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Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
The arrow is one of the most critical parts of the archery experience. You should understand each of the elements of an arrow and how they might affect its flight. So, do archery arrows have feathers?
Most archery arrows will have some fletching or vane. While they may have feathers, you’re more likely to source vanes made of rubber. This fletching stabilizes the flight of the arrow, letting you hit the target accurately.
Using fletching on the arrow has a long history, stretching back to the middle ages. Let’s take a closer look at arrow fletching, how it works, and how you can maintain your arrows.
Do Arrows Need Feathers?
As a general rule, arrows need some fletching to make sure that they can hit the target with accuracy. The fletching on the arrow has a few essential tasks to perform.
Stabilizing The Arrow’s Flight
First, the fletching will help preserve the flight of the arrow. It does this by guiding the arrow’s flight.
Without the fletching, the arrow might start to wobble. This will cause it to get knocked off-course. In some cases, it can even begin to twist. As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult for archers to hit anything with precision. It also creates a hazardous situation on the archery range.
The fletching on the arrow prevents this from happening by adding some air resistance. When it starts to deviate from its course, the fletching will add extra resistance, pushing it back into the correct flight path.
Reduce Vertical Yaw
There is another critical reason why most arrows have feathers. It allows them to reduce the amount of vertical yaw that they experience.
Vertical yaw is the amount of rotation around the vertical axis. To illustrate this point, imagine that you fire an arrow without any fletching. The tail of the arrow might start to turn, pointing the arrow away from the target and disrupting the flight path.
When you use fletching, you will be able to prevent this. This will add further stability to the arrow’s flight, allowing you more precision when you aim.
Types Of Arrow Fletching
There are several types of arrow fletching available on the market. This allows you to customize the fletching to suit your shooting style. There are a few ways you can do this.
Turning The Fletching
When you apply the fletching, you can determine whether you employ them straight or twist them slightly.
You should try to apply fletching on a slight angle. This will cause a slight rotation when the arrow is in flight. This can create more stability and make it easier for you to hit the target.
Though necessary, this can slightly reduce the speed of the arrow. To compensate for this, you will need to be able to have a higher draw strength. It will increase the force at which the arrow fires. One of the best ways to improve your draw strength is by improving your strength and conditioning.
Size Of The Fletching
You will also have to consider the size of the fletching. Generally, the larger the fletching, the more stability you will be able to receive. However, you will also be increasing the amount of air resistance that you’ll be applying. This, in turn, reduces the speed of the arrow.
You will be able to find multiple types of fletching materials on the market. These days, it’s common to find arrow vanes made of plastic or rubber. However, you might be able to find other options, like feathers. The material used can often influence how flexible the arrow will be.
Caring For Arrow Fletching
A crucial part of archery is caring for your arrow fletches. This will assure you that your arrow will be able to last for a long time. There are a few ways that you can keep them in excellent condition.
Avoid Firing In Tight Groups
Trying to fire in a tight group can be a great way to improve your accuracy. However, it can also increase the chances that you will damage the fletching.
When you do this, the arrows are more likely to rub against each other. This can cause the fletching to come off, damaging the arrow.
Avoid Crowding The Arrows
When you’re storing the arrows, you should make sure to leave plenty of space between each one. Similar to firing in a tight group, crowding the arrows into a tight space can cause them to rub each other.
Often this can force the fletches into an unnatural angle. When this happens, it can weaken their attachment to the arrow, causing them to come loose or tear.
Waterproof Your Arrows
You might want to make sure that your arrow fletching is waterproofed correctly, particularly if you intend to use them outside. This will build their resistance to water, which has the potential to weaken the bonds between the fletch and the arrow shaft.
Signs You Need To Replace The Fletching
Over time, you will inevitably need to replace the fletching on your arrow.
By spotting the need to replace the fletching early, you will be able to prevent damage to the arrow and maintain your accuracy on the range. There are a few early detection signs that you might want to look out for.
When you fire the arrow, you might notice a flapping noise. When you hear this, make sure to investigate the fletching.
Loose fletching is often the cause of this noise. As it’s no longer securely attached to the arrow shaft, it’s liable to fly off. This can make the entire arrow unusable, as it will no longer be able to have a stable flight path.
In some cases, you might notice that a piece of fletching has developed a tear. If left alone, this can often get worse, as the fletching bends while in flight. After a few shots, you might notice that the entire section of fletching tears off.
Also, if the tear might be impacting the arrow’s flight path, in most cases, it will be creating more drag and slowing the arrow down. If the fletch bends, it can cause the arrow to miss the target.
What To Do With Damaged Fletching
Once you spot a damaged fletch, you have two options.
- Fix it yourself
- Take it into an archery store and have a professional fix it for you
If you fix it yourself, you will need to make sure that the fletch is attached securely. A little superglue can easily resolve this issue. You will also need to make sure that you are putting it on at the right angle, so the arrow doesn’t fly at an odd angle. You should also monitor the arrow’s flight, making sure that it isn’t veering to one side.
The feathers, or fletching, on an arrow, play a pivotal role. It ensures that it flies straight, allowing you to hit the target. Though today’s fletching is strong, it can still break off if not cared for properly. In this case, you will need to have them repaired or replaced.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. He has been hunting and fishing since a child, and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.