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Bow making material gathering methods

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Revised bowmaking material gathering......

I always like to talk about the different types of bows. All primitive bows are survival bows, under the condition that they are made of all natural materials and are designed to hunt and capture animals for food. Short-term survival bows, are the type of bows you would construct to capture a quick-time evening meal of small fish or frogs. These types of bows are usually made from something simple and crude like a small snaky sapling or a branch from a tree, regardless of the amount of knots on it as long as it bends for proper function. They take usually no more than 15 minutes to construct along with a few arrows of green wood, and will last no more than 1 week. Another set of weapons that would be considered short-term survival tools are crude tools like throwing sticks or short fire-hardened spears. Regardless, the cast, or arrow speed and force, is slowly reduced after each shot when using a short-term bow of green wood. Thus, it would be more productive to start from scratch and start on making a long-term survival bow. This long-term bow making will require time and proper woodcraft, and added the right materials. Coniferous trees like Pine and Spruce, generally make poor bows due to the fact that the wood has brittle fibers and light wood, so I always avoid this type of wood. Meduim hardwoods like Willow or Poplar will produce a bow of about acceptable function, but they lack in cast or springback, so they may shoot with less force after about a month. Maple has great spring to it and is good bow wood. Sassasfras is also good for bows. Hardwoods like Oak, Osage Orange, Hickory, Ironwood, and many other woods like that make excellent bows for the long-term purpose. It is reccommend that a chopping tool like a large chunk of flint or a metal hacthet is carried if planning to make a bow. A sharp piece of flint or metal knife should also be carried. Modern cordage like Nylon makes good cordage for bowstrings, carry at least 50 feet of the stuff. Primitive cordage can be crafted from varoius species of plants like Indian Hemp and Yucca, along with sinew, twisted intestine, and rawhide make servicable cordage. Branches, saplings, or small diameter trees are the ideal source of bow wood. The stave should have little to no knots, be a straight as possible, and be at least 1 1/2-3 1/2 thick. Thicker wood has heartwood, which appears as a darker reddish wood in the center of the tree and is dense and ideal with copping the pressure of compression. So it is ideally placed on the belly of the bow, and stretchy sapwood on the back. To prepare the bow stave, scrape all bark, including the inner bark, off. Then, rub a thick layer of animal fat or neats-foot oil over the stave, and then finally seal the ends off of the bow stave with pine pitch to prevent cracking. On thicker staves, say ones exceding 3 inches, you can split the stave in half, and rub each half with grease. Warping may occur, due to the irregular pressure from moisture changes, but you should be able to work around it. Set these staves a good 8 weeks in a dry location such as a water proofed debris hut as storage. The shaping process will come later in time. I shape bows with a piece of flint or a knife. I start by removing thin strips of wood from the belly of the stave. I leave a good amount of heartwood on the belly, and sapwood on the back for stretch. I finish it off by scraping the wood at right angles with knife (makes it fine like sandpapered wood). Then, being careful not to cut into the fibers on the back, I scrape wood evenly on each side. Eventually I will come to a point where the stave becomes rather flexible, I set my bows at about 50-60 pound draw weight (enough to take down a deer, or at least knock you off your feet when your hit by it). I taper the ends into rat tails (with traditional rat nocks) and wrap the ends in sinew to cope with the compression and force from the draw string. I warm the bow near the fire and rub it with animal fat, and set it aside. Primitive bows bend in one even arc for extra arrow draw and will be less prone to break, and I refrain from using laminates or arrowrests, things that do not come naturally. Sometimes I will steam bend the middle so the ends take on an arch formation and give a push-pull effect for much greater cast and arrow speed. My bows are not crude, and the last one I have tested had fired about 200 yards at arrow speeds around 110 MPH. I have succesfully hunted many game animals.

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