In preparation for a summer of events and adventures, I decided it was time to learn to make my own arrows. Good wooden ones are expensive, and you can never get exactly what you're after. A friend gifted me with a set of shafts for my birthday a while back, and I finally got them made up. These are made using a fair number of modern tools, techniques, and materials, because what I really want is something that will last and work for competition shooting, not for war or hunting as a single use item. I chose to make the arrows in my husband's colors as a nod to him, and because my green, white, and brown would be impossible to find buried in long grass somewhere.
The shafts are cedar and are stained with leather dye and sealed with a polyurethane seal, which was fairly straightforward. A friend of mine runs our local fletching guild and has all the tools and materials, most acquired from a local store that closed its doors. He buys supplies in bulk and then when people use his tools, etc. it's easy to pay for the materials used at cost. The nocks are modern plastic ones, which means shaving down the ends with a pencil sharpener sort of tool, which gave me blisters and could have been sharper. Next time I'd love to try self-nocked arrows. The fletchings are dyed goose feathers, cut with a very handy little die cutter and the aid of a rubber mallet. The gluing on of the feathers and twirling the jig to the next shaft each time was probably my favorite part of the process. The tips are attached with a heat-activated glue (sorry, I should have taken better notes) with the aid of a blow torch and some pliers. In all, the supplies cost me about $25, so with the estimated cost of the dozen shafts, these come in around $5 an arrow, which is a great deal, especially if you're not a great shot (like me) trying to remember not to get attached to your ammunition. I think I spent about four hours on this batch.
I've since lost two of them (rather, they were lent to someone who lost two) shooting at a fun outdoor range in our area where you hike a one mile trail and shoot at 3D animal targets along the way. The hills are steep, which helps your arrows not go too far, but they're also in scrubby high desert with lots of things for the arrows to disappear in, and lots of scrambling up and down is required to retrieve them. Below are two photos, one of a finished arrow (gently used already), and one of a shot from that range where I seemingly managed to put an arrow right up this poor turkey's nose. Here's to lots more shooting!