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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Survival Break Down Bow

Bow Diagram


Work bench with mounted vise
3/16" drill bit
Jigsaw or table saw
(4) C-clamps (4-5" span)
Flat metal file
Metal scribe tool or fine tip marker
Metal center punch
3 foot metal straight edge or Yard Stick
Tape measure or ruler
Face shield or goggles


(1) Youth bow and arrow set (fiberglass limbs at least 1/2" wide limbs and 20" long with 18-25 pound pull) (You can buy a similar one HERE)
(1) Hard wood to make the Riser (handle grip) use oak, walnut or similar (you can use aluminum if you have a machine shop and can fabricate this)
(1) Small nail size 2d ( 2 penny nail) (cut the head off)
(1) Can spray paint (what ever color you decide- optional if you don't want to use paint)
(1) Flat steel stock 1" x 1/16" long enough to make 2 pieces 3 1/2" long
(2) Screws #10-24 x 1 1/2" long (found at LOWES)
(2) Screws #10-24 x 2" long (LOWES)
(4) Wing nuts #10 (LOWES)
(8) Flat washers #10 (LOWES)
(4) Lock washers #10 (LOWES)


1. Using a hacksaw, cut off the fiberglass bow limbs where they just meet the hand grip. Ensure both limbs are the same length after the cuts have been made. Use a file and sand paper to make the lengths the same and to smooth off the cuts.

2. Measure the width of the limbs and draw a center line going down the center of the limb starting at the cut end working toward the opposite end. This line only has to be about 5 inches.

3. Look at the diagram and make the measurements for the screw holes. The screw holes in the limbs are the first holes you want to drill. This gives you a template to drill the other remaining holes in the riser and metal plates.

4. Place the limbs in a vise and drill the four holes. If you have a table mounted drill and vise, use this as it gives you a more accurate cut than by doing it free handed.

5. Using the diagram, mark the measurements for the riser (hand grip) and cut them out (13"L x 1 1/4"W x 3/4"H). Do not cut the 1/4" angled cut (the one that is shaded) until after the screw holes have been drilled.

6. Next, make the measurements where the limbs are to be mounted to the riser. The cut end of the limb will go 3 1/2" from each bottom end of the riser as shown in the diagram. Make a mark so that you will know where to put each limb when it's time for the C-clamps and drilling.

7. Place the riser (bottom side facing up) in the vise (place thin pieces of wood on each side of the riser to protect it from the jaws of the vise). The jaws of the vise should be in the center of the riser with about 3/4" of the riser protruding at the top of the vise jaw.

8. Place each limb with the cut ends on the line previously drawn and secure them with two C-clamps for each end of the limb. Leave room where the holes are to be drilled. Ensured that bow string notch at the opposite ends of the limbs are facing toward the top of the riser.

9. Place a metal straight edge alongside both limbs from one end to the other and ensure the limbs are aligned with each other. When the limbs are aligned, you can use the holes, already drilled into the limbs, as a template. Go ahead and drill the holes into the riser.

10. After the holes in the riser are drilled, put the #10 screws through the riser and limbs to ensure a smooth matching fit.

11. Measure the shaded angle cut for the riser and cut it out using a jigsaw or similar cutting device. (You do not have to make this cut if you don't want to. It is for looks only, but you will have to replace the two 1 1/2" screws with 2- 2 " screws.) Sand all the rough edges down using the sandpaper.

12. Measure and cut out the two metal plates. Use the metal file and round of all the sharp angles.

13. Align each metal plate at the cut end of the limbs (bottom side of the limbs). Clamp the plates in place using the C-clamps, leaving room to mark the holes. Using the holes in the limbs as templates, take a metal scribe tool or fine tip marker and draw the holes onto the metal plates.

14. Remove the C-clamps and limbs. Using a center punch and hammer, find the center of each hole on the metal plates and make a mark. This is where the drill bit tip will ride when you drill the holes. The measurement of these holes need to be as close to the ones on the limbs so that everything lines up when putting the bow together. So, measure twice and cut once is the old saying here.

15. Place the metal plates in the vise or drill press if you have one, and drill out each hole. Use the metal file to file off any remaining burrs from drilling.

16. Find the center of the riser (hand grip) and mark the center point on the side where the arrow sits. Make sure the center is width wise and length wise. Using the diagram, make the measurements for the nail (6 1/2" from the end and 3/16" from the bottom upward). Use a drill bit that is one size smaller than the diameter of the nail and drill down 1/4". Hammer in the 3/4" headless nail until it is in 1/4" of an inch. Pre-drilling the hole prevents the wood from splitting when hammering in the nail.

