In this project we tackle a highly requested build, the miniature bow and arrow. The key to making this project was getting power and accuracy, but at a much smaller size than I’ve seen done before. In the end I got well over 50 feet with ease with a 3 inch bow, I’m sure it’s good for lots more, I think you’ll like this build 🙂
How to make a mini bow and arrow
To make a small powerful bow, the first place to start is the flexible steel, and you can find that in a paint scraper or filling / putty knife, like this one in the USA, or this in the UK. The bow string is taken care of with fishing trace wire or leader wire, anywhere about 30lbs will work really well, like this one in the USA or this one in the UK. They even come with clamps.
I got my scrapers at a local hardware store and usually the standard cheap stainless steel ones work best. The 100mm (4″) versions will have enough steel in the blade to make multiple bows up to 4 inches long, but a 75mm or 3″scraper will also work fine. The ones I used had a blade thickness of roughly 0.7mm, but there normally about the same.
When cutting the bow from the scraper you will need a very good junior hacksaw blade or a dremel, but do not cut fast, especially with a dremel. Over heating the steel changes its temper and ruins the spring quality of the steel. I chose to shape the bow limbs the way I did to encourage them to flex more than the centre of the bow, which is both where the arrow launches and a place to grip. The centre part of the bow is 20mm, 10mm either side of the true centre.
The arrow notch cut into the bow in the centre not only gives the arrow somewhere to sit, it also reduces kick out of the arrow on launch. The deeper it is, the easier it is to launch. Go too deep though and the bow will fold in half, so be careful.
Cotton thread was then glued to both the ends of the bow and the centre, and both of these perform a function. The cotton near the tip of the bow not only helps to form a ‘string notch’, but also reduces wear in the area where the ‘string’ contacts the metal of the bow giving the strings a nice long life. The cotton near the centre gives a better grip to the fingers, and stiffens the centre slightly reducing flex just a little.
Stringing a miniature bow
Make sure it’s smaller than the bow with loops just big enough to go over the oblong tips on the bow limbs. I always crimp the first crimp tight, then offer the string into a slightly flexed bow before crimping the last in place. When all crimps are tight, crimp it up with a good pinch and you can string the bow.
Aiming and firing the mini bow
First things first, safety goggles are a must, not just for the shooter, but anyone around the shooter. Here’s what I learnt firing the mini bow and arrow…
- The bow needs to be held in a manner where the string or bow limbs will not strike fingers on launch.
- The arrow must be central to the bow string. The smaller the bowstring the harder it is to get it central, and the more the arrow will fly off centre. I load the arrow central, then pull it backwards and forwards ‘feeling’ the centre before firing.
- Good straight arrows are required and the best flight seems to be achieved at distances over 8ft or 2.4m, when the flight has stabilised.
- Lots and lots of practise.
The above project is aimed at adults for education and entertainment purposes only, not to replicate. Anyone doing so takes full responsibility for their own actions.