Arrows and Points
Throughout time cultures developed and identified with the bows they designed. The English Longbow, the Eastern Woodland Flatbow, the Holmegaard Bow, The Mongolian Horsebow, each design a reflection of available resources and the expression of thousands of years of trial and error. Yet with all the fascination and lore around the bow, the arrow is often forgotten. The Grandfather of Traditional Archery and Yani Indian, Ishi, is quoted as saying, “Bows don’t kill deer, arrows kill deer.” The arrow is where the rubber meets the road. It is the final expression of the hunter’s skill. Having poured everything of themselves into the perfection of their weapons, the months spent tracking, stalking and sitting, until that coveted moment that a deer presents a shot and if good fortune would have it the bow is pulled to full draw and the arrow leased before the deer has heard, smelled or seen the predator, then it is the arrow alone, launched with precision through space that will determine, if all other factors allow, if that shot will miss, mame or kill. The arrow is the final variable in the Apex skill of Primitive Hunting.
Arrows incorporate the scouting, identification and harvest of specific shrubs for shafts. Next comes straightening, curing, spineing and knocking the shafts. Then comes preparing fletching, sinew and hide glue. Then applying a variety of fletching techniques depending upon the intended prey. Next comes the science of making pitch to haft points. And finally the ancient science of flint knapping and the art of making killing points. All of these sciences combined make an arrowsmith, and of these there are two kinds. Old world arrowsmiths would split shafts from a straight ash or cedar log, while smelting steel broadheads. The arrows were made in large quantities to arm the militaries that were fighting for the empires of the day. But throughout the deserts, jungles and woodlands of the earth where the hunter-gatherer lifestyle survived lived a different kind of bowyer and arrowsmith. Today their creations are referred to as the self bow and the self arrow. These creations are said to have the spirit of the plant still in them. The knots and waves of grain give the bow character. The cambium of the arrow shaft is lightly scraped and remains identical to its original shape, from the larger base where the arrowhead is hafted to the tapered end where it is fletched with the primary wing feathers of a local bird. The arrows are carried in a brain tanned quiver made of a deer harvested from the land. When a primitive archer goes out to hunt they are bringing their tackle back home to the forest from which they came. This is the feeling every primitive hunter has, of returning home. Every hunt is a complete success. Just to walk in the woods with weapons you crafted from the land is the greatest honor. Indeed it is the very thing that defined our ancestors as hunters and gatherers. We are an expression of those ancestors now.