Today we are taking a look at Shawnee bows made by the Native American Shawnee tribe. We will be looking at a couple of types of Shawnee bows, how they differ from other Native American bows, what they were made of, and the dimensions of Shawnee bows.
Alongside that, you will see the dimensions of an average arrow made by the Shawnee tribe.
But first, a brief description of what the Shawnee bow is, and what it was made from.
Key facts about the Shawnee bow:
- Between 54 and 69 inches in length
- Bowstring made from rawhide skin
- It is a selfbow
Or to put it into more words:
A Shawnee bow is a selfbow made by the Shawnee Native Americans. It was made from hickory or whitewood. Depending on the type of Shawnee bow we are talking about. It was 54″ to 69″ in length, with no sinew backing. Each tip of the bow had a diamond nock which held in place a bowstring that was made from two-ply rawhide skin.
In the following segment, you will see what distinguished the Shawnee bow from other Native American bows. And what the Shawne arrows were made off and how they were fletched.
A Short Introduction To The Shawne People
Feel free to skip this part if you wish. The information about the Shawnee bow is in the next segment.
Before we begin with the breakdown of the Shawnee bow and arrow I think it is important to get a brief overview of the people behind the bow.
The Shawnee Native Americans are a tribe that was indigenous to the North-Eastern Woodlands. During the centuries from the 17th, all the way to the 19th century the tribe migrated from modern-day Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana to Missouri, Texas, and finally, they have forcibly relocated to modern-day Oklahoma.
Here is a quick snapshot of their migration.
Now, let’s continue to the breakdown of the actual bow and arrow of the Shawnee people. And how it was used.
The Breakdown of The Shawnee Bow – How Many Versions Are There?
Shawne bow was 54″ to 69″ in length. Depending on the version being used. Let’s discuss the first version.
The Dimensions Of The Shawne Bow
|Dimensions Of The Shawne Bow||Shawne Bow|
|Length Of The Bow||69 ¾”|
|Width Of The Bow At The Handle||1,78″|
|Width Of The Bow At The Tips||7/8″|
As you can see above it is a rather lengthy bow at 69 ¾” in length. As I have discussed in the History of Native American Archery article, the Native Americans of Northern America did often have shorter bows than the one you see above.
They could often get away with shorter sizes due to the fact that it was sinew-backed. In the case of the Shawne bows, they did not back them with sinew. Hence why they needed larger bows to achieve respectable distances when shooting their bows.
Also common among the Native American tribes was the use of tribal paintings on their bows. In the case of the Shawnee, they used a blue-red combination to paint the belly of their bows.
What Was The Shawne Bow Made From?
The Shawne bow was made from white wood or hickory wood. For example, hickory wood was commonly used among the Native Americans. In large part due to its availability. For the bowstring, they used two-ply rawhide skin.
As you can see, the composition of the bow is quite straightforward.
Now let us continue with the second version of the Shawnee Bow.
The Second Type Of Shawne Bow
This one is somewhat different. Well, a lot different.
The second type of Shawne bow that was found had the measurements above. It was 54″ to 58″ in length. You have the handle between one and three-sixteenths of an inch in width and one and one-quarter inches in width. While the bow tips were 7/8″ in width.
They made these bows out of hickory. And as you can see these ones also had a diamond nock at each end holding the bowstring in place.
Now that we covered the Shawne bow, let’s cover the Shawne arrow, its dimensions, and what they were made of.
The Breakdown Of The Shawnee Arrow
Shawne arrows were up to 27 ¾” in length. The arrow shaft was made from hardwood shoot. The fletching was made out of a turkey tail. They had three feathers which were standard among the Native American tribes.
The arrowhead was 1 1⁄8″ in length. And nine-sixteenths of an inch in width. Surprisingly they were made out of iron. This is rather unusual for Northern American tribes this early in the colonization process. While it is safe to say that the tribes started by using rocks such as flint and obsidian, they seem to have shifted to iron-based arrowheads.
Likely from trade with the colonies. And given the fact that the Shawnee played a part in several wars on the continent, many times fighting for or against a European power, it is safe to say they had access to iron.
How Did The Shawnee Fire Their Bows?
The Shawne used a “pinch-grip” draw. This meant the thumb on the dominant hand pinched the arrow against the bow handle, while the index and middle fingers of the same hand gripped the bowstring below the arrow. And then they pulled the arrow.
The video below demonstrates the shooting technique perfectly. Fast forward to video to 3:43 and you will see the shooting style perfectly.
They held the arrows with their bow hand. This enabled a faster rate of fire. Which was perfect for warfare. Interestingly enough the fast rate of fire is something that the Shawne share with the Comanche Native Americans. As you can see in my article on Comanche bow and arrow by clicking here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully, you learned something new and gained a greater appreciation for the bow-making skills of the Shawnee tribe. I greatly encourage you to continue learning more.
You can do that by ordering an Encylopedia on Native American Archery from Amazon. It’s a book that is filled with useful information for archery enthusiasts.
You can also continue to learn for free by reading my article on the Cherokee Bow And Arrow.
If you wish to see what made the Sioux bow different and perhaps even better than the Shawne bow and arrow then click here.
Whichever you decide, thank you again for reading, and see you at the next one.