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Three Tricks To Beat Fletching Contact.

The number-one cause of poor arrow flight is contact between arrow fletching and the rest. Realistically, you should be able to avoid all contact by setting cam timing (two-cam bow) nock point and rest position, but there will be times when things still don't click. Tinkering with a bow to discover the cause and effect of every change is fun, but there comes a point when you need to lock everything down and forget about it. Ideally, your arrows will be flying like darts when you do. If they aren't, these three quick shortcuts will put you on the fast track to better arrow flight.

Try A Drop-Awaw Rest

The best way to eliminate fletching contact with the rest is to eliminate the rest. The only way you can do that is by employing a drop-away rest--one that clears the path of the fletching as soon as the string is released. In only the past two years there has been a resurgence in the popularity of drop-away rests. By my count, there are now five companies offering these innovative products. Here's a quick rundown of what's on the market.

Golden Key Futura Free Fall: The Free Fall is similar to the time-proven TM Hunter but the spring has been reversed to pull the rest down rather than up. The rest locks in the up position until the lock is disengaged as the string approaches full draw. A thin rope attached between the rest and one of the harnesses raises the launcher just enough to free the lock.

Montana Black Gold Trap Door: Sight maker Montana Black Gold has also released a new model, called the Trap Door, which was designed by Keith Barner who invented the first inertia fallaway rest back in 1981. The rest locks in the up position. Recoil from the shot disengages the lock mechanism, and the launcher snaps downward out of the way of the arrow.

Muzzy Zero Effect Rest: This model is attached through a hinged lever to the bow's cable slide. It has a large, upsweeping, hook-shaped finger that holds the arrow on the shelf until the bow is drawn. Once the bow is drawn, the rest rises to a preset position and then drops away as the string is released.

Trophy Taker: A piece of string connects the rest to the bow's cable. As you draw the bow, the rest is pulled up against spring tension. When you release the string, the rest snaps forward out of the way of the arrow.

Savage Systems Derringer Drop-Away: A magnet holds the rest in the up position. On release, the magnet breaks contact due to the sharp rearward movement of the riser. A torsion spring then snaps the rest out of the way of the fletchings. According to testing done by Huey Savage, the arrow only travels about an inch on the rest before losing contact.

Finger shooters should stick with conventional flipper rests in order to maintain some side pressure necessary for tuning. You won't get any side pressure with a drop-away rest.

Try Feather Fletching

Even though plastic vanes have been improved to make them less rigid, they are still stiffer than feather fletching. When a vane contacts the rest it is prone to kick the tail of the arrow significantly offline. If you have been shooting plastic vanes and having trouble getting rid of contact with the rest, feather fletching will yield improved flight.

Feathers tatter at the point of contact and over time the portion of the fletching that's hitting the rest will simply wear away. In this way, feathers not only soften contact, they can even eventually eliminate it. You can see this instantly on feather fletched arrows. Unless your bow is perfectly tuned, at least one of the feathers will show signs of wear from repeated contact.

Sometimes finger shooters encounter fletching contact when using shootaround rests like springies and flippers. The bottom fletching hits the support finger as it passes. When that happens, feathers offer better arrow flight than plastic vanes.

Feathers are lighter than vanes of the same length and produce arrow flight that is approximately five feet per second faster right at the bow. This is certainly not a lot, but if you are speed conscious, it is a factor to consider.

One of the biggest knocks against feathers has been their inability to maintain their shape and stability when wet. I went through one rainy fall several years ago using feather fletching. At that time there was nothing on the market that really protected the feathers from getting wet. I even tried Scotch-Guard, but did net get very good results. I had to keep the fletched ends of my arrows in plastic sandwich bags on wet days. In recent years, waterproofing compounds have improved to the point where feathers are just as effective on misty and rainy days as they are on dry days. Gateway Feather leads the way with a good powder for this purpose.

Fletching Length And Orientation

You can also eliminate contact by either switching from five-inch to four-inch fletching and maintaining the same degree of helical offset that you currently use, or staying with the longer fletching and decreasing the degree of helical offset. Both solutions will increase clearance comparably, and both will produce roughly the same degree of stability once the arrow is properly tuned. (Only if an arrow is flying poorly will the longer fletching be more stable.)

When helical offset is used, short fletching is easier to tune because it wraps around the shaft less and thus takes up a smaller amount of the available gap in a shoot-through rest. As mentioned, reducing the degree of offset in a longer fletching will have the same effect, but depending on the clamp you use, there is likely to be a minimum useable offset angle. You'll see this right away if you try to apply straight fletching with a helical clamp. You can reduce your offset even farther by switching to a straight clamp.

True Flight Arrow Company manufactures their high-quality arrows using eight degrees of helical offset. Given the amount of testing they've done to uncover the best component specifications for accuracy, it would be hard to argue with their recommendations. You can use a simple plastic grade school protractor to estimate this angle or call the company that makes you fletching jig for the settings that produce this offset angle.

As you mingle with the other shooters at the next neighborhood 3-D shoot, take a look at their fletchings. Most of the arrows you see in quivers will have scuffmarks and damage caused by contact with the rest. Next to target panic, this sort of contact is one of archery's biggest plagues.

A good visual test to see if you are experiencing fletching contact is the powder test. Simply spray the end of the arrow from the nock forward about 1/4 of the way up the shaft with a spray foot powder. Then shoot the arrow as normal into a target. You should be able to see the "tracks" where the arrow traveled down the arms of the arrow rest. If these tracks contact with the arrow's fletching, rotate the nock and repeat the test. Fletching-to-rest contact is the biggest challenge when tuning a bow and must be solved before tuning the bow.
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Author:WINKE, BILL
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Aug 1, 2001
Words:1226
Previous Article:BUZZING ABOUT.
Next Article:Customize Your Tune.


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