How to Make a Shortbow

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Things You'll Need

  • 1/2-inch-diameter stick, 3 feet long

  • Utility or carving knife

  • Measuring tape

  • Bow string cord

A short bow is simple weapon that can be made from many materials found in the wild. The short bow has been a hunting weapon for centuries and has effective targeting. You can construct a short bow in a small amount of time with basic materials.

Step 1

Choose the wood for your short bow. Select a stick that is either 3 feet or can be cut down to that length and 1/2 inch or greater in diameter. Your bow should be free from knots and limbs to avoid weakness.


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Step 2

Place one end of the bow on the ground and bend it gently. It should be firm, giving no more than a 2-inch bend. Note which side is the outer curve and which side is the inner curve.

Step 3

Measure your bow to find the center gripping point. Leaving room for your hand, shave the inside curve of the bow above and below the where your hand will grip. Gradually shape the limb, leaving the center thick, establishing a faint and gradual arch. Keep the width of the bow the same as you shave away the thickness.


Step 4

Wrap the center gripping point to create traction for your hand. For example, use duct tape, twine or leather.

Step 5

Select your bowstring. You can make a bowstring out of almost any material that can be twisted together tightly. For example, you can use nylon, hemp, rawhide, silk or linen. Cut your cord to a length that is 4 inches shorter than the length of your bow.


Step 6

Measure 1 inch from the top and bottom of the bow. Use your knife to make small notches on the sides of the top and bottom. Make them deep enough to keep your string from slipping.

Step 7

Tie a firm single-loop knot at the top and bottom of your string. Place the loop around the bottom of your bow and position it inside the notches. Stretch the string toward the top, and position the loop inside the other notches. Test your bow to make sure the string is tight enough.


Dogwood is durable while retaining flexibility. If necessary, shorten the string to create more force once it has been fitted to your bow. Coat your finished bow with fiberglass to preserve and prolong it's life.


Children should not use utility or carving knives unattended.


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