How does the Shape of Fletching Affects and Arrow’s Flight?

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By Nate Brecht

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Abstract

My science fair project is How does the shape of fletching affects an arrow’s flight? The object of my inquiry is an arrow and the shape of its fins. My inquiry is how does the shape of an arrow’s fin affect its travel through the air. My hypothesis is that different shapes of an arrow’s fin will change how the arrow travels through the air.

We kept one arrow unchanged as the control and used scissors to cut 4 different shapes in the fletching. Then, we setup the target and measured off 15 feet 6 inches from the target. Each arrow was fired 3 times at the target while being recorded in slow motion by an iPhone 11 on a tripod.

At these distances, reduced and no fletching resulted in less tilt with straighter and more stable arrow flights than regular fletching. My guess is that at much longer distances, the fletching would begin to help. [/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyT2FuZEklMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNF[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Object and Inquiry

My science fair project is How does the shape of fletching affects an arrow’s flight? The object of my inquiry is an arrow and the shape of its fins. My inquiry is how does the shape of an arrow’s fin affect its travel through the air. [/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyVG9ySCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRmElM0U=[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]

Hypothesis

My hypothesis is that different shapes of an arrow’s fin will change how the arrow travels through the air.[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyUldVJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Research Write Up

Prior knowledge
I have some basic knowledge in arrows because I have a bow and arrow at home and have used it many times and I know that the fleches are very important in its aerodynamics.

Research summary
I learned that fletches (the fins) are important because it adds balanced weight to the arrow because the weight of the tip would be to heavy, so the fletches play a big part in stabilization. For example, if you take a football, you will want to throw it in a spiral, right? The fletches are the hand of the arrow in a sense, this is because it makes the arrow spin like a football!” Spinning keeps the arrow on its flight path and preserves speed, accuracy, and, ultimately, impact power.” (that was a quote from the source, I’m not plagiarizing, don’t fail me Mr. O) Also kind of a fun fact, the fletches are also supposed to tell you what way to point the arrow with one of the fletches in a different color called the “cock” and you’re supposed to have it face you when the other fleches are called the “Hens”. As you can see, these names are chicken names! And I’m guessing that’s because the fletches were made from chicken feathers.

Refined knowledge and questions
In my research, I learned that fletches spin arrows in order to keep them stable and straight in flight. I also learned that there are many different shapes of fletches – larger, smaller, straight, curved, etc. Each shape has a different intended purpose for how they affect an arrow’s flight. My question is how the different shapes I make will change the arrow’s flight pattern.

Ongoing Research
Because I was surprised that the no fletching did the best at 15 feet 6 inches, I did the testing again at 23 feet 6 inches (with the same results). When the coronavirus situation is over, I would like to continue my research by going to an actual archery range to shoot at a longer range to see if the results change.[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyVGFuZE0lMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNF[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Tools and Materials

  • Bow
  • Arrows
  • Different shape fletches
  • Scissors
  • Target
  • iPhone (For slow motion video)
  • Tripod
  • Paper
  • Pencils/Pens
  • Measuring tape 

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Procedure and Data

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Procedure

We first purchased arrows on Amazon.com. When they arrived, we kept one arrow unchanged as the control and used scissors to cut 4 different shapes in the fletching as follows:

Control fletching (no changes)

Angle cut on fletching end

Reduced height fletching

Half fletching

No fletching

Then, we setup the target and measured off 15 feet 6 inches from the target. Each arrow was fired 3 times at the target while being recorded in slow motion by an iPhone 11 on a tripod. 

We reviewed the video footage to make observations on whether and how the different fletching shapes affected the arrows’ flight. We performed the experiment once more from a distance of 23 feet 6 inches. 

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Data and Analysis

15 feet 6 inches observations
Regular fletching – in all 3 tests, the arrow tilted forward a lot
Half fletching – still tilted forward but much less than the regular fletching
No fletching – no tilting. Very stable and straight
Reduced height fletching – less tilting than regular and half fletching but still tilted
Angle cut fletching – some tilting, similar to half fletching

23 feet 6 inches observations
Regular fletching – Same amount of tilt as at 15 feet 6 inches
Half fletching – Still tilted forward and dropped more significantly at the end
No fletching – Still no tilting. Very stable and straight
Reduced height fletching – Still less tilting than regular and half fletching. No dropping at the end like the half fletching
Angle cut fletching – Still some tilt but more stable than regular fletching [/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyUmFuZEMlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNF[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Results and Conclusion

At these distances, reduced and no fletching resulted in less tilt with straighter and more stable arrow flights than regular fletching. My guess is that at much longer distances, the fletching would begin to help. [/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIySWFuZFIlMjIlM0UlM0MlMkZhJTNF[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Insights and Reflections

From my analysis on the slow-motion videos (and notes), I have realized that fletches are very important for arrows because from those videos I saw that the fleches can dramatically change the flight of an arrow. For example with the arrows with fletches, we saw that the arrow is very tilted (that being the head pointed down). But, what we realized is that without the fletches, the arrow was more stable (i.e. straight), so that means at a shorter range, no fletches are better. I wonder what would happen if I went to a larger area like 25m and used no fletches, or if I made other shapes. [/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDYSUyMGlkJTNEJTIyQmliJTIyJTNFJTNDJTJGYSUzRQ==[/vc_raw_html][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Bibliography

https://www.bowhunter-ed.com/vermont/studyGuide/Fletching/301049_7404/

https://www.gohunt.com/skills/the-archers-guide-to-fletchings

https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~archery/wp-content/uploads/docs/knsu.pdf

http://archeryreport.com/2009/10/fletching-review-speed-drop/

https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1165&context=nebanthro[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”black” el_width=”80″ css_animation=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]