Posted by Jamie Burleigh on August 08, 2018
For most of my primitive arrow shafts. I prefer to use common, local flora. There are many choices and there may be several you are unaware of that will work nicely.
Choosing your wood
The Wild Rose, Willow, Hazel, and some of the sprouting shoots from maple and ash trees work well but are definitely not limited to these species as anything that looks good and straight will probably make excellent arrow material. Some of the samples in the last batch I collected had a lot of pithy centers and was very lightweight, do not overlook these as you can cut out and make primitive self-nocks and tip grooves just like you would in a simple self-cane arrow!
When I collect the shoots, I like to gather 25-30 and tie them up in a bundle, this will keep the arrow shafts straight until they dry properly and season, as this will help prevent them warping or twisting on you.
Preparing the Arrow Shaft
Take a straight arrow shaft out of the bundle and scrape off the bark and any inner strands of fibers that may be on the outside of the shaft. I like to use the square back of my survival knife for this as it not only saves on the main cutting edge, but it keeps you from accidentally cutting into the shaft too deep and ruining the arrow. If you are skilled you can also just use your sharp edge if the bark is too rough to get a smooth finish.
Cutting Arrow to Length
After the arrow shaft has been scraped and fully cleaned, take your survival knife and cut to length then straighten up the shaft if needed. There are ways that you can correct a “not so straight” arrow shaft with some oil/fats and direct heat to hand straighten them. To leave them for months to dry is a rule of thumb, but I guess if you were hungry you would surely want to speed up the process!
Cutting the String Nock
Time to cut in the string nock, take your survival knife and cut a diagonal cut. Now rotate the arrow shaft 180 degrees and do the same thing again. This arrow has a pithy center, so the bowstring notch is already cut out for me. If this wasn’t the case, you would simply remove this area and then with a length of sinew or artificial sinew reinforce the nock to prevent any splitting at the nock end.
Fletching the Arrow
Time to process our ONE feather. Yes, just one feather will be used to make this primitive flu-flu arrow. I like this style, as it is simple and practical. Take the larger and fuller side of the turkey feather and start to pull at the tip, grasping firmly on the quills. Gradually work your way down to the quill.
Roughly measure three fingers down from the nock end of the arrow. Then with artificial sinew, securely tie off the top of the feather to the shaft. Take the feather and twist around the arrow shaft until you run out of feather, then pull snugly on the quill end of the feather, push upward to tighten the flu-flu and secure the quill end with sinew once more. Now gently work the feathers out and apart. This will make you a fine one-feather flu-flu fletching.
Making the Blunt Tip
Next, use a new rawhide chew toy and soak for about an hour in warm water to make it more workable. Take a length of sinew and fold over the small piece of rawhide and secure it to the business end of your arrow. This will dry and harden up quite nicely! The “ears” you create by folding over the corners when you wrapped it, will create just enough resistance in the grass and woods, so it will not skip as far when you miss...but I really do not need this feature! (Just kidding)
Finally, the end product. A fully functional, practical, and easy primitive blunt tip arrow. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed making it!