Making the Arrow
Making a bow is comparatively simple when compared with the making of arrows. Perhaps this is a rather discouraging statement to make at this time, but it is a generally conceded fact among archers that arrows are more difficult to make than bows. Yet boys have made arrows that aided them perfectly in winning places in Scout tournaments. To make good arrows, one must have good material to begin with, then be patient and careful in working this material into final form.
The best material for arrows comes from Norway—a fine-grained, stiff pine, that is used by the best English arrow makers for target arrows. In America, good pine, fir, and Port Oxford cedar will make excellent arrows in the hands of expert workmen. For a beginner, a 5/16-inch birch dowel is the proper material to use. Birch is slightly heavier than pine, but will shoot well and stand much harder usage than the latter. Dr. Dolman, of Oakland, California, shoots one of the best scores on the Pacific coast with a set of birch target shafts that he made himself.
Each person should have at least eight target arrows with which to begin. Select these eight shafts for straightness of grain and stiffness. The grain should run the full length of the shaft; this can be readily discovered by looking closely at the edge grain of the shaft. Next, test the shaft for stiffness, or "spine," as it is called by archers. To do this, hold the shaft in the left hand extending between the first two fingers and thumb, and over the heel of the hand; with the right hand, bend it carefully over the heel of the left hand and see whether or not the shaft quickly regains its original straight condition.
The reason for this particular method is to keep from putting the shaft to a sharp pressure, an unnecessary risk, since even a good shaft may break under such treatment. On completing the selection of these eight shafts, sand them well, first using coarse, and then fine, sandpaper to complete the process.
Next, give these shafts a thin coat of shellac or varnish to keep them clean while going through the succeeding operations. This coat of varnish or shellac should be sanded down when dry.
The points used for target arrows are 35-caliber bullet jackets that are just 5/16-inch outside diameter. Fit these on now, before cutting the shafts to finished length, as one usually uses more or less than 1 inch of the shaft for this fitting. Use a pencil sharpener to get a point on the shaft, and then work down the shoulder to fit snugly into the bullet jacket. A tight fit is desirable up to the point of the bullet jacket, as a poor or loose fit will cause the joint of the arrow to break off when it strikes any hard object while shooting.