In 2010 the kids and I attended Rick Berry’s 4 Element Earth Education class in Northern California, and had a great time. Rick is one of the original people in charge of Coyote Tracks, an appendage of Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool, in New Jersey. One of the activities the kids liked best was hunting each other with little “quickie bows” Rick made for them out of branches and other items (see above photos). The great thing about the bows he made was that they were kid safe because they had spongy rubber balls on the tips of the arrows for safety, in case the kids actually hit one another.
In the homeschool class I have been teaching, I made similar bows and arrows for the kids to play with. I used cherry limbs I had pruned off our cherry trees in February for the bows, and cedar for the arrows. I cut up the end of a pool noodle and hot glued the tips of the arrows into little holes I made in the spongy material of the noodle pieces (I found out later, though, the little rubber spongy balls would have been better if I could have found some because the pool noodle material isn’t strong enough to hold up under multiple hits). The fletching I made with packing tape, shaped and cut to be like feather fletching. I used paracord for the string. I learned to wear leather gloves while notching the ends of the bows . . . because I cut myself not following knife safety rules making the awkward angled notches. That was a lesson for the kids too, even the grown ups get cut when they don’t follow the safety rules. The kids in my class were in a church parking lot, and after chasing each other around with their bows for awhile, I had the kids hide in the bushes around the edges of the church property, then I came along with a stuffed bunny dragged behind me on a cord for them to try to shoot. It was more than some of them could to to stay hidden. When they missed the bunny some couldn’t help wanting to chase after me, shooting over and over! It was a little chaotic trying to keep them in their places as I moved from one hidden student to the next down the bunny trail.
It was a good lesson in how much practice it takes to get good with a bow, besides just being a lot of fun!