ARROW BUILDING SECTION
ARROW BUILDING SECTION
This page came from the "Tip of the Week" section of my website.
As you requested, a quick reference page was developed to help you with arrow selection and building your own arrows.
CHOOSING AND CUTTING YOUR ARROWS: Arrow building is an art but anyone can do it with the proper tools. This is the first step in building not a good arrow but an arrow that is probably better that what you can shoot. Choose the correct arrow shaft for your bow using the charts provided by various arrow manufacturing. The length of your arrow and pull of your bow will determine this. If you land on a "line" between to different spine (flex) arrows shafts, I would suggest you select the stiffer spine arrow shaft. I suggest you cut your arrow longer than your draw length. This was explained on the January 15 "Tip of the week". I prefer to cut my arrows 3/4 inch to 1 inch in front of the riser. This keeps a broadheads away from your fingers and the outside the riser. I would also select arrows with a straightness of + or - .003 inches or better. Arrows need to be cut with a high speed, abrasive wheel that is specifically designed for cutting arrow shafts. Special Note: Both ends of the shaft should be cut whenever possible. Although most tips can be applied to different types of arrows, I will specifically address carbon arrows.
SELLECTING VANES OR FEATHERS: This becomes a personal choice but let's keep it simple. Most people believe as I do, feathers are for traditional bows (long & recurve) and vanes are for compound bows. Your type of vanes or feathers depends on what your are doing i.e. hunting big game, hunting birds or target shooting. The red feather in the forefront of the picture at the right is a Flu-Flu arrow used for small game and aerial shots at birds. A Flu-Flu arrow will not travel very far but can very deadly at short yardage and they are very easy to recover. However, they are also very noisy. Most traditional bow hunters use 3-5 inch feathers. Feathers are way to noisy with the speed of the new compound bows of today and can be easily damaged. The first thing you need to decide is weather you will be shooting targets, hunting or both. Target shooters can get away with very low profile vanes because they do not have to compensate for "steering effect" different types of broadheads will do on the arrow. Most hunters use the higher profile two inch vanesor the 3-4 inch lower profile vanes that are available from a variety of companies. I personally prefer the two inch Quick Spin ST Speed Hunter by NAP or the Blazer 2 inch by Bohning. I am able to group broadheads and field tips over very long ranges. Here in the West, we are not blessed with those 20-30 yard shots you see on TV. A fletching jig is required to glue most feathers or vanes to the shaft. However, spiral wrap Flu-Flu arrows can be done without a jig. Different types of fletching jigs and glue will be discussed on a later. Most vanes require some offset to "spin" the arrow. The 2 inch Quick Spin has a small "kicker" that aides the spinning of the arrow. Arrows are just like bullets in flight, spin equals accuracy.
INSERTS AND NOCKS: For this tip I will relates arrows to rifle shells. A shell is made with a primer, a powder charge, a bullet and a case. The best reloaders and silhouette shooters will weigh their powder charge, their case and their bullet (primers are chosen for ignition preferences). The rifle cases are weighed and placed in like groups. The bullets will be weighed and placed in their like groups. The powder will be varied from load to load until a final powder charge will be determined by the group it produces. With that said, you can apply that to your arrows. I personally weigh all my inserts and place them in like groups of 12 because arrow shafts are sold in matched groups of 12. I do the same with my nocks. You can take that concept a step farther by weighing your vanes too. You can purchase a inexpensive scale that reads grains for less than $10 at various tool stores. Control what you can. I have found vary large differences between inserts and nocks. Most arrow builders have extra nocks and inserts. Keep a detailed record so you can repair any arrows with the same matching nocks, inserts or vanes in the future. SPECIAL NOTE: Before you glue your inserts, you need to rough up the inside of arrow shaft. I do this with a bore brush and an 18 volt drill. This helps with the adhesion of the insert.
