Kevin mentioned this project and I thought I’d go into a little more depth, because I’m a nut for archery.
When I was a kid I made all sorts of bows. Some out of yardsticks that snapped immediately (to my parents’ irritation) some out of sticks that did the same, and eventually more sophisticated ones out of bamboo, pvc, and metal.
A few days ago Andrew came up and said he wanted to make a bow. At first I wanted to dismiss it as a destructive impulse. Kids, primarily boys, have a desire to weaponize everything. He seemed pretty serious about it though, so I thought I’d see if the act of making a bow and arrow could be a meaningful making experience.
At first he wanted to use popsicle sticks taped at angles along their flat sides, using the bending of the tape as the spring. We talked about how that was working and how it wasn’t quite right. I shoed him how the popsicle stick was springy if bent along the width, not against the thickness and we went with that.
Then we strung it with a string of Andrew’s choosing. After that one broke we chose another by testing how hard we could pull on different strings before they broke. The arrows were 1/8″ dowel with a nock taped onto the end, because the dowel didn’t hold the string well enough on its own.
Initially I set up the trashcan on its side as a target, and made a makeshift archery lane near the sink. We learned some basic safety procedures for archery, and made a quiver. He didn’t attempt to shoot it at anyone, and when someone entered the archery lane he would pause and warn them that they were in the lane. He understood that projectiles can be dangerous, even toy ones, and that safety needed to be maintained. We did have a few “don’t point that at people, even if you don’t mean to shoot it” moments, but those are to be expected.
The next day they were back to do some repairs, and Kevin set up a “more formal” target made out of a styrofoam plate.