Arrow & Bow Making
Old English Style


However, I don`t believe this is the case, because most Irish people are either artists or musicians anyway. I wasn`t born a Fletcher either, I more or less taught myself. Like when you are shooting instinctively: the exercise makes the master. Don`t just talk about it, have a go. You can safe not only a lot of money ( beginners shoot, lose and break more arrows than an experienced archer) it is also a pleasure, especially if you get together with friends in a cosy round circle, and make them in stages.
If you want, you are welcome to borrow or buy a Fletching Jig from me. This is the piece of machinery that holds the fletch (feather) together while the glue dries.

Before you try making your first set of arrows, you should ask yourself the question, what do you need the arrow for? Is it only for training, or roving or for an important tournament? You don`t want to bring arrows that might fall apart on an important shoot. It`s a learning process, so you may have problems on your first go, but its a important skill to learn. Also, what type of shooting you are using the arrows for changes how you make them. In this article I will assume you want to build standard training arrows. There isn`t any great difference between training and tournament arrows to me.

At first I must find out the required spine (the wooden shaft). This depends on the draw weight (measured in lbs) of your bow and your personal draw lenght. The faster the bow, the stiffer the arrow should be. Likewise for the draw lenght and larger points. You have to get your bow and try it out.
At first the spine corresponds to the draw weight of the bow (e.g. 35 lbs). The standard or average persons draw length is 28" (from bow back to string). If you have less draw lenght, you should cutt the shaft accordingly (there should be about 1" between the very front of the bow and the base of the point). Double check the measurements before you cut anything, and remember, its better to have a little left over than to have cut them too short.

A fast hunting recurve needs a couple of # more spine than say a slower Longbow, which would need a weaker shaft. A Fast Flight string also needs about 3# more spine than a slower Dacron String.
For example:
I shoot a 45# Hunting Recurve (+3#) with a Fast Flight String (+3#) and have a draw lenght of 27"
(-3#). The point has 100 grs. (+-0). This means: I need a arrow with 48# spine. Therefore 45-50# spine.
Keen archers use a Spine Tester!

A cedar shaft costs only a tiny bit more than a pine shaft, so I always use them. I already notice this when I sharpen the shafts to apply the Nocks. A well- positioned Nock is more important than the point, as it is the point of release for the arrow. The grain (dark lines in the wood) of the shaft should be at a right angle to the string-notch (that means perpendicular to the string). A tool for this is a simple plastic pencil-sharpener. You will need the one with two differend sized paring holes. The "pencil-sharpener" has an opening with an optus and an acute angle. The blunt one is for the Nock end the other is for the point end. Basically, you must pare the shaft s at both ends, one with a long point, the other with a shorter point, before you glue the point/pile and nock onto the shaft.

After you have glued the Nock with Uhu or special Bohning Fletch Tite, you let it dry a bit, and then place it in the fletching jig. Normally we make arrows with tree helical (curved) feathers (the a
American Indians used only two feathers). We use helical feathers because the arrow stabilizes itself faster with rotation. As long as the fletches curve in the same direction, it doesn`t matter wheather they curve to the left or to the right. It makes little or no difference anyway if you are using a straight clamp fletching jig (as this `makes` them straight).
So presuming your not playing cowboys and indians, each arrow needs 3 feathers. One of which should be visibly different from the rest. This is known as the cock feather. You should make sure that each feather is always put into the same place in the clamp (same distance from the nock). The more closely (1 cm approx.) I attache the feather to the Nock, the more suitable it becomes for shooting short distances. For shooting larger distances, you should locatethe feather closer to 3 cm from the nock. This also depends on the feather form/style.
If you use a single-clamp fletching jig, then it is faster and easier to use a double-sided adhesive tape. With this method, you don`t have to wait till the adhesive has dried.

If you are using this type of fletching jig (like the one shown), then you need to glue each fletch, one at a time. The cock feather should be perpendicular to the string. You glue (or apply fletch tape) to the cock feather, clamp it in place (between 1-3 cm from the nock depending what you will be using it for), and leave it a moment to settle. Then you take the clamp off the cock feather,and turn the little wheel to rotate the arrow a third of the way around, it will click in place. Repeat this process for the next two normal feathers. Arrow making is a very subjective thing where it depends on the taste, so think about how you would like them to look before you buy the parts. Also, it is very important to take into account visibilityin the woods. Bright colours are the best.
Yellow, orange and white are very good colours. Of course all others colours are good, your taste again. We only find the bright colour better in the woods because it makes them easier to find amongst the undergrowth. Some Slyboots prefer even arrows in Camouflage. They want to go completely surely that they do not regain that. Black or deep brown stained shafts probably look very beautiful if you miss, you are more likely to lose them. It is up to you,but it doesn`t really make sense in field archery.

