Trueflight Fletching Guide

25/07/2010
Trueflight Fletching Guide
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TRUEFLIGHT FEATHERS
Fletching Guide
What size feathers should I use?
In general, for hunting arrows tipped with broadheads, we have found three 5 inch
feathers or four 4 inch feathers work well. Light weight carbon arrows have been
successfully fletched with three 4 inch feathers. Due to individual differences in
equipment and shooting style, larger feathers may be required. It is also possible
that good flight can be achieved with smaller feathers. Test shooting is the best way
to decide on any particular set up.
It is important to remember that broadheads will need more guidance than field
points. It is also extremely important that broadhead equipped arrows fly "dead
straight" with no yawing or fishtailing. An arrow that is yawing down range is not
only inaccurate, but if it hits game it loses much of its penetration.
I'm right handed, should I use right wing or left wing feathers?
You can successfully shoot either wing. An arrow does not rotate noticeably until it
is well clear of the bow.
Left wing feathers should be used to rotate the arrow counter clockwise, right wing
clockwise (as viewed by the shooter).
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How can I tell if my feathers are right or left wing?
First method: Look at the nock end of an arrow (as though it is about to be shot),
and rotate it so that one fletching is on top of the shaft. If the "catch lip" is to the left
of the web, it is a right wing feather. If the "catch lip" is to the right of the web, it is
a left wing feathers (see diagram).
Second method: Hold the forward end of a diecut (pointed end) or full length
feather (large end) toward yourself. Look down from the top. Rotate the feather so
that its web is horizontal and its natural curve droops the end pointed away from
you downward ("shedding rain" as opposed to "catching rain"). If the web is to the
right of the quill base, it is a right wing feather. If the web is to the left of the quill
base, it is a left wing feather.
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Should I use RIGHT wing with a RIGHT helical clamp, and LEFT wing with a LEFT
helical clamp?
Yes. RIGHT wing for a RIGHT helical clamp. LEFT wing for a LEFT helical
clamp.
Should I use straight, offset or helical fletching clamps?
We strongly recommend offset or helical fletching on all arrows.
Offset or helical fletching causes the arrow to rotate in flight just like the rifling in a
gun barrel causes bullet to rotate. This is extremely important. The rotation acts like
a gyroscope to stabilize the arrow. This rotation also "averages out" any slight
microscopic imperfections in the arrow.
This advantage was reportedly first noticed in smooth bore muskets, shooting
round lead balls. The smooth bores were accurate to about 50 yards. However
simply adding rifling to the barrel (or even angled scratches inside the barrel!)
caused accuracy to improve enough so that the accurate range became 150 yards.
This increase was apparent even when shooting the same round lead balls.
Helical fletching offers more stability than a simple offset and is therefore the first
choice for any arrow tipped with a broadhead.
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How much fletching offset should I use?
If the forward end of a 5 inch feather is 1/16 inch offset from the rear, this equals
about 3/4 of one degree. We find this works well for most offset or helical fletched
arrows
How far forward from the rear of the arrow should I place the feathers?
The rear of the feathers should be far enough forward to clear the shooters fingers
or release mechanism when releasing the string. For finger shooters this is usually
about 1 to 1 1/2 inches or 25 to 38 mm.
The feathers should also be far enough forward so that their bases can be securely
attached to the shaft, not the nock.
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All else being equal, the further to the rear the feathers are, the more efficient the
guidance. The feathers should not be any further forward than is necessary for
clearance.
Do "Round Back" (or "Parabolic") and "Shield Back" fly differently?
We haven't been able to detect any difference in the performance of round back or
shield back. It appears that the only difference is one of appearance. Round back
are more popular in the United States; shield back are more popular in Europe.
What adhesive should I use to fletch feathers?
Any good fletching adhesive will work well with feathers.
Instant fletching glues are available, and very convenient "feathers fletching tape"
has just come on the market. All work very well with feathers.
How should I prepare the quill base of the feather for fletching?
The base of every "Trueflight Feather" is ground clean and dry in our processing.
