A Guide to Making Target Achery Equipment from Scratch Using Simple Tools and Materials

A new handbook by World Archery details how to make target archery equipment by hand, including bow and arrow building in the developing world. Archery is found in native cultures all over the world. Bows remained pretty much the same for millennia even in Europe through the beginnings of modern target archery in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds through the early 1900’s.

Medieval Longbowmen Practicing at Target Butts, Circa 1325

A woman practicing archery. From the US National Archery Association’s scrapbook, 1912. (No, she isn’t shooting in the wrong direction! It was common to have targets on either end of the field so everyone could collect their arrows and then just shoot in the opposite direction–a big time saver back when they shot only three arrows per end even at the long distances, such as 60, 80 and 100 yards.)

Modern target archery bows feature innovations commonly adopted within the last hundred years, such as cut out windows, elevated arrow arrow rests and separate limbs and handle pieces. The World ArcheryHow to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” guide shows how to make Olympic-style archery equipment using inexpensive, commonly available supplies using mostly hand tools.

It wasn’t until the development of the Hoyt take down bows of 1970s that modern three-piece take down recurve bows gained favor in target archery. Using primitive techniques to create take down-style recurve bows for target archery really is a relatively new idea. It is a wonderful blend of old and new, of high tech and low tech that makes me want to get out some hand tools and get cracking. As a fan of Maker Fair and Techshop (the network of cool, open access high tech workshops that teach classes and rent time on 3D printers, CNC plasma cutters, laser cutters and all manner of neat maker toys) I want to see more of this kind of information on DYI archery.

Shaping the handle of an Olympic-style bow using hand tools. From the World Archery “How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” Guide.

Bamboo used to make an Olympic-style bow. From the World Archery “How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” Guide.

An Olympic-style bow made using simple supplies and tools. From the World Archery “How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” Guide.

However, making the risers and limbs is a fairly involved process. So you might want to try some of the other projects first, such as making vanes out of electrical tape 🙂

Making vanes for arrows from vinyl electrician’s tape. From the World Archery “How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” Guide.

Or making an elevated arrow rest out of a piece of leather and the plastic from a bottle.

Making a target archery arrow rest out of plastic from a bottle and leather. From the World Archery “How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” Guide.

A target archery arrow rest made out of plastic from a bottle and a piece of leather. From the World Archery “How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” Guide.

There are lots of other neat plans in the How to Make Your Own Archery Equipment” guide, including:

  • Make your own bow handle (riser)
  • Make your own bow limbs
  • Make your own string
  • Make your own bow stringer
  • Make your own sight
  • Make your own arrow rest
  • Make your own pressure button
  • Make your own draw length checker (clicker)
  • Make your own arrow shafts
  • Make your own fletchings
  • Make your own finger protector (tab)
  • Make your own arm guard (bracer)
  • Make your own finger sling
  • Make your own quiver
  • Make your own ground quiver
  • Make your own target
  • Make your own target stand
  • Make your own bow stand
  • Make your own arrow container

The information comes from a variety of sources, including the FITA Coaching Manual. It is unclear where the bow and arrow making instructions come from. An inquiry to author of the World Archery guide listed in the meta data has gone un-answered as of press time, and no authors or editors are currently listed in the document itself. Where ever the information came from, it is fascinating stuff.



  1. Patrick Sr. and Mushroom on March 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I enjoy reading your articles, Are you ever going to publish a book?

  2. […] There are lots of archery projects you can make yourself, ranging from complicated to super simple. One of the easiest is a simple quiver. Anyone remember the denim purses made out of blue jeans in the 70′s? Well, you can make a modern retro equivalent for archery, a pants leg quiver. So easy, in fact, that we aren’t even going to give any specific directions other than to suggest yo might want to re-enforce the bottom with extra layers of fabric or leather to keep the arrows from poking through. If you are into maker or crafting projects, an archery quiver out of pants should be no problem. […]