The modernization of the sport of archery has led to a wide range of bows, arrows, and other types of gear being readily available in shops and online. If you want the best archery supplies that you can get your hands on, you may feel that kit bought from major brands is the only way to get reliable equipment.
Archery is an ancient sport, however, and arrow making used to be a crucial skill for archers of all different cultures. While the need for proficiency in arrow making may have diminished over time, many archers still enjoy making their own arrows for fun, or for the incredible customizability that homemade arrows can offer compared to store-bought, stock models.
Making arrows from scratch can seem daunting if you’ve never tried it before. However, it is a great way to develop a deeper understanding of how both arrows and archery as a whole function, and it gives you the opportunity to truly customize your arrows for a more tailored shoot overall. This guide goes over the different parts that make up an arrow, as well as a few different ways that you can make them from scratch.
Table of Contents
The Parts of an Arrow
Before we go over how to actually construct your arrows, you’ll need to have a good working knowledge of the different parts of an arrow. Arrows are generally made up of four parts; arrowheads, shafts, fletchings, and nocks. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of different types of arrows on the market, and they all feature different build styles and materials.
The arrowhead or arrow tip is the pointy tip of the arrow that actually hits the target. Hunting arrows tend to feature a broadhead, an arrowhead that features razorblades which can be sharpened or replaced when necessary. For target practice and most forms of sport archery, you’d likely be using arrows with field points instead. Field points come in a variety of materials and different types of tapers. More on the different types of arrow tips and their uses.
Next up, we have the shaft of the arrow. The shaft is essentially what makes up the body of the arrow, and it holds all the other parts together. Modern arrows are commonly made of carbon fiber, while, historically, wood was primarily used for this component.
The fletching of the arrow is almost like its rudder and is crucial for helping the arrow to fly straight. Fletchings are generally made from plastic or feathers. Without them, you’ll likely find it very difficult to hit your target. Fletching your own arrows is made much easier with the use of a fletching jig.
A Guide to Assembling Homemade Arrows
Depending on your level of comfort in working with tools (and how ambitious you’re feeling), you can choose either to make your arrows completely from scratch, or to buy pre-fabricated arrow parts and assemble them yourself. The latter represents a much easier option, and you will also likely see far more consistent results from the arrows you make. If you’re especially interested in survival skills or would just like a fun project to work on, you may find it more rewarding to try building all of your arrow parts from scratch, though.
You’ll find that most guides to making your own arrows are based on making wooden arrows. Wood is a good material to use for the shaft, because it’s fairly pliant and easy to work with. Other materials, like carbon, require special tools to be cut, for example. For that reason, we recommend that you use wooden shafts to make your own arrows, at least when you’re starting out.
If you’re looking for some recommendations feel free to jump straight in to our roundups on the best target archery arrows and the best hunting arrows. Those roundups cover both shafts only and some fully assembled arrows.
What You’ll Need to Make your Own Arrows
We recommend that you have the following tools and materials on hand before you get started with making your arrows:
- Wooden (or carbon) shafts (ensure that these match your bow) – checkout these pages for examples of target and hunting arrows
- Tapering tool
- Saw (for cutting shafts, arrow saw is ideal but not required)
- Sealer for wooden arrows
- Arrow fletching
- Fletching glue
- Fletching jig
- Points/arrowheads (ensure that these match the diameter of the shafts)
- Nocks (ensure that these match the diameter of the shafts)
Our Quick Guide to Assembling your Arrows
Once you’ve bought your shafts, you’ll need to make sure they’re properly straight. Check the shafts for bends, and if you notice any, correct them with a tool made for arrow straightening, or by simply bending the shaft in the opposite direction. You can also use an arrow spinner for this step.
Then, you can move on to cutting and tapering the shafts. For this step, you’ll need a saw, as well as a tapering tool which is the right size for your shafts. Cut the shafts to the appropriate length, ensuring that you leave enough space for the nock when you mount it later. Then, taper your shafts.
After tapering your shafts, it’s important to seal them. You’ll want to apply at least two coats of sealer and hang the shafts to dry between coats. Once you’re done sealing your shafts, you can glue the points and nocks to the shaft. Then, all you need to do is fletch your arrows and they will be done.
We hope that this guide has been of some use to you if you’ve been looking to learn more about making arrows from scratch. While the process is somewhat involved, it can be fun, deeply rewarding, and a great way to broaden your knowledge of the sport of archery.