Chapter 40: Making Bows
Thump Thump Thump.
The sounds of axes chopping on trees repeated continuously.
Vigorous swings embedded axes deeply into tree trunks, sending wood chips flying, then the exploration team members shook the handles and pulled it out.
When a large enough gap was cut into the tree trunk, the trees began to teeter.
The lumbering team members yelled warnings and then pushed and stomped onto the tree trunks.
The tree trunks creaked and crashed to the ground with a loud bang. The sound of countless branches breaking was followed along with tree leaves flying everywhere.
Although the exploration team only had a few axes, it greatly helped to increase their efficiency and lowered their stamina consumption.
Next, they sawed the tree trunks into pieces to make transportation easier.
These tree trunks would be rolled into the camp for more delicate processing.
The exploration team did not have a saw on them.
However, Zhen Jin lent them one.
Zhen Jin’s “saw” came from the blade-legged spider, the blade-legged spider’s hind legs were slender, straight, and had a packed row of sharp teeth. This was an excellent natural saw.
The blade-legged spider was indeed a silver level magic beast and the exploration team members quickly realized how powerful a silver level magic beast was.
They worked in pairs as they used the spider leg to saw the thick tree trunks as easily as a knife cuts through white bread.
The scholar Cang Xu had plenty of experience in leadership and commanding.
Because Zhen Jin was keeping watch, he divided the people into two groups.
One group went to cut wood, the other to peel and tear tree bark into thin threads.
Every so often, the two groups would swap with each other, this way the team members could save their energy, rest somewhat, and maintain the work pace.
The lumbering team accomplished beyond their quota in one morning.
A large quantity of logs were rolled in by pieces towards the camp and stacked in a corner temporarily.
In addition, thread made from tree bark had already been smeared with potions.
An increased supply of lunch was needed because everyone was extremely hungry.
Bai Ya and Huang Zao also returned for a meal.
They hadn’t harvested much, a few birds and a pheasant. The harvest was clearly not worth their efforts, but at least they cleared out the surrounding woods.
What surprised everyone was that Zhen Jin ordered everyone to take a small nap after lunch. This hadn’t happened before.
This was actually Cang Xu’s suggestion, a lunchtime nap could guarantee that the team members worked efficiently in the afternoon.
Although the lumbering was finished, there was still a lot of work remaining.
A large number of tree trunks had been chopped into planks, these were to be made into the embryonic form of the short bow limb.
Thus, the planks required a certain length and thickness.
Even if the planks that came from the entire tree trunks, the best planks were from the tree core.
This was a job for a carpenter.
It would be great to have a good carpenter, but all of the exploration team members were laymen, resulting in amateurish quality immediately appearing—many tree trunks were destroyed and although many planks were made, none met Bai Ya’s standards.
The inadequate planks could be used for hunter traps.
Even the worst planks could still be used as firewood. After being burnt, charcoal and tree ash was formed. These were both good resources that had high practical value.
In their current situation, the exploration team required all and any resources. Whatever resources they could obtain could not be discarded.
The progress of the carpentry was considerably slow, making Zhen Jin’s heart more worried and irritated.
Even though he knew it couldn’t be rushed.
To tell the truth, Zi Di’s potions really helped him a lot, saving crucial time.
Furthermore, Cang Xu’s plan was rational and adequate, the scholar had already evaluated that the morning situation did not meet standards.
After the exploration team gradually became familiar with their work, the amount of wood wasted began to greatly decrease.
One after the other, more and more planks met the standards.
After the number of planks rose above a certain degree, Cang Xu commanded everyone to make bow limbs out of the planks.
The crafting was actually quite simple.
They only needed to turn the planks into strips, which were slightly thicker in the middle and had two slightly thinner ends that had notches suitable to hold the bowstring in the future.
After passing Bai Ya’s inspection, the short bow arcs were smeared with potions and laid out in a dark corner to dry.
After finishing the work, many people shouted that they felt that they could be a bow craftsmen.
Many others were constantly moving their fingers or massaged their arms, fingers, thighs, and other muscles. The soreness made them grimace.
Their bodies were already approaching their limits, but there was still work to be done.
Large quantities of arrows needed to be made.
There was a general standard to select an arrow shaft. Wood that met the standard had to be processed, cut into long cylinders and then polished to smoothen the surface
Of course, the exploration team members doing this weren’t experienced in the process.
They mainly made arrows out of the straightest branches with lengths and thicknesses closest to normal arrows.
Bai Ya was guiding those making the arrows. To make arrows, they would first brush off any bark on the branches to make shafts, then they would use knives to carefully cut feathers, and after that, they would use a potion to glue the feathers to finally make arrow feathers. Finally, arrowheads were baked so that the wood would carbonize and harden, then finally sharpened.
