Whistling Arrows


Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf, West, OL, OP, RCY, RCA

I have found a method of making inexpensive arrow whistles. An issue of Primitive Archer magazine (vol.4, issue 3) had a letter from a reader with information on how to make them from ping pong (table tennis) balls. An arrow whistle is a whistle that attaches to an arrow, while a whistling arrowhead is an arrowhead with a build in whistle.

After reading the letter, I purchased a pack of six for four dollars. You should use good quality balls and not the children=92s type, for they will not break as easily. They can break, but they do not shatter. They produce a loud clear whistle and are easy to make.

You should first make the two holes for the shaft. These holes should be centered through the axis of the ball. Mark the center of the holes, and then use a field tip, mounted on a six-inch section of the diameter shaft you wish to use for the whistling arrowhead, to make the hole. This is done by heating the metal tip over the burner of a stove. Gently push the point of the tip into the ball till it is just short of its widest point. This will make a snug fit.

To make the whistling holes you need to mark out four equally spaced triangles, 3/8 tall by 1/4 wide, base down. The base should be half way down from the top of the ball, at the equator, pointing up. You now heat an X-acto or razor knife and use it to melt the lines for the triangles.

You should slide the head about four inches past the point of the arrow, so that it can clear whatever it hits, such as a straw or foam mat. You may also want to use a longer shaft, so that you will still be at full draw when the ball touches your bow. Glue it in place, top and bottom. Fletchtite works well. Adding three or four turns of electrical tape or other narrow tape just above and below it will also help to hold it in place. If you make these up as flu flus, they will not travel as far and will be easier for you to find.

If you make up a set of these and have several archers loose them simultaneously and at a high angle and you will have an archer's salute. This was often done in period at ceremonies. You must make sure, in advance, that the area where they will land is clear and safe.

I have tried adding them to 1 1/4-inch head shafted combat blunts, mounting them about four to six inches below the head. They work, but are not as loud. This seems to be due to the turbulence caused by the large blunt. The further from the large blunt, the better they work. They do work quite well with 3/4 inch blunts. If you have any better success in adding them to combat blunts, please let me know.

Do not use these in actual combat unless you have the approval of your kingdom marshal. For use in combat they should be taped or coated with tool dip.

Marcin Marszeniuk at natas@gd.onet.pl in Poland has metal two piece whistling tips that also serve as the arrow head for $4.00 each plus shipping. They look the same as those for at Quicks Archery in England for $8.00 each.

These are some articles on the WEB on whistling arrows: http://www.atarn.org/chinese/whistle/whistle.htm and http://www.student.utwente.nl/~sagi/artikel/whistle/.

Revised 3/6/04

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir