Today we are going to take a look at what a Lakota bow is. Its dimensions and how to make your own Lakota bow.
Let’s first take a look at what a Lakota bow is, and what kind of sizes you will be dealing with.
The Lakota bow was up to 45 inches in length and made from osage orange wood. It was sinew-backed, meaning animal sinew was glued to the back of the bow for the purpose to add elasticity to the bow and improve its power. For the bowstring, animal sinew or plant fiber was used.
This is the outline of what you will be making.
So, now let’s go into the detail.
What Do You Need To Make Your Own Lakota Bow
- A Draw Knife
- A file
- A ruler
- A stave of wood (a block of wood at least 6 inches wide and 45 inches long, a few inches thick)
- Animal sinew
After you have this then you are ready to start.
How To Make Your Own Lakota Bow – In x Steps
1. Take Your Block Of Wood And Mark It
Take your block of wood and draw a line straight down the middle of the block of wood. After that, you mark out the middle of that centerline. So, if the stave of wood is 45 inches long, the middle is 22,5″. You place a mark there.
After that, you measure 2 inches above your mark and 2 inches below. Congratulations, this will be your bow handle. So, below you have a picture of what your block of wood should look like now.
After your handle is marked out, take your ruler and start marking every 2 inches from the bow handle towards the tip. Stop around 6 inches from the bow tip.
Now take a ruler and measure an inch and a quarter to each side from the centerline. This measurement will establish the width of the bow. No worries, you will thin it out later. Take a ruler and measure an inch and a quarter in each direction. move two inches higher the centerline and measure an inch and a quarter in each direction again. And so on until you get 6 inches from the bow tip.
Do this on both sides of the wood. And when it’s done Just connect your marks. So this is roughly how it should look.
When this is done. Mark the width of your bow tips. As you can see in the picture. It’s spaced half an inch in each direction. This gives you a slim one-inch bow tip. Now connect the markings of the bow tip with two lines that determine the width of the bow.
This gives you a rough outline of your bow. Repeat the process on the other half of the wood stave. During your block of wood around and repeat the whole marking process on the other side as well.
So, this is it. The outline of your bow is set.
2. Tiller Your Stave Of Wood
You take your wood-carving tool and slowly and carefully start removing the mass from your stave (block) of wood. Make sure you follow the outline from the previous step. This part is the physically most challenging. And it takes time.
So take your time and start removing mass from your block of wood.
3. Steam The Un-Finished Bow In Order To Bend It
By now you should have the finished outline of the bow. Now it’s time to add a little humidity in the form of steam. This will allow you to safely bend the bow without fracturing it.
You can also add heat to the bow with a “heat gun” to make localized adjustments. But this will do. So when the bow is steamed you place your bow on a mold with the belly facing up. And you clamp down on the bow tips.
You can use the heat gun as seen above to aid in the process of bending. So, after a few hours, this process is done. And you should be left with a perfectly shaped bow stave.
4. Apply Sinew To The Back Of The Bow
Take your animal sinew. Make sure it’s broken down into fine strands and glue the sinew to the back of the bow. Apply all the layers of sinew in a single setting.
You apply the sinew from tip to tip. As the sinew dries, try bending the bow slightly every once in a while. This trains the sinew to do its job. After the sinew is properly dried, you can move on to the next step.
5. Check For Any Deficiencies
At this point, the bow is almost done. Check to see if there is any unevenness in the bow and use your tools to slowly scrape off any unevenness. This part should be done slowly. Don’t rush it. Take your time. And when you are certain that you have done the best that you can, then move on to the next step.
6. String Your Bow
String your bow.
You simply string your bow. You are almost done. After that, it is on to step number seven.
7. Check For Any Deficiencies On The Bow – And Fix Them
Now that the bow is finally strung, you can actually see what things look like when it’s in use. If you see any deficiencies, or that one part of the bow is not bending as much as the other, you mark it with your pencil. And when that is done, unstring your bow and scrape off a little mass from the part you have marked out.
Removing mass from one part should make that part bend more. Be careful not to overdo it. This means you scrape it off, string it and see the result. And repeat if necessary.
And there you go. A fully functioning Lakota bow.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully, you learned something new. If you wish you can continue learning about Native American Archery by visiting my article on the Choctaw bow and arrow, by going here.
Also, feel free to check out another article on the bow and arrow used by the Cheyenne Native Americans. Just click here to access the article.
Thank you and take care!