The extent of the three boys’ learning about Native American Indians did not stop with the unfortunate teepee event. It was still deemed necessary to further investigate the Indians’ way of living. In school they were also taught about the types of living for Indians, such as farming, hunting, and gathering. There were no white- or blue-collar workers back then. Hunters and gatherers made up a sizable portion of the population. The hunters had diverse types of equipment they used to hunt prey including rocks, spears, and best of all bows and arrows.
In their textbooks were intriguing pictures of weapons made by Indians. Depending on the size and shape of an arrowhead, a person could often tell what tribe the maker came from. The boys did not have cell phones with which to occupy their time. Although there were games and television to watch, they were usually instructed to go outside and play. Much like any other summer day, the boys set out to find way to entertain themselves. They searched nearby fields for arrowheads formed long ago but could not find any. That was the beginning of a long series of failures to come. They had no idea that they would soon learn about the properties of tree branches, rocks, and even a little engineering.
After gathering pieces of slate, they found harder rocks to bang against the slate, and broke it off into shards to create their own arrowheads. To some degree, eventually it worked, and arrowheads were formed. Then the first arrow was made from a slightly crooked tree branch and notched on the end to accept the string from a bow. Last, but not least, the first bow was made from an old dead branch that was already close to the shape of a longbow. After cutting notches in both ends and adding a piece of string, it was finished. Holding the first product, off an imaginary assembly line, it was ready for testing.
With one hand holding the bow in the middle of its curve, the oldest boy pulled back on the string. The result that came next was not anticipated, and downright shocking. It turned out that making bows out of dead wood was a terrible idea. The bow snapped in his hands into two pieces. After the sting left his hand and disappointment wore off, it was time to hit the drawing board again. The experience of climbing in trees was one they were all familiar with. It was learned early on not to step on dead branches because they would snap and cause the loss of proper footing. In prior times, it led to several falls and a significant amount of pain. However, when stepping on branches that were alive and well, the branch revealed its flexibility under an applied force.
Rather than rely on easily picking up dead branches off the ground, they had to work harder to achieve the results they were looking for. One of the boys remembered their experience in climbing and returned with a fresh branch cut off from a nearby tree. The new branch was extremely flexible. After another string was attached, a new bow was assembled. This time when the string was pulled backward, the bow bent farther and pulled both ends closer to one another. The slightly crooked arrow was launched but produced less than desirable results. However, it was a victory to be celebrated and created excitement which fueled more research. More work was required to find straighter “arrows” and even the bark was removed from the branches to make them straighter. After many trials, better results came.
The multitude of experiments was not recorded that summer, but the resulting data was lodged in their minds. Before long, there were all kinds of bows and arrows made to play with. Each version created from varied materials produced unique results, distinguishable from one another. Many lessons of trial and error came, which included the need for persistence and teachability. Fortunately, in this regard, there were no crazy experiences like what had happened with the teepees. This time, it was a journey into innovation and adventure.