There are lots of reasons to start making your own archery gear. Making a primitive quiver is a great place to start.
Primitive means first, not worst. I first heard this statement as I was just getting my feet wet with primitive skills. As I’ve learned more and more, this statement has become more and more clear. Our ancestors were every bit as intelligent as us modern day folks. They just had a different education. Where we learn reading, writing, and rithmatic, they learned plants, animals, reading the weather, and the ways of the natural world. With that being the case, people all across the globe developed creative and unique ways to solving the problems they faced everyday. Some of the developments they made are still ideal solutions to the same problems.
As history unfolded near the end of the Stone Age, some societies developed agriculture and dealt with all the challenges that came along with settling down in one place. Farmers and pastoralists faced problems such as how to erect adequate structures, deal with human waste accumulation, and eventually issues like city planning. Not only that but they accumulated knowledge about animal husbandry and successful farming practices.
Other groups of people continued to live by hunting and gathering. They continued to use the natural bounty surrounding them. Although greatly different from agriculturalists, these nomadic hunters also faced challenges. Nomads faced challenges related to travel and frequent movement. One area where nomadic groups of primitive people excelled was understanding how to travel light. They developed practical methods of transporting their gear, comfortably and functionally, across distances. One item they developed to fit this lifestyle was a functional bow and arrow combination quiver.
To a lesser degree we as hunters still have to meet the same basic demands as those nomadic travelers. While on the hunt we still likely want to travel light, comfortable, and our gear needs to be functional. Today we are fortunate to have many businesses competing to provide us with exceptional hunting gear. Sometimes though, the best answers are some of the most ancient. That’s why I set out to replicate a primitive bow and arrow quiver based on the design of nomadic people who moved for a living.
The design I started with is based off concepts found in Douglas Spotted Eagles’ book Making Indian Bows and Arrows…The Old Way. I also came across the same design in a book titled Little Chief’s Gatherings, which contains pages of photos from the Smithsonian’s archives of Lakota artifacts. Finally, this type of quiver is seen often in the paintings of Alfred Jacob Miller. Historically, most sources indicate this style of quiver was widely used in the past.
Although the overall design is based off a tried and tested version, I wanted to make a few customizations. First off, the bow I shoot (a Bear Montana) is much longer than the bows used by the Lakota on the plains. Mine would have to be much longer than older versions. Not only that, but I want to carry the longbow at a different angle than a short bow could have been carried.
The extra length did create a problem when my bow was not in the quiver however. I had too much excessive buckskin dangling around me. To solve the problem, I created a small fastener on the back of the quiver. Now I can tri-fold the bow quiver up when not in use, and it folds down smaller than my actual arrow quiver. This keeps it tucked neatly out of the way when not in use.
The second major change I made was putting two willow limbs above my bow quiver. From what I can see, most of these bow quivers only attached limbs above their arrow quivers, and the bow quiver hung free. I not only wanted the bow quiver to be supported, but I also wanted to be able to hang my blanket off the quiver. This would allow me to travel with camp on my back without adding a backpack and other gear. If I needed to use a backpack, I wouldn’t be able to use the bow quiver. Being able to accommodate the blanket was a must, and the two limbs accommodate that need. In the end I was able to create a bow and arrow quiver, that not only is beautiful, but functional for my needs as well.
Spending time on these kinds of projects has a few great benefits. First off, at the end of the day I have a custom made bow quiver that should last me for years to come. It is designed by me, so any future changes or repairs can be easily accomplished. Secondly, in regards to repair, the quiver is made from all-natural materials. I shouldn’t ever be caught in a situation where it cannot be fixed in the field. As long as a few sticks are present, I can make a bit of cordage, and have a simple sewing kit, I shouldn’t ever be stranded with busted equipment in the field. Lastly, after spending the time to create this project from start to finish, I have exercised a body of old knowledge that has been around for millennia.
Although I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject of primeval knowledge, I do claim these projects open a new understanding on the subject. I always knew people made quivers from animal skins. That’s the “book larnin” everyone knows. After several years practicing these sorts of skills, I now have a much deeper appreciation for their knowledge, skills, and perspective on the world. It truly does open up a window into another world.
If you choose to invest the time in building your own primitive bow quiver, you may be surprised how much you learn. Not only will you explore history, but you’ll get a chance to see how ingenious our ancestors really were. Along the way you’ll have to problem solve and figure out what you want. You’ll get a custom made quiver to your very own liking, and also open up a world that we seldom get to experience in the modern age. You may also develop a new recognition of truth in the phrase, “Primitive means first, not worst.”
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