Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => Bows => Topic started by: footfootfoot on January 11, 2012, 05:41:55 pm

Title: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: footfootfoot on January 11, 2012, 05:41:55 pm
We are part of a small, informal home-schooling group and the other families have taken note of my interest in bow-making and other primitive activities (?) I have yet to post pictures of the two bows I've made so far, but I will shortly.

I'd like to ask for some advice.

There will be 6 girls and one boy with good attitudes, good attention spans (the girls anyway) and a lot of interest. My plan is to have them all build English Longbows from Ash. I have a source for high quality, straight, clean logs. I will split the staves out of the log and do some of the rough shaping then give each child a stave that they then will mark out and shape with spoke shaves and draw knives, then finish with cabinet scrapers.

My question is about how many staves can I expect from a 10-12" diameter log? Is that a good size? should they be smaller or bigger? I was figuring that a 12" log would be about 36 inches in circumference and might yield about 10 staves. I need to give my log guy a week lead time to get the log so I'm wondering if I should get two or just one.

The log will be green and I think it will be a lot easier for kids to work green wood rather than dry, they'll only be putting about 1 hour per week into it, so by the time it comes to tillering the bow should be plenty dry (I'll check MC) and ultimately, this is about learning and hands on.

If this goes well we'll do an arrow making workshop and then a flint knapping workshop, which should coincide nicely with the arrival of spring and freshly plowed fields! ;)

Thanks for your input! I'll post photos of the build-along!



Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: toomanyknots on January 11, 2012, 05:59:32 pm
One thing I would worry about is the wood warping while it drys. I would go for some red oak boards and back em with linen before hand. But than you have to worry about the kids damaging the linen while working it. LOL, sounds like fun.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Del the cat on January 11, 2012, 06:04:01 pm
Blimey, that's about 6 kids too many :laugh:
Actually I think kids are often under estimated, show 'em how to use the tools right and give 'em plenty of encouragement.
That's a good thing you're doing, catch 'em young.
Good luck, and may the great bow maker in the sky look down kindly upon you.
Del
(Leaving out the axe work is a great call)
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: PEARL DRUMS/PEARLY/PD/DRUMS on January 11, 2012, 06:05:56 pm
I dont think an 8 yr old will be able to do much of anything with a stave bow and hand tools. I would consider simple hickory slat bows that wont break. You could just rip a bunch of them 1" wide by 48" long and plane them to 3/8" thick. Let the kids work the leather handle some and maybe cut in string grooves, sand, stain and seal the bows.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Ifrit617 on January 11, 2012, 07:01:36 pm
I agree with pearl drums... An 8 year old will not be big enough or strong enough to work a full size stave. Especially not with a draw knife... There is always the chance that a knife could slip from one of those small hands and really injure somebody.  If you want to give them a stave of that size, at least rough them down to almost finished dimensions. This way the kids will be able to enjoy the project more and have a bow sooner. Way to pass on the knowledge.

Jon
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: davkt on January 11, 2012, 07:08:54 pm
How about a scaled down version of the first wooden bow project at the back of TBB Vol 4? This thread gives dimensions for a few version with few kid friendly draw weights in ash.

http://www.archery-interchange.net/f137/budding-young-bowyer-111153/

It's what my 7 year old daughter has just started on (in an offcut of a lemonwood stave I've had lying around for ages) and is doing with hand tools (spoke shave, drawknife, plane etc) after I'd roughed out the shape. Oh and make sure you've got a copy of the book around for the kids to read, Chloe found it really interesting and could see how the design she was drawing on the wood from the thread above was following the same principal but at her size. It also made the project that little more exciting to her in that it is a proper bow from a proper book!

The starting size of the offcut is only about 22mm by 15mm so one decent sized big person bow stave would probably give you plenty for the kids with one or two spare in case of disaster mid way through. Think I'd probably work on one while they were working and have another at a similar stage to they were at then if one breaks it isn't the end of the world, the unlucky little bowyer can just pick up from where you got it to.

