Bows and Arrows
When the Bow and arrow first appeared, it was made as a weapon consisting of a stave made of wood or other elastic material, bent, and held in place by tension of the string. The arrows are thin wooden shafts with feathered tails that is fit into the string by a notch in the end of the shaft. When the arrow is drawn back, the bow is released and the arrow is propelled forward from the release of tension. Arrowheads have been made from a number of materials including stone, flint, metal, and other hard materials.
The Navajo Indians used a short double curve bow similar to the plains style bows. The arrows they made had three feather fletching and lightning groves on the shafts. The Navajo quiver was made of different types of leather including deer hide, cow hide, buffalo hide, fox hide, wolf hide, mountain lion hide, and various others. The quiver may be decorated with fringes, fur, horse mane or beads. The bows were usually made from Mesquite wood and were round on the back and flat on the belly. The back was sometimes lined with sinew and the handle was often wrapped in buckskin. The string was primarily made of sinew.
Some bows were made from Mulberry, Locust, Mesquite, Oak or Maple; however, Mulberry was said to be the Navajo peoples favorite. Sinew strings were fashioned from leg sinew from deer, and arrow shafts were made form mountain mahogany, Apache plume, and mulberry and were fletch with three feathers. There is no record of flint to stone points for hunting; however, a record of sharpened and fire hardened wood tips is available.
The best Apache Indian bows were considered to have been made from mulberry, although locust, oak and maple were sometimes used. The Apache craftsman knew of double curved bows and made some; however, these bows were thought to be inefficient to the single curve self bows that they preferred. The length was usually three to four feet. Bows were made from branches which were stripped of their bark, shaped to size, and dried for a week. After one week, it was greased, bound to shape, placed in hot ashes to keep its shape, and cured for 10 more days. Bows were not immediately fully drawn, but rather gradually broken in. The preferred bow string was made of sinew string, but mescal fibers could be substituted. The Apache made two types of arrows. The first type of arrow was approximately two feet in length and made of hardwood such as mountain mahogany, Apache plum, Mulberry, and Desert Broom. The second type was made from cane and had wooden fore shafts. Hardwood arrows were fashioned from bark peeled branches that had been dried for several days. Once the branches had dried, they were straightened against heated rocs. An arrowhead was bound to the shaft with sinew and hide glue and the fletching of three buzzard, eagle or hawk wing or tail feathers was added.
The Sioux Indians made a double curved bow that was customized in length for each archer. The bow measurement was taken by measuring from the archers outstretched left arm that is parallel with the ground. The bow length is from the left middle finger to the right outside hip at the joint. Although some historians have said the Sioux liked their bows sinew backed, but this is not true. Green Ash was also used to make their bows. This wood was cut when it was green at the approximate size needed, greased, and hung in the lodge to season before finishing. The arrows were made of wood with three feather fletching running even with the nocks and lightning groves. The arrows were measured from the tip of the middle finger to elbow of the right arm and from the wrist to where the hand joins the middle finger. The combined measurements gave the over all arrow length. The Sioux Indians used stone, bone, and sinew arrowheads, but used steel arrowheads as soon as they could trade for them. - anon
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