ARROW FLETCHING BASICS
Fletching refers to feathers or vanes on an arrow and how they are arranged on the shaft. They Stabilize the arrow during flight by causing the shaft to spin as it leaves the bow. How you fletch an arrow and what materials you use for fletching can impact how it performs.
TYPES OF ARROW FLETCHING
Selecting the right fletching hinges on what you need. Everything from the shooting distance to what type of broadhead you are using needs to be factored in fletching your selection. The two most commonly used fletching materials are feathers and plastic vanes.
Three or more vanes/ feathers are used to fletch an arrow. Standard arrow fletching features three vanes or feathers. Two of them, the “hen” vanes or feathers, create a flat path against the riser. A third one, the “cock” vane or feather, points away from the riser when nocked to the string and is often a different color.
Fletching should be wider than the cutting diameter of the broadhead. It also should be 4-to-5 inches long to compensate for the size and weight of the broadhead, with 2 to 3inch long vane fletching available for lighter arrows. If done right, fletching preserves speed, improves accuracy, and maintains momentum. This gives your arrow much greater impact power after you shoot it.
Feathers vs Vanes
Traditionally, feathers were used to create fletching on an arrow. Plastic vanes have become more abundant in modern times because of their durability and color variety. Both choices offer their own set of pros and cons.
- Three times lighter and more flexible than vanes.
- Boost arrow speed.
- More forgiving while sliding over rests or risers on a bow.
- Create more drag and spin on the arrow.
- Good steering capabilities.
- More prone to break or tear over time than vanes.
- Can get soaked and become waterlogged in the rainy season.
- Come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes than feathers.
- They are better at correcting the flight path of an arrow shot with bad form.
- High profile vanes will offer a greater degree of stability.
- Using vanes with an elevated rest offers greater arrow clearance.
- Using vanes with a wider surface area make the arrow heavier and slower.
- Shorter and lower profile vanes will cut down on wind drag.
How to Fletch an Arrow
Do-it-yourself fletching is a basic skill I think all beginning bow hunters need to learn. All you need is some glue, a pencil to mark where to place the fletching and a good fletching jig to clamp the vanes or feathers while you attach them to the shaft.
- Before attaching the fletching, clean the shaft and the fletching materials.
- From there, simply place the vane or feather into the jig and clamp it in place.
- Apply a layer of glue along the groove and press it into place along the shaft.
- After the fletching glue has dried, rotate the arrow in the jig 120 degrees two more times and repeat the process.
You can choose from three different fletching orientations:
- Keeps the fletching straight with the shaft.
- It is effective with close-range shots because it maximizes speed during arrow flight.
- It does not create any spin, however, and is more vulnerable to wind drag.
- Offset orientation is straight on the shaft, but it is also turned from the front to the back of the fletching.
- It offers increased arrow stability with broadheads, making it better for taking long-range shots.
- It also picks up some air resistance in flight and loses airspeed before reaching its target.
- Helical orientation features fletching with a slight curve.
- It creates maximum arrow stability and the best accuracy at longer distances because the arrow spin is least affected by the wind.
- Loss of speed is still an issue with helical fletching.