Sorry Pearl Drums I think you've got it wrong, kids can do an awful lot more than big people seem to think when they are interested and enthusiastic!
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Ifrit617 on January 11, 2012, 07:26:48 pm
How about a scaled down version of the first wooden bow project at the back of TBB Vol 4? This thread gives dimensions for a few version with few kid friendly draw weights in ash.

http://www.archery-interchange.net/f137/budding-young-bowyer-111153/

It's what my 7 year old daughter has just started on (in an offcut of a lemonwood stave I've had lying around for ages) and is doing with hand tools (spoke shave, drawknife, plane etc) after I'd roughed out the shape. Oh and make sure you've got a copy of the book around for the kids to read, Chloe found it really interesting and could see how the design she was drawing on the wood from the thread above was following the same principal but at her size. It also made the project that little more exciting to her in that it is a proper bow from a proper book!

The starting size of the offcut is only about 22mm by 15mm so one decent sized big person bow stave would probably give you plenty for the kids with one or two spare in case of disaster mid way through. Think I'd probably work on one while they were working and have another at a similar stage to they were at then if one breaks it isn't the end of the world, the unlucky little bowyer can just pick up from where you got it to.

Sorry Pearl Drums I think you've got it wrong, kids can do an awful lot more than big people seem to think when they are interested and enthusiastic!

I don't really think that Pearlie is saying that they are not capable of doing something like this, and I know I'm certainly not, it would just be better to start with a smaller piece of wood than a stave that is 3.5 inches across and probably 4 inches deep. You said that your daughter is working a stave that is about 2.5 x 1.5 centimeters big, which I agree is a perfect size though i may would probably make it a little wider. !.   ;D ;D

Jon
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: bubby on January 11, 2012, 07:33:25 pm
yeah i think you should at least get them floor tillerd, I used to teach karate and as much as they wanted to learn, full attention span that young topped out @ about a half hour, i think this is a cool thing your doing and however you go about it good luck, Bub
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Ifrit617 on January 11, 2012, 07:35:50 pm
Lol bub. I teach Karate occasionally at my dojo to the younger kids and your right... They're are eager to learn but in a 1/2 hour, they are zipping about the room doing anything but the kata...  ;D
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: davkt on January 11, 2012, 07:42:50 pm
All depends on the kid really! My 7 year old will happily work with wood all day if she gets the chance, her 16YO sister on the other hand has the attention span of a goldfish!
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Tortoise on January 11, 2012, 08:26:55 pm
This is great! And will become addicted early haha.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Marc St Louis on January 11, 2012, 08:41:08 pm
It should be fun but you may be pulling your hair out after awhile.  I've taught several courses to youths and it was fun but very exausting
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: footfootfoot on January 16, 2012, 12:11:57 pm
I was in the middle of writing a long reply to this subject (with pictures no less!) when Norton 360 started going berserk due to an email I mistakenly opened thinking it was from a friend.

Everything's groovy now, Trojans deleted and sytem checked out. Another reminder why I like the primitve lifestyle.

My log source is coming through with a bunch of green wood for the kids and a few hickory staves for me that have been aging for a number of years. They were set aside for a bowmaking project that never came to be.
One of the girls' dads is going to split the log into billets. (He's a strapping young buck who hasn't had shoulder surgery yet)

I wasn't clear enough in my original post about how much work the kids are going to do, I will rough out the staves, then let the kids mark out profiles and I will probably do any serious  hogging, letting them finish with spoke shaves and drawknives. These are motivated, non-TV watching kids who are very active and hands-on. Most of them have done two or three wilderness training/tracking courses, they've built leaf shelters and spent the night in them, they've built fires with bow drills, I know this type of thing is within their capabilities.

The girls can stay focused a lot longer than my son, and I plan to spend about 45 minutes with the bow making and then 15-30 minutes outside shooting at a target with some fiberglass longbows ~20# draw. to give them some activity and to put the bow-making into a context for them. I'm hoping as the weeks progress their skill will increase and they will be able to relate what they are doing on the range with what they are making in the shop.

For now we will be using carbon fiber arrows but the next phase of the class (if this goes well) will be to make arrows, and then possibly another class with a local flint guru in knapping.

I'll post pictures as we go along. I think we start in a week.

Thanks to everyone for their advice and encouragement!
Title: The Fix is In! The Staves Have Arrived
Post by: footfootfoot on January 21, 2012, 11:04:13 pm
The split log was delivered by my friend today and it was nicely split into manageable chunks. I think with care I can split them a bit further. It's Hickory, the bark doesn't look like Shagbark to me it may be mockernut or one of the others. It came from western CT. Two four foot chunks, well seasoned and a six foot chunk well seasoned, and seven more six footers that are green.

Now, how about some advice and opinions from you folks?

