For the the past couple of weeks, I’ve been making bows and arrows, ostensibly for my 12 year daughter, Sophia, but this is something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time. As usual, I’m trying to do things for cheap or free, using found, recycled or readily available materials. The bows I’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 Nick’s patient, laid-back personality and crystal clear instructions for the project at hand. The settings for the videos are varied: Nick’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 I’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