April 16, 2014
By Tony J. Peterson
Late in 2011, my wife gave birth to our twin daughters, and every single person I know made a point to tell me that my life was going to change. It's not that I wasn't aware of this; however, I had no idea to what degree my free time would vanish.
Prior to our girls' arrival, I never thought twice about devoting a few hours to cutting, squaring, wrapping, and fletching a dozen arrows. I also spent a lot of time building arrows for my friends, simply because I like the process of starting with shafts and raw materials and ending up with 12 matched, ready-to-shoot arrows.
Things have changed, and now when I do get a few free hours, I'd much rather spend them outside scouting deer, shed hunting, or at the very least not watching "Dora The Explorer" for the 73rd time of the day. Because of that, I've broken from tradition and now spend a lot of time messing around with easier (quicker) ways to build arrows.
I found a lot of options for time-crunched bowhunters like myself. Better yet, many of these options are also comparable in price to having your arrows professionally prepped, all without the hassle of having to drop them off and wait for them to be finished. Now, that's fine in the offseason, but it can be a nightmare in the weeks leading up to the opener, or worse, after the season has commenced.
Nufletch Archery APE Tails
also offers archers an easy way to fletch arrows, provided they take a little extra time in the preseason to prep shafts. Their APE Tails
require the removal of 2.75" off the nock end of each arrow, followed by the installation of RPS inserts. After that, APE Tails can be screwed in and set to use. Milled slots on APE Tails mean if any of your vanes get beat up or torn, you can simply remove the nock cap, extract the old vane, and slide in a new one.
40 per 6 pack
Outer Limit Archery Blood Vanes
Another unique product comes your way via Outer Limit Archery
. Their one-piece, molded Blood Vanes
fit shafts ranging from .280" to .306" in diameter, and adhere with a few dabs of cyanoacrylate glue (gel-type adhesives are not recommended). Blood Vanes weigh 31 grains, meaning they won't throw your FOC off-kilter, and they are ideal for anyone looking to carry some extra insurance into the backcountry or on a destination hunt.
Even though it seems like any of these products can be used in a pinch to fletch arrows, there are a few extra details that should be taken care of. The first is that if you truly want the best arrow flight possible, it's necessary to square the ends of your shafts. Factory saws, even on top-quality arrow offerings, can be out of square, and that can lead to disastrous arrow flight. Although spine orientation is often fingered as the culprit of poor arrow flight, out-of-square arrow ends (especially the nock end), can produce the same erratic results. There are a few squaring tools on the market; however, it's hard to find one that lets you square fletched arrows as opposed to bare shafts.
20 per 6 pack
Bohning Blazer Stretch Fletch
also produces a line of products that will make your fletching chores easier, including their Blazer Stretch Fletch
. Blazer Stretch Fletch is the easiest way to fletch arrows with shafts measuring .293" to .306" (outer diameter). Each Stretch Fletch features three of the popular Blazer Vanes set to three degrees of helical, which is just right for promoting tight downrange groups and for getting the most in accuracy from broadhead-tipped arrows. Also available is the Blazer QuikFletch
, which simply requires a pot of boiling water and a few minutes to fletch a dozen arrows.
The beauty of NAP's and Bohning's QuikFletch is that they allow for up-to-the-minute, exact fletching. I take a package with me on every single hunting trip, just in case something happens to my arrows and the vanes get banged up. I know that as long as I can start a fire or find a stove, I can heat water and re-fletch arrows. Ditto for NAP's SpeedFletch and Bohning's Stretch Fletch, which are field-friendly as long as you remember to pack along a tube of glue.
19 per 6 pack
Easton QuikFletch Crests
also has a line of QuikFletch products designed specifically for bowhunters and target archers who shoot Easton ammo. The Easton QuikFletch Crests
are available in hunting models that are outfitted with Blazer Vanes, or target models fitted with 3" Diamond Vanes.
20 per 6 pack
Burt Coyote F.A.S.T.
Burt Coyote's F.A.S.T. (Fletched Arrow Squaring Tool)
does just that, and at $39, it could be the cheapest insurance you can get for better arrow flight. Each F.A.S.T. is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, can handle shafts made from all materials, and comes with four adhesive, abrasive disks to cover dozens of arrows.
In addition to squaring arrows, it's always a good idea to clean the shafts before fletching or wrapping. Whether you've just purchased a dozen new arrows from a pro shop, or endeavor to revive some battered ammo after season's end, shafts that are clean and free from any and all residue will be much easier to work with.
If you're ready to take arrow building, or at least vane maintenance into your own hands, consider some of the easy-to-use options on the market. Not only will they give you a little more free time, they might also save the day on a destination hunt when the nearest fletching jig is far from camp and the clock is ticking.
New Archery Products QuikFletch Wraps
When I first used QuikFletch, I thought it was too good to be true. So I stuck to my older ways of fletching my arrows with a jig. As I've mentioned, becoming a father caused me to give QuikFletch another try this past year, and of the six deer I shot with QuikFletched arrows, none made it farther than 80 yards before expiring. That kind of accuracy is good enough for me. To further enhance the fletching process, NAP has expanded the QuikFletch line to include a host of options like their new QuikFletch Wraps
, which lets you quickly wrap your arrows and then fletch them with a traditional jig.
N/A per 12 pack
New Archery Products QuikFletch
My first forays into the easy-fletching universe involved products like New Archery Products' QuikFletch
. QuikFletch is an ingenious product that is comprised of a wrap, adhesive, and vanes in one package. Simply align the QuikFletch on your clean arrow shaft, and then dip the nock end into boiling water until the wrap shrinks tightly.
25 per 6 pack
New Archery Products SpeedFletch
NAP also offers the new SpeedFletch
, which requires adhesive and about 10 seconds of free time. Simply slide the SpeedFletch to the desired position on the arrow shaft and then lock it in place with fast-drying glue. Each SpeedFletch features NAP's Twister vanes at a two-degree offset.
13 per 6 pack