For the the past couple of weeks, Iâ€™ve been making bows and arrows, ostensibly for my 12 year daughter, Sophia, but this is something Iâ€™ve been interested in doing for a long time. As usual, Iâ€™m trying to do things for cheap or free, using found, recycled or readily available materials. The bows Iâ€™ve been building are made from common PVC plumbing pipe from Home Depot.
Learning from the Backyard Bowyer
I have been learning how to make PVC pipe bows from the YouTube videos of Nicholas Tomihama, known on the internet as The Backyard Bowyer. Nick is a wonderful teacher, an inventive craftsman, and a prolific video creator. In the past year and a half he has posted 150 instructional videos on how to make your own simple and inexpensive archery equipment.
Each video is between 5 and 10 minutes long, and has a mix of Nickâ€™s patient, laid-back personality and crystal clear instructions for the project at hand. The settings for the videos are varied: Nickâ€™s tiny backyard in Hawaii, his kitchen floor, a picnic table at a public park. Family members may appear on screen in the background, or his infant son may crawl into view as Nick shoots a new bow for you. On first glance, the production can seem absurdly casual and amateurish. The projects, however, are universally clever, and the scripting and editing are brilliant — just right for maximum learning and minimum boredom. I find myself inspired as a craftsperson and as an internet content creator.
So far Iâ€™ve made the following archery-related items:
- youth recurve PVC pipe bow
- adult recurve PVC pipe bow
- PVC pipe longbow
- three Flemish loop bowstrings
- two ABS pipe arrow quivers
- about 20 arrows
- Olympic-style archery target
- PVC pipe target stand