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Primitive Skills: Make a Cannabis Bowstring

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Hemp is a very viable, multi-use plant. Here’s one primitive skill to add to your survival or woodsman’s mental tool kit: making a cannabis bowstring.

Hemp has been used as an industrial product for hundreds of years, particularly as its fibers are strong and pliable and can be made into many and varied products. Here, Shawn Woods instructs on making a cannabis bowstring for primitive archery using hemp fibers.

Woods indicates that he is opposed to recreational marijuana use, but he does approve of industrial hemp as a marketable agricultural product. He gathered his hemp plants from an industrial hemp farm, from a pile of refuse plants left over from the harvesting process. Some of the plants are surprisingly large, almost like small trees.

Once he had gathered enough stems and had separated the outer, green sheath of the plant from its core, he allowed the fibers to thoroughly dry. He emphasizes that you don’t want to form your cannabis bowstring with green fibers, because if you twist the fibers when green they will shrink too much as they dry and the bowstring will lose its integrity.

He begins by wetting two small bundles of fibers for a few seconds, and then twists them separately and then together in a simple overhand twist until they begin to turn in on themselves to form the initial bowstring loop. This process is very similar to how Woods began his flax bowstring. It would be helpful for you to watch that video as well, as the two processes are quite similar.

Once the initial loop is formed you simply keep twisting the two bundles separately and then again twist each separately twisted strand to its mate, forming a single length of cordage.

You introduce new bundles of fibers into the ends of the strands as they begin to run out, and just keep going.

Once you’ve got a long enough string you tie a bowyers knot or a couple half hitches in the end and adjust it to fit the length of your bow. That’s it. It’s simple and easy, although it does take a little practice to become truly proficient at making primitive bowstrings.

Woods then demonstrates his instinctive shooting skills with a very primitive though effective Otzi the Iceman style arrow and bow strung with his cannabis bowstring.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: Primitive Skills: Making an Ötzi the Iceman Flint Dagger

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Primitive Skills: Make a Cannabis Bowstring