done exactly in a 90 angle to the first insert.
The inserts at the top and the nock should be calculated well for to get the right weight. I´ve checked out the arrows point of gravity and then cut the inserts: the point of gravity should be located a bit towards the tip. After having done some test- flights I added a second shorter insert at the top perpendicular to the first insert. Beginning with this kind of arrows, this is a try and error- game, but with some experience this will be a very calculable kind of flight arrow. It is even possible to make hollow arrows with this method, when inserting 4 strips of hardwood about a 1/4 in thickness of the shaft, so there is a gap within the arrow.
For to end up with a perfect round arrow I´ve made the jig I was thinking of since years. A kind of selfmade turning machine by using a common drilling machine, some wooden boards and screws. It has turned out to be such helpful jig for every kind of arrow that I´ll post a making of soon. Anyway pics of it.
And the most perfect arrow I´ve ever shot:
Next BowXplosion will again be dealing with flightbows. Succesful flightbows need sharp recurves, so I´ll post a making of naturally grown recurves and a post focused on steam- bent recurves, inclusive a how- to- v- splice recurves.
The radially laminated flightarrows are ready, finally the rain has gone, summer, summer! 90F since one week, haymaking is done, space for great arrow flights. For testing the arrows I decided to pick up my short osage-selfbow, mindful readers remember ” 2xdouble dragons – bow”, it is 44lbs at 23″ and shots a normal target arrow(330grs.) at about145yards. I expected it to cast the flightarrows(125grs and 140grs.) at about 170yards.
You remember, in Vol.5 I presented an easy to do jig for to make hexshafts. After the glueing the shaft looked like that:
I used a small plane, a rasp, a file and sanding paper for to convert the hexagon into a dodecagon, from than on it is easy to get an even ciricular barreled shape.
Again preparing tips, nocks and feathers.
My flight- arrow- flying field, just about 250yards away from our farm in Vorderheubronn:
Hey, thats so great, I´ve never seen arrows flying such stable and about 30% further than the target- arrows, the best flight- arrows I´ve ever done. If dreams come true, problems are just beginning: is it possible to make them better, should I do a better bow, matching these arrows more exactly………….you know these games, male mind?
The figures: the cedar- shaft weighs 125grs., the pine- shaft weighs 140grs., length of both shafts is 23″, I´ve no spine- tester, but it I guess both arrows to be at about a 55lbs- spine. Feathers are 1″ in length, 1/2″ in height, shaped according to the Ottoman flight- arrows.
I tested the hollow cedar- shaft, whose making of is posted in Vol.4 of this article, too. Remember it weighs 125grs. and is 23″ in length too, it flew as stable and far as the radially laminated hexshaft- arrows. I guess this way to do a hollowed flightarrow is very effective too, maybe a bit easier. I´ll try to take some pics of these arrows flying and post them here………………
Wow, this is Vol. 5 of my flightarrow- article, I guess there´ll be some more volumes.
Beside my flightarrow- experience I was doing a soapbox for my daughter Maja, who had her 11th birthday on the 9th of May: my wife and me asked her if Maja wants a cell phone or a soapbox. Surprise, she wants the soapbox doing with me. Should I be proud of my somehow succesful education or should I call my little one a bit old- fashioned? Whatever, kids of today should master a wrench , a screwdriver and a high- tech tool.
The soapbox was almost finished, but like always some screws where failing, no way, heading for the next DIY-store, I remembered a jig I´ve seen for making flyrods – http://hipwader.com/2004/building-custom-cane-fly-rods/1/ – I decided to buy all what I would need for to make the fly- rod- jig! I picked up the screws for the soapbox, when I came across so-called construction wood, I felt magically attracted by some slats of pine, 2″ in width, about 1″ in thickness, about 3 times the length of a flightarrow, nothing special about it, I had already bought construction wood for several purposes. But with the hexagonal strips for flightarrows in my mind I realized the first time that the cants of these slats are edged smoothly in a 60degree angle. That´s it!! Realizing it, I recognized what to do: cut 2 slats about 30″ in length, clamp them lengthwise together, make the marks at the tip, the center of gravity and the nock. Drill the holes for the screws, release the clamps, rescrew them again but now add a thin shim(about 1/64″) at the nock and a thicker( about 1/32″) one at the center of gravity between the 2 slats- that´s it, that´s a simple jig for to make the hexagonal- strips for the greatest fligtharrows ever. Don´t discuss DIY- stores, it´s all a matter of your tuning. You get what you need.
