• Jennifer

The Art Of The Arrow- The Specialty Of Arrow Making

The past weekend I attended the Art of the Arrow at the Wilderness Road State Park, Which was a class that showed us how to make arrows like the Cherokee made them.


The Wilderness Road State Park is a beautiful place with 18th century buildings and a fort showing how life would have been lived back then.


Seen here in the photos, the volunteers that work at the Wilderness Road state park created the Indian village on the location from scratch. They did not use any modern tools, so it is 100% authentic. On the left that would be what the Winter Home for the Cherokee would look like. It would house the family with the grandparents, and keep them warm throughout the winter months. The roof of the Winter home has over 21000 Cattails. I was able to go inside and see how it was constructed, there is a fire pit in the middle of the home, that is a replica of the 18th century Cherokee Home.


On the right you will see the Summer Home for the Cherokee.


The Art of The Arrow- The Specialty of Arrow Making


The create an arrow you would use Sugar Cane. You would cut the stock and leave to dry slowly for about 2 years. You would do this for the bow wood as well.


To straighten the arrow you would heat over a fire. It makes it glossy. You would also make an arrow straightener out of wood, it looks like a stick or piece of wood with a dip it in. That would help you when you have heated the cane to manipulate the arrow.


You would also try to smooth down the nodes on the cane. The nodes are where the bend is the worst. The word for that would be to "Score" the arrow.


You want the bottom of the stock at the end, the part that is thicker. That way when you put the knock on the back side of the node, it will be strong. The knock is when you cut the end that is the strongest in a V shape.


The eastern American and southeastern Indians would use turkey feathers. The Cherokee also only put 2 fletches feathers on their arrows, but others would put up to three.


Also for glueing the feather on to stay, they would use Hide Glue. It's like a gelatin, you would boil down hides and hooves on the fire.


To tie the feather in place on the arrow you would use Sinew, Which is the tendon of the animal. You would chew it.



The diagram above shows the way you would need to cut your feather to lay on the arrow.

Pre bend the quill flat, front to back, not sideways before you glue it onto the arrow.


Once you've used the hide glue and have the feather in place on the arrow, you would tie sinew around the bottom of the feather to hold it in place, once the sinew dries it tightens.


Then very carefully cut down the stalk of the feather to help it fly through the air.


For the arrow head in this time, they used brass/copper kettle pots.


* Fun Fact: Quivers were made from Otter hair/fur. In the west they used bob cat or cougar hair/fur. They believed this would impart the spirit of the hunting animal. The 18th century quiver was mainly used to store the arrows.



Shown above is a garden where they would grow fruits and vegetables. Also in the far right picture you see the back of the blacksmith and gunsmith shop.



Mrs. Heller showing a authentic fishing net that one of the volunteers created. The Blacksmith shop. Blacksmiths were able to pick up within an hour , taking only their anvil, tools, and if needed the bellows. Also you see to the far right is the tobacco field.




To the left you see the port where they would defend the fort. The building to the left of the bearskin rug is a house the family would live in. The cabin with the bear skin on it would be where visitors would stop in and grab food or drink. They would also be able to purchase sleeping quarters for the night.


*Fun Fact if you wanted a whole bed to yourself, you would have to pay for 4 people, because the inn keeper would say I can fit four people in this bed so you would pay per space.




My Thoughts...

The art of the arrow..... The specialty of arrow making.🏹 I absolutely loved this class, it was very informative and we learned how the Cherokee made their arrows. This was extremely authentic and we also got a mini viewing of the fort. The Hellers were wonderful tour guides, they gave a lot of useful info about the apparel in the 18th century, the blacksmith shop and what would happen if they needed to leave quickly, as well as what each building was used for. This location is one of a kind in North America, they built it using all tools from the 18th century no modern ones. Anyone interested, they have three major events , the 2nd weekend in October, the second weekend in May, and one in July. The one in May is celebrating the 20th year anniversary of the Raid, people from all over the world come to partake and view the event. They also have other events throughout the year be sure to check out they're calendar, this is definitely a must see!


The musters are held on the second Saturday of every month. The May muster is the Raid, and the October muster is Fall Encampment. In November, blacksmithing is the theme.


You can check out their events on facebook.





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