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The Snap-7 Microbow

What happens when you take a trigger off a crossbow
homemade concept bow

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#1 Carbon

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:08 PM

My full-size bow is a lot of fun, but it's...well...big. My daughter wanted a bow, too, so I thought I would use my crossbow setup as a basic, smaller bow (and yeah, I realized after posting that the SNAP Crossbow is actually the SNAP-7....so, this is the SNAP-7 Microbow).

I thought I would take some pics of building the front assembly, and basic construction. I used a drill press for a lot of operations, but a Dremel could be called into service, too.

Parts list:
.75" tee
1.25" -> .5" reducing bushing
1.25" coupler
1" plug
.5" CPVC endcaps x2
.5" CPVC elbow
.5" -> .75" CPVC coupler
.5" CPVC
.5" PVC (an inch)
.75" PVC (an inch)
.75" PVC Endcap
1.5" rubber fender washer
Hardware for attaching rubber washer (#6 finishing washer and a nut and bolt. I just used a #6 pan head wood screw)
1.25" PVC
1/16" steel cable
Crimp style cable anchors, or 4 U-bolts for 1/16" cable


Bore out the support ribs on the 1.25" -> .5" reducing bushing. Go deep, since this is where the 3/4" tee will seat.
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Drill a 7/8" hole about a half inch in a 3/4" tee. You want the ends of the tee and the elbow to be flush, so you can measure off the elbow. Be sure to center it. I like Forstner bits, but a spade bit would work, too.
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Next, it's getting the elbow into the hole. This requires a rubber mallet and a bit of wiggling. Do it from the big hole, and not the hole you just drilled.
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Time for the rubber mallet again. The tee should seat into the 1.25" reducing bushing with a lot of force. Depending on your CPVC, you may need to grind out the top 1/4" or so of the reducing bushing, to let the CPVC get an angle in. You may need to tap on the elbow occasionally, to help force it in. When you're done, the CPVC will have seated into the bushing. You shouldn't need to use anything else to seal it. The front assembly is pretty much done.
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The hard part is done. You can figure the plunger chamber and pluger shaft length based off of how long you want the draw length to be. Plunger shaft + plunger chamber = full draw length. Like on a real bow, you'll get best accuracy and power if you can draw your hand back to your cheek. Experiment with pieces that are a little long, and cut them down to size.

The plunger is really, really basic. 1/2" CPVC plunger shaft with a stub of 1/2" PVC, a stub of 3/4" PVC over that (ground out slightly), and hammered on. A standard plungerhead pops on the end.
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The 1/2" to 3/4" CPVC couplers need to be bored out to let the CPVC arms slide through.
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When that's done, get the rubber mallet again, and pound them into the sides of the tee. You can now twist the 1/2" CPVC through. I found that cutting an end at an angle makes it easier to get through the other side of the tee. I shoved it through until I had an arm of a decent length, and then cut off the other to the same size. These arms are 19".

The plunger tube is basic SNAP. I used a 1" plug at the end, drilled for the plunger rod.
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I capped each arm with endcaps, for a little more structural integrity. Drill a hole for one end of the bowstring, and saw a notch for the other, at about a 45 degree angle. (I like doing that so I can easily unstring the bow). On this one, I used a CPVC tee at the end of the plunger rod. Supa comfortable...I'll be addding that to my bow. I used aluminum crimp cable anchors this time, since I have a feel for how long the string needs to be, and won't need to adjust it. The string is 1/16" steel cable.

The arms seem to get the best amount of spring when they're bent about halfway of the length of the plunger tube. Get the string threaded through the lower arm and the plunger rod, and bend it to get a feel for how long the string needs to be. Make the second loop in the string, then bend it up.
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Done. I tossed a quick RSCB on it, and did some quick range testing (with a .5" CPVC to .5" PVC adapter stub). The air comes out at the side, so you may need another tee to or elbow to get things working.

It gets 75-85 feet, about 20 feet less than my full size bow. Not bad for a springer that my daughter can actually draw.
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It's amusing how much smaller this one is than my large bow, and gets nearly as much range. My large bow gets ~100-105 or so, but is big and harder to draw. The small bow is much easier to run with, and has a silky smooth draw. I may need to make one for myself.
IMG_1879.JPG


Edited by Aeromech, 23 November 2015 - 03:20 AM.