CUTTING AND SQUARING YOUR CARBON ARROWS: Arrows need to be cut with a high speed, abrasive wheel that is specifically designed for cutting arrow shafts. Arrow length is measured from the bottom of the nock groove to the end of the shaft. It does not include the insert. I have already explained what length you should cut your arrows. Let's assume you purchased a 30" inch shaft and your arrow length is 28 inches. I would suggest you cut one inch from each end of the shaft, not two inches from one end. The next step is to square the ends of the shaft. There are multiple tools out there that will do a fantastic job. After cutting my shafts, I clean my shafts with hot water and maybe acetone. I make sure the shafts are completely dry before I start to assemble the arrow. Using an air compressor will speed this process up. I will put the matching nocks into each shaft. I will then glue the matching inserts into each shaft. Do not glue the nocks into carbon shafts. Once the glue has cured, I will square the inserts with same tool I used for squaring the shafts (most tools that square carbon shafts come with a cutter for metal). I will admit that when I spin test my arrows with broadheads, I sometimes have to repeat this process to the insert.
FLETCHING YOUR ARROWS: There are multiple types of fletching jigs out there. I prefer a fletching jig that comes with various clamps that will do offset vanes or straight vanes. No matter what type you choose, use the same fletching jig for all 12 arrows. Remember, control what you can. I will be discussing vanes only. The first thing I do is wash the shafts with hot water and scrub with a pot brush to rough up the shaft. I shake off the water and place them in a holder damp. I use the new cyanoacrylate (instant) glue for all vanes and the water helps with the adhesion. The moisture on your hand is why instant glues, glue your fingers together so quickly. The vanes should be placed from 3/4 inch to 1 inch from the nock end of the shaft. I am not sure that 1/4 of an inch makes much of a difference. I have tested both placements of the vanes and it does not seems to make a difference in hunting arrows. I will add a small drop of a slow curing glue on the front of each vane after all vanes have been attached. This will help keeps the vanes on when you shoot through a target or hay bale. The process of placing the vane with glue on the shaft is not complicated but it can not be easily explained in words. Give me a call and I will be glad to demonstrate this process to you.
CHOOSING YOUR FIELD TIPS AND BROADHEADS: Your field tips and broadheads should be the same weight. We could relate that to rifle shells again. A 180 grain bullet will be more stable at longer distances but will move slower than a 165 grain bullet with everything else being the same. Therefore, if you are shooting a 100 grain broadhead, use a 100 grain field tip. Some of this was determined when you selected your arrow shaft. When I choose a field tip, I like the field tip to be the same diameter as the shaft. Again, control what you can. In recent times, there has been fantastic improvements in broadheads. The basically two choices, expandable (illegal in some states) and fixed blades. I personally prefer fixed blades. I have been able to shoot 2 inch groups at 40 yards fixed blades. Some people choose three blade to match 3 vanes etc. This becomes a very personal choice for most for shooters. As bow speeds increase over 280 fps, some fixed blades can cause a problem. You need to chronograph your arrow before you make a choice.
FRONT OF CENTER: The F.O.C. or Front of Center needs to be considered. The F.O.C. is a measurement based on the relative weights of the components that make up the arrow. A balanced arrow i.e. an arrow with a proper F.O.C. should be in the 7% to 15% range. There are simple and complicated ways to calculate this. If you go to your arrow shaft website, you can calculate your arrow for the proper F.O.C. Just remember, you will need to know the weight of your inserts, nocks, broadhead/field tip, length of your arrow, arrow weight per inch and any wraps or weights you may add to your final arrow. This may sound like a lot of work but most of this info can be found on the website of the arrow shaft company you chose or you have already this information. In my opinion, the "Gold Tip" website explains what you need to know and is very straight forward.
FINAL ARROW PREP & FLETCHING JIG: You now have everything ready to go to build your arrow. You will need a fletching jig for your vanes or feathers. For this section, I will discuss vanes but most of the basics apply to feathers too. No matter what jig your select, make sure you use the same jig for every arrow. Again, control what you can. I prefer the "Bitzenburger, Dial-O-Fletch" jig and clamp system. This jig will last you a lifetime.
The arrow shaft needs to be sanded lightly where your will be gluing the vanes to the shaft. I use hot water and
a "Scotch-Brite" heavy duty scub sponge (yellow & green). You could use steel wool for sanding as well. I will then flush out the shaft of all the cutting dust that could remain from the cutting of the shaft and prep you did for the inserts. I will then use an air compressor to speed up the drying. Just before I fletch the arrow, I will again run hot water over the vane end of the shaft and shake it off (some of the water will remain). Water helps with the adhesion of "instant glues". Most of us have glued our fingers together. That happened quickly because of the moisture on your hand. The final consideration position of the vane. Basic options are right/left helical or straight. This is usually determined by the arrows use or the vane itself.