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Monday, September 5, 2011

More on Making a PVC Pipe Archery Bow

Regular readers of this blog will recall the piece I wrote about my experimental PVC archery bow. I wanted to see if one could actually produce a longbow type archery bow easily and cheaply using PVC. Between family, school, and other demands I have not gotten out to shoot it yet. See my previous post here:
http://inkarlslab.blogspot.com/2011/06/homemade-pvc-pipe-archery-bow.html

While doing some research a couple weeks ago I stumbled upon this interesting you-tube video. It details how to make a PVC bow that is considerably more elaborate than the one I made and wrote about. It's owner claims 60 pounds draw weight - quite respectable, in my opinion.

http://themanscave.com/hunting-outdoors/pvc-bow/

There are plenty of sites online that deal with PVC as a cheap and readily available material for making archery bows. Here is a quick distillation of what I have learned:

USE EYE PROTECTION when shooting ANY archery bow!! Any bow made of any material could potentially break. This could cause eye injury, depending on where the pieces fly. I've also heard of strings breaking and swatting people in the face, too.

1) While PVC will work, it does NOT have the speed or the "snap" of wood or fiberglass. In other words, when the string is released, a PVC bow of a given design and draw weight will take slightly longer to return to the relaxed position. Thus it will not produce as much arrow velocity as other materials.

2) PVC will develop a "memory", or "take a set", if it is left strung all the time. Thus, one should always unstring the bow when not in use.

3) On ANY "traditional" style bow, you want a brace height of 6" - 7". The brace height is the measurement between the string and the handle - in this case as measured at the middle of the bow. I should adjust mine by shortening the string slightly; the brace height is about 4.5".

4) The "composite" design of "Themancave's" bow offers the advantage of better speed due to the fiberglass rod core. Doing as he said by using a 1/2" pipe slipped inside a 3/4" pipe might also help protect against breakage - though I'd use soap or lanolin instead of petroleum based oil as the assembly lubricant.

5) If you paint PVC as "Themanscave" did, beware that the solvents in the paint will eat into the PVC and weaken it somewhat. Krylon and Rust-Oleum both make a spray primer for PVC. This primer is supposed to help the paint bind to the PVC. I'm currently using that on my own PVC projects to hopefully avoid the paint flaking I've experienced in the past.

6) As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, PVC gets quite brittle at temperatures below the mid 40's Fahrenheit. So don't try to shoot it in cold weather. PVC also degrades due to UV exposure - so don't leave your PVC bow exposed to sunlight when not in use. Painting your bow will protect it from UV exposure, but as I mentioned above the paint itself will weaken the material slightly.

While PVC does have certain disadvantages as pointed out above, it can be a viable way to obtain a bow quite cheaply and easily, and also might prove to be a useful emergency technology in a survival situation.

If any readers have made and used a PVC bow, I'd love to hear from you. In a future post I plan to cover simple "home and hardware store" materials to use for making bowstrings.

1 comment:

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