Tips on Fletching Arrows

While complete arrows are available through archery suppliers, fletching your own saves money, tunes your arrows to your bow and shooting style, and expresses your individuality as an archer with your choice of color. You will need a fletching jig, feather or vane material, and the appropriate glue for your arrow shaft material.

Synthetic Fletching

Waterproof, highly damage resistant and light in weight, synthetic vanes are the fletching choice of most modern compound bow shooters. Prepare arrow shafts by carefully scraping away any old fletching, being especially careful not to cut into the fibers of carbon shafts. Clean arrow shafts and contact surface of the vane with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry. Be sure to use the proper fletching glue as some glue is not compatible with carbon shafts. Mount fletching into your jig and seat the vane snugly into the base of its holding slot. Next, insert the arrow into the jig until it seats on the nock. Run a neat bead of glue down the mounting surface of the vanes, and close the jig tightly on the arrow until the glue sets. Open the jig carefully, watching for any separation of the vane from the shaft. A dot of glue on the very front of the fletching secures it from peeling.

Natural Feather Fletching

Feather fletching is used on recurve and long bows because they don’t upset the arrow’s flight as much when they strike the riser. Natural feathers can be more difficult to lay flat against arrow shafts, but by firmly pressing them into your jig you can overcome most irregularities. Avoid touching surfaces to be glued as oil from your skin weakens the bond. Use steel wool or ultra fine sandpaper to lightly roughen the gluing surface of the arrow shaft. Apply glue to the clean prepped base of the feather fletching and close the jig on the arrow. Open the jig slowly when the glue has set, and apply a dot of glue on the front edge of the feather to prevent peeling.

Tips and Considerations

Well-tuned arrow flight is determined by several factors. Bigger fletching lends stability at the cost of speed. Helical fletching imparts a spin to the arrow improving stability, while straight fletching flies faster. Feathers are generally faster and lighter than vanes, but do not perform well when wet and are more easily damaged. Light colored fletching aids arrow visibility in flight and makes tuning flaws more visible. Experiment with different fletching to help find the optimum arrow setup for your bow and shooting style.

About this Author

Over a span of 20 years, Hans Dersch has written copy in advertising, marketing, public relations, fundraising, political campaigns and grant proposals. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.