How close to the bark do I want to be? If I can, should I get two staves from a chunk with one being from the outer section and the other from the inner section or does the stuff on the inside just go in the wood stove?

Here are two photos of the proto-staves/chunks. The tape is to give scale.
(http://i1069.photobucket.com/albums/u480/foot3x/staves1of2.jpg)
(http://i1069.photobucket.com/albums/u480/foot3x/staves2of2.jpg)
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: George Tsoukalas on January 22, 2012, 11:32:46 am
Too young. Best I've been able to do with them is give them  some sandpaper and sand down the finished bow. Have some bows tillered out for them and let them finish them up. Go to Home Depot and buy straight grained boards. 3/4 inch thick or rip them out yourself. Make flatbows. Kid tall. Straight grained.  Straight grained.  Straight grained. More on my site. Jawge
http://georgeandjoni.home.comcast.net/~georgeandjoni/
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Gordon on January 22, 2012, 12:25:29 pm
I'm with George on this. I've helped many people build their first bow including children. 8 years is just too young to tackle something like this. Pre-fabed board bows are the way to go - the kids and you will be much happier with the outcome.
Title: Five minutes till showtime!
Post by: footfootfoot on January 25, 2012, 03:14:28 pm
Here we go, let the cat herding begin!
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Grunt on January 25, 2012, 05:17:44 pm
I've had a 12 year old working on a red oak/linen board bow for a couple of two hour sessions. He has a 8 year old brother that his mom is waiting a year or two before we start on his bow. I usually have them start by making a bow string. If they can make a bowstring then we can get some traction on bow building.
Good Luck
Title: Young Bowyers update
Post by: footfootfoot on February 15, 2012, 08:21:45 pm
We are at week three or four of the workshop and there are a few corrections from my end. There are seven kids altogether, four are ten y.o., two are 8 y.o. and one is nine y.o.

We start out with some target shooting using a 20# glass bow, covering safety, drawing the bow, nocking the arrow and so on. After everyone gets to shoot 3 arrows twice (I've only got two glass bows) we repair to the shop and make wood chips. I initially thought they could focus for only about 45 minutes but they have been clamoring for more and after an hour of archery practice we spent an hour and a half in the shop. 

The 8 y.o. kids are far behind and are making a good show of it and having fun but you wouldn't want them as armorers... The nine y.o. is a girl who is on a mission from god and is channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pocahontas, Cochise, and probably Chuck Norris. I swear she is part sled dog, thank god she's got a sense of humor too.

The older girls are all kicking ass and taking names. Initially they were all hesitant with the drawknives, tapping away at the little shavings they began to lift, after a few reminders about body position and visualizations (most of them have chopped firewood) along the lines of "aim for the bottom of the log don't hit the top of the log" They began to see how they could draw the knife through the chips.

Most have gotten the bark from the log and have gotten to within two or three rings on the back, a couple have laid out the markings for the face of the bow and are shaping it down to rough dimension.

Today we talked about cresting arrows and why we do it.

I'll put a few photos up in the next day or two.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: fishfinder401 on February 15, 2012, 10:20:37 pm
for people that young that's very impressive, good job spreading the knowledge
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Del the cat on February 16, 2012, 10:55:25 am
Great to get an update.
Kudos to you for the work you are putting in.
I love the description of the gal being part sled dog, paints a great picture of a real feisty gal.
The boys had better watch out when she grows up.
Del
Title: Nearing the clubhouse turn...
Post by: footfootfoot on April 10, 2012, 02:55:58 am
The Young Bowyers, I think they are calling themselves "The Star Shooters," are moving right along. A few of them are at floor tillering stage. They are really impressing the hell out of me with their skill and determination. Oddly, the only slacker among the girls is the super high achiever. I think she tends to back away from any activity in which she can't excel.

Here are some photos from the bark scraping stage and some shots of their staves as of last week.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: footfootfoot on April 10, 2012, 02:59:49 am
Here are their staves. The last picture shows the pores on the back of the bow. They run continuously from handle to tip with no ring violations!
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: dmc on April 10, 2012, 03:27:33 am
Those look awesome! Good on you for taking this project on. About 15 years ago, I went to a First Nation's school on an Indian Reserve, and with the help of a friend, helped teach the whole school from grade one to high school on how to shoot the bow and arrow. The school had bought about 15 fiberglass bows, and a zillion arrows. I had my recurve, and he had the wheels. After the first day, I barely had a voice, partway through the second day, I totally lost my voice. Could not speak a word!! It's amazing how many times a person can say "no, that is not a toy, it is a weapon; Will you quit pointing that at him; Hey.... Look at me when I'm speaking; That is an arrow, not a hairbrush; GIVE THAT BOW BACK TO ME.... GO BACK TO YOUR TEACHER!!!"

