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Native American Indians did not have the bow and arrow until about A.D. 500. The bow and arrow basically overtook the spear and arrowhead because of the accuracy, strength and velocity of the arrow fired by a bow. Native American Indians used the bow and arrow mainly to kill larger animals such as the buffalo, elk, deer, antelope and bear.
Native American Indians actually made different size bows based on if they were being fired from horseback or via on the ground. If on horseback, the bow and arrows would be shorter than when afoot. The hunters were able to get much closer while on horseback, so the need for velocity was not as important as it would be on foot.
Native American Indians used a wide variety of materials to construct the bow, relying on materials that were accessible, most important of which is flexibility without breaking. Several types of plants and various animal materials were mainly used. Ash, hickory, locust, Osage orange, cedar, juniper, oak, walnut, birch, choke cherry, and mulberry woods were used. Elk antler, mountain sheep horn, bison buffalo horn, and ribs, and caribou antler also were used where available.