The most exacting part of making archery equipment is the production of the arrow. An Indian once said to Will Thompson (father of archery in this country as far as the white man is concerned), 'Any old stick for a bow, but an arrow should be perfect." If the shaft is warped, or the pile is askew, or the feathers are put on wrong, an arrow will not function properly. Neither will an arrow with a shaft that is too thick, too heavy, too thin, or too weak. The standard diameter for a target arrow is 5/16 in., for a hunting arrow 3/8 in., while a flight arrow used only for distance, may be 5/16 in. at the thickest part, and 3 16 in. at the thinnest.
All three of these styles of arrows will be described in this article. While the easiest way of making arrows is to buy 5/16-in. dowels of birch or of Port Orford cedar, good arrows may be made without incurring much expense.
Along country roads and in woods, one may find shoots of ash, hazel nut, willow, alder, or any other straight shoots that have no small branches. They should be about 1/2 in. thick at the butt and should not taper too much. Cut them about 30 in. long and peel off the bark before it dries. Then take a bunch of 15 or 20 and tie the butt ends together with some heavy cord as shown in Figure 49.
By bending and forcing a little here and there, they should be laid quite straight. Then starting at the butt end, wrap them together as tightly as possible, carrying the wrapping all the way up to the thin ends, and always watching that the shafts are laid straight. Tie the end of the bundle securely, as shown in Figure 50, and hang it up to dry with the butt ends down. If hung in a dry place, the shafts will be in condition in about a month or two, and will then be quite straight, although there may be slight irregularities.