Bows Chiefly from the University of California
A low-strung bow is better for hunting because it strains the bow less during the long hours of anticipation. High-strung bows have a cleaner cast of the arrow and produce less strain on the string, but greater fatigue to the bow.
Yaqui bow (pl. 3, fig. 10). This is a much used bow, of Osage orange or bois d'arc. It seems to have been made by splitting a limb; there are many knots on the bark side, which constitutes the back. These knots are raised, no attempt at leveling them having been made. On cross-section it is rather wide and flat, having the natural curve of the wood for the back and a flat surface for the belly. The bow follows the string. Length, 59½ inches; diameters: at handle, 1½ by⅞, circumference, 4 inches; at mid-limb, 1¼ by⅝, circumference, 3⅜ inches; at nock,
1 by ⅜, circumference, 2⅜ inches. There are short pin nocks with wide, square shoulders. The string is one-strand twisted rawhide, 3/16 of an inch in diameter, with a slipknot at the top and half-hitches at the bottom, where the string tapers off with a buckskin thong. When braced it stands 5 inches from the handle. A dull hum comes from the plucked cord. It is a strong, useful bow, jars little in the hand, very resistant at the last of the draw, but a pleasant bow to shoot. It seems, like the preceding weapon, to have been made for strong effective shooting. When drawn 28 inches it pulls 70 pounds and casts the flight arrow 210 yards. This is the best distance made by any aboriginal bow in our tests, and speaks well for the wood employed and the art of the bow maker.
Yana bow (pl. 3, fig. 11). A red yew stave having all the sapwood removed; backed with thin rawhide and having a rawhide handgrip. Its general shape is flat and wide, on cross-section it is lenticular, slightly flatter on the belly side. The nocks are short pins with square shoulders, the last inch of the limb being bound with sinew. The bow is straight; slightly recurved at the extremities of the limbs. It is a good specimen of Ishi's work. Total length, 55 inches, considerably longer than was his custom to make bows; diameters: at handle, 1⅝ by⅝, circumference, 4 inches; at mid-limb, ¾ by ½, circumference, 4 inches; below the nock, ¾ by ⅜, circumference, 2¼ inches. The string is of twisted sinew, ⅛ inch in diameter, having a formed loop at the top, and bound with half-hitches at the lower nock. A cotton loop runs from the upper end of the nock and serves to keep the string in place when not braced. The distance between string and bow when braced is 4½ inches.
This bow when drawn 26 inches, the usual draw of the Yana Indian who made it, pulls 42 pounds. When drawn 28 inches it pulls 48 pounds and shoots the Ishi flight arrow 205 yards. This seems to be an adequate strength for hunting purposes, since we know that Ishi killed bear and deer with a similar bow.
Blackfoot bow (pl. 3, fig. 12). A red painted bow, probably of ash. It has no backing. One limb is badly sprung and has a lateral cast. The bow is slightly reflexed in the handle. It follows the string, has a left lateral nock at the upper end, and a right lateral nock at the lower. On cross-section it is a rounded quadrilateral. As no string accompanied the weapon a light linen string was supplied.
Length, 47½ inches; diameters: at handle, 1⅜ by ¾ inches, circumference, 3⅜ inches; at mid-limb, 1¼ by circumference, 3 inches; at nock, ¾ by ⅜, circumference, 2 inches. When braced 4 inches it is harsh and unpleasant to shoot, and twists in the hand. When drawn 25 inches it pulls 45 pounds and shoots 145 yards.
If this is the type of a Plains Indian hunting bow, that bow was a poor one.