Feathers or Vanes?

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Africa' started by Stretch, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Stretch

    Stretch AH Fanatic

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    With great joy I have spent many years building my own arrows. One thing that I have always preferred is good old fashion feather fletching. The advantage I have found is many. Feathers are definitely more forgiving in flight than vanes. For me this stability has resulted in good, consistent arrow flight with just about any broadhead. The feather fletched arrow will tolerate variation in shot execution with factors such poor release or form, both of which can occur especially when under the pressure of shooting an animal at close range. Stability and guidance are even more important with today's super-fast bows as well as arrow set-up's that call for high FOC (front of center) when heavy broadhead are selected. In cold weather plastic vanes become stiff. In hot weather, plastic goes limp. This temperature variable will affect arrow flight and bow tuning. Speaking of bow tuning, no type of fletching will perform well unless you tune your bow properly. Paper tuning is by far the best method. The paper tear will clue you to what is happening with arrow flight. I have compared feather and vanes during paper tuning and without fail the feathers were much easier to tune and produced much more consistent "bullet holes" for perfect arrow flight. My personal preference; five inch turkey feathers cut from the right wings of real turkeys my friends and I have shot. I fletch three feathers right helical at 105 degrees to create consummate spiral arrow stability and accuracy, just like a quarterback when throwing a football.

    Then there is aesthetics. I don't think an animal cares whether it is plastic vanes or feathers punching through his lungs, but in my eye, natural black and white barred turkey feather sure looks pretty on the end of my arrows.

    On the flip side, the main disadvantage I found with feathers is wet weather. I found a product that works well for waterproofing. This product is made by Atsko. It dry's odor free and does a nice job repelling water. You can see it at this link: WATERPROOFING

    What kind of fletching do you prefer?
     
  2. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    I use vanes. Mainly because I find it the easiest to use and I don't shoot well enough to notice a difference between vanes and feathers anyway:)
    I also prefer to use 2 fluo pink and 1 white vane and it would look to tacky with those colors on feather I think:)
    2 fluo pink and 1 white vane are very easy to find in all sorts of weather conditions.

    I am also shooting FOBs. I do this mainly to have a them as back up if I am on a lengthy bowhunt trip and some vanes get damaged on the arrows I am bringing.
    If so, I can just strip the vanes and use a FOB.
    The FOBs are also fluo pink.
     
  3. mudslinger

    mudslinger AH Veteran

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    I shoot FOB's now, but up until that time since 1971 when I started shooting a bow, I went back and forth between vanes and feathers. Advantages and disadvantages between the two and Stretch, I think you mentioned almost all of them. With that being said, I owned a shop and range from 1989 to 1998 and kept track of all the vanes/feathers I sold and after that lengthy time, it was almost 50/50 for either on arrows I fletched for customers or what customers bought to fletch their own. it stunned me that it was that close after almost 10 years of being in business.
     
  4. Stretch

    Stretch AH Fanatic

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    I have never used FOBs. I have seen them. Tell me more about your experience with them. Feather vs. vane sales...I would have never guessed a 50/50 split.

    Well now here is another FOB user. What kind of flight have you noticed?
    Seems like a good back-up plan.
     
  5. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Mudslinger, it is certainly interesting that you sold so many feathers. It must be a regional thing but around here I do not know anyone who shoots feathers in a compound bow, the last one I knew of was back in the old e-wheel days. Most recurve shooters and nearly all longbow shooters here shoot feathers though.
     
  6. mudslinger

    mudslinger AH Veteran

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    With the invention of the short Blazer style vanes, feathers probably went down in sales, but like you said it is a regional thing, just like the brands of bows sold. If you want to shoot a big, huge, wide BH feathers are the way to go because they definitley have better control than vanes.

    As far as the FOB's, i will probably never go back to fletching arrows as I had enough of that by owning a shop for 9 years. I am burned out on fletching. If your drop away is timed right, then you should have no trouble shooting FOB's. Cons I have seen voiced by others is they are noisy downrange, although I imagine not any noiser than the bow sound, you will break them if you shoot groups and some have not liked them because it affected their anchor my hitting their face and they did not like that. None of that has ever bother me. It has been proven via video that FOB's control an arrow flight better than anything in a cross wind. They pop off on a pass thru and will tell you where the animal was standing when shot, but it also makes it harder to find you shaft after a pass thru unless you have it wrapped. Very easy to fletch an arrow with FOB's, insert the nock into the FOB and then insert the nock into the shaft, done! Weather does not affect FOB's either. Starrflight is the website for FOB's and Paul Morris is a great CEO and will answer any question you throw at him.
     
  7. Norwegianwoods

    Norwegianwoods SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Totally agree with mudslinger when it comes to how the FOBs work.
    Specially when it comes to how they are in cross wind.

    I also want to add that when I have shot a mixed group of FOBs and vanes, I had the same POI and group size as if I shoot a vanes only group.
    I always shot the FOBs last to damage as few of them as possible.
    I don't shoot groups with FOBs now, only spots.

    It can help to use longer nocks, like Accunocks if you want them away from your face.

    You can also find a video on Starflights website about something you can do to help you find your arrows after a pass through with a FOB arrow.
     
  8. Thunder head

    Thunder head AH Enthusiast

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    Yes feathers shoot better off my bow. They do not hold up well and are too fragile for me. I switched to vanes a long time ago for hunting. They also tolerate all weather conditions.

    You mentioned hot vs. cold
    My old bow did change a little from the plain ole hot september hunting to the cold of november and december. My current setup shoots thru paper just as well hot or cold.
     
  9. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I still shoot feathers. Tradition, I guess.
     
  10. Stretch

    Stretch AH Fanatic

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    I just watched the video on FOB's. Very interesting. My first impression is that they look odd but seem to perform well. I am going to stay with feathers for now. Tradition for me also.
     
  11. mudslinger

    mudslinger AH Veteran

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    Stretch, they really do not look odd, they look UGLY! It took me a long time to get use to the look. Most comments I get when people see them is "what the h*** are those things?"
     

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