Today we will take a look at the Choctaw bow and arrow. The favorite tool for war and hunting of the Choctaw Native Americans. You will see what it looked like, and how it was used.
So strap yourself in and let us find out what is a Choctaw bow and what kind of arrows did the Choctaw tribe used?
The Choctaw bow was made from hickory or osage orange. It was used by the Choctaw Native Americans. The bow was up to 56 and a quarter-inch long. The Choctaw tribe used their bow for hunting and warfare. It was an effective weapon firing arrows with deer antler arrowheads and in some cases rolled iron arrowheads. Most commonly the arrows were fletched with turkey feathers. What set the Choctaw bow apart from other Native American bows is the type of bowstring they used.
Now, that we took a look at the short summation of what the Choctaw bow and arrow are and what they were made of. Let’s proceed with the short introduction to the Choctaw people and continue with a detailed breakdown of the Choctaw bow. Including the measurements.
If you wish you can skip the short introduction to the Choctaw tribe and go straight to the detailed breakdown of their bow.
Who Were The Choctaw Tribe?
The Choctaw tribe are native Americans that originate from the territories of modern-day Mississippi and Alabama. The first encounter with them by a European explorer is recorded in the second half of the 17th century.
As a tribe, the Choctaw often sided with the American republic, most notably during the 1812 war against the United Kingdom. The Choctaw were valuable soldiers for their allies since they had a lot of weapons at their disposal.
The Choctaw used:
- war clubs
- bows and arrows
Their friendship with the U.S. government ultimately did not stop most of them from being forcibly relocated in the 19th century.
Today the greatest number of Choctaw people can be found in the U.S. state of Oklahoma.
Breakdown Of The Choctaw Bow – In Detail
As stated in the “Encyclopedia of Native American Bows Arrows And Quivers, Volume 2” the Choctaw bow was 56 and a quarter inches in length. It was made from hickory or osage orange which was definitely common among Native American tribes of the era.
As you can see above, it is a sleek-looking bow with the bow handle just 1 and seven sixteenth of an inch wide. And the bow limb was at 1 inch and five eights of an inch wide while the bow limbs stayed at an inch of width. The slim bow tips actually helped propel the arrow much faster.
Narrow bow tips are a mainstay of many Native American bows.
The bow handle was actually often wrapped with string in an attempt to aid with the grip of the bow. .
As with many other bows, the Choctaw bows also had symbols painted on the back of the bow. I could not find any records for the purpose of these symbols. The painting of symbols on the back of the bows is actually pretty common among Native American bowyers.
What About The Choctaw Bowstring?
The Choctaw bowstring was made of cane string with the nodes smoothed down. This is rather unusual among the Native tribes considering most used animal sinew or plant fibers for their bowstrings.
Now, that we took a look at the bow, let us proceed to their arrows.
The Choctaw Arrow
The Choctaw arrows were 24 and three-quarters of an inch to 29 inches long. As you can see in the above picture they used deer antlers for arrowheads and occasionally rolled iron. The one on the right has a deer antler arrowhead while the one on the left has a rolled iron arrowhead.
In both cases, the arrow shaft was made out of hardwood. Which was abundant in the area. If we continue down the shaft we come to the feathers. Or fletching. They used 3 hawk feathers for fletching. The shaft had red and black stripes. This is a common sight in Native American Archery.
The tribes often painted their arrows and their bows. When it comes to arrows, I found no direct reason as to why that is the case, but it seems most likely that it helped them find stray arrows during hunting parties. A red and black arrow would stand out in the grassy plains of the continental United States.
What Did The Choctaw Use Their Bows For?
As with other Native tribes, the Choctaw used their bows primarily for hunting and warfare. Now, I don’t want you to get a wrong impression regarding the Choctaw’s hostility.
By all accounts, the Choctaw were a peaceful tribe. Mostly interested in hunting and agriculture and rarely engaged in any warfare.
Thank you for taking the time to read this short article. Hopefully, you learned something new. If you wish to continue your journey in exploring Native American Archery I suggest taking a look at my article on the Iroquois bow. And discover why there are several versions of the bow.
And if you are feeling adventurous, take a look at how you can make your own Lakota bow from scratch in just 7 steps. Just go here.
See you at the next one.