One of the things of saving up for a new and heavier bow is the realisation that you’ll also need to buy some new arrows. In the past I’ve just opted for buying some middle of the range wooden arrows that normally are around £80 for a dozen. These arrows will have 4″ fletching and plastic nocks, they’re wood and functional.
As I’m wanting to eventually get into the ‘warbow’ poundage I thought I’d take a look at how much the medieval reproduction arrows would cost. So we’re looking at 1/2″ shafts, 7″ hand whipped and hand cut fletching, horn reinforced nocks and arrow heads that are produced in a limited quantity. In short a lot of work goes into each arrow and the customer base is small. This means that to buy a set of arrow can get expensive quickly.
With this in mind I decided it was time to add arrow smith and fletcher to my skill set in the hope of being able to make a quality arrow at the fraction of the price as my own labour would be free. Now, I’m not exactly the most naturally craft person but I do enjoy making things and learning new skills – in the past I’ve been on a blacksmith course and I’ve also made my own longbow on a bowyer course – so I’m definitely up for the challenge of making some arrows.
The first thing I needed to do was research what equipment I’d need to start making my own arrows. The most useful source I found for this was Richard Head’s youtube channel, where he covers all the steps in great detail and I’m sure for the first few dozen arrows these videos will be a constant source of guidance and reassurance.
After watching numerous videos and reading what I could I decided to order some tools as I’m afraid my tool selection is not very extensive. For the general tools went to eBay and picked up the following.
Tile Saw with a round blade – £6.95 – This will be used to create the nocks. The round blade should create a smoother cut.
10 piece Needle File set – £2.11 – to smooth out the nocks.
3 piece Rasp set – £1.75 + £1 p&p – to remove the excess horn from the horn sliver once it’s been glue into the nock.
2 piece Cabinet Scrapper – £3 – used to smooth out the rasp marks from horn and wood.
Rotary Cutter – £2.29 – used to cut the fletching into shape.
After spending a grand total of £17.10 on eBay it was time to pick up some more specific arrow making supplies. The first thing I wanted to pick up was an arrow cutting template so that I could ensure that my fletching was neat and uniform across all the arrows.
After searching around I found a German seller – Histro Fakt – who sold English Warbow Society fletching templates. I picked up the ‘Livery Arrow’ and ‘Poitiers and Crecy’ templates for 5.99 Euro each this coupled with postage to the UK came to around £17.
My next stop on my arrow making equipment purchasing odyssey was to actually buy the components to make the arrows. The other items that I’d purchased so far are an investment, as I can reuse them for every arrow I make, so the actual arrow components will be where any real saving will be made in the future.
After looking around for a supplier of all the bits I needed I stumbled across Now Strike Archery whose prices where very reasonable. For my first attempt at arrow making I thought I’d start with just 12 arrows until I’d got the hang of it. So from Now Strike I ordered the following.
Nock Cutting Jig 1/2″ – £19.99 – This will ensure that my nocks are cut to the right depth and are nice and straight. This item can be used over and over again so is classed as tool rather than a consumable.
Horn Sliver x 12 – £6 – The horn needed to reenforce the arrow.
Black Linen x2 – £6 – Used to whip the fletching to the shaft.
Fletching Needle – £2 – Helps to split the feathers in older to place the lined more accurately when your wiping the fletching.
Full length feather x24 – £13.20
Full length feather x 12 – £6.60 – this will be cock feather.
Ash 1/2″ arrow shaft x13 – £19.50 – I decided to go for 13 just incase I messed up on my first nock cutting!
So with posting of £10 that came to £83.29.
Now Strike didn’t have the arrow heads I wanted so this led me to Barebow Archery where I found some 1/2 steel bullet point at £2 each. I’m just awaiting a reply back but if I buy these that would be £24 + p&p at probably around £5.
If we look at the actual cost going forward for a dozen 1/2″ shaft, horn nocked, hand fletched arrows arrows IT will be around £90 including p&p. This still seems a little expensive to me but when you consider the price of buying the equivalent finished product the price does look really reasonable.
Bearbow – Deluxe Medieval Arrow x6 – £150. x12 = £300
Now Strike – Deluxe Medieval Arrow x 1 – £21. x12 = £252
The Longbow Shop – Poplar Bobtail x 6 – £110. x12 = £220
All of these prices will need p&p adding to them so suddenly the price of £90 with p&p doesn’t seem so bad! Once everything arrives I’ll get cracking and I’ll share my trails, tribulations and hopefully, my triumphs!