A handful of straight shoots and some cord is all you need!
The bundle bow pictured is one I made with viburnum.
My introduction into making expedient bundle bows started with this green assortment of arrow shaft materials!
I cut the longest and straightest shoots that I can, then I wrap the bundle of 8 or 10 tight with cord and store away in a dry place, usually in my garage rafters. I wrap the bundles tight because when the wood dries it shrinks.
The bark is left on my arrow wood when storing, It keeps the moisture from escaping too quickly. When wet wood dries fast it has a tendency to crack and split.
To keep this checking and cracking from ruining my full length donor shafts, I cut the shoots extra long.
The wood in the bundles when dry are hard, light and “snappy”.
They have a tendency to recover from being bent or flexed…properties similar in good bow wood.
The bundle bow is a bow that anyone can make and cast an arrow first time with no fail.
It only takes a few shots and tweaks to the bow to really understand the mechanics of a simple bent stick… or in this case “sticks”.
Bows similar to this are favored in locations where there is a lack of “good” bow wood, or made when you need a bow…and fast!
The advantages of a bundle bow are that they are easy to make, can be made with freshly cut or cured wood and repaired or replaced easily in the field.
Always look for straight shoots and saplings!
Hardwood is preferable.
Lesser woods are OK but may end up a bit weaker or less responsive than a hard wood option.
Maple, and viburnum shoots “arrowwoood” are my favorite.
Collected shoots should be at least 3/4″ thick at the thick end and 1/2″ thick at the thin end of a 30 inch section.
This is optimal but not needed.
You can collect smaller or large diameter shafts to fine tune your draw weight later-
Once you have collected about 10 shoots, divide them in 2 separate bundles of 5 that are approximately the same size bundles overall.
Organize the tapers in each bundle, Thick ends at one end, thin ends at the other.
Combine them together as one – make sure that the 2 bundles going into the main bow have opposing tapers.
This step helps balance out the draw and draw weight of the bow.
TIGHTLY- tie the bundle as one.
I used heavy sisal twine for this process. There are stronger lighter options- experiment or use what you have at hand!
Start in the middle and then a few inches from the ends.
Add a lashing in between these wraps or as needed. I like to have no more than 6-8 inches in between wraps.
Trimming the ends and making it look pretty is the absolute LAST thing I do.
Put a bowstring on it and see if its pulling the way you wish and drawing it back many times to your draw length.
You may find that some saplings within are weaker or stronger and overpowering one another.
Do not worry! Cracking and splitting happens. More so with dry lesser bow woods.
If you are using fresh green saplings, cracking or failures are less likely to happen. BUT… the bow will be heavier. The bow will be less responsive or sluggish and the bow loose moisture and shrink-causing ALL of the wrappings to become loose!
What I call the “tillering string” was a few lays of the natural sisal string used to lash the bundle together. I reverse wrapped this tillering string and a added a loop large enough to slip through the middle of the top of the bundle bow at one end.
The outer most wrapping kept the main tiller/bowstring from slipping down the limb.
For the other end of the bow simply tie in place with a few wraps to secure it.
When I first strung this bow I used a through the leg method.
One foot held the lower limb secure as one hand pulled the other limb into the shape of a braced bow bending behind my opposite leg and thigh.
My other hand strung the bow by slipping the tiller/bowstring in between the bundles on the limb opposite of the loop.
When I felt the bow was braced and had ample string clearance for an arrow to pass I secured the bowstring by wrapping it a few more times around the bundle and tied in a hitch for quick removal and further adjustments.
The final bow string can be made from just about anything, just be sure that you choose a material that is strong.
I like to use paracord for the final bowstring when teaching this project. It is a great diameter for most commercial and common sized selfnocks on the arrows you buy or make. It has some stretch but will stop stretching after about 20 shots.
Paracord is weather resistant and easy on the fingers after each shot!
I did not have paracord at the time of this expedient build so I made do with what I had.
It worked well for about 15 shots at about 55 pounds of draw weight!
Have fun and experiment with local small sapplings and shoots. I bet you will make a great shooter in no time.
Be sure to see what other members are saying about this article and possibly showing off the bundle bows inside the Members Only section of the OWA!
Have a great day!
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