No further preparation is needed.
How Should I Prepare The Shaft For Feather Fletching?
We normally begin by wiping the fletching area of the shaft with alcohol, then lightly
scuff the area with 600 grit sandpaper or fine steel wool. We do a final alcohol
wipe a few minutes before fletching.
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What is a “Flu-Flu” arrow?
A “Flu-Flu” arrow is an arrow which has extra large fletching area for extra drag.
These arrows are typically used for shooting at aerial targets. The idea is that the
extra fletching slows the arrow rapidly after 30 yards or so. With a “Flu-Flu”
arrow, you can shoot upwards without your arrow winding up in the next town!
How can I make a “Flu-Flu” arrow?
There are 2 basic methods:
1) Use a standard fletching jig to fletch 6 (or more!) 6 inch long feather sections
clipped from full length feathers, with their web left full height. The extra high web
of the feather can be temporarily “squashed” in the clamp when they are fletched.
A conventional 3 fletch jig can do a six fletch by simply first doing a regular 3
fletch, then removing the arrow, rotating 180 degrees and placing back in the jug to
fletch 3 more feathers. We recommend a straight clamp with some offset, or a
helical clamp, for even more drag.
Example of type 1 Flu-Flu fletching
2) Another type of “Flu-Flu” can be made by wrapping 2 or more full length
feathers in a spiral around the fletching area of an arrow. We like to use “Contact
Cement” as the adhesive for these arrows. Simply paint the glue on the fletching
area of the arrow and base of the feather, let dry for 10 minutes, then “eyeball”
wrap the spiral on the arrow. Use more than 2 feathers for more drag. Use
contrasting colored feathers for a really interesting arrow.
Click here for complete instructions to make this kind of flu-flu.
Example of type 2 Flu-Flu fletching
Can I really hit a FLYING target... in the air?
Yes, it is more possible than you might think. Have a friend standing near you toss
a foam disc target, or even a 1 gallon plastic milk jug (with a bit of sand for extra
weight). Start with close ranges. Have your friend toss the target about 20 feet
ahead and above you to start. Don’t count on using a sight! This is instinctive
shooting at it’s best.
What is "Feather Splicing"?
Feather Splicing is a way of joining 2 or more pieces of feather (usually of
contrasting color) resulting in a very attractive "two tone" fletching. For example,
many archers like to add a bright feather piece to the rear of their fletching to act as
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a high visibility tracer. (See examples
Is "Feather Splicing" hard to do?
Not really! One simple method is to start with 2 die cut feathers, of different
colors. Cut each quill (lower base of the feather) the same distance back. The web
of each cut feather will easily separate (nature's own velcro!). Next butt the quill of
the front of one die cut against the quill of quill of the rear of another as they are put
into your fletching clamp. Glue normally. When the glue sets, remove the clamp
and smooth the webs together (nature's velcro again!)
Another method of splicing is to fletch 2 or more sections of "full length" feather
pieces, then cut or burn the final shape with a feather burner.
How can I make my own custom shaped feather fletchings?
One traditional way is to fletch sections of full length feathers (say 4 or 5 inches
long), then when all sections are glued to the shaft, use a "feather burner" to trim
them. The "Young Feather Burner" is still being sold -- check with your local
dealer. A quicker method is to start with standard die cut feathers, then make a
single cut through each quill. Discard one part of the feather (the webs will unzip
like velcro), and use the rest as an "instant" custom shape. Make the cuts on all
feathers at the same distance from the nose or tail of the die cut for a matched set.
How Can I Waterproof My Feathers?
Excellent dry powder waterproofing for feathers are now available. Bob
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Rightnour's "Fletch Dry" adds virtually no weight to an arrow, does not stiffen the
feather web and does an amazing job of waterproofing.
If you are caught in the rain without any waterproofing, a small "baggy" can be
slipped over the feathers until the arrow is ready to be shot.
Where Can I Get More Information On Feathers?
Please read our discussion of Feathers Vs Plastic Vanes which gives more
interesting details about feather fletching.
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