The collection of bows indicate that Lakota used a short bow which shot a faster arrow at close range than one that was long. There are few trees on the prairie so choice of hardwoods was limited usually to green ash. This tree had numerous knots so a long section of useable wood is difficult to secure. On horseback a short bow could be readily maneuvered and close range was used to hit the enemy to count coup. The bows usually have a double nock for stringing the bowstring and a single nock at the top for quickly stringing and unstringing the bow while horseback.
Sioux arrows have long feather fletchings to aid flight, often with a tuft of feather on the forward portion. Many have a "blood groove" consisting of three channels grooved into the shaft from the feathers to the arrow point. The grooves often begin with a wavy line to indicate a connection with the Thunder Being. As lightning finds it target and kills, in the same manner the wavy lines symbolize a lightning strike to kill an enemy. It was also known that a grooved arrow seemed to not warp and flew further.
The arrows have color markings near the end of the shaft to identity the owner. Following a buffalo hunt, the wife could identify which buffalo her husband killed.