Caleb was off most of the afternoon playing with the neighborhood kids. One of the kids had a toy bow and arrow. Therefore, Caleb came back asking me to look for “the cheapest bow and arrow at Walmart.”
Like I was really going to buy a bow and arrow (it was $16, by the way). I do make toys for a living.
So we set off into the brush by our house to look for a bow. There is a willow tree back there, half fallen down, but still alive and growing. Willow is nice and bendy, so I cut a piece that was between 3/4″ and maybe 5/8″ in diameter.
I drilled holes in the 2 ends (yes I know they are supposed to be notches, but this seemed easier and less likely to come off) and found some string that I think I bought for a clothes line, but Caleb had found it and cut it into pieces. Before I threaded the bow, I peeled the bark off the willow branch to make it look nicer. Then, I tied the string on the ends, pulling the string through the second hole to bend the branch to make a proper bow. Then I tied it tight.
And voila! There was a bow.
The neighbor kids came back while I was making this and wanted bows of their own. So I cut 2 more branches (the 3rd kid had the store bought bow) and drilled 4 more holes.
I turned the peeling and threading over to them (Caleb helped with theirs), and then tied the knots for them. I also made a crude arrow for Caleb by sawing a notch in the end of a relatively straight stick and sharpening the point. I turned the rest of the arrow making over to them.
How long will these last? I don’t know. When the branches dry out, they will no doubt break (the sad end of all my willow whips as a child as well). How do they work? Decent enough. They won’t be killing any wild animals with them, but that’s fine with me! Most importantly, we fulfilled a desire with no money, no trips to the store, and delighted multiple children. Talk about instant gratification!