You may already have learned the types of arrows you can get for hunting or archery target practice. However, there are areas of an arrow that are very specific in their function and naming.
An arrow may appear to be nothing more than an arrow, and you can discover that some have plastic materials in place of feathers on the end.
It is important anyone taking up archery understands arrow anatomy. There is nothing more important than understanding more about the feathers on an arrow, regardless of the material.
Here, you can learn about the parts of an arrow, and most importantly, you can learn more about the different types of feathers, which are the best, and why the vanes or feathers are different colors. (Learn How Many Arrows in a Quiver)
What Feathers Are best for Arrows?
Feathers have stabilized arrows for thousands of years after man added feathers to the arrow’s tail. Today, feathers remain a top choice for experienced archers and bow-hunters.
These feathers are flexible and supple, which is why they press flat against the bow as it touches them, preventing the arrow from being disturbed.
Even though archers have more fletching choices, many archers still prefer natural feather fletching on the end of the arrow.
Most of the time, feathers came from Turkeys and used to make arrows spin very quickly, which aids in-flight stability and precision.
Although you can use any feather, feathers from turkey are the best. Turkey feathers have firmness, toughness, and suppleness. Feathers are sorted into right and left-handed classes by their curvature and thus by their spin.
You will need to pick either right or left-wing feathers, as you can’t mix these on the same arrow.
Why Is One Feather a Different Color on an Arrow?
Once you understand the anatomy of an arrow, you quickly discover the different color options are not just to make your fletchings look nice.
You will see there are reasons for this, and the first is to distinguish the index feather and seats the arrow correctly to shoot straight. Two feathers are the same color, and the index feather a different color. (Find the Best Crossbow Arrows)
Besides distinguishing the index feather, colored feathers have other uses.
- Track shooting arrows
- See where arrows hit
Some archers like lighter-colored feathers when shooting in darker lighting. This helps spot the location of the arrow and can lead to subtle hunting or minimal distraction.
Contrary to this, you could use darker or bright neon feathers to increase visibility in daylight.
It doesn’t matter what the material, yet arrows need feathers or some form of fletching to make them fly straight when you release the arrow.
In the case of target shooting, it could be a bulls-eye or a humane kill when hunting.
You can find arrows that come with different numbers of feathers, yet the index feather’s purpose will remain the same. The index feather is the one that is a different color.
Many experts are unsure of the full reason for an index feather, yet you will use it to properly position your arrow in your bow. Positioning the arrow correctly allows your arrow to be fired straight.
One oversight is that the way you position your index arrow depends on the bow you’re using.
- If using a traditional longbow, your index feather needs to point toward the left.
- If using a compound bow, the arrow’s index feather part will point up or straight down.
The reason for the index feather having correct positioning on different bows is so it won’t make contact with the rest as draw back your string and shoot the arrow.
When index feathers are not positioned without correct seating, feathers touch the arrow rest and affect the arrow’s flight.
Number of Feathers on an Arrow?
Arrows can have three or four feathers; here, you can see the differences between the two.
Arrows with three feathers:
- Two feathers (hen feathers) are usually the same color and the third a different color.
- The third feather (cock feather) is the index feather and titled at a specific angle.
The index feather helps the arrow shoot accurately and straight. It will also help an archer have a clearer image of their shot as it won’t skew the image through torque.
Arrows with four feathers, the fletching is balanced and symmetrical. You will find these don’t affect the arrow’s orientation as three feathers on your arrow would.
Arrows with four feathers are typically easier to use as they won’t make contact with the shelf as you shoot your arrow.
Why Does an Arrow Need Feathers?
Feathers or fletching is connected to the back end of the arrow opposite to the arrowhead.
Arrows are made up of several parts.
- The front part is where the arrowheads sit
- The central part is called the shaft
- At the end were the feathers or fletchings connect, and then the nock on the end to sit on the bowstring
Types of Arrowheads
You will find different type of arrows for many different uses, from targets to hunting.
- Serrated arrowheads – hunting only
- Broadhead arrows – hunting only
- Blunt arrowheads
- Target arrowheads – neon fletchings
- Field point arrows
Arrows in archery don’t need feathers specifically, as you can see when using modern compound bows. Plastic vanes are more appropriate. Such plastic veins are cheaper than feathers and come with curves to mimic feathers’ function when shooting. (Read Bolts vs Arrows)
No matter the type of bow, your arrow will require fletching, be it feathers or plastic veins. The purpose primarily making the arrows fly straight for the shooter to hit their target.
While there are other parts of an arrow, these won’t do anything unless you have plastic vanes fletching or feathers on the end of your arrow.