Friday, March 15, 2013

PVC Pipe Bow & Arrows

All good things must come to an end, and we've reached our last day of the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively: Hands-On Projects.

This past weekend the Baptist Association of our county hosted the annual Truth and the Outdoors event.  The attendance figures last year were over 10,000-- nearly triple the population of the town.  There were hunting and fishing vendors of all sorts, pony rides and a petting zoo, but perhaps the longest lines every year are for the kids wanting to make bow and arrow sets from PVC pipe, pool noodles, and dowel rods.  If you're studying the Middle Ages, Native Americans, or just looking for some outdoor fun check these out.

By "deconstructing" our bow and looking at various Internet sites, I think I've been able to come up with instructions to build your own.

You'll need:

1/2 inch PVC pipe
1/4 inch wood dowels
pipe insulation (look in the plumbing dept)
Pool Noodles
Thin Nylon string
Electrical or Duct Tape

hack saw
hot glue gun
a serrated knife or electric knife (like you use to carve turkey)

Cut the PVC pipe to a suitable length.  Ours happens to be 40 1/2  inches but I've found instructions on the Internet for lengths from 38" to 50 ".

Using a hack saw, cut a 1/2 inch notch in both ends of the pipe.

Cut a piece of foam insulation to be a hand grip (about 4 inches) and wrap it around the center of the pipe.  You may hot glue it in place as ours is, or tape it tightly with electrical tape. 

Cut the string shorter than the pipe--for our 40 1/2" pipe the string is 36 inches between knots.  The shorter the string the more force will be needed to draw back the arrow (and the more force it will launch with--keep this in mind for younger kids or shooting indoors).  You'll need to thread the string in the pipe notches with the knots to keep it secured.  Some instructions have you place the knot inside the pipe and secure it with electrical tape or a PVC pipe cap.  By leaving ours outside you can remove the string and let the bow rest in a straightened position.

You can decorate the bow with markers, colored tape or paints.  For the Baptist event, volunteers helped the kids apply tape to tell the Gospel message (like the old "wordless books").  Black : sin, Red : Christ's blood, White : white as snow, Blue : baptism, Green : spiritual growth,  Yellow : the streets of gold in Heaven.

Now onto the arrows.

Our dowel rods are cut to 18  inches, again notched at one end with a hacksaw.

Cut the pool noodle into 1 1/2 inch wide sections with a serrated knife (an electric knife goes through like butter if you're planning on a quiverful of arrows).

Poke the dowel through one side of the "donut" created by the pool noodle, through the empty center and into the opposite side.  Don't let the dowel penetrate the second side completely!  You can then fix it in place with the glue gun. 

These are very lightweight arrows and when Fritz and some of his friends were playing on a windy day, I notice the arrows completely turned around in flight, pointing back from where they came.  Some instructions on the Internet suggest adding a bolt to the dowel before embedding in the noodle (in the center of the donut). You would then hot glue this in place up against the noodle.  This may help stabilize the arrow in flight.

The arrows from the event had round heads just like a noodle cross section.  When we got home it was easy to make them more arrow-shaped by cutting the foam with a serrated knife.  I drew my lines first.  You don't want to make it too pointed and cut into the area where of the dowel rod end.

The timing for this project couldn't be more perfect.  We've just been reading about Robin Hood and the Crusades in our Mystery of History Vol 2.  Now my Schnickelfritz can act out his favorite passages.  Hands-on projects and activities is where homeschooling can really shine.  Check out these other blogs for more ideas.

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