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#2 TOTtomdora

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:49 PM

That is sick. If I may make a suggestion? (Run - Sorry, I couldn't resist :) ) Instead of CPVC for the arms, why don't you use PEX pipe? It's easy to acquire it at Home Depot (look for the pipe that has no name on it and is incredibly manipulative). Of course you would probably have to use PEX for a smaller bow, seeing how bendy it is. But good job anyway. I plan on making one once I get the materials and cutting disks for my Dremel.
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#3 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:58 PM

Why does your girl not have any legs?

Also, great tee/elbow/bushing connection method. Definitely beats drilling holes through the tee and bow arms to get the airflow path going.
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#4 flyingchicken

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:59 PM

That is so cool. I love the traditional Bow N' Arrow feel you've got here.
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#5 Carbon

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 11:29 PM

TOTtomdora: PEX might be interesting for the crossbow. It's really bendy, but that might meant much shorter arms would be reasonable.

Zorn's Lemma: Levitation > running.

flyingchicken: Thanks. It wasn't until I tried Kane's bow that I realized just how fun the bow form really was.
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#6 shmmee

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 02:46 PM

I normally read, appreciate and keep my mouth shut unless i actually have something to contribute, but that's too cool to not comment on. I love that you use the elasticity of pvc instead of a spring. Your design pays a great homage back to the classic days of nerfing. I'm deffinately going to have to ad that to my list of things to build.
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#7 Coal Ten

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 03:03 PM

I've noticed that when bending PEX pipe, it rarely goes back to a shape that is even somewhat strait, it usually just bends and stays in that shape, there is hardly any elasticity.

Edited by Coal Ten, 09 August 2010 - 03:04 PM.

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#8 nerf22

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 06:07 PM

How old is your daughter?

A ). 4-6
B ). 7-9
C ). 10-12
D ). 13+

Edited by nerf22, 09 August 2010 - 06:07 PM.

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#9 Carbon

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 06:15 PM

How old is your daughter?

A ). 4-6
B ). 7-9
C ). 10-12
D ). 13+

There might be a legitimate reason for you asking me that, but right now you're just creeping me out. Probably because of the multiple choice thing.
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#10 Ambience 327

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 08:06 AM

That's sweet Carbon. I'm really digging everything about both of those bows. The whole concept of a foam-flinging bow fascinates me (Kane's included). I really need to find some time and fundage to try my hand at some of these cool new ideas you guys are churning out.

Oh, and something about that last pic sets off my cuteness meter. The image of a daddy and daughter (I'm picturing me and mine, since I don't know what you and yours look like yet!) weilding these bows in tandem is just too cute.

I hope she's having a blast with it - and I hope I get to see these things in person in a few weeks (hint hint - bring them to Foam in the Fort or I will cry manly tears!!! - hint hint) :lol:

I know my daughter is going to want to join me in my Nerf escapades if I am still involved in all this in a few years (she is 3 now). She already wants me to make her a pink boffer, because she loves wailing on me with mine.
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#11 Carbon

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 08:49 AM

Thanks, Ambience. Definitely, you should build one...they're pretty cheap to make. The Microbow only costs about $15, and that's starting with nothing. And you can count on these making the trip out at the end of the month. If I get a chance, I'm thinking about making more of these...the thought of an archery/melee round amuses me.

Funny you mention your daughter wanting to nerf, too. Mine's been watching me build these things for nearly as long, and she's pretty hyped about finally getting to play. She's already saying how she can't wait for the end of the month...which is funny, because she goes back to school the next week!

Edited by Carbon, 10 August 2010 - 08:51 AM.

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#12 nerf22

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 08:56 AM

I'm just asking to get an estimate on how hard it would be pull back ( As it might be hard for say a 4-6 year old to pull back, but probably not a 13 year old). I only asked in multiple choice because I don't need to know the exact age, just an age range. Sorry if I creeped you out.

Edited by nerf22, 10 August 2010 - 08:56 AM.