The principle of construction of this jig is the same as it is about the jigs flyrod- makers are using. To get a barreled shape just widen the triangular groove where it is necessary.
Another way to do the same jig is to groove a wooden slat (2″ x 2″) with a selfmade tool. Look for a triangular file, you need no more, cut the grip and glue it at a wooden block fitting your hand. Mark a centerline lengthwise with a gauge for to get the guiding line. It´s really hard to do it, it took me about an hour to file the groove. When the groove is done, cut the slat lengthwise right along the middle of the groove. Done so, go further as written above.
I prefer to buy the edged slats, the second way to do the jig is for real tough guys! It´s obvious, the jig made of metal will last for ever, take your choice.
Cut the strips roughly with a small band -saw, than barrel them in your jig, fixed with a clamp. I prefer to use a small plane for to work them down, keep care to work with an even pressure for to make sure that the strips will not pop out of the triangular groove, one strip is easy to break.
6 strips are ready, check them for evenness, remove some overlapping wood. Now the hollowing is to be done just by flattening one top of the triangle lengthwise. I do it with a small plane, checking the remaining thickness by having a look at the cutted wood. Again work with an even pressure!
Now the strips could be glued together, use less glue( I prefer hide- glue, a bit thinner than usual), maybe do a dry- glueing for get confident with the procedure, at the beginning the wrapping of the strips is very confusing, wrapp the strips around a nail, but once begun, it turns out to work of its own.
Done, my first hollow hexshaft, waiting time for 2 days, let´s have a look at tips and nocks.
Arrowmakers of the past made very light tips of bone and nocks of horn or hardwood for flightarrows, I prefer euonymus or spindlewood for the nocks. Tips of bone are looking great when heavily polished.
Still the fletching is to be done, so Vol.6 will be dealing with the how to choose and to prepare the feathers for a flightarrow, maybe there´ll be some results of first shots with the arrows, we are still longing for the summer of 2010, June has turned out to be rainy and unbelievable cold.
The reader of this topic is a witness of a real live- experience. While preparing Vol.4 I was misleaded by the term radially lamination. Bede Dwyer mentioned it recently in the ATARNET, while explaining the basic construction of Turkish flightarrows. The English language is not my mother tongue, so I thought the Turkish arrowmakers did it like these famous Russian puppets are done, just sticking cane- tubes of different diameters one into another. In fact a conclusive thought, but wrong. I don´t quarrel with me about this, it is history, I guess the term radially lamination could be misunderstood in every language.
In making flightarrows the point is to balance weight and strength. I f you have a closer look at a fligtharrow laminated as usual, you´ll easily recognize that it bends more with the gluelines and less cross to the gluelines. Even a solid shaft bends unequally. For to match the needs of a stable arrowflight it is obvious to produce shafts bending as equally as possible. Historically the Turkish flightarrow- makers solved this problem by making shafts composed of radially laminated strips of wood, cane or bamboo. It is the same construction- principle as flyrods are done.
Thanks to Alan Case and Bede Dwyer I understand this principle now. I ´ve had the same idea in mind, but first tried to solve the “even- bending- problem” in another way. I splitted a ready 5/16″ cedar- shaft along its length into halves, hollowed the halves with my bone- scraping tool, splitted the hollowed halves again into halves and glued the 4 strips around a wire.
I made the shafts by radially laminating 4 strips , it works, maybe a trial for to become confident with the technique. But with a hexagon as a base it works at its best. The hexagon is the most stable principle of construction, a hollowed hexagon could not be outperformed. Look at the geodesic domes invented by Buckminster Fuller, in every respect the most effective building. Buckminster Fuller is my favourite philosoph, google him, he is such a genius………………..
There are so- called hexshafts available, composed of 6 hexagonal strips, but not hollowed. These shafts are very stable, bending even while flying. But they are not hollowed, so they are very heavy, useless for flightshooting, useful for heavy bows and strong penetration.
Next volume is as a matter of course focused on the radially lamination of shafts composed of wooden strips with a hexagonally cross- section.
Everytime it is possible I work outside my workshop under the protruding roof of our old farmhouse and my handicapped magpie starts crying for a splinter of wood I´m working. As soon as I give him a splinter he works it with his pecker, when I do a break he makes a break. His name is Elliott and somehow he is the center of our family.
