This week I finished the arrow I started on Native Skills 2. Arrowmaking is a demanding subject requiring the same patience and care as bowmaking… if not more. The difficulty, and art of it, comes in persuading a naturally deviating piece of wood into a uniform straightness, a nearly impossible task that reminded me a lot about the importance of being guided by nature rather than expecting it to yield to our human ideals.
The shaft of the arrow was one I harvested from the riverbank near where I live. I was not familiar with the tree from which it came, and nor could the instructors at the Native Awareness school immediately identify it. After further discussion and research we think it could be a variety of privet, seeded from a nearby garden hedge. Whatever it is, it makes a wonderfully stiff arrow shaft, so much so that one of the mistakes I made in creating this arrow was that I could have got away with making it a lot thinner. As it is, I would say that the arrow is spined for a much stronger bow than mine, perhaps 60lbs.
I had already begun to straighten the shaft during the seasoning process, which I sped up by keeping it on the dashboard of my car. Around the campfire I stripped the bark and heated the shaft to bend out some of the final kinks, before sanding it and cutting the notches. The arrowhead was cut and filed from cow bone, bevelled to the centreline and notched in the side-barb style. Once home, it was hafted onto the shaft using the pine pitch I made last week, and secured in place with deer sinew. The fletchings are of turkey feather and secured to the shaft with sinew.