The arrows made by this method could not compare to army standard ones.
First of all, the arrow shaft material was inferior and the arrow feathers were not high quality, all of them were rough and slipshod work, yet they could not be rejected.
The exploration team didn’t have many feathers, most of what they had came from Bai Ya’s hunt today, so each one had to be treasured.
The only thing the people were grateful for was the potion that Zi Di made at the last moment—the glue really was firm!
As for the arrowheads, they were simply wretched.
They were not iron arrowheads.
They would turn into scrap after several uses.
Their natural destructive power was very low, but it could still threaten ordinary beasts.
Outside of the production of arrows, there was still more work.
For example, there were wooden shields taller and wider than a person. They were made from tree trunks and rattan, and when thrust into the ground, they would form a simple and short curtain wall.
These were also called arrow blocking shields.
In the past, humans had this kind of fortification when besieging castles.
Nowadays, that kind of fortification had long been phased out.
Even if someone used it, its surface would have a layer of iron.
Besides these shields, there were wooden spears.
The exploration team could hold the spears and stab at the flying squirrels from a safe distance.
But these tactics were only better than nothing because everyone knew how fast the squirrels were and that they could glide in the air while adjusting their direction with their tails, so their bodies were very nimble.1
Everyone mainly put their expectations on the short bows.
As night fell, the torn tree bark had completely dried, the people marvelled at Zi Di’s methods and began to twist rope.
The skill of twisting rope was also something taught by Bai Ya.
There was a small skill in this.
The main first step was to divide the threads into two bundles, each one rotating counterclockwise, and after the two bundles are combined, then rotate clockwise. This way, the woven rope would be quite tight and less likely to come apart.
This hemp rope could be used for bowstrings. Every short bow needed at least two bowstrings, one for normal usage and one as a backup.
By dinner, enough bowstrings had been made.
Like at noon, dinner was also rich. There was also some game that broke up the monotony of their food.
The morning of the second day.
Zhen Jin and everyone else got up early because there was important business to be done—testing the bows.
Putting in one night and Zi Di’s potions, the short bows had been dried.
Bai Ya grabbed both ends of the bow limbs and attempted to bend it, after seeing the bow limb bent, he grinned: “Quite strong. It’s better than what I imagined.”
Cang Xu hesitated before saying: “Huang Zao, I am giving you this task. Break this bow limb, but do it slowly.”
Huang Zao realised what Cang Xu wished and immediately started. When the bow limb was bent to its limit, it instantly snapped into two.
Everyone saw for themselves and immediately understood the limit the simple bow limb could bear.
Cang Xu estimated: “It seems we can only use one hemp rope as a bowstring.”
No one had any objections.
Sometimes, many hemp ropes were combined to form a bowstring. But after this experiment, it was more suitable to use a hemp rope that had a toughness that matched the short bow limb.
Bai Ya tied the bowstring using the slipknot method and fastened it firmly and cleverly.
Soon after, the hunter’s son nocked an arrow, aimed at a distant target, and shot the arrow with a whoosh.
Everyone looked on with wide eyes.
It was very clear that the originally straight arrow veered to the upper left and then fell to the ground at an angle.
The range reached more than fifty paces.
The distance from the target was far—no one knew where it landed.
But no one revealed their disappointment, Zhen Jin even nodded slightly—he knew that this was just the beginning.
Bows are things that need to be tuned.
The bow limbs created were very crude, so it was necessary to use daggers and other tools to continue processing the bow limbs. At the same time, the bowstrings needed to be adjusted as well as the arrows. Following this process, the short bow’s accuracy would stabilize and its range would be greatly improved.
Finally, after Bai Ya finished the tuning, an arrow successfully hit a target a hundred paces away and penetrated two fingers deep into the target.
Seeing this result, Zhen Jin was very satisfied.
These were not composite bows, only monobloc bows. The bow limbs and bow strings were all made from the materials on hand and not carefully selected. In addition, the arrowheads were not made of iron, but ground and carbonized wood that was crudely processed.
To have this kind of performance is very good.
Because Zhen Jin also did not demand much.
Right now, they were staying in the middle of a forest and not in an empty and vast grassland, thus longbows were unsuitable.
None of the exploration team members were excellent archers, most of them were pushed beyond their limits so no one could hope they would be accurate beyond one hundred paces.
“Due to the restrictions from the environment and the personnel, the short bows have an effective range of one hundred paces which is sufficient.”
“The crucial point to look at is inside this one hundred pace area, about how many arrows can we shoot? If we can shoot three or more arrows each and have a certain rate of accuracy, the short bow plan can be considered a success.”