Make bows & arrows and atlatls & darts – in Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa, California
The bowmaking workshops are a series of sessions where you reserve time to work on your project. We have group, family or individual workshops for all skill levels. The plan for each project depends on what you want to do and what skills & materials you need to get it done. Shooting proficiency is not required to make a bow. If you’re new or returning to archery, we recommend the “Bowmaking – Orientation” workshop below or one of the shooting classes on our “Archery Lessons” page.
The atlatl & dart workshop is now available – scroll down, this page. If you’re new to atlatl, we recommend trying the “Atlatl Throwing Class” on our archery lessons page – learn how to throw some darts, have fun and see what size you want to make.
For all crafting classes:
– Weekday and weekend workshops are available year-round to fit your schedule.
– Go to the SIGN-UP FOR LESSONS page to reserve your project start time.
– We will email confirm with directions and parking.
– Venmo, Paypal, cash, or check (payable to Mark Smith) at start of workshop.
Bowmaking – Orientation
This is where we start if you want to make a bow and you do not have previous experience or you want to engage in advanced bowmaking. We don’t make things in this class, we learn how it’s done & what to expect. The class reveals a “how & why” to one of our most ancient method arts. We compare wooden bows & arrows to factory made materials and review what skills & behaviors are required to make wooden bows. Along the way, we will cover some history, science, art and primitive skills. Demonstration & evaluation will be hands-on, using woodcraft tools, tiller sticks and trying out a few bows. We arrive at your measure and choose the right project that matches your size, crafting level, shooting level and expectations. This class is not required before making a bow, but highly recommended for the first time archer and first time bowmaker.
FREE – Bowmaking Orientation class
open to individuals, familes & groups
Time: 30 to 60mins
Bowmaking – Craft
Here is where we focus on creating your bow. Archery proficiency is not required, but basic shooting skill will come in handy. The bow staves are prepared to different levels of completion, so people can select & complete a bow within their skill level. We will methodically teach the wood to bend perfectly by repeating the crafting process: exercise/measure/scribe/tiller. Tillering is removing shavings of wood in just the right place in just the right amount. We will explore several methods, hand tools and work techniques to shape the limbs and handle. When the bow reaches the desired performance, we will seal the wood or create wood dyes and then seal the bow. Stock bow materials are straight-grain seasoned hickory and heat-treated planed Moso bamboo. Class hours are flexible, we take lots of tiny breaks and you can come & go. We recommend planning for 2 very long days or a bunch of short days. Bring your snacks or there are grocery & restaurant services about a half mile away. We have an outdoor sitting space, cooking area and water available. NOTE: The work will require hand & finger strength endurance, ample fortitude and keen attention to small changes. Adult helpers are required for youth bow projects.
Bowmaking Craft classes:
includes bowstring . . .
$100 Youth bow, adult helper required
$147 Native Plains Longbow, beginner skill level
$157 Native Plains Longbow, beginner skill level, long length
$177 Modoc Hunting Bow, intermediate skill level
$297 Bamboo Reflex Deflex, advanced skill level
Time: 20 to 30hrs
Note: On the “Sign-up” Page you will be reserving your start window day & time. After you get here and choose your project – together we’ll estimate & reserve the days & times to complete your project.
Arrows – Bowstrings – Tuning
This class is open to all folks that need traditional arrows. Some basic shooting skill is required. Arrows carry their own chapter of science; and require the archer & bow to prove the right arrow for the best flight. Your tests may point to adjusting brace height, nock height, arrow length, arrow weight, arrow spine, making a bowstring, shooting technique and so on. After we dial-in the bow and find your arrow recipe, we make six Port Orford cedar arrows with Trueflight feathers. Extra arrows and hunter practice sets are available. Bring your notepad; there will be lots of detail regarding your parts & specs, accessories, tournament dates and more.
$65 Arrow crafting & tuning
includes 6 fieldpoint premium arrows
add ons: $10/extra arrow, $10/bowstring, $14/broadhead
Time: 2 to 4hrs
Note: On the “Sign-up Page” you will be reserving your start window day & time.
$15 Bowstring craft only,
includes 1 bowstring – you make it or I make it…
Time: 30mins to 1hr
$25 Tuning bow & arrow only
Tired of wimpy arrows flying at 65mph? Can’t manage to penetrate the 2 inch thick hide of that pesky woolly mammoth? Maybe you need an atlatl (pronounced “AHT-LAHT-L” or “AHT-L-AHT-L”).
Atlatl crafting is open to all ages. The small youth crafters should probably attend a throwing class first – they will need their adult with them for throwing and crafting classes. All classes are about 4 to 6hrs, by appointment, almost anyday – click on our “Sign-up” Page to reserve your start time. In this class, students will make a dart and atlatl and then have the opportunity to test their workmanship in our throwing area.
The atlatl is a simple throwing stick that uses mechanical leverage to increase the throwing force about 2.5 times. This is a serious device. The projectile used is a spear-like dart, 4 to 6ft long and flexible like an arrow. The atlatl & dart is akin to the bow & arrow and is treated with the same respect. The current atlatl distance record is over 756ft ft.
$70 Atlatl Crafting class
includes all materials for 1 atlatl and 1 dart
Extra darts are $25ea to $40ea
Time: 4 to 6hrs
Note: On the “Sign-up” Page, you will be reserving your start window day & time.
Mobile Workshops – archery craft and culture
We offer mobile workshops featuring archery related crafts & demonstrations or activities that engage ancient, primitive and life skills – set up in your space – designed for your group, gathering, school or organization. The mobile workshops might be a singel or weekly short event at your venue, or a scheduled 2-5 day workshop, or an activity that spans a couple weekends. We work with you to design the best fit for your age groups, skill levels, themes or community – let’s have some fun!
– crafting series: making longbows, arrows, atlatls, darts, advanced cordage & hitches.
– culture series: archery & atlatl history, art, science, games and practice – knife safety & cutting tools – advanced archery development – safesport & behavioral orientation
Our CALENDAR PAGE shows local all-ages events and our mobile workshops.
Email or call for detail and planning.
Archery & Atlatl Lessons
- Discover traditional archery in a comfortable informal setting.
- Available year round for all ages and all skill levels.
- Schedule your practice, bring your friends, play some archery games.
- New class: Atlatl throwing
- Click on ARCHERY LESSONS PAGE for more info