How To: Build a Bow

By | September 1, 2016
From Xplor: September/October 2016

You don’t need an expensive bow to practice archery. Here’s how to make one for less than $5 using plumbing pipe.

Here’s What You Need:

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw
  • 4-foot length of 1/2-inch PVC pipe
  • 2 large paperclips
  • Duct tape
  • 5-inch length of 1/2-inch foam pipe insulation
  • Glue
  • Braided nylon cord
  • Lighter
  • 3⁄8-inch wooden dowel cut to 2-foot lengths
  • Eraser caps
  • An adult to help

Build Your Bow

  1. Cut the PVC pipe to 4 feet (48 inches). Measure 3/4 of an inch from one end of the pipe and cut a 1/4-inch-deep notch into the side of the pipe. Do the same thing on the other end of the pipe, taking care to make sure the notches are on the same side of the pipe.
  2. Write a “T” on one end of the pipe and a “B” on the other end. This will help you remember which end is the top of the bow and which is the bottom.
  3. Bend each paperclip so it makes a 90-degree angle. Make a pencil mark 23 inches from the top end of the pipe. Lay the pipe flat with the notches you cut in Step 1 facing downward. Tape a paperclip to each side of the pipe so the clips stick straight out from the 23-inch mark. These will be your arrow rests.
  4. Make a pencil mark 20 inches from the bottom end of the pipe. Smear a thin layer of glue around the pipe between this mark and the arrow rests. Cut a 5-inch-long piece of pipe insulation and slide it from the bottom of the pipe upward until it touches the arrow rests.
  5. Wrap duct tape tightly around the pipe insulation. This will be the handle of your bow.

String Your Bow

  1. Cut a 54-inch-long piece of nylon cord. Use a lighter to melt the ends of the cord to keep them from unraveling.
  2. Double one end of the cord back upon itself so it overlaps by 6 inches. Tie an overhand knot an inch down from the bend to form a closed loop. Repeat this process at the other end of the cord.
  3. Slip one loop into the notch at the bottom of your bow. Bend the bow and slip the other loop into the notch at the top of your bow. An easy way to bend the bow is to place your foot gently below the bow’s handle and pull the top of the bow toward you.

Make Your Arrows

  1. Cut a 3⁄8-inch dowel into 2-foot-long lengths.
  2. At one end of each 2-foot dowel, cut a 1/4-inch-deep groove. Make sure the groove is centered on the dowel.
  3. Place eraser caps on the other end of each arrow. You’ll have to push hard to get them to fit.


Your bow isn’t a toy. Always point it in a safe direction, and always shoot with an adult present or with an adult’s permission.

If you want to improve your archery and like to have lots of fun, check out the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP). For details, aim your browser at

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White