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Pellet bow (Read 2612 times)
Slyngorm
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Pellet bow
Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:16pm
 
I recently realized how perfect a weapon the slingshot is.
It utilizes eyesight aiming unlike a sling and is small enough to carry in a bag. It uses pebbles as ammunition but also arrows.
But it has an enormous flaw: rubber

Vulcanized rubber is extremely difficult to make.
In the wild you will make a gun from scratch sooner than you will make a slingshot. And for that reason slingshots aren't primitive weapons.

Luckily an alternative exists.






The pellet bow

This is the only traditional alternative to the slingshot that I have come across (I don't count the stone bow). It is basically a bow with a pouch on the bowstring that holds a pebble. It is used by twisting the handle so the projectile flies past the bow frame.




Construction

Bowstring
The bowstring must have a pouch somewhere near the middle. The less easily the string rotates around itself the more accurate the bow will be. It can be constructed in several ways.

  • Split string
The bowstring consists of a circular string with a pouch suspended between each side. The string is separated by two small wooden pieces between the strings.
...

The wooden pieces must be tightly stuck in place. An easy way to do this is to simply jam a toothpick through the rope under each wooden piece. 
It is important that the two sides of the rope is of even length otherwise the bow will tend to shot to one side.
...



  • Single string
A pouch on a single string. The string is often very thick. This is to prevent the pouch from spinning around itself.
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  • Something in between
...
...



The Bow
The bow frame is just a regular bow.
When using certain techniques the bow must be modified a little. Further explanation below.
The pouch is either placed a little bit higher than where you grip the bow or have the pouch on the middle of the bow while you hold slightly below it.

In some versions the bow is curved or shaped asymmetrically for easier departure of the pellet.
...

Some really advanced pellet bows consist of two bows joined together or split in the one end.
...



This thread is a nice read and details someone making and configuring a pellet bow
http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php?topic=50771.0n



Usage

Warning: pellet bows can misfire and shoot in all directions. Starting off using light ammunition and eye protection is advisable.


There are at least two ways of using it.

This one I most often see described  and used.
Flinch technique
     1. Hold bow frame straight
     2. Place pellet in the pouch, gripping top to bottom
     3. Aim above the pouch
     4. Draw pouch back
     5. Shortly before/after you release the pouch swiftly move/twist the bow frame towards the side of your arm holding the bow
The last step is akin to slinging in that you must intuitively feel how to flinch the bow. It is however miles easier to learn than using a sling.
I learned it by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpVO8iaIY4w



This one was inspired by an instruction I found here
http://www.atarn.org/letters/letter_summaries.htm#pellet
Twist technique
     1. Hold the bow frame at an angle
     2. Place pellet in the pouch, gripping top to bottom
     3. Aim above the pouch
     4. Draw the pouch straight backwards, with the pouch perpendicular to the target
     5. Let go
This technique relies solely on eyesight aiming.

It doesn't make a difference at what angle you hold the bow in terms of power and accuracy though small angles are easier to hold. If your grip is not strong enough the bow will consistently shot to the right of your target (if you hold the bow with your left hand).
When drawing, make sure that you pull straight backwards. Avoid this by aiming at the target from before you draw and until you let go.

  • Extra construction for twist technique
It is difficult to grip a regular bow handle at an angle. Solve this by tying a piece of wood to the bow, which must have a flat side, making a handle.  The pouch can be placed in the dead centre of the string if you hold your fingers and thumb on the same side of the handle.
The more your bow curves when strung the less angle you have to hold it at for the pellet to be able to shot past the bow.
 
You can also use the flinch technique with a bow designed for the twist technique.

I read somewhere that a bow to be used with this technique can with benefit be constructed asymmetrically so the ends stick out to one side. Though this is not necessary.



My bows

I have used these bows with the twist technique and for regular archery. Each end of the split string is collected in a knot below the limb. They both work fine though aren't powerful enough to fire anything but pebbles a reasonable distance.
...
...
...
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Conclusion

No matter what technique you use the pellet bow may be a little bit trickier to use than a slingshot but honestly I haven't used one very much.
It is of course, still miles easier to learn than a sling. After using either technique for about 3-4 days I became infinitely more accurate at pellet bowing than I currently am at slinging.

Now, MAYBE I have simply grown on this idea so much and practiced with the pellet bow so much that I have simply deluded myself into thinking I am solely using eyesight aiming using the twist technique. But I really do believe that is NOT the case.
And if so, there you have it: a primitive weapon that can launch blunt objects utilizing NOTHING but eyesight aiming. A true primitive slingshot.
However, even if it is true there is still a lot to be learned about the pellet bow.

Now I wonder how big projectiles can be used with this. Obviously a more powerful bow can shoot heavier objects. Considering the issue of pellet bows being larger than slingshots I wonder how you can make the smallest bow that still is as powerful as a slingshot.



Altogether, a completely awesome weapon that has definitely become my new favourite.

