Making Arrows By Dave 'Fletch' Coldwell
Feb 5, 2007 - 10:46:00 AM
Think about the last few deer that you shot with your bow. Did you shoot those deer with arrows that you fletched yourself? If not, you're missing out on one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of bowhunting. Admittedly, I haven't shot an arrow in either a 3-D or hunting situation for at least twelve years that I didn't completely crest and fletch myself.
Believe it or not, my nickname wasn't stolen from the famous Chevy Chase movie, but was given to me five years before the movie came out by two good friends in Terre Haute, Indiana. It seemed that every time Rick Scheid or Ted Cooper walked into my archery shop, one of them would ask me if "fletchin arrows" was all that I did every day. Pretty soon, as I attended IBO 3-D shoots, friends were hollering my nickname through the course trying to find me so I could fix something on their bows. I think most of them didn't ever know my real name, Fletch was easy to remember, and I can still think of a lot worse nicknames that a guy could be stuck with.
Now, let's get to fletching your own arrows. I guarantee that you can buy the components and fletch your own arrows for a lot less than buying pre-fletched stuff. I am shooting the Gold Tip all carbon arrows, and using Bohning Blazer two inch vanes, Bohning Blazer nocks, Bohning four inch cresting wraps. I should note that I have a high speed cut-off saw that I've owned for many years, but if you don't own one of these, you could either buy one from your local dealer, or make sure that you take one of your old arrows the correct length to your pro shop when you buy your components. Ask your dealer cut the shafts the correct length (using your old arrow) before you head home.
Here's all you need.
Cresting wraps are very easy to install using a mouse pad from your computer desk. As the pictures show, install the nocks first, then carefully peel the cresting wraps from the backing and lay it down, sticky side up, on the mouse pad. When you discover that it keeps sticking to your fingers, hold the wrap down on one end with the tip of one of your fingers and slightly lick the end of your other finger on your other hand. Once you have held the wrap down on the other end with the licked finger, take away your other finger and you will be amazed that for some reason, the licked finger doesn't stick and when lifted, the wrap stays on the pad, ready to be wrapped onto the arrow shaft. Now, lay an arrow shaft down on the mouse pad next to the wrap and once it is lined up with the nock, a light and steady pressure as you roll the shaft over the wrap and the arrow will be ready to fletch.
Rolling the shaft over the Cresting strip
Finishing the roll.
There are all kinds and brands of fletching tools, from the tried and true Bitzenbergers, to the Multi-Fletchers, Jo-Jan fletchers, and others that I can't remember. For the last six or seven years, I have used the Arizona EZ Fletch made by our good friend Randy Phillips of Chandler AZ. (480) 961-7995. Using three of these fletching tools, I can easily fletch a dozen perfect arrows in 12 minutes or less. The EZ Fletch is easy to use, and one of the best features of this fletching tool is that for the average bowhunter, one EZ Fletch is all you will ever need. I still have three of the original blue EZ Fletchers that I have probably owned for at least 12 years and have easily fletched over 6000 arrows without any failures or problems.
Once your arrow shafts are wrapped, put three vanes in the EZ Fletch and index the vanes all the way to the base. Put your reading glasses on, (at least in my case) and put a very thin line of Fast Fletch glue on each vane. Bohnings Super Fletch Tite glue works very well also, but needs a few minutes longer in the EZ Fletcher before the vanes are "set". I'm not always in a hurry, but I've been using the Fast Fletch glue, www.surefoot.net or call Dave at 1-800-722-3688 for the past three years and I have not had any problems at all. Trust me, a 2 ounce bottle of Fast Fletch glue will last for around 85-100 dozen arrows!
The AZ EZ-Fletch is so simple even a Caveman can do it.
Once your glue is installed, simply twist the cam on the base of your EZ Fletch tool and the arms will slide smoothly to the arrow shaft and align themselves. Slide the EZ Fletch tool end cap over the arrow shaft and push it in place to hold the vanes tight against the shaft, then set the assembly down and go to the next one. If you only have one EZ Fletch tool, and you are using the Fast Fletch glue, just hold it in place for 50-60 seconds and the vanes should be stuck. Slide the end cap off of the fletching tool and twist the base, and pull out your first perfectly fletched arrow. If you put a little too much glue on the vanes, the excess will clean up with a Q-tip.
Now these are sharp looking arrows.
This fall, when you shoot something with your bow, you'll take pride in the extra effort of fletching your own arrows. If you get the bright cresting wraps like I use, you won't wonder where you hit the deer, because you'll see that little yellow or orange fireball as it flies through the air towards your prey. Guaranteed satisfaction of a job well done!
Until next month, keep your eyes on the horizon and remember, there's no substitute for good practice!