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#13 Carbon

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 09:03 AM

Heh, OK, cool. Sorry, parental hackles raise a bit easily. She's range "B".
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#14 nerf22

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 10:07 AM

Thanks. That helped a lot.
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#15 Ambience 327

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 12:31 PM

Sounds great Carbon. Melee/Bow only round, eh? Sounds very interesting - especially if we limit it to 2-3 bows per team, with everyone else being melee only. Then the bows would be the king of ranged combat, while the melee fighters would have to protect them. :lol:
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#16 rork

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:34 PM

God damn, Carbon. I would have bet money that that wouldn't work at all. In this instance, I love being wrong. A few thoughts:

I want one. And by "one," I mean "several."

One moving part? Srsly?

I will be wrapping the hell out of that bow arm. Colorful duct tape is in order. I will post photos when I'm done.

It would be easy as pie to have spares of everything that could break that would just plug and play. Hell, build a whole spare bow.

I love how on one end of the spectrum, things like the +bow with its variants are getting more and more high-tech (if not complex), while we've also got things like this and the HAMP that require an hour and $5 worth of materials to make--and actually have war potential. It's a good time to be a nerfer.
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#17 Ryan201821

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 05:01 PM

I will be wrapping the hell out of that bow arm. Colorful duct tape is in order. I will post photos when I'm done.

I'd highly advise against that. The bow arms are actually moving parts. Putting crap over the arms will only make your bow worse.


Anyway, great work Carbon. I've built myself something more similar to Kane's version, but yours looks just as well built. These things are a ton of fun to use. Can't wait to see all these bows in action at the next war.
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#18 Carbon

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 05:51 PM

Rork: I know exactly what you mean. I plan on making a half-dozen or so and bringing them to the next war. I'll sell them if people are interested, but I mainly want to see if we can get a whole bunch of people on the field at once with a bow. Seriously, they're crazy fun.

I love how breathtakingly simple bows are. Not having to deal with a trigger is incredibly liberating. Building a plunger rod with a hammer and scraps is even better. You practically don't even have to measure anything.

I'm also just as surprised that .5" CPVC works as well as it does. I have a few longer-term usage observations about it. CPVC seems to flex nicer than PVC....sched 40 seems to creak against the joints, but CPVC is very smooth. The crossbow arms might be a little short as far CPVC goes, because it seems to have taken on a permanent bend right by the couplers. It doesn't seem to have affected performance at all, though. The microbow arms sprung back to almost straight nearly immediately. The sched 40 3/4" PVC kept a bit of a bend after unstringing.

Decoration is in order, but I haven't decided how yet. The arms will get painted, if nothing else, to help slow down the whole UV light/making PVCs brittle problem.

Ryan: You have one too? Awesome. I seriously can't wait to see a whole bunch of these in use at once. Rainbow Clan: Men In Tights!
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#19 hawkshot

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 06:31 PM

I'm up for buying one, if you can find something to ship it in lol.
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#20 rork

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 06:46 PM

I will be wrapping the hell out of that bow arm. Colorful duct tape is in order. I will post photos when I'm done.

I'd highly advise against that. The bow arms are actually moving parts. Putting crap over the arms will only make your bow worse.


They may "move," but I rather doubt that a thin layer of flexible, adhesive film would have a noticeable impact on performance, and a wrap of tape should keep the shards restrained a bit if one were to decide to shatter on you. That will be the first thing I test when I build mine. The bottom line is that no one really knows how these things should be set up, and only empirical data will be of much use, since intuitively, they shouldn't work at all.
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#21 Carbon

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 08:05 PM

I'm up for buying one, if you can find something to ship it in lol.


I'll make up a few, and get a thread going in Trading. And actually, they come apart and reassemble very easily. It could ship in a mailing tube.

Edited by Carbon, 10 August 2010 - 09:03 PM.

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#22 lionhawk

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 06:53 PM

Nice, This homemade looks pretty interesting, I might try it out.
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#23 Carbon

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 06:26 PM

Tried out a new graphics style on the bow...and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

Rigid aluminum tape on the plunger tube and bow arms. The plunger tube is alros wrapped with a color printed transparent label sheet, to give it the blue fade and the Hammerhead graphics. The blue is metal sparkle lacquer.

Edited by Carbon, 02 January 2014 - 11:07 PM.

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#24 Fome

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 10:32 PM

I absolutely love that new look, Carbon.

#25 TheRadicalRadnor

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 09:08 PM

I know this might be a futile post but I was wondering if anyone out there on NH happened to download or save this build guide... it seems like all of Carbon's pictures are lost... any way to replace them?
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