Bows and arrows in woodland – archery at different levels

Bows and arrows in woodland - archery at different levels

Archery is exciting - the pull of the arrow, taking aim and the "thwack!" as the arrow hits its target (if it does). We have made a film of serious archers which you can see on woodlandsTV here.   This is not something one can try without proper advice and training - and some expensive kit. However many people just want to have a bit of fun and we have recently explored two ways of firing arrows in woodland.

Do it yourself "Swallows-and-Amazons" archery with hazel and string

You will need to cut rods which are flexible, strong enough and not too heavy. I usually use hazel and I also make the arrows out of smaller hazel shoots. Tying the string is much easier if you cut a notch in the bow where you want it to go so that it doesn't slip down the bow. The arrows will need small notches cut out of their ends so that the string will wedge into them, and of course at the other ends you will have fun sharpening the tips with a pen-knife.

Affordable bows from Decathlon

We bought our equipment online where a bow and target together cost under £40 (Geologic Startech bow). These are surprisingly powerful and it reminds you how important it is for everyone to stand behind the person using the bow and for the bowman to be able to see clearly where he or she is firing. There is quite a lot of technique using such a bow effectively. Without that you will get very sore fingers and keep missing the target. One nice thing about the arrows from the shop is that they have fluorescent ends so that you can find them when they (inevitably) go astray.


Hazel twigs might seem benign but even with these you can injure someone, or yourself ! I am glad to see the warning in bold.

One thing though = a bow is never “fired” – you do not set light to it to make it work. Firing is what you do with a gun or cannon. You shoot a bow.

Other tips. Curl the first joint of your first three fingers around the string to pull it, with the arrow between the first and second fingers. Make sure the arrow is on the knuckle of the hand holding the bow, not on the thumb.

With purchased equipment, one of the most dangerous actions is stringing the bow, as it can slip and have your eye out or break your nose or teeth. Hold the bow by the handle,(in your right hand) sideway across your body, with the lower nock (string notch) against the inside of your right foot. Pull up on the handle, press your left hand forward and use your fingers to slide the top loop up into the top nock. Never do this action straight out in front of you, or jam the bottom nock into the ground and bend the top down. A bow is very springy and can cause damage if it slips.

With bought equipment you should also have a bracer to go on the forearm of the bow arm to keep clothing out of the way and a “tab” – a piece of leather to protect the fingers pulling the string. Bought arrows will have three feathers or vanes. Put the arrow on the string so that the odd one sticks out away from the bow.

I am happy to answer any other archery queries (especially how to aim so that you hit the target) at [email protected]

veronica-mae soar

27 May, 2011

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