Types of Arrow Fletching… What Is It & What Does It Do?

The individual components of the different types of arrow fletching are referred to as feathers, vanes and flights and collectively referred to as the arrow’s fletching.

Arrow fletching closely resembles a shark fin and basically does the same job, that is, it helps keeps the arrow stable and ‘on target’ as it heads towards the bullseye.

Generally, fletching is made out of lighter material like tree bark, bird feathers and other material that’s somewhat flexible, but no too flexible.

It makes good sense that the individual who actually attaches the fletchings to arrow shafts is known as the fletcher.

Funny that!

Because most traditional archers prefer shooting off the shelf, feathers are an excellent choice because they flex and remain flat when they shoot over the rigid surface of the shelf. 

Due to  their stiffness, vanes are a poor choice for this shooting method as they induce irregularities in the arrow’s flight resulting in bounce-off from the shelf of the bow.

Generally, feathers are often longer than vanes, making them more susceptible to wind drift if shooting longer distances and feathers, unlike vanes, retain water, which can result in erratic arrow flying when wet.

Bowhunters prefer vanes over feathers because they are more sturdy and water-resistant. They can withstand drenching rain and being dragged through undergrowth. Vanes are available in a range of shapes and sizes and can be fletched straight or with a clockwise or anticlockwise spiral.

Vanes are a superior choice for most compound bow shooters because they are fairly constant in terms of size and weight from one vane to the next. Most vanes have a low-profile form that makes them good for shooting greater distances, this is a result of the smaller surface area having a greater resistance to wind drift.

Arrow Vanes, Short vs Long

Selecting the right fletchings for your arrows is basically a trade-off between stability and speed. Small vanes create less drag but also offer less stability, long vanes have more stability and add more drag to the arrow. 

It all comes down to what you’re going to shoot…

  • Will you be shooting indoors or the great outdoors?
  • Will you be shooting long or short distances?
  • Will you be shooting with broadheads?  

All of these considerations will assist you to determine which style of arrow vane is best for your requirements.

Fletching is used to keep an arrow stable in flight. What vanes you use will ultimately be determined by the degree of stabilisation required. You’ll need a longer vane with a high profile and a strong spiral if you’re indoors.

You don’t have to worry about the wind dragging the enormous long fletching about and causing excessive drag, because there isn’t any. When you’re shooting indoors at a maximum distance of 20 yards, the helical will adjust the arrow in the smallest period of time.

When shooting long distances in the outdoors, you should be using a shorter, lower profile fletching to reduce drag created by a breeze or other variables.

You will still need helical fletching since the spin corrects the arrow’s flight, giving you the best accuracy over long distances. Consider how much straighter and more precise a spiral football travels than a ball with no spin, when considering helical fletching.

Or the same principal applies to a bullet fired from a rifle, in this case when the bullet leaves the barrel it’s spinning quite fast which results in great accuracy.

If you’re a lover of whitetail deer hunting, you’ll probably be looking for something in the middle of the two types of vanes stated above. A hunter’s primary purpose is to have a vane that’s able to correct a broadhead arrow.

Because they have less wind resistance than fixed blades, expandable broadheads will fly more like a field tip right out of the box. This isn’t to say that expandables are more precise; it just means that you’ll have to tweak your setup more to get a fixed blade to fly perfectly.

In any case, a field tip has less drag than a broadhead so you will be able to successfully shoot in any situation, which means you will need a vane that can swiftly adjust the arrow.

The popularity of the “Blazer” type vanes has grown because of this. The  Blazer vane is quite short with a higher profile, providing it additional leverage to quickly redirect the arrow.

What is The Point of Arrow Wraps

Arrow wraps are just one of the numerous options to personalise your archery gear.

Wraps can be uilized for quickly identifying your arrows, labelling shafts with your contact details, shielding the shaft from the glue that holds the fletching in place and, making your equipment really standout in a crowd.

The number of archers who choose to employ arrow wraps on their arrows has increased dramatically in recent years.

Whilst these pieces of gear have little to no impact on the success of a hunting expedition, those who use them really place great value on them while those that don’t cannot see what all the fuss is about.

Let’s have a look at the positives and the negatives of these cool accessories from the perspectives of bow hunters, 3D archery fans, and competitive archers.

But before we do, let’s clarify a few terms… exactly what arrow wraps are and are they a benefit or they a hindrance?

Manufactured from self adhesive vinyl and cut into strips, these wrap around the blunt end of the arrow. In essence they enclose your arrow in a lightweight, protective glove.