The bows look great, all the best to you and your class room.

Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: burchett.donald on April 10, 2012, 10:41:41 am
   Looks like they have handled the staves and hand tools well...  Looks like a good Primitive Archer Magazine article in the making! This is interesting as well as inspirational to see these children learning about archery.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: rkeltner on April 10, 2012, 11:31:32 am
give thet high achiever some extra encouragement. high achievers tend to be ultra-perfectionists, and if their achievement has come easily to them, any failure, even a minor one, is an enormous setback! the result is that they would rather not try than fail. believe it or not, you are in a perfect position to help this young lady learn the value of failure, and then trying again!
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Del the cat on April 10, 2012, 11:35:58 am
Great pics, good to have the update.
Bravo .
Del
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: Badger on April 10, 2012, 11:50:08 am
  Did the kids take it to the stage you are at now by themselves or did you help them a bit? I have run a few boy scout teaching classes and about the most productive thing I could get out of them was sanding and bark scraping.
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: MetisLifeguard on April 10, 2012, 11:50:51 am
This is actually wonderful to read about and watch! I wish I had this chance to do these kinds of things back when I was their age. Maybe I'd be a lot further into the bowmaking and arrowmaking aspects of archery!

Andre
Title: Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
Post by: footfootfoot on April 10, 2012, 12:52:14 pm
@ DMC and others:
Thanks for the encouraging feedback. This is an unusual group of girls (and one boy, my son) I'm not sure I could pull this off with a "typical" group of girls, and certainly not boys at this age. The difference between boys and girls is profound. Partly it is age, my son is 7 1/2 and is the youngest. He can work on the bow for about 30 minutes at a crack, conversely he can read or play Legos for three hours straight. If he's not doing that he's running around the yard at full tilt, yelling battle cries.

The girls are  8, 9, 10, 11, 11, and 11. All of them but one are being homeschooled (secular, FWIW) and none of them watch TV or play video games. Most all of them spend a lot of time in the woods, have taken numerous "wilderness" classes learning about animals, and plants and camping and so forth.  I'm pretty sure their upbringing has informed their characters. Mixed ages, encouraging inclusiveness, discouraging clique-ishness, and generally promoting confidence has been a consistent theme throughout the group.

@ rkeltner:
That's great advice for the over-achiever. The first time she picked up a bow after watching a few of the other kids who have shot before, she was surprised it wasn't as easy as it looked. When her arrow fell off the rest and she dry fired she practically dropped the bow like it was a wasp nest and withdrew in tears. IT wasn't until then that I realized how intensely self critical she must be. (And I've known her since she was an infant.) It's surprising because in so many other ways she is very confident. Her mom points out that she is self-competitive. She and my son are on the same rock climbing team and at a recent competition my son was incredibly proud that he scored 115 points doing 5 climbs after seven or eight attempts at 50 and 65 point routes. This girl wouldn't even consider a route worth less then 150 points. Never the less, she was very supportive of my son and congratulated him on his score. She didn't feel the need to lord her 900 points over him.

I'll take your advice and work with her and show her how far she has come from when she has started.

@ Badger:
They did 90% of the work with the shaves. I split the staves out of the log, then they took them from pie wedges to rectangular blanks. I had them scrape the bark just past the cambium. I showed them how to find the center line and take off measurements from the drawing and transfer them to the stave. We did that part together. I even made them figure out how to read 16ths and figure out, e.g.,  if the limb is 1 3/4 inches wide then how far from the CL is each edge? After laying out the lines, I had them take the wood down to the taper and square up the sides. Once they had done that I band-sawed off some of the belly meat for the younger kids, the older ones I had them take off the belly meat themselves. For the younger ones I band-sawed close to the line around the handle and will let them go at it with a spoke shave and rasp on Wednesday.

@burchett.donald: Some of these kids are particularly articulate and thoughtful. I could see interviewing them and asking them what they think about it...

I really can't wait to see them shoot their own bows. That will be something for the cameras.

Thanks, again for you words of encouragement and suggestions.