A few years ago, a friend and fellow archer introduced me to the wonders of the radical helix. In human-speak, that means feathers on arrows that twist slightly around the shaft.
The standard in the archery world is offset fletching. That means the vanes run parallel to the arrow shaft, but they’re just a bit off to the side instead of sticking straight out from the shaft. Both methods of fletching arrows cause the arrow to spin, but the helix makes it spin a bit better.
That really doesn’t matter when you’re just shooting field points or trying to hit the bull’s-eye on the target, but when you strap a broadhead to the front of the arrow, it makes a big difference.
The broadhead acts as another set of fletchings on the front end of the arrow. And since most broadhead blades just stick straight out, rather than being offset or helical, they fight the spin as the arrow is cruising through the air.
The problem is that the vanes tend to get a little more beat up when they’re helical than they do when they’re offset. I don’t know if everyone has this problem, but I do.
So about this time every year, I wind up sitting at my dining room table, sticking new vanes on all my arrows. Since I only have one fletching jig, I have to do it one arrow at a time. It’s a pretty tedious process.
I first have to scrape off all the old vanes and the residual glue. Then I put the shaft and the new vanes in the jig, run a bead of glue down each vane, and clamp the whole mess together. Then I sit there for a while, waiting for the glue to dry. When it does, I repeat the process on the next arrow.
I don’t know why I bother, though. The point is to get the broadhead-tipped arrows to fly the same way the field-pointed arrows do. But after my last few trips to the range, I’m not sure I want to repeat the results I get with my target arrows.
But it’s become a bit of a tradition for me. Every August, I waste three or four evenings putting new fletchings on my arrows.
Maybe one of these days, all this hard work will finally pay off.