How to Make a Hunting Bow: A Step by Step Guide for New Archers

Have you ever heard about DIY archery? I am sure most of you have. And those who have not, must be thinking "why would anyone spend time in making a bow and arrow on his own?'' A just question in the age of modern weaponry. Why would anyone learn how to make a hunting bow, when you can simply buy one? But sometimes it’s not about the weapon, it is about learning a skill for your own survival.

Let me explain! What if you are strayed helplessly on a remote and wild place and you are surrounded by nothing but outnumbered savage and undomesticated animals? Obviously, you will strive for your survival. Isn’t it? And bow building is the easiest step to go with.

This article is all about making a bow and arrow in the easiest way possible. We will try our best to share the easiest steps to build your own bow within less time (and effort of course). 

Things you need to make a Functional Hunting Bow

  • Wood: To make a simple wooden bow, look for the wood of any of these plants—lemon, bamboo, yew, oak, and hickory. All of these are considered good for making an archery bow.
  • Handaxe or a chainsaw: you will need it to cut the wood
  • A sharp drawknife: to remove the bark
  • Carpenters pencil: for markings while building the bow
  • Tape measure: you need it to measure accurately
  • Bowstring: you will need it to use the bow
  • Sandpaper: to level and smoothen the uneven surface of the wood

Step 1: Find the Perfect Wood

The success or failure of making a primitive bow depends on the kind of wood you have picked. Look for the ones that I have mentioned above. Just make certain that the wood is thick in the middle and it does not have any twists and knots.

Secondly, it must be dry and hard with a bit of flexibility. Its diameter should be around 4 to 6 inches. As for length, it should be about 1.8 meters or you can pick the one that matches your own height. Use a chainsaw or handaxe (whatever you have) to cut the piece of wood.

Pro Tip: The wood must be dried perfectly before making a bow. Give at least three to four weeks to the whole drying process. You can get help from a moisture meter to check the moisture level.

Step 2: Look for the Natural Curve of the Wood

Every wooden piece has a natural curve. What you need to do is to determine that curve accurately. Doing so beforehand saves your time and energy that you would have been spending otherwise on the excessive carving of the wood. To find the curve, simply follow these steps;

  • Place the wood on the ground in a slightly vertical position.
  • Put one hand on the top area and the other in the mid.
  • Now press the stick slightly.
  • You will notice that the wooden stick spins.
  • Now the side facing you is the angle with the natural curve and the side facing out is the back of the stick.

Step 3: Mark the Handhold and Limbs

The perfect shaping of a wooden bow depends on determining the three main areas of the wood i.e. handhold, upper limb, and lower limb. For the right measurement of each, use a carpenter’s pencil.

  • Firstly, determine the center point of the bow
  • Make marks 3 inches below and then three inches above the center point. Using a tape measure can bring accuracy.

Step 4: Carve the Wood with a Drawknife

Now shape up the handhold area (the area where you have found the natural curve). Use a sharp draw knife for roughing off the corners and debarking the wood. By skinning the bark, you are supposed to give it the shape of a semi-circle or a boomerang. Make certain that the middle of the bow is stronger and larger than both ends. For example, if the handhold area is one inch then both limbs should not be more than ¾ of an inch.

Pro Tip: Using a sandpaper helps in flattening any uneven surface on the bow.

Step 5: Taper both ends

Slight tapering of both limbs will not just shape up the bow, it will add flexibility to it as well. Flexibility is good as it keeps the bow from snapping out. So, keep rubbing both ends equally and check how much the edges bend. Both limbs should be carved equally and they must be similar in diameter and curve.

Step 6: Flex the limbs

This step is mandatory in ascertaining whether you have made the bow correctly or not. Follow the steps given below;

  • Put the curved bow on the floor.
  • Place your foot gently on the center point or handhold, and press slightly.
  • Bend down and use your hands to lift up both ends gently.

Step 7: Cut out Grooves to Hold the Bow String or Paracord

Leave a couple of inches from both ends and make 45-degree angle notches with the help of a chainsaw file. This particular angle will help in securing the bowstring while shooting the arrow. The notches must not be too deep. Rather each groove should be deep enough to hold the string tightly.

Step 8: Tie the String

There are several materials that you can use for making a bowstring. The widely used strings are Kevlar, nylon, linen, fish line, hemp, and Dacron. Fasten the string by tying knots on both ends. The string should be taut enough to avoid any floppiness and to give you a perfect and swift shot as you pull it.

Pro Tip: To make your string more durable and protected, you need to cover it with wax.

Step 9: Building the Homemade Arrows

Once you have completed your simple wooden bow, now comes the time to try it with your Sitka spruce arrows. You don’t have them? What about homemade arrows? Follow the below-given steps to make DIY arrows conveniently.

  • Handpick some straight, dry and dead sticks most preferably from Mullen and goldenrod field plants. Both of these are known for their straight sticks.
  • Don’t go for the sticks that are too long or too wide. Excessive length and width may disrupt the shooting experience.
  • Use sandpaper to give a smooth feel to the hardwood arrow shafts.
  • Now use an arrow shaft cutter to make a notch at the end of the wooden stick. Also known as ‘nock’, this notch is used to accommodate the string.
  • Now make an arrowhead by simply whittling the top part of the stick into a pointy and sharp shape. For further strengthening, fire hardens it on the coals.

Pro Tip: If you can’t find a perfectly straight stick for the arrow shaft, get some hot coals to heat up the wooden shaft mildly. Don’t go for excessive heat and keep holding the shaft straight in your hand while it cools down.


I hope you have enjoyed reading our step by step guide for making a bow and arrow. I have always considered bow building as an art and it helped me out in many ways (and in different situations). And that I want for you all out there. How do you like this post? Was it a useful experience reading it? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you’ve enjoyed it, share it with your friends as well.

More information about How to Make a Crossbow? read here!


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