# The Mechanics of Arrow Flight 101 By Daniel Grundman Flex-Fletch

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3 There are ways to reduce or even eliminate the Archers Paradox One way to minimize this is to add spin to the arrow by fletching your vanes or feathers with an offset or helical. Another way is to use a release aid. In many cases the use of a release aid can have a dramatic effect on reducing the wobble of the arrow, A.K.A. arrow oscillations. There is always some oscillating no matter what shaft or bow is used. The best we can do is control as much of it as possible. You can view a slow motion video that show the arrow s oscillations here: Now that the arrow is on its way to the target and is oscillating what we would like most is to dampen the oscillations as quickly as possible. We want our arrow to straighten up and fly right in the least amount of time, thereby maintaining more of the kinetic energy. Depending on the arrows spine, which refers to the stiffness of an arrow shaft this will happen naturally given enough distance, type of fletching and other arrow characteristics. Your choice of arrow guidance (vanes or feathers) can have a dramatic influence on the flight of your arrow as well. There are different schools of thought regarding this. One school says feathers are better because they are more forgiving. This is somewhat true due to their light weight and increased drag. Feathers tend to have a stabilizing effect giving them a little more jump out of the bow but will reduce velocity more quickly than vanes down range. One disadvantage to feathers is that they are less durable than vanes. Depending on your choice of vane, you will find that vanes are, more durable than feathers. Front of Center Front of Center refers to the balance point of the finished arrow. When feathers are used the Front of Center or F.O.C. is usually moved up, due to the feather s light weight. The arrow we are tracking has a FOC of 13% which is a percentage that falls within commonly accepted guidelines of around 10-15%. Too much FOC and we get an arrow point that is too heavy and will cause excessive arrow oscillations. Increasing weight in the front of the arrow reduces spine. Or, for all intents and purposes it makes the arrow weaker and thus will bend or wobble more. Reducing front weight or adding rear weight increases spine. Basically the rear of the arrow is pushing the front and the front is resisting. Feathers tend to grip the air better and help to pull the arrow into line. Feathers are still a popular choice among bow hunters and for good reason. They have been used in archery for thousands of years and have stood the test of time. But as we all know, things change and so came the introduction of plastic fletchings or vanes. The debate about vanes or feathers will probably go on forever.

4 Note of interest: The small sections of a feather that can be separated and put back together are called vanes. So even when you use feathers, you re shooting vanes. As our arrow leaves the bow, along its flight path we can observe what is often called the Kick. It looks almost like the rear of the arrow has jumped out of the bow sideways. This can easily be observed by standing directly behind the archer. After that initial jump the arrow tends to look like it is flying straight. In actuality, the oscillations are still present but usually not visible. Our arrow in this case has large fletchings on it and the oscillations are damped quickly. If we were using very small vanes or feathers we would see the net effect to be poor stabilization. That isn t to say that with a well tuned bow and good form we wouldn t be able to affect this. I don t want to offend any archers who have taken the time to really hone their shooting skills along with their bow tuning skills. What I m referring to here is the general effects of fletching size. With a little trial and error we can usually find the right size fletching to suit our shooting style. The Spinning Arrow A procedure most archers are familiar with is the process of spinning the arrow by way of attaching the fletchings in an offset or helical pattern. An arrow may already have a predisposition to curve in flight due to shaft asymmetry, a slight curve in the shaft or a poorly aligned broadhead or nock. Any one of these or a combination of one or more can have an effect on arrow flight. All of these together can really mess things up exponentially. In other words add all of these tiny issues together and you can have a big problem. Of course in a perfect world all of our arrows would be perfectly straight and our broadheads would all be true. The world isn t perfect so we compensate for these imperfections by making our arrow spin around its axis. In doing so, the tendency of the arrow to curve its flight path is rotated in all directions, usually resulting in tighter groups. Generally, the faster the arrow is spun the more spot-on the arrow s trajectory will be. There are 3 ways to fletch an arrow: Straight, Offset or Helical. A straight fletch is self explanatory and since we are talking about creating spin I won t discuss it here. Offset and helical are sometimes confused due to the fact that they are both a means to create spin and look similar and, unless examined closely, the difference is barely noticeable.

5 An offset vane or feather is just that, offset. The base of the vane is still straight but offset along the length of the shaft. Helical on the other hand actually curves the base of the fletching along the shaft similar to a boat propeller. The arrow starts at zero rotation but depending on the degree of offset or helical can accelerate its spin quickly. As the arrow continues on, the spin rate speeds up. There are now two velocities in play, the arrow velocity and the fletching velocity. The fletchings velocity is its rotation at a right angle to the shaft. The drag on the entire arrow is the sum of the arrows speed and the fletchings spin rate. The spin velocity increases until at some point the speed of the arrow is not sufficient to continue the spin acceleration and it will have reached peak rotation speed. All of this is happening while the arrow is oscillating, complicating all the simple factors that we just talked about. What this means is that there is additional drag on the whole arrow but mostly on the rear of the arrow, where the fletching is, as it bends and wobbles through the air. Part of the drag on the fletching is trying to straighten the arrow out instead of spinning it. So much for perfect arrow flight. There are downsides to spinning an arrow. For one thing the energy to spin the arrow has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is arrow speed. The proper amount of spin always (in my humble opinion) cancels out the negatives. There is no such thing as a perfect arrow or flight. But if we make use of our knowledge and take the time to try a few things, we can make it look perfect. The archery industry is always willing to oblige with the latest and best new advances. There is so much more to this than can be covered here and I may get in over my head, so I ll leave it at that. Oh yes, I almost forgot. Thunk! Home at last.

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MECHANICS, MOTION AND MOVEMENT Motion LINEAR MOTION - When a body moves in a straight or curved line, with all its parts moving the same distance, in the same direction and at the same speed. E.g. Linear