tisdag 15 april 2014

The bouncing arrow

This is a project I've been working on for many years. I got the idea from Sven, a man I met at an annual meeting in the big forest Tiveden. The meeting is called Stigmännsmöte and can be translated into ranger gathering or something like it... The meeting is relaxed, no specific period clothes, you don't have to participate in any shoots, you can just sit by the fire and talk about the production of ink or something else interesting.

Sven talked about this hunting arrow for seabirds. The theory was that when you sit low in the water  and loosens the arrow almost parallel to the water surface the arrow bounces like you are skipping stones. I've got sources that say that the arrow origins from the Ural mountains, but no more than that...
I tried making my own a years ago and it looked like this. The shaft is made of aspen (Populus tremula) and the ball is made of birch (Betula pendula). 

The fletchings are turkey cut to the EWBS standard arrow dimensions. The forked arrow head is made of Hector Cole.
A sunny summers day last year we took a trip to Torsö which is a big island in Vänern, the biggest lake in Sweden. The island got a shallow beach which suited the experiment. It didnt work... I might have got some bounce but most of the shots went under water... Göran who took the photos came up with the idea that we needed a smoother transition between the shaft and the "ball", and that seems logical. He used some reed straws and duct tape(every man's best friend ;) )to make the whole thing more like a drop than a ball.
We tried this and it worked! Sometimes it skipped over 30 meters on the surface. I found out that the angle the arrow hits the surface is crucial. One theory I have is also that my bow is too strong(75-85 lbs), it punches through the surface. Maybe with a weaker bow the impact angle can be a slightly more forgiving. When I've been looking at the videos I've noticed that I sometimes dips the lower limb of the bow in the water, this will result in reduced speed and a bad shot.
Why use this kind of arrow? You lose accuracy and power with it...
But maybe if your arrow falls short, instead of just plunging down in the water and maybe lodge itself in the bottom it will bounce and maybe hit that duck anyway. And even if it goes under water the lump will reduce its speed and the arrow will float up to the surface.
I used a forked arrow head as these have a large surface to catch up the target, and if the arrow misses its target it won't disappear as easily in the reeds.
Here's this year's model. A smoother "ball" and also a longer shaft of ash (Fraxinus exelcior) so I can draw it full length. I will try this out in the summer and see how it works.
If anyone got any information, please share it!