The bow, which was the principal weapon used by the Indian, and which was used both in hunting and in warfare, was made of cedar or oak, usually about three feet in length, two inches wide in the center and tapering to the ends, rounded on the inside and covered with the sinews of the deer. These sinews were applied wet and allowed to dry and contract, which gave to the bow added strength and elasticity. The strings were made from the thongs of the deer, and when not in use, the bow was unstrung, thereby retaining its strength for a longer period.
The arrows were made principally from the wood of the sour-berry bush, which is found in the Merced
[paragraph continues] Canyon below the Valley. After the bark was removed and the wood scraped down to size, it was dried and seasoned in the shade, and made straight by frequent rubbing between two hardwood sticks. When ready for the heads a V-shaped notch was cut in the heavy end of the shaft into which was fitted the arrowhead of obsidian, or volcanic glass, which was bound on with the fibre of the milkweed overlaid with a coating of pitch to make it more secure.
The making of the arrowheads was a fine art requiring great skill and patience and was the especial business of a few of the older men of the tribe. The butt of the shaft was fitted with the halves of three feathers laid on lengthwise and bound with milkweed fibre. These were supposed to add to the accuracy of the arrow, as well as to the length of its flight. On account of the scarcity of suitable wood and the difficulty of preparing it, these arrows were only used in warfare and in the hunting of larger game, and were used as often as they could be recovered after being discharged. Those used in practice and in the hunting of smaller game were not fitted with heads, but were merely pointed shafts of fire hardened wood. The obsidian from which the arrowheads were made was obtained in commerce from the Mo-no Indians in the region of Mo-no Lake.
The Indians also fashioned hammers and picks from stone and from the horns of deer, which they bound to handles with thongs of deerskin. These hammers and picks were used in chipping the obsidian to the fine edge required for arrowheads, in the digging of their grasshopper trenches, and other work about the camps.