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« Last Edit: Apr 7th, 2021 at 5:05am by Slyngorm »  
 
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Slyngorm
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #1 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:29pm
 
History

When researching it I found VERY little information and many sources confuse the pellet bow and stone bow.
Yet, both in Europe, the Middle East, South America (especially Brazil), East Asia, India and maybe even North America and Africa the pellet bow saw use.

Youtube is probably the best place for documentation and features quite the number of videos.

The version with a split string is solely used in Brazil while both the split string and single string is used in East Asia.
In the present day it seems the most widely used in Thailand. There are quite a few videos of news broadcasts and game shows from there.


Sources depicting and mentioning pellet bows

Europe:
German manuscript from 15th century
https://uppsalalibraryculturalheritage.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/515/
...


Italian pantings from 15th century (and related discussion)
http://www.artinsociety.com/carpacciorsquos-double-enigma-hunting-on-the-lagoon-...
...
...




Thailand:
Game show
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkvZENMXbOY&t
Thai news reportage
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiyhuGdCVTw&list=PLRVUTcvx7LpGXkhbLiLFcd6PpA_gGX...
Bronze age grave containing a pellet bow
https://www.world-archaeology.com/features/thailands-bronze-age-superburials/
...




China:
Double stringed pellet bow from China
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBD1eAUR5eg&t=3s
Single stringed pellet bow from China
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z4JhEq2zzs
Shaolin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHQlmM3ZF24
General info
Team of pellet archers
https://vk.com/video-19790784_160664703
http://margo.student.utwente.nl/sagi/artikel/hinge/hinge.html
Chinese illustration
...




Brazil:
Bodoque instructions (if anyone speaks portugese)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvQ6JmMv9Qo&list=PLRVUTcvx7LpGXkhbLiLFcd6PpA_gGX...
Farmer pellet bowing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gl6LDwVjn4&feature=emb_title
Farmers pellet bowing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IauSNXTJIA




Vietnam:
Pellet bow in Vietnam
http://www.binhdinh-salongcuong.org/GB_DISCUSSION_%20Medieval%20Weapons_Eighteen...
...




Other:
Kuki
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax985H0BrjA

Persian pellet archer and related information
http://warfare.ga/Persia/Nashmi_the_Archer.htm
...




Other links:

General threads (featuring our very own David Morningstar)
https://slingshotforum.com/topic/20797-meet-the-pellet-bow-the-true-ancestor-of-
the-slingshot/
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/paleoplanet69529/pellet-bows-anyone-t18598.html

Slinging.org thread
https://slinging.org/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1100284318/0#0

Paper, mentions the pellet bow and a few sources
http://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10500/21120/thesis_randalliv_kc.pdf?sequ...

Pellet bows with handles
https://anthromuseum.missouri.edu/exhibit/pellet-bows

Modern compound bows firing steel balls
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExmtUSJ4vmE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrDn7QeDxHM&list=PLtBAMXHhkDEBCBatqc-lp2luHkfhpQ

Facebook group
https://www.facebook.com/Pellet-bow-Stone-bow-Archery-1643777829183950


Words for searching in other languages:
Bodoque (Portuguese, means something like "crossbow" similarly to the English pellet-/stonebow situation)
คันกระสุน  (Thai, "bullet rod")
彈丸弓 (mandarin, "projectile bow", the same word for slingshot in chinese)
Interestingly, every single one of these terms will also return results for something that isn't a pellet bow, like crossbows, slingshots and such. I guess the stone bow/pellet bow situation is present in all languages.



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« Last Edit: Mar 27th, 2021 at 8:00am by Slyngorm »  
 
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Mersa
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #2 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:35pm
 
Thanks for reminding me that I still haven’t tryed building one of these
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Razor glandes, Aim for the eyes!!!
 
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Slyngorm
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #3 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:36pm
 
Historic use of twist technique
As mentioned, most resources describing the pellet bow describes the flinch technique. But researching has given me the impression that both the flinch and twist technique is used in pellet bowing cultures. The flinch technique is the most widespread, being used in every culture that uses the pellet bow. The twist technique is much less so being used only in South East Asia (and perhaps Africa), alongside the flinch technique.
I will bring up some pictures and videos to argue in favour of this position.

Every video I have linked so far show people that use the flinch technique using bows that makes an angled grip difficult.
I have, however, seen pictures of bows with handles that would be usable for the twist technique.

Like this one, from Thailand.
https://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/weapons/index.php/tour-by-region/oceania/asia/arms-and-
armour-asia-87/index.html
...
The description says the handle is a guard to protect the hand. I am unable to see how this would work. On the other hand, such a handle would make it very easy to hold using the twist technique. There is a little mark on the handles neck that looks very ergonomic for placing one's thumb when twisting the bow.



This link shows a collection of pellet bows most of which either have handles or are of a split design (very cool btw)
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/paleoplanet69529/interesting-double-pellet-bow-t...
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One of them is a double bow, and another seems to be a bow split halfway through. The surrounding bows with handles looks like those from Thailand (see videos below).

