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  3rd April 2014

Fletching is the process of sticking feathers (or plastic vanes for recurves or compounds) onto the arrow to guide it in flight, smooth out the Archers' Paradox flex, and look good.

Generally speaking, the further back toward the nock the fletch is, the better, as long as you leave enough clearance for your knuckles when drawn up. Larger fletches increase accuracy but also drag, so are better at indoor distances; smaller fletches trade some effect for less drag. Shield profile fletches look great but drag like crazy; the best shape is "hogs' back" but you need custom cutters to get those. Parabolic 2.5" is a good general trade-off and that's what I use.

Usually, the cock fletch (points away from the bow) is one colour and the other two another. If you used index nocks, the cock fletch is lined up with the index so you can get the arrow the right way up.

The standard tool for fletching is a fletching jig, picture 1. This is the very cheap and cheerful Cartel model; better ones are available. The arrow nock goes into a slot at the bottom, the shaft rests in the cradle at the top, and the big clip holds the fletch and snaps onto magnets on the main frame. The fletch is glued and the clip placed. You then wait the 15 minutes for the glue to set, rotate with the knob at the end, and put on the next fletch. All very good, but it takes 45 minutes an arrow plus glueing time, which means a set of 12 can take days.

Enter the first Secret Weapon, won in a raffle at our FITA one year. Arizona E-Z Fletch. Technically, I think this model is meant for thinner carbon arrows but in practice I find it does 5/16" just dandy.

The arrow goes down the middle, the nock resting on a horizontal wire, the nock index pointing at the odd-coloured arm. The fletches go into the slots in the arms and are all glued at once. Then you carefully fold it up, release the spring collar which holds the arms closed at the bottom and drop the top collar on the tips. Hang it on a nail and set the timer. 15 minutes later, arrow done. Whole set done in an evening!

At this point I also write the set name, the arrow number, and my name on the white cresting band with a black Sharpie pen.

Secret Weapon 2 for fletching? Game of Thrones episodes on an Android tablet, and a nice cup of tea, smooths out the waiting.