Mark of Plymouth's Fletching Shoppe

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Beyond Step 7 - Reproduction Medieval Arrows

I currently shoot a 119lb longbow and as such this type of bow would typically shoot an arrow approaching the 1/2" thickness.  Currently (that I'm aware of) there are no New Zealand commercial archery supply shops supplying arrow shafts in this poundage range.  Needs must when the devil drives and so I've had to use 12mm pine dowels available from the likes of Mitre 10 and Bunnings.  At this thickness the pine holds up reasonably well to the punishment dished out on it however getting arrows spine tested and grouped into reasonably similar woods is problematic.  What this means is that the cheap pine arrows I shoot, no matter how accurate I'm trying to be, will always give a larger grouping that a good spine rated arrow from a commercial supplier.  Is this a problem?  Not when the arrow shafts cost a seventh of the cost of a commercial arrow shaft.  I'm getting what I'm paying for.  So what does this mean for you?

Well I have some very good 1/2" ash arrow shafts with horn re-enforced nocks and I've managed to reproduce the look of those arrows for a fraction of the cost.  I'll take a pine dowel and shape it (see below), stain it, insert a re-enforced nock, fletch it, bind it and make it ready for what ever reproduction arrow head you want it to take and the costs to you will probably less than a standard 11/32" Port Orford Cedar target arrow.

Shape it you say?  Well yes.  Modern target arrow shafts are "parallel" in their diameter which means they're the same thickness all the way along.  Historically there are four types of arrow shaft recognised today;

1. Barreled shafts are thinner at the nock and arrow head ends with the thickest part in the middle of the shaft (shaped like a barrel funnily enough). These were used for distance shooting.

2. Bobtailed or rush grown shafts taperfrom the arrow head (thickest) to the nock (thinnest).  These could take a heavier head without making the whole shaft thicker and heavier and theoretically once it had punched through allowed the tapered end to pass through the hole with greater ease.  Bobtailed arrow shafts are the type most found on the Tudor warship Mary Rose (1/2 inch diameter from the head back 20 inches before tapering to 3/8 of an inch at the nock).

3. Breasted or chested were thinnest at the arrow head end and thickest at the nock.  Reportedly best for short range/point blank shooting.

4. Straight or parrallel, straight all the way along, the ones used mostly today.

I shoot barrelled and bobtailed arrows from my bow.  Have a chat with me if you're interested in these types of arrow.  Remember though, these take more work so the cost (glug, glug or jingle jangle) will be slightly higher...

Not interested?  Then please take a look at About Me or Home.