These split designs would allow for a pellet to fly straight ahead without hitting the bow. But why would such a design be necessary if you already just move the bow out of the way using the flinch technique? Such a design would only make sense if the technique you use already function by not having the bow frame in the line of fire like a pellet bow when using the twist technique.
Also, second guy in the comments cites a source saying that south-east Asian and African pellet bows were made from curved sticks to use the twist technique.



Boy using pellet bow with big handle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idl1NDAIozQ
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Here you see him holding the bow at an angle.
...

From the second half of the video. Notice the handle's birdhead's position relative to the bow and relative to the target. The bow must be held at an angle.
...
...





This video shows a demonstration of a pellet bow, from Thailand.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbiA8yLAhAg&list=PLRVUTcvx7LpGXkhbLiLFcd6PpA_gGX...
The camerawork is all over the place so it is a bit difficult to see but it does sometimes look like they use the bow by twisting it.

Here is the bow when in profile.
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This guy seems unprofessional and mostly goofing around but he almost certainly uses the twist technique.
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Then there is the old man who seems serious and routined. When he uses the bow and we see it from the side it seems (to me) as if he twists it though it is really difficult to see.
............



Farmer using a pellet bow (less sure about this one)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Br0BaD9yo

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« Last Edit: Mar 27th, 2021 at 8:13am by Slyngorm »  
 
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Slyngorm
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #4 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:46pm
 
Upload of all pictures in order of appearance so they don't get lost one day.
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Slyngorm
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #5 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:50pm
 
.
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« Last Edit: Mar 27th, 2021 at 7:56am by Slyngorm »  
 
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #6 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:52pm
 
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« Last Edit: Mar 27th, 2021 at 8:14am by Slyngorm »  

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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #7 - Mar 25th, 2021 at 4:53pm
 
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #8 - Mar 26th, 2021 at 1:59pm
 
@
Slyngorm

Great post! One bow; two strings. Love it Cheesy
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #9 - Mar 26th, 2021 at 3:17pm
 
Annddd...this is an all star thread just like that. Putting this in the Hall of Fame List Slyngorm. Well done sir. Very nice.
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #10 - Mar 26th, 2021 at 4:32pm
 
How do you avoid hitting your own hands?
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Sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine:  'Yea' isn't the word you want.  It's 'yeah'.  'Yea' is an anachronistic word you see in the King James bible. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Spellcheck, I shall fear no misspellings for thou art with me.  Thy dictionary and thy thesaurus, they comfort me.
 
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #11 - Mar 27th, 2021 at 7:33am
 
Apparently compound bows firing ball bearings is a thing. Kudos to
@
Mersa.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExmtUSJ4vmE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrDn7QeDxHM&list=PLtBAMXHhkDEBCBatqc-lp2luHkfhpQ...

Facebook group for pellet archery. Kudos to David Morningstar.
https://www.facebook.com/Pellet-bow-Stone-bow-Archery-1643777829183950


Morphy wrote on Mar 26th, 2021 at 3:17pm:
Annddd...this is an all star thread just like that. Putting this in the Hall of Fame List Slyngorm. Well done sir. Very nice.
Thanks Morphy! I have been researching, making and practising pellet bows, and writing on this thread since December. 


Oxnate wrote on Mar 26th, 2021 at 4:32pm:
How do you avoid hitting your own hands?
If you use the flinch technique: place the pouch above where on the pellet bow you place your hand. Just enough for the bottom of the pouch not to be aligned with your hand.
If you use the twist technique: place pouch in the middle of the string and grab the handle like this.

It is almost impossible to hit your hand if you do either but I recommend starting off by using cork plug pieces as ammo. You can definitely hurt your hand if you do it wrong.
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #12 - Mar 27th, 2021 at 11:14am
 
That's wild! I have never conceived of a pellet bow. However, I have heard of a pellet crossbow. https://youtu.be/iLiCIm8pyyc
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No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. -Socrates
 
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #13 - Mar 27th, 2021 at 3:19pm
 
SerKraus wrote on Mar 27th, 2021 at 11:14am:
That's wild! I have never conceived of a pellet bow. However, I have heard of a pellet crossbow. https://youtu.be/iLiCIm8pyyc


I forgot Tod did that.  I was expecting Jorge Sprave.  "Let me show you its features!"
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Sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine:  'Yea' isn't the word you want.  It's 'yeah'.  'Yea' is an anachronistic word you see in the King James bible. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Spellcheck, I shall fear no misspellings for thou art with me.  Thy dictionary and thy thesaurus, they comfort me.
 
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Re: Pellet bow
Reply #14 - Mar 28th, 2021 at 3:56pm
 
I admire Tod. He makes great videos. However, the best part is the fact that he respects slinging and treats it seriously. Others like Scholagladitoria don’t. https://youtu.be/RBAqhbAVsXw   ; Undecided
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No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. -Socrates
 
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