Making Cane Arrows
Making cane shaft arrows is really an exercise in patience. Most Native American arrows were constructed using a single material for the shaft. Many woods were used, including willow, dogwood, hickory and rose wood. However, for many of the plains Indians, these materials were not readily available and had to be traded for. As a result, some tribes, including the Choctaw, used river cane as the main component of their arrow shafts. Usually these shafts were constructed with the main part of the shaft made from cane with a foreshaft and nock made from the less common and harder to come by hardwoods.
I have found many sources of river here, most close to my home. I like to harvest raw material, in the form of dormant shoots, during the winter months. Careful selection of candidate material is a process that comes with a lot of trial and error. In the beginning, you'll probably get back home with a load of stuff you can't really use the first time or two you go out gathering. Trust me. I have enouth scrap bamboo here to decorate a very large Japanese garden! (It does make a great fire in my firepit though......)
I first became interested in this type of arrow after a visit to the Amazon in Brazil where I had the opportunity to purchase a few through a government store there. These arrows are typically longer than our Native American arrows, sometimes 40 inches or longer. A common point was a crocodile tooth which they dipped in poison. Like our native arrows, they incorporated a hardwood foreshaft about 6" long. Nock was usually the fire-hardened end of the cane tightly wrapped with sinew or fiber material to prevent splitting.
Below is a link to a slideshow which I've put together to show some of the main steps and techniques I use to make these replicas. The main emphasis is on preparing the shafts. Points and fletching are not covered in detail in this post. Please feel free to add any input you may have to help me and others in the comments section below.
Click here to go to a slideshow on Making Cane Arrows