17. Put the bow together. Use the limbs and plates on the same ends they were measured for as they may fit better. Once the bow is together and everything matches up, it is a good idea to mark one end as a set. Take the metal file and file two hatch marks on the side of one of the metal plates and the top of the limb associated with the metal plate. I did this for the top limb combo, so when I put the bow together I use the same set.

18. String the bow and do a test fire.

19. Paint the bow if desired.

20. Make a carrying case for the bow and arrows. (Be creative or use the idea I did on the video)

Arrow Diagram


Copper tube cutter
Small tap and die set
Small hammer
Tape Measure or Yard Stick


(3) Aluminum arrows with fletching and tips already attached. (optional if you are not going to make break down arrows)
(9) Threaded arrow inserts, includes the broad head inserts (inserts must be the size used for the arrow diameter with the threads being 8-32- look under arrow accessories on Internet archery sites or go HERE)
(6) Small rubber O-rings, type used for mounting broad heads to the arrow shaft (look under broad head accessories on Internet archery supply sites, or go HERE)
(1) Tube archery glue or similar (model glue will work)
(3) Threaded rod 8-32 x 2" (LOWES) (these need to be cut to 1 5/16" long)


1. Using a tape measure or yard stick, make a mark 20" from the noch end of the arrow toward the broad head end. The is slightly shorter than the bow limb and will compensate for the addition of the threaded rod.

2. Using a copper tube cutter, cut the arrow at the mark. The cutter should have an attached tool that removes any burrs from the cutting.

3. If the arrow came with a broad head, then it already has a threaded insert and rubber o-ring, if not you will need to insert an insert here. At the point where you made the cut, you will need to add an insert at each cut end. Put a small amount of glue around each threaded insert and put them into the holes. You made need to use a hammer to tap them until they are fully seated. Clean off any excess glue.

4. Measure and cut the threaded rod to a length of 1 5/16". Thread the rod into the inserts where the cuts were made. If the cut end of the threaded rod does not screw in smoothly, then you may have to clean the threads using a tap and die set, or a thread file if you have one. Clean up the threads until both ends can be screwed into the inserts.

5. The threaded rod will be permanently attached to the lower half of the arrow, so put some glue on the lower quarter part of the threaded rod and screw into place. Allow the glue to dry.

6. When putting the arrow together, make sure you place an o-ring between the two halves before screwing them together. This keeps the arrow from coming loose at the threads. Make sure the broad head has an o-ring as well.

Note: I will be designing a fletching cover for the arrows to protect them when they are stored in the carrier. I will make a future post update when I have one perfected.

Tip: Put extra parts for your bow in a small candy tin or plastic box. (extra screws, washers, wing nuts, o-rings, bow string, arrow tips, etc.)

To download a PDF version of the instructions, click on the download button below.

I hope you enjoyed this post. It took a lot of time and effort to put this post together. It was fun making this bow and I had just as much fun shooting it. This bow works well. I may try and take large game with it in the near future- that is if I can ever get drawn for the hunts around here. I try and video the hunt and post it.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!



  1. Fair play to you my friend,
    It's all about making the best of what you have,Overcoming Obsticles,adapting to your situation etc, and you've done just that!

    I'll sure be giving this idea a go.

  2. Hi Charlie,
    Aussie Jim from northern Thailand.
    Great effort on the survival bow, it is the best on the Net. Can a novice please ask a few questions: 1) Did you put a Nock on the bow string for the arrow. 2) did you put a 'Kisser' on the bow string to aling with your mouth. 3) will you cut an arrow rest / sight window in your Riser to put the arrow rest central to the bow string. 4) did you make a fishing arrow. and 5) will you use the Goblin front sight.
    Thank you for the great SOS web site.
    Would like to share some ideas about survival. Keep up the great effort. Jim

    1. Greetings Aussie Jim. Here is the answer to your questions:

      1. No. I just estimate where the center is, sometimes I use a permanent marker and mark the spot.
      2. No. I have never needed to use this.
      3. I used a nail as shown in the diagram to accomplish this.
      4. I have not, but that is a great idea. I think I found another project to work on. Thanks for the suggestion.
      5. I won't be adding any sights. I estimate using the bare bow techniques that the native Indians used.

      Thanks for visiting my friend and have a great day.