Feather Care

Anybody who has shot with feather-fletched arrows for any period of time will know that they can get a bit bedraggled, and shooting in the rain leaves feathers lying flat to the shaft and being basically useless for stabilising arrow flight.

This quick post will give you a couple of quick tips on caring for your feather fletchings.

Waterproofing

Some companies (notably Gateway Feathers) sell waterproofing powder for feathers.  I personally hate this stuff.  It feels horrible, it leaves your feathers looking white and feeling sticky and if the first few shots after you put it on will depart your bow in a puff of white dust.  I avoid it like the plague.

My choice is a silicone spray.  There are various types, none designed for this use but all pretty good at it.  I tend to use a spray designed for returning car bumpers and dashboards to shiny black (something like Back to Black from Halfords).  Other people use sprays designed for waterproofing camping kit, hairspray or lots of others.  Google “waterproofing feathers arrows” and you’ll find long discussions on the merits of each.

Restoring Crumpled Feathers

Whether your feathers got crumpled through getting wet, being scrunched up together too much, hitting trees en route to their target or for any other reason, the best way to straighten them up is with steam.

Fill (or half-fill) a kettle and when it starts to boil open the lid but keep it boiling.  One by one, hold your feathers in the steam coming from the kettle.  KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE STEAM!  IT’S HOT.  THAT’S WHY IT’S STEAM…  The feathers will miraculously perk up.  You can gently run your fingers along the feathers to help the process HAVING FIRST REMOVED THE FEATHER FROM THE STEAM.  DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE STEAM.

It’s worth double checking the hold of your fletching tape or glue after doing this.  I’ve never had a problem but I know others who have.

Storing Arrows

As with all equipment, arrows should be stored carefully.  Don’t put them in a sealed arrow case if they are wet.  It rots the feathers, loosens the tape if you’ve used it and can lead to mould, especially on wood or bamboo shafts, which may also warp (bend) if stored wet.  It can also lead to rust on your points.

Don’t store them where they’ll get too hot, either.  Arrow tubes are great but if it’s hot then leave them open, otherwise you can damage the glue/tape holding the feathers, points and nocks on, as well as damaging wooden or bamboo shafts.  Storing them in the car in hot weather is a bad idea fr the same reason.

Finally, always check your arrows when you take them out to shoot (and when you put them away).  Check that no fletchings, nocks or points are loose, if you’re using carbon, bamboo or wood then check that they are not cracked or split anywhere and it’s worth checking occasionally for straightness as well.

I hope that helps and that you never need any of it because the sun always shines on your perfectly accurate shooting.  If you don’t have that kind of luck then the next best thing is to be prepared!

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