I personelly prefer an orange 4" boarhump feather. This I find helps in the learning process while practising, because I can follow the arrow`s flight path easily.
I prefer a short feather with 3" for Clout shooting. A long 5" feather and more are only good for short, hunting-like distances. If I wanted to stabilize the arrow very quickly, then I could also take a Fluflu feather with four or six pieces from a whole feather approximately 4" to 5". This is recommendable for overhead shots. The arrow doesn`t travel too far if you miss. They will drop down after approx. 30 yd. In this case I would recommend using a blunt point (rubber/flat tipped arrow), so any missfired won`t lead to injuries.
And we are already off the point now: It isn`t really important what style or shape of feather you use. Wether you choose a parabol, shield, boarhump, Pope& Young, old english etc...
However, the type of points you pick are important. A 3D- point is sharper, and has a better grip than a bullet point, paticularly if you are shooting from the side at 3D targets. Bullet points are more suitable for shooting targets, and field points, as the name already suggests, are better suited to shooting in fields (clout shoots). Points made of steel is harder than one made of brass, therfor they deform less easily, if you should hit a stone.
After we have stuck the feathers on, we whip finish them (a blob of glue or bit thread wrapped around the front of the feather). This is especially applies to archers who shoot from the back of their hand (no shelf or arrow rest), suche as longbows and some selfbows. The quill can come loose and penetrade into the back of the hand, and this isn`t funny when it happens. You will only have one left hand then.

When cutting the shafts to match the draw lenght, I cutt six of them at the one time. If we don`t know the correct arrow lenght (see draw lenght), we must figure it out. Insert an arrow into the bow you will be using, then draw back to your anchor point (usualy where your middle finger gets close to touching the side of your mouse/lips). Get someone there to mark the arrow at your full draw. Only the point/pile should be seen in the full draw over the bow back. I prefer to leave the shafts an inch longer, but not any more. Leaving the shafts too long will make your arrows less stabil in flight, and leaving them short will make them fall off your rest at full draw. Always shoot identical arrows in a set. Broken arrows can be taken down to the right length again with an extra long point (TopHat long) so that they match the others in the set. A shorter arrow doesn`t have the same spine as before, it gets considerably stiffer.

However the weight is more important than the spine of the arrow, and this you can find out by checking on a Grain Scale. An arrow from the very same spine could be 100 grs heavier or lighter than the other ones. This corresponds to the weight of a normal point.
But fortunately we don`t shoot in a league where it is all about performance, so this kind of detail is not really necessary. We make most of our mistakes in our heads anyway.

If you have time and patience to do so, you can paint or sign your arrows so that lost ones maybe returned if found. Also, numbering arrows 1,2 or 3 (and using them according to the relevant pegs on shoots, 1st, 2nd or 3rd peg) can be helpful for counting scores. You can either hand paint them, write it with a pen, or else print it out on your computer, and either selotape it on or seal it in/on when you lacker your arrows. To lacker your arrows, you use a clear lacker, (some people use varnish which is not ideal) in a thin dipping tube before you apply the feathers, nocks or points. People also use dipping tubes like this to layer paint over on another (crowndip), leaving perfect rings or lines around the shaft (cresting). You must leave time for each layer to dry if you are doing this, but it does open up a whole area of customization and brings on the bling bling. This is a skill, but one that makes your arows really "fly".

To keep the arrow waterproof it's also enough to use Linseed Oil or Beewax when your arrow is finished.

So now you`ve had a masterclass with the master.....
Check out your brand new arrows!
If all this too complicated or not clearly understandable you can buy a good book from our webshop or simply order your matching arrows from me.

If you would like to turn from a simple archer into a real lover of wooden bows I can offer you my help to make your very own primitive bow.
It`s great fun to work with wood and there`s lots of room for your own creativity. As a result of your work, you will get a bow just as unique as yourself! You can really find your fulfilment!
Although you free to choose the type of bow and wood, the individual characteristics of the wood may limit what you can do, but thats the whole fun of it.

To get get the matching string for your new bow, we will make one in the traditional flemish style just like the old bowmen did.
Also for absolute beginners!
Flemish style bowstring
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