Bow and Arrows

Bow and Arrows - Tools of the Trade for Native Americans

Native Americans didn't always use a bow and arrows. Before they were used Indians hunted with spears. There were many benefits to using arrows over spears. Not only did the arrowheads require a lot less raw material than spear heads, but they offered more mobility and a higher degree of accuracy. For hunting purposes, they were quieter than guns and offered the hunter numerous shots at the animal.

Bows were made from wood off of trees and sometimes rib bones or antlers from animals were used. Environmental conditions also affected the choice of materials used when making the weapons. Humidity affects the wood used to make a bow and temperature affects bones like antlers. The string for the bow was originally made from fibers was harvested from plants, but since the harvest took time, they also used tendons, stomach lining, or raw hide from animals as well. Arrowheads were typically made from flint or whatever other metal was available at the time.

A bow and arrows played a huge role in the lives of Native Americans. The bow was protected and kept unstrung in a carrying case when not in use. There were four general types of bows used. The self-bow was made of one long length of wood and popular with the eastern Indians. The compound bow had various pieces of wood or bone stuck together and was popular by the plains Indians. The sinew wrapped bow was made with brittle pieces of wood and wrapped with sinew. This bow was popular with Alaskan tribes. The last was the sinew back self-bows which incorporated techniques from the self-bow and the sinew wrapped bow. This bow was popular with Indian tribes in California.

Native Americans used a bow and arrows to kill animals as large as bison and elk. Although hunting was the main purpose for the weapons they were also used in times of war. Indians were taught to use the bow at a young age, because of this Native Americans were extremely skillful with a bow. Ancient stories say that in war an Indian could shoot four or five arrows one right after another before a man could reload his gun.

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