Archery Archives

Arrow Bag

Today’s addition to my archery gear is an arrow bag. I cut a piece of heavy leather from an old piece of armor, boiled it and pressed it flat until it dried. Then I trimmed it into a circle, drilled 1/2″ holes for the arrows and smaller holes around the edge for stitching. Rather than sew the spacer directly to my bag, I sewed it to a doubled strip of scrap linen, which I could then sew to my bag and move to another bag or quiver later if necessary:

The bag is a double layer of white cotton I’ve had kicking around for I don’t know how many years. I sewed it into a rectangle, put a casing in at the top, and put in a drawstring made from my near-infinite spool of synthetic twill tape. The ends of the drawstring are sewn to the bottom corner of the bag. The spacer is then sewn inside the bag low enough that it won’t hit the fletchings of the arrows:

I seems to work pretty well. I’ve seen some other examples where the top part of the bag is not sewn up, but so far I don’t see any real need to open that seam up. The bag works quite nicely when closed all the way up to carry the arrows. I’m not sure yet if it will work to hold them while shooting.

You Got Served

My bowstring was starting to get a little fuzzy, which made me nervous. I decided it was time to serve the center of the string. I made a serving tool using these instructions (more or less), and it worked as advertised:

I loaded it up with button thread and gave it a shot. The end result looks serviceable, if not especially pretty:

I tied on a couple of nock points with crochet yarn (plus an extra one that I didn’t quite put in the right place). The arrows seem to snap on to the string a bit more snugly now, so I hope they’ll still release correctly. I guess I ‘ll find out later…

Relief For Bruised Fingers

I had assumed that the archer’s finger tab was a modern invention, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was wrong. I cut one out of the thick, stretchy elk hide I’ve had for years that’s not good for much else, and it seems to work as advertised. No more shooting until I finish getting packed for Saltare, though!

Mary Rose Bracer: Prototype Finished

I finished up the bracer this afternoon:


Based on the straps on this example (also from the Mary Rose), I made my Y-shaped straps by splitting the ends of two straight straps. A few quick rivets and a Tandy buckle later, and I had a functional bracer. I also experimented with some basic tooling using a nail set. The leather was about as rigid as it was this morning, which means it will hold the right basic shape but still conform to my arm when strapped on. That’s good enough for me. I also sanded the inside some to smooth out the scratchy bits. It took me a few shots (and a lovely armor bite) to figure out exactly where on my arm it needed to be, but after that it performed its task admirably.

After I was done shooting for the night, Adela came out to give it a try. I may need a second bracer sooner than I thought…

Mary Rose Bracer: Beginning

As part of my new archery obsession, I have found myself in need of a bracer. The first time I tried out my new bow, I wore the arm harness from my armor, which did the job so well I didn’t even know it was doing it. Several people told me they didn’t shoot with a bracer at all, so the next time I tried going without. I proceeded to get smacked repeatedly in the wrist, which make me quickly reconsider this plan of action. I tried wrapping some scrap cloth around my wrist, which was effective but ugly and cumbersome. In the end I used a medical wrist brace, which did the job of protecting my arm, but made it a bit clumsy to hold the bow.

In the meantime, I was already starting on a better replacement. I’ve played with hardening leather in the past, so I got to work bodging together a prototype. My goal is to make something like the fancy bracer from the Mary Rose shipwreck, inspired by this excellent reproduction. I figured I would want it to be in the form of a tapered cone to match the shape of my forearm, so I searched around the house and managed to put something together out of a plastic cup and a cutting board:

Also pictured: the leather, a tub to soak it in, and a fancy marking tool.

I cut out a chunk of leather about the size of my soaking tub, just in case there was a lot of shrinkage. I stuck it in the tub and covered it with near-boiling water from the hot water dispenser at the sink (love that thing!):

I left it there for about 10 minutes (while I was out shooting in the back yard), then came back and secured it around my form with some junk fabric tied with strips of the same:

I wanted to avoid any bulges in the leather from being tied too tightly, and the cloth wrapping seemed to do the trick. I left it to dry overnight. In the morning, the leather was still a bit damp, but held the shape of the form.In the morning I removed the form and wrapping, and tied the leather back up to keep it from flattening back out. It then went in a 200° oven for about 20 minutes while I ate breakfast and got the kids ready to go:

Placed with the edges of the leather down in case the rack left any marks (it didn't)

At this point the leather was dry to the touch, and semi-rigid. I could bend it easily by hand, but it returned to its formed shape. It may harden up more as it finished drying, but this is sufficient for my purposes as it is. At this point I started to consider the pattern of the actual bracer. The extant one didn’t really seem tapered at all, and I wondered why that might be. After digging up some actual measurements of it, it seems it was only about 5″ long, so it only would have covered the wrist, not the entire forearm. On the down side, this meant I had cut far too much leather. On the up side, this meant I could make two or three out of the leather I had already hardened. I sketched out a quick paper pattern:

I laid the pattern on the formed leather and scored a line around it. I cut it out with leather shears, then beveled the edges with an X-acto knife. This is where I left it as of this morning:

I don’t plan to do much else with this aside from attaching the strap and maybe some sanding of the inside and edges to smooth them out a bit. I may make another from this piece of leather and try some tooling or painting on it, though tooling would have been best done while the leather was still wet. Now that I know there will only be minimal shrinkage from this hardening method, I can cut the piece to shape, tool it, and harden it for the next attempt.

Taking Up Archery

For years I’ve wanted to take up target archery. I’ve plinked around a little once or twice with borrowed gear, but I’ve never had the opportunity to really pursue it. One of the appeals of archery (aside from the fact that it’s fun) is that I could conceivably have a totally historically accurate kit and it would be legal to use according to SCA rules. In other words, I can have accessories that are both pretty and functional. This is not the case in any of the various martial arts, so I may stick with it more. Being able to literally walk out the back door of my house and have a place I can shoot doesn’t hurt either.

I’m trying to do this as inexpensively as possible, or at least space the expense out over as much time as I can to ease into it. My big purchase so far is a longbow from It needs some linseed oil and a bit of leather for the grip, but those are things I can do. The bow shipped quite a bit sooner than I expected, so I ran out to the local sporting goods store and got some cheap aluminum arrows. I’m sure proper wood-and-feather arrows will shoot differently, but these should give me something to play with until I get around to buying/making something better. I also needed something to shoot at. After poking around websites and videos yesterday, I decided to stuff a cardboard box with a bunch of horrible junk fabric that I have had stashed away for years and literally could not give away for free. While I would never make clothes out of any of that stuff, it stops arrows perfectly.

My next steps are to procure a pair of reasonably un-modern-looking gloves and make a bracer, and maybe a serving tool (which I did not even know I needed until this morning). I tried wearing my rattan-legal arm harness in lieu of a bracer yesterday, but the one place the string slapped me was a spot that it didn’t cover. Boiling leather is fun, though, so that should be an entertaining project.