Bow and arrow

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    We have some pretty tall trees here in the East. Sometimes a pole can’t be found long enough to retreive a plane.

    I had some help retrieving a Wakefield from a tree at the ’65 Nat’s from a guy with a bow. I can’t remember if we got the plane down. No one ever seems to bring one to a contest but a device for tall trees is sorely needed and I’m not referring to a saw!

    Has a bow and arrow setup using an attached line ever worked?
    Does anyone have spec’s on the pound pull needed to pull up a line?
    How heavy does the arrow have to be for success?
    What’s the best way to lay out line so it doesn’t snag and pays out?

    #30 recurve bows seem cheap and available on eBay, I’m guessing that’s a good start?

    Norm Furutani

    Hi Dennis,

    At our local park flier field, we’ve managed to stick a plane in every tree in the park. We even have a rule, last one in the tree has to bring the club 50′ pole!

    When they go in the taller trees, we use a “wrist-rocket”. This is a slingshot with a wrist brace. See:

    The routine is to pay out 15-20# braided fishline on the ground in a large circle (say 8′) attach an one ounce sinker. Shoot the sinker over the branch (this may take a few tries). Use the fishline to pull a heavier nylon line and then start shaking the branch.

    Probably the biggest advantages over a bow and arrow are the cost and the compact size.

    – Norm


    Thanks Norm,
    I played with a wrist rocket last year. The most altitude I could get was lower than a pole! Maybe I should try that setup again, with less weight.

    We have a plane in a tree right now, about 80 ft up. The wind came up today, I’m off to the field to check on the it.


    This is a fun thread. There are options available.
    i have been using a Zebco 33 on a cheap rod w/ 10 lb line. You need to get about 1/2 – 3/4 oz weight over the limb. Then drag some nylon trot-line cord over to shake the limb. The fishing rod is good for about 70 feet.
    Maybe a bit more, but you need room to manuever.
    In Lawrenceville we got a 9.5 lb kiddie bow from WalMart. It got about 95 feet- many times. Unfortunately, it needed to go about 6 feet higher.
    I am working on a slingshot with the aforementioned Zebco 33 and some #64 rubbers. I’m looked for some 1/8″ braided polypropylene line to add to the mix. The trotline cord works, but abrades and breaks pretty quickly.
    Patience will pay off. On the fishing reel, I’m going to Stren Hi-Vis Yellow line. It can be tough to figure out where the line actually went.
    Good luck.


    I’m just back from a visit to “the tree”. Good winds today have moved it but it’s not lower.

    I brought along my Daisy “Powerline” wrist rocket and a 1oz weight. I could just get the weight above the plane, I doubt it would have hauled a light spectra line up there too. I use yellow for towlines, I’m more worried about the weight wrapping around a branch or group of branches than color though. Seems to me it would work best if the weighted end of the line can come back to the ground, a heavier line fitted all the way over, then it’s easy to pull on both ends of the “stout” line to shake/move the plane.

    The fact that a 9.5lb bow is enough to get that high sounds good. The Zebco is a good idea, any spinning rig should also work.

    I guess if the drag of the line is too much to reach the higher branches then laying the line in large, open circles on the ground would be good. I would think the “coil” would feed from the outside to the inside?

    Good thing all planes don’t land this high up!

    Thanks for the comments Dan!


    Oh yeah. The weight from the initial line needs to come to the ground. Use that line to haul a heavier one back up and over. Then bounce and shake. I think I went after 12 planes last year. Can’t remember for sure.

    Bring extra weights. You’ll lose some as they wrap and break off. Patience. Patience.Patience.


    Bring extra weights. You’ll lose some as they wrap and break off.

    Ah! Maybe it’s a good idea to have a section of line at the weight end purposely weak, a weak link, so if it gets wrapped up on the wrong branch you can “cut loose the end and the weight.

    Dan, how many leadfruit trees do you have in your neighborhood?


    Hooray for the wind!
    I just got a call from the kid that built the plane, he’s home with the glider!
    Stab is a bit smashed but otherwise OK. It dropped straight to the ground.

    But, the search is still on for a high altitude a/c retrieval tool.
    Goose gun anyone?


    No leadfruit trees here in my neighborhood.
    Let’s think here. Stout Ranch Oklahoma,Perry oklahoma,Muncie,Lawrenceville,Pensacola,Muncie.
    they weren’t all my planes. Actually only two were mine.

    My little bag has weights, extra fish line, trotline,cutters. Its going to get Poison Ivy Soap. That’s an image. I’ll just give the poison ivy soap to guys that have bunters.


    I purchased a bow, it arrived earlier this week.
    eBay prices were higher than what I thought a bow should be so I picked one up new for about the same price. A 30 lb pull 60″ bow, easy to string and pull.

    I was going to do some experimenting at the field this morning to find out what worked and what didn’t. Marion helped me out by putting a DLG in a tree on his second flight. It was higher than my poles would reach. How about that!

    I had attached a short lenght of heavy dacron line near the rear of one of the supplied arrows. After the rest of the line was secured I made my first shot to the right of the tree to determine how much pull was needed. The line expected to be needed was laid out on the ground. Second shot was for real but ended up on the branch above the plane. The line was easily retrieved.

    Third shot got the right branch and we did get the plane lower. retrieval of the arrow revealed a broken “nock” so we went back to the pole.

    Take back:
    Very do-able.
    Easy to draw and aim.
    Heavier and lighter arrows have to be tried.[hopefully heavier will work as I’d like the arrow to be able to drop down out of the tree so line can be pulled from both ends]
    Lighter line[Spectra]
    If you can get it with a pole, use a pole.
    Watching the kids try to string the bow, priceless!!!

    Testing in the field with another arrow indicated the highest one of the supplied arrows can go is about 100ft, I couldn’t hit a recently transitioned DLG!

    The testing will continuuuue!

    What did he say? “We need a bigger bow?”


    This morning I went down to the local field for some testing.
    I brought a tape measure, bow, line and three arrows.
    Arrow #1 was the stock one that came with the bow, about 33g.
    #2 stock but with a length of 1/8″ music wire epoxied inside the tube, 70g.
    #3 a cheap aluminum arrow but 30″ long instead of the stock 28″ and it has no “nose weight”.

    #1 arrow goes 70′ vertically. Shoots true and straight.
    #2 reaches 80′ easily, straight and true.
    #3 even with the increased draw only gets 70′ and wobbles in flight.

    Next, fill the aluminum arrow with some weight at the front end to get some stability and looks also like more altitude.

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