The art of arrow building is really not as complicated as some people make it to be. There are many advantages to building your own arrows too, starting with cost – its usually cheaper. Second, you get to build them the way you want considering your color preferences, what vanes you want, what nocks, and do you want a wrap and if so, what style/color. And you can make your arrows to fit your particular shooting style. While it’s convenient to just go buy arrows when you do it yourself you get them your way and enjoy the fun of doing it too.
Before we go into detail on how to build your own arrows lets go over the equipment that you will need. Now it may seem more expensive at first to start building your arrows but trust me it will pay for itself very fast. A fletcher is obviously the first piece of equipment you will need. Now there are several fletching jigs on the market today so check them out for the one you feel fits your needs best. You have single fletchers which only allow you do one vane at a time and unless you have lots of time on your hands, which I know you probably don’t, then there is only one type fletcher for you and that is the one that will do multiple vanes/feathers at once. There are two that come to mind, the Tower by Bohning and the Arizona E-Z Fletch from AZ Rim Country. These fletchers allow you to fletch all three vanes at once; not only saving you lots of time but producing a perfect fletch each time. With these fletchers you will be able to fletch a dozen arrows in less time that it would take you to drive to your local archery shop and pick up a dozen, and your archery shop probably used the exact same fletcher to do their arrows.
While both of these products will do the job I use the E-Z Fletch because it is good for home use or in a pinch if you need to fletch in the field. It’s compact and easy to use anywhere. The Arizona E-Z Fletch Fletcher is available in left or right helical or straight and they have sizes to fit the smallest carbon to the largest aluminum shaft. Their newest model the ‘Mini’ is for fletching the new smaller vanes.
Once you got your fletching jig you will need some adhesive to attach your vanes to your arrow shaft. Goat Tuff Products makes the strongest glues no questions; don’t use super glue or some other off brand glue. Goat Tuff specializes in arrow building glues and they have all the products you need from a cleaning prepping liquid to clean your arrows before gluing to maximize adhesion. They also have a specialized glue for nocks and inserts.
There is a reason why it’s called Goat Tuff. And speaking of Goat Tuff, they also make what I think is the best two-inch vane on the market called the Opti-Vane. There are a ton of good vanes on the market so whatever vane you choose from a reputable manufacturer will turn out just fine. I like the Opti-Vane because they use Fusion Technology from Norway Industries which bonds a soft bottom for easier, stronger glue hold and a stiff upper for dependability, greater steerage and durability. They are 2” vanes and perfect to today’s carbon arrows and they have a unique shield cut which allows them to stabilize the arrow faster and therefore increase accuracy. These are the vanes of my choice and are offered in an array of colors to meet any of your crazy color combinations.
Another tool that I recommend is a reamer or deburring tool for the inside of shafts after you cut them to desired length. You can purchase a fancy one just for arrows but just go down to your local hardware shop and purchase a round file. They come in several sizes so you can get one that fits in your arrow shaft. This will do the same thing as the deburring tool for about half the price.
Now for a good set of arrows. Most arrow shafts come uncut at 30 inches and if you don’t shoot 30-inch arrows you will have to cut them. You could buy an arrow saw for about $100.00, but for most of us on a budget that is pricey, so I recommend you just have your local archery shop cut them to the correct length for you. Most shops will only charge a buck or two to cut them and when you only cut a dozen or two arrows a year there is just no need for an arrow saw.
Like vanes, there are quite a few good arrows on the market so again, buy what ever brand you prefer. My personal preference is those made by Victory Archery. I just recently switched to Victory arrows and am equally impressed with the quality, construction, durability, accuracy and most important cost. They offer a wide variety of arrows from hunting arrows to competition and crossbow bolts. They also offer different levels of straightness from .006 to .001. My personal choice is the Hunter – V1 series. Now that you have everything to build your own arrow its time to get started and trust me its not rocket science.
Once you have your arrows selected and cut to your desired length you will want to get Goat Tuff Cleaner and use the micro fiber towel that comes with it to clean and wipe the arrow shaft down where you are going to apply the fletching. Once dry grab one arrow and insert it nock down into your Arizona E-Z fletch Fletcher and make sure the nock sets in the special grove at bottom. This keeps the shaft from turning as you apply the vanes. Now place your vanes in each of the three vane slots on fletcher with the vane back toward the middle of the fletcher. Next apply a thin bead of Goat Tuff Glue (I use the High Performance Glue) to the base of vane from bottom to top or top to bottom doesn’t really matter. Keep in mind that the Goat Tuff Glue is thick enough so it stays in place without running. You also want to put a thin line of glue as thin works better and dries faster than a heavy line of glue.
Once your vanes are done you simply close your Arizona E-Z Fletch Fletcher and slip the top cap over the shaft and down the fletcher to lock arms in place. Goat Tuff Glues say drying time is 10 sec but I usually wait a bit longer. I have two E-Z Fletch so while one is drying I’m working on my next arrow. When ready, take the Top Cap off, open the arms and take your fletched arrow out and get the next one ready to go.
It’s that easy. You could even watch you’re favorite hunting show while building your arrows. Once you have all arrows fletched, don’t forget to glue in your nocks and inserts. To glue in inserts first use the small round file I mentioned earlier and insert it into shaft to clean any burrs that might have resulted from the cutting process. Then apply some Goat Tuff Insert Bond Glue around insert and push into shaft, sometimes a table or wall is needed to push stubborn inserts, just make sure you wipe any excessive glue that might ooze out around arrow. Now you’re ready to go out and show off handy work.
Not only did you save money but you also have pride in knowing you built them yourself. Another advantage in having the ability to fletch your own arrows is now you can fix that one vane that seems to wear out faster than the others, just scrape off the old vane and old glue and set it back in fletching jig aligning the other two vanes first, then insert new vane, add glue, close jig and in less than 30 seconds your arrow is like new again. Have fun and good luck shooting.
For Arrow Making Video go to: Make Your Own Arrows
And for on the road: Arrow Making During the Hunt