Make Your Own Toy Bow (and arrows)

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!


2 thoughts on “Make Your Own Toy Bow (and arrows)

  1. My father always made our bows and arrows, also, tin cans tied with string to made stilts. And I love your toys. I buy them for my greatgrandkids.

  2. I love this! I also love how the children would have seen and admired your resourcefulness and the process itself of creating the toy. So many children don’t know what goes into making genuine good quality toys (let alone the food they eat, the clothes they wear, etc etc – but that’s another story!) I bet that’s a memory that will stick with them for a long time. Much more meaningful than buying one 🙂

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