The “triple-headed arrow” was a curious thing, indicating that the Athapaskans were capable of technological innovation. Three flat pieces of bone or horn were cut squarely off at the larger end and tapered almost to a point at the other. Thrust into slits in the arrow-shaft and bound securely, it was a good weapon even for large animals.
A wooden-headed arrow cut off flat was excellent for stunning rabbits, grouse or other small game. In this area, arrow shafts were made of Saskatoon wood or birch.
The bows were often made of willow. The string might be a double line of caribou skin slightly twisted together. It would serve for hunting smaller animals. An ordinary one was about four to four and a half feet long.
The hunting bow of the Sekani was five feet or over in length, preferably of mountain maple which is rarely large enough to make a bow at least on the eastern side of the Pine Pass. These bows were finely smoothed and shaped, with an enlarged handhold in the centre. The entire bow was covered with strips of sinew, twisted round and round, and held in place with glue made from fish.
The bowstring was most carefully made. Very important was making it proof against water or snow. A very fine cord was twisted from fine, delicate sinew fibers. It was then saturated with sturgeon glue. Around the central core more delicate sinew threads were wound, again saturated with glue. When the cord was thick and strong enough it was repeatedly rubbed over with the gum of black spruce. The Beavers being among the best snowshoe-makers doubtless made bows as good as the Sekanis did. It required good woodworking ability and much patience.
The arrow was launched as it is today in sport archery. The balls of the first, second and third fingers were used to pull back the bowstring. The arrow was lightly held between the first and second fingers. The thumb was held straight and inactive.
Some of the Sekani fastened a spear-like point on one end of the bow, and used it as a bayonet.
MacGregor mentions a place on the banks of the Peace where stone arrowheads were made. Stone arrowheads and artifacts have been picked up in many places in the Peace River country, but it is hard to say which tribe made or used them. Guns were beginning to take their place before Mackenzie arrived, but many Indians preferred the bow and arrow for hunting because it was silent. One animal – or enemy – could be killed without the whole group being alerted by a thunderous report. Besides, ammunition was too scarce to waste on small animals when hunting for food.
A hunter might also carry a spear, sometimes equipped with a spear-thrower and a bone dagger in his belt. Finding one of these artifacts is a thrill to anyone who knows what they are. J.G. MacGregor in his book, Land of Twelve Foot Davis, recounts the journey backward into time that he experienced when he picked up two matching pieces of a shiny black stone arrowhead. They were probably obsidian (volcanic glass) which some old arrow-maker had broken in the making there a hundred or a thousand years ago. It is worth reading.