Back To Basics: The correct fletchings for your shooting
Fletchings are a topic that we always get asked about, fletchings are designed to help stabilise, control and spin the arrow. In this article we are going to address what different types of fletchings do as well as how the sizes and placement on the shaft impact the arrow flight.
One of the most popular choices of fletchings is the plastic vane, they are easy to fletch as well as extremely durable needing very little maintenance and are waterproof making it an all-round good choice.
Feathers are used in nearly every single traditional shooting style, however you might be surprised to learn that many top archers including multiple world championship gold medal winner Brady Elison use feathers for certain events like the indoors.
The feathers that are used are from a specific part of the bird called the flight feathers, these provide the bird with lift and manoeuvrability.
Feathers are lighter than plastic vanes and due to the texture they have better air flow allowing the arrow more control, feathers also hold their shape extremely well in both hot and cold conditions. Feathers are less critical if there is a clearance issue that needs addressing.
The downside to feathers are twofold, firstly if an arrows comes into close contact it can cause damage to the feather which then needs replacing. The other downside is that due to the nature and makeup of a feather they are very susceptible to absorbing moisture, this not only makes the feather heavier it also temporarily shrinks resulting in far less control and stability this can be overcome with a water proofing powder.
Spin vanes are designed to alleviate the archer’s paradox much quicker than a plastic or feather vane, this results in far less drag force which allows the arrow to stabilise much quicker and makes for tighter groupings. Spin vanes are also very light when compared to a plastic vane, they are however very fragile and can be high maintenance.
Straight fletchings offer maximum speed at the cost of reduced stability, this is compensated when shot over long distances as the arrow has time to straighten back up.
Helical fletchings offer maximum stability allowing for greater accuracy due to the arrow coming under control faster, the downside to this is that the arrow does loose speed and it can cause contact issues.
Whether you are choosing plastic, feathers or spin vanes what the size of the fletching does is the same.
Smaller fletchings such as a 1.75 inch gives maximum speed at reduced stability as it takes the vane longer to control the arrow, this is the ideal length if you are shooting longer distances as it gives the fletchings time to straighten up the arrow.
Larger fletchings such as a 4 inch allows for maximum control and stability straightening up the arrow as soon as possible, this creates a very forgiving arrow but at the cost of loss of speed.
The position that an arrow is fletched is very important, in compound shooting with a release aid we want the fletchings as close to the nock as possible as there is nothing to interfere with the fletchings. In recurve shooting we need the fletchings to be as close to the nock as possible but not too close, the reason is because if we open our fingers and the fletchings are too close we can cause contact which can interfere with the shot cycle.
If the fletchings are too far down the shaft they won’t help to control and steer the arrow, usually a distance of around 1 inch from the nock groove to the start the fletching is good however we all have different length fingers so it is worth checking if your fingers are contacting the fletchings.
Indoors & Outdoors
Often you will hear of people having indoor and outdoor arrows, not only might they have bigger diameter shafts but also different fletching styles we are going to look at what setups works best for the indoors vs the outdoors.
The indoor fletching choice that I think works the best and many top archers use such as Brady Elison is a 3-4inch feather, as discussed the increased size helps to stabilise and control the arrow with the increased control from it being a feather. This all results in a much more forgiving shot, the arrow is traveling slower which isn’t a problem when shooting shorter distances and there won’t be an issue of moisture due to shooting indoors.
The outdoors are dominated by various different types of spin vanes, from the traditional Rangeomatic to the latest KSL they all offer a similar effect and a similar size of between 1.75-2.00 inches. This size allows for maximum speed with the spin vane design helping to bring the arrow under control faster, this all results in the fastest setup for getting the distance with excellent control the only drawback is they can be high maintenance.