Today we will be covering the Penobscot bow. The weirdest-looking Native American bow. You will see why in just a moment. Now before we go into detail about what the Penobscot bow is, what it is made of and how it looks let’s summarize the basics of the Penobscot bow.
So what is the Penobscot bow?
The Penobscot bow is a Native American bow that was first made in the very early 1900s. It is made from hickory and measures up to 60″. The main difference between the Penobscot bow and other bows by Native Americans is the fact that the main bow had a smaller bow glued on the back of the bow. This adds strength to the bow while at the same time relieving stress from the back of the bow.
Now that we got the summary out of the way, let’s take a deeper dive into the Penobscot bow. The dimension, composition, and all. Now before we get there, I will briefly touch on the Penobscot Native Americans and their story.
If you came here just for the Penobscot bow, feel free to skip the first part and jump straight to the breakdown.
A Brief History Of The Penobscot Native Americans
The Penobscot Native Americans are a tribe that lived in the area of modern-day Main U.S. The original pronunciation of their name “Pαnawάhpskewi” means “the people of where the white rocks extend out”. As with most Native Americans they sustained themselves mostly with hunting and fishing, with some limited agriculture.
The Penobscot tribe was a member of the “Wabanaki Confederacy”.
This is a very short description of the tribe. I highly recommend you to read more about them. But now, let’s proceed to the Penobscot bow.
The Detailed Breakdown of The Penobscot Bow – Measurements And Pictures Included
|The Larger Bow||The Smaller Bow|
|Full Length||59 ½” to 60″||30½”|
|Bow Tip Width||0.56″||9/16″|
The Penobscot bow is between 59 ½” to 60″ in length. It is made from hickory wood which was commonly used by the Native Americans for bow making. It is a rather slim bow with the handle being 0.93″ of an inch wide. While the bow tips were 0.56″ wide.
As opposed to other Native American bows, the Penobscot bow did not use animal sinew for bowstrings. Instead, the bowstring of the Penobscot bow is made from three-ply rawhide string while the handle of the bow is wrapped with rawhide as well.
Presumably, they wrapped the handle to enable a better grip for the archer.
The Weird Part Of The Penobscot Bow
The element that makes the Penobscot bow unique is the smaller bow attached to the back of the larger bow. The smaller bow is roughly half the size of the larger bow at 30½” in length. The handle of the smaller bow is 7/8″ wide, while the bow tips are nine-sixteenth of an inch wide.
The smaller bow is glued to the back of the larger bow using animal glue, given that the Penobscot bow is a relatively new invention dating back to the early 1900s, you can also use other more modern glues if you wish.
After the bows are glued together they are wrapped with rawhide.
So, Why Did They Glue An Additional Bow To The Larger Bow?
The smaller bow helped add strength to the Penobscot bow, while also relieving stress from the bigger bow. It’s a rather ingenious concept. Funny looking yes, but effective.
It is unfortunate that the Penobscot Natives in pre-colonial times did not use this particular style of bow. Their bow was likely very similar to the larger bow in the Penobscot bow. A slim bow up to 60″ made from hickory, with sinew or rawhide bowstring.
Which was more than enough for the Penobscot Native Americans. Since most of their use revolved around hunting and occasional warfare.
If you are the handy adventurous type you can take a crack at making your own Penobscot bow. The short 8-minute video below is from the Youtube channel “Dreamcraft Bows“. Click play on the video below and definitely check their channel out.
Thank you for taking the time to read this short article on the Penobscot bow. It’s a weird-looking bow, I know. If you take the advice from the video above and make your own you will definitely turn heads at your local archery range.
And if you wish to continue learning about the Native American bows from the continental U.S. I definitely suggest taking a look at my article on the Cheyenne bow and arrow by clicking here.
You can also continue learning about Native American Bows by checking out the Caddo bow.