They’re sold in a variety of colours and styles giving your arrows a genuine bespoke look

You can also order the them personalised with your name, a club emblem or other unique identifying graphics.

Lots of archers choose to utilise them since it renders their arrows more visible and therefore more noticeable.

They can be purchased in a variety of widths and lengths to suit all kinds of arrows, from slender diameters to thicker arrows or everything else in between.

Because of the various lengths that are available, you can purchase them in sizes ranging from 3 inches right up to 9 inches.

Why Even Use an Arrow Wrap?

The main function of arrow wraps is to form a surface area which makes the job of fletching the arrow simpler. The wrapped exterior aids in the vane’s adhesion to the arrow.

The creative drive to customise and give their arrows a particular style is a significant reason for some individuals to use them.

One of the main reasons why hunters rap their arrows is to be able to easily detect them in flight, even at high speed.

Quietest Arrow Vanes

I remember testing fletching when blazers arrived on the market many years ago and I found that no matter what fletching you used on a helical or offset arrow, it will be quite noisy. The noise is a result of turbulence generated by the fletching as the arrow spins while flying through the air.

The fletching we tested which created the least noise was the tiny blazer.

We employed a straight clamp and fletched an arrow using blazers or mini blazers zero offset and helical, we achieved near-silent fletching.

Our arrows were much quieter than the helical or offset options. Arrow with the quick spins were the loudest.

These arrows were way quieter than the ones with offset and or helical. The worst we tested were the quick spins.

In my mind, if you’re using expandables when you are hunting, particularly in very thick under cover, and you should be aware that your shots will be around 20 yards or less so ideally, straight fletched vanes should be seriously considered.

I recall going to a bow store and grabbing 3 or 4 of each of a couple of different brands. All you need do is position yourself behind an impenetrable wall and place a target around five yards past your wall so when the arrows flies past you can hear it fly by,

There’s a couple reasons why you would consider searching for the arrow vanes that create the least noise and it could be for reasons that you initially did not consider.

It makes sense that there’s a significant number of archers at any given time wanting to be as silent as possible when hunting and the reason is obvious, silence in the key.

There are basically two ways to think about the noise the arrow vanes create. There are archers who think that it makes very little or no difference to the success of a hunt.

Then there’s those who consider that silence is an absolute must.

It’s a fact that arrow vanes developed to fly quieter will give hunters an advantage of sorts.

However, a silent vane is indicative of other significant benefits. These benefits will be of worthwhile assistance to an archer and will provide greater opportunities when bow hunting.

Quiver vanes will ~

  • Retain a lower profile
  • Slice through the air in a more aerodynamic posture
  • Hit the target at a higher speed 
  • Assist your arrows to achieve more stable and accurate flight

Pros and Cons of Arrow Wraps

The Pros...

Easier to Refletch Your Arrow
This is the main reason why arrow wraps were created and used. The surface of the wrap better accepts the fletching glue and holds the vanes more firmly than the surface of a carbon arrow.

Easier to Remove Fletching
When the vanes of the arrow have been damaged and need to be removed the process is made a lot quicker and easier with wraps.

Higher Arrow Visibility
It is very instructive to clearly see the arrows in flight. It gives you a better idea of the performance of their bow and also helps to locate the arrow should it miss the target. 

Can Customize Your Arrows
The ability to create your own masterpiece to place on the ends of your arrows appeals to a lot of people.

Aesthetics
The final pro that is often cited by hunters who use wraps is for the aesthetic qualities it adds to the arrow.

The Cons...

Replace One Fletch, Replace Them All
Should you damage one of the fletchings on the arrow you are obliged to remove all of them and replace them all.

Adds Weight To Back of Arrow
In the desire to get the greatest amount of penetration with your arrows, hunters are hoping to have the weight distributed towards the front.

Slows Down the Arrow
Further on the point of changing the weight balance of the bow, some people have also pointed out that adding a wrap can also slow the arrow down.

Hides Cracks in the Arrow
It has been pointed out that by placing a wrap on a carbon arrow you could be hiding a crack that could have formed when the arrow has struck a hard object (stone, branch, bone).

Cost
As always, there’s a cost involved for most things and wraps are no different.

Conclusion

So as we can see, there are pros and cons to using arrow wraps but the pros appear to outweigh the cons depending on what you find important.

If you fletch your own bows and you want a method that makes the whole process a lot easier, you will probably fall on the side of using arrow wraps.

They are functional and they look good, they can brighten up your quiver and help you improve your accuracy.