Gluelams have renewed timber construction. Gluelines are enforcing straightness and stability, even curves could be glue- shaped. As always what is called a revolution is based on well- known principles of the past. Ancient arrowmakers made gluelams for to get more effective shafts.
Roughly cut the slats with a bandsaw, than plane them perfectly even. Thickness is depending on how many slats you want. You should end up with a square shaft of about 3/8″x 3/8″. If you work on tonkin, keep in mind, that you get the outer fibers of it. The so- called power fibres are located just under the tonkins´ filmy skin.
Use natural glue for the shafts, to me thats a matter of principle. Coat the slats 3-5 times with a thin solution(water/glue 5:1) of hide glue, for to glue bamboo the coating is basic, cause its fibres are very dense
The Turkish flightarrow- makers are famous for their shafts. Usually they did shafts made of a single piece of wood, but for competitions they made laminated shafts of up to 12 almost paperthin slats of river- cane or wood. For a first trial, I decided to begin with 3 slats of a well choosen tonkin- bamboo as a center- slat and 2 pine- slats. I cutted the slats with my small buzz saw to about 3/8″ x 1/8″, worked them with my plane for to get a clear glueline and than glued them. Length again about 28″.
Do a dry- glueing on a ruler for to check the gluelines, they should fit perfect, for to get by with a small amount of glue. Glue is adding weight, and an exploding arrow could cause severe injuries.
Note: the center of gravity is assigned. From this mark work downwards to the head or to the foot of the shaft.
Release the clamps, remove any glue, check the straightness of the shaft, assign the center of gravity(47% of the length towards the nock) again and begin to barrel the shaft.
As I´ve pointed out a flightarrow is a very sensitive matter. Less people are caring seriously of them, to most people a flightarrow is a somehow barreled or tapered arrow with tiny feathers, small tips and a nock secured with some wrappings. That´s the way commercially available flightarrows are done. That´s exactly what I´ve thought! But real flightshooters go so far to tell you: it is easy to make a flightbow, but to make the matching flightarrow for it is the real thing.
I´ve posted simple flightarrows, just matching the indications mentioned above. That´s easy to do, but to reduce weight while keeping a stable flight is what we need. I bet some arrowmakers or archery- suppliers try to sell you so-called flightarrows, but be a grown up customer and ask for laminated and/or hollowed shafts. I don´t know if anyone is selling serious flightarrows.
O.k let´s DIY them:
Make a good choice, take the best 5/16- cedarshaft you can get: 60plus lbs- spine, 28″ in length. A high spine means a stable flight, the overlength is needed for the working. Mark the shaft at every 1″, notice the middle of the length and taper the shaft towards its tip so that the tips will be a bit more than 1/8″ or 3/16″ in diameter. For to do this delicious job you can use a sharp knife, a small plane, rasps and files, sanding paper……………………..
The tools I use:
I´ll post he hollowing of shafts with my multitool the upcoming weekend!
Anyway what tool you use for to taper or to barrel your shaft, begin at the smaller diameter. This is what my former master craftsman told me, when I did my apprenticeship in cabinet- making. He forced me to learn everthing about woodworking with hand- tools, for months I had to do nothing than to work almost every kind of wood. I had to do round bars, hexagonal bars, rectangular bars, tapered bars according to his measurements. He told me everything about sharpening and preparing planes, drawknifes and saws. I owe him a lot, but due to his strictness and fascistic mind, it was a hard time too.
Begin to work the tip- or the nock- end of the shaft, than work towards the center of the shaft. Check the diameter with the diameter- controller of your choice, you can do one of wood, steel……….the smallest diameter is the tip, than go step by step up to the largest diameter at the center, that means begin with 1/8″ or 3/16″ up to 5/16″. Above all check the straightness of your work again and again with a ruler.
I´ve mentioned above the DIY- store coniferous- wood slats. I found it easier to make a barreled shaft with them.
Cut the slat to about 3/8″ x 3/8″ in cross- section and 28″ in length. Again extra- length, this is for a more comfort handling of the shaft while working it. Taper it from the center towards the tip and towards the nock. Than you change the rectangular cross- section into an octagonal cross- section just by working the edges down. Next is to bring the shaft into its final round figure. This is not as delicious as it sounds, I swear: this is pure joy to do, you´ll experience how familiar humans are with round or circular shapes. Nature doesn´t know even plains or right angles. The right barreling of a shaft is the key for to make good flightarrows.
The Osmanian Sultan Selim is told having shot a flightarrow with a hornbow at 972 yards. I´m always suspicious about politicians. For a long time I believed in everything dealing with traditional bowery. But the deeper I got into it, the more I met so-called facts that turned out to be myths or legends. To most people bowery is dealing with hunting and warfare, so it is considered as a male´s domain. Men are always talking big when so- called male capablities are in demand.
It is fact that none of the actual hornbowyers is capable to make a hornbow shoting an arrow as far as the Sultan is told. Most of the actual hornbowyers are real dazzlers(me too, but I hope I´m cured now by a medicine called selfbow), maybe their daily work with horn is blowing up their masculinity.
I´ll not believe the 972yards shot, if it is not prooved by a real actual shot. Don´t call me a kill- joy, traditional bowyery is my life, I highly appreciate the art of making hornbows, I´ve been very mired in them, but now I know the facts. A hornbow is one way to make bows among many other ways, exactly matching cultural, environmental and social conditions
Flightshooting is a hot potato, you could offend someone easily.
I ´m a newbie in making flightarrows and the more info and experience I got, the more I´m attracted by them. All the knowledge, engineering, artisanry that is necessary for to do them. That´s primitive hightech at its best.
I´m not at all interested in making flightarrows with machines or a lot of jigs, I´m interested to do them like our ancestors with my hands. My hands, my fingers, my fine motor skills feel heavily challenged when I checked all the infos about the making of flightarrows. I´ve never found it possible to do such a highly sensitive object by my own hands. I even was not able to figure out how to do the job. I highly appreciate this experience so that I can´t do anything else than to share it. My backgrounds are based above all on the delivered experience and knowhow of the Ottomanian flightarrow- makers, have a look at http://margo.student.utwente.nl/sagi/artikel/turkish/, have a look at Alan Case´s topic at http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/29783, and have a look at http://atarn.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1628&highlight=flightarrows
You´ll find a lot of additional basic infos on flightarrows there, I´ld like to thank all the others who made this article possible.
Above all a flightarrow is a matter of beauty, beauty in its original meaning, a beauty to look at in perfect harmony with its sense.
I´ll tell you 3 ways of making flightarrows, a simple way and 2 more delicious ways
The physical basics for an excellent arrow- flight are low weight, stable flight characteristics and less drag. What sounds simple is hard to do, reduce weight and drag but the arrow has to keep its stability. Flightbows have to be fast, that means a fast movement of the limbs, a lot of energy should be stored in a flightbows´limbs. Imagine the arrows´small diameter, a flightbow at 50lbs will transfer about 5 times (remember, a bow is a leverage tool)of the stored energy into the arrow at all of a sudden, the arrow will be shattered from its nock to its tip. If you look at a slomotion of an arrow flight you´ll see the arrow moving like a snake. The arrow- maker has to reduce the sidewards movements of the arrow, he has to make the arrow moving straight forward, this can only be done by keeping the arrow stable.
The simpliest issue for this problem means to reduce the weight of the tips and the size of the feathers and to barrel the shafts.
Tips of flightarrows are almost like nothing, maybe a small nails is driven into the head of the shaft, antler and bone are well tried for this purpose. It´s a good idea to fix the tip when the arrow is almost done, cause now you can use it for to determine the center of gravity of the arrow. History and studies of engineers like the genius Dr. Clarence Hickman pointed out that the center of gravity has be to located a bit behind the middle of the length towards the nock. This makes the arrow traveling a bit point up and doing so the arrow flies some yards further.
For to reduce the drag feathers have to be reduced to the least common denominator of less drag and stable flight. Keep in mind, target- arrows are equipped with bigger feathers for to guarantee a stable and straight flight, but they´ll never fly that far. Historically prooved and well tried are feathers with about 1″ in length and about 1/2″- 3/8″ in height. They are fixed with a very small amount of natural glue and sinew- or other natural fibres.
Nocks have to be reenforced if the shaft has been barreled, if the shaft is only tapered towards the head and towards its nock just a bit, there is need to reenforce the nock. But usually barreling doesn´t leave to much wood for to make a stable nock. Sinew- fibres or other natural fibres are wrapped allround the nock for an additional reenforcement.
The shafts used for flightarrows have to be the best you can get. The Turkish flightarrow- makers are told to cut their shaft- wood, usually coniferous woods, at secret places. For some first trials buy some premium arrow- shafts of cedar or northern pine. Or check out the DIY- store of your choice for pine- slats(11/2″ x 1/2″) they are offering, look for the slats with no knots, with very thin perfectly straight through the whole length running growthrings. Usually they offer so much of them that you´ll find perfect ones for sure, pick up the one with the darker colour. No knots and perfect growing makes tapering a shaft much more easier.
Flightarrows are usually 23″- 24″ in length, due to the common drawlength of flightbows. It is possible to make them longer, but weight will raise soon. Flightarrow- making is highly sensitive, maybe you´ll waste a lot of time, but the more arrows you make, the more experience you´ll get, one of your flight- arrows will fly so high and far, you never could imagine. Take care flightshoting will get you easily hooked on in making a lot of bows and arrows.
I´ll go on soon with a well- illustrated build- along of the arrows above.
Traditional bowery and archery, real bows´n arrows, no fake no!
I want this place to be a great place for sharing infos and experiences focused on traditional bowery and archery, real bows´n arrows, no fake no! Do we really know what a fake is?
I´ll post nearly every day some insights into my workshop, making bows, arrows, into my bow- and archery- classes.
I´ll begin with posting the outstanding bow made of euonymus which its the origin and inspiration for to open this blog:
It is the BOW EXPLOSION
During a real hot day, the past July of 2009, my daughter and me were roving around the so- called Dinkelberg, a very magic hilly place with caves and lots of exciting thinhs to see. We both love to meet rare stones, plants and animals…we came across a thicket, many plums, hawthorns, cherry- trees, blackthorns, equipped with heavy barbes, we entered it carefully, another world, we could feel fairies and elves around, my daughter heard a red kite or hawk crying and went for it. Suddenly I realized that I was standing just before a very old euonymus- tree, with a lots of dead branches……..my bowyers heart began to beat loud, I checked the branches, looked for the bows in them and cut the chosen branches, I got 2 almost perfectly grown branches and a highly reflexed one. The last one made me nervous from the first moment on……………… as usual I left some sage for to thank the old euonymus……. my daughter came back, she has seen a younger red kite crying sadly, I told her: maybe he´s still afraid of flying……………we left this magic space. We went to the car, drove down to the city, where I left my daughter for her ballet- class.
Again and again I was looking at the treasures we´ve found, but the reflexed branch made me nervous, long enough for to make a bow with 50-55″ in length, material enough for to make it at a 26″ draw, no knots, straight but a heavy grown reflex of about 8″.
I debarked the branches, noticed the wood yet being dry enough for just to begin a bow. I took my splitting tools and without any problems I could get 4 straight staves, a deflexed one, a highly reflexed one.
You can see 2 of these bows in the ” Euonymus! my favourite bow- wood”- article.
I worked the reflexed stave very carefully till it began to bend enough for to check its tiller. I designed it with the limbs as wide as possible, but with skinny tips for to get more speed. everything went allright, even the first bracing, but when I was on the way to draw the bow for the first time, all my courage was gone, I became nervous again……I did what I was usually doing when such a moment is arising: leave it for today.
Next morning, every courage was gone when I looked at the bow, I decided to protect the back with one layer of sinew, just for safety! Maybe I did it for to delay the finishing of the bow, the backing´s drying time meant another 4 weeks recreation for my nerves.
4 weeks later my nerves had been recreated, the sinew- backing has enforced my courage to draw this bow further, I draw it at 20″……..wow……..it was working, but I looked for 25″. At that time a pupil(Andreas loves selfbowery, he´s highly gifted, I´m sure he´ll become a great bowyer) was doing his internship at my workshop, we both love to listen to blues or experimental rockmusic while making bows, we just listened to the Jon Spencers Blues Explosion, while I was trying to draw the bow again on the tillering board now till 22″……….it was working, no sounds of a sudden explosion……..I have to call this bow BOWXPLOSION……. Andreas heavily agreed.
But for to be honest, it tooks me another 6 months to draw this bow at 25″. Its draweight is 44lbs, 5″ of the reflex are still left after hundreds of shots. It shoots a 360grs. arrow at 152f/s. I love this bow.