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Anyone who says „everything was easier in the past“ on this subject is mistaken. Goose feathers, turkey feathers, eagle feathers… the list can extend even further depending on the region. But yes, a few hundred years ago there were „only“ natural feathers and no plastic yet. You might not think so at first, but that makes the topic of „What kind of fletching does my arrow need?“ a lot easier today. At least in terms of choice, attachment technique and, of course, procurement.

In addition to natural feathers, there is the category of plastic vanes and spin vanes.

When choosing the fletching, you always have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What discipline do I shoot?
    Recurve, compound, barebow, traditional…?
  • How thick/thin is my arrow?
  • Where do I want to shoot with it?
    Field, forest, meadow, hall…?

Natural Feathers

Aesthetically, natural feathers come along with beautiful shapes and colors. The decisive factor is the size of the feathers. Natural feathers are usually larger than the plastic models. As a result, the arrow is slowed down, but thereby also stabilized in its flight. Something that is appreciated especially at shorter distances. They are used, for example, by some traditional archers or even among modern archers in the indoor season. So, in principle, all places, or disciplines, where thicker arrows can be shot at shorter distances.

Perhaps a bit unexpected for some of you, but natural fletchings are quite durable. At least much more robust than compared to spin vanes. Even if they are not as „indestructible“ as plastic vanes, there is even the possibility to repair natural feathers.

Quick Overview: Natural Feathers


  • Aesthetic natural look
  • are amazingly durable and may even be repairable
  • Able to better recorrect thicker arrows in particular during flight

To consider:

  • Pay attention to left- or right-wing feathers (consistency!)
  • (Genuine feathers) are not always cheap

Additional Info:

  • suitable for traditionalists, resp. wooden arrows
  • popular with thicker aluminum arrows (recommended only for use in the indoor season)

Sidefact: When it comes to natural feathers, you can also buy "un-cut" turkey feathers, for example. These still have their natural shape and would ideally need to be unified before use. For this purpose, there is a so-called "chopper". This is a device into which you place the uncut natural feather and then "chop" it into a specific shape. These shapes also have a set terminology, such as parabol, shield, and so on.

Plastic Vanes

If it is not about natural feathers, it is actually always about plastic vanes. But in this case, a basic distinction is made between the so-called plastic and spin vanes.

Plastic Vanes are almost always the first choice. Most fletched arrows come with plastic vanes, for example. You can also find them on arrows of beginners as well as professional compound archers. They are suitable for beginners, as they are similar to the natural feathers, somewhat heavier than the Spin Vanes, more stable and therefore more forgiving of small mistakes. Especially if you are unsure at the beginning, you can't really go wrong with Plastic Vanes.

Since compound bows in principle also deliver much more energy to the arrow than, for example, the Olympic Recurve, it does not matter whether you take Plastic or Spin Vanes. Here the decisive factor is that with a compound at 50 m (WA outdoors, on one single target face) you simply group the arrows on the target very closely and thus spin vanes are much more likely to be damaged. Plastic Vanes in comparison are simply much more durable and with experienced outdoor compounders at the latest a must-have.

Quick Overview: Plastic Vanes
  • easy to attach
  • not so easy to damage
  • affordable purchase options available
  • extensive color, shape & size selection
To consider:
  • can even be heavier than natural feathers, depending on the model (may lead to unwanted deceleration of the arrow)
  • need an extra glue to attach
  • for optimal consistency, a fletching jig is recommended
Aditional Info:
  • suitable for thinner as well as thicker arrows
  • suitable for beginners & for compounders

Spin Vanes

The helix-like winding of the Spin Vanes is probably the most characteristic feature of this type of feather. Directly followed by the lightness and flexibility. This twist ensures that the arrow rotates around its own axis in flight much faster than with plastic vanes or natural feathers, for example. A behavior of which it is said that it is particularly advantageous for longer distances.

U.S. Olympic champion Jake Kaminski (2012 London, bronze with the men's team) sees the biggest advantage in the lightness of the vanes. They are light enough not to significantly influence the arrow's behavior and yet they are able to stabilize the flight of the arrow.

In this respect, it is not surprising that, at the latest on a professional level, there are no archers of the Olympic recurve who shoot with anything other than Spin Vanes in the outdoor season.

Quick Overview: Spin Vanes


  • easy to replace (also possible without fletching jig)
  • fletching tape is included (no glue needed)
  • very light material (ideal for longer distances)

To consider:

  • easily damaged, must be changed accordingly often
  • numerous manufacturers and associated shape deviations and material differences

Additional Info:

  • very suitable for thin, fine arrow shafts
  • ideal for Olympic recurve archery, resp. longer distances

Sidefact and Urban Legends: In the archery scene, there is a long-rooted assumption that you should not combine different colored spin vanes. The suspicion is that the color affects the weight of the vanes. Certainly, there are slight material changes in some plastic combinations depending on the color, which could possibly be minimally noticeable in the weight, but we immediately asked ourselves how big the difference in Spin Vanes can be at all. And why is such a variation only considered for Spin Vanes and not, for example, for Plastic Vanes? We randomly weighed five different colored packs with the same number of Spin Vanes (yes, we counted the Spin Vanes!) and found out: The weight variation per pack (purple, yellow, blue, white, black) is 0.2 gr. That's a possible 0.004 gr, or 0.000256 g per vane. Is the perception of a weight difference of this magnitude "real" or just "archery homeopathy"? We'll leave that question in the air for now.

The manufacturer of our spin-vanes probands, RangeOMatic, himself writes in his FAQs that "in […] recent testing, it was shown that there is no difference in drag between the colors." Incomprehensibly, however, they advise against combining different colors anyway without any further comments….

This usage advice is the real mystery, if you ask us 🙂



No, of course, we don't mean the delicious wraps from the gastronomy, but an adhesive coating that you can attach to the nock end of the arrow shaft. Wraps come in a wide variety of colors and designs. They can be glued around thicker as well as thinner aluminum or carbon arrows. If you use plastic vanes, wraps can also act as a protective base so that the glue residue does not stick directly to the arrow shaft.

There is also the possibility to have individual wraps made, for example at Customwraps.com. You can have the wraps numbered, named, or even have lines drawn in to indicate the gluing points for the fletching. Thus, wraps could make the sometimes tedious labeling of the arrows once in a while obsolete.

Wraps in our Shop

In the BSS shop there are different wrap designs to choose from, but also a few auxiliary tools that you can use, for example, to glue the wraps properly onto the shaft.


© Picture: Bohning Youtube

Wooden arrows can also be individualized in terms of color, but adhesive tapes - unless specified differently - are poorly suited for use on a wooden surface. Following the traditional example, however, wooden arrows can be customized with 'crestings'. The word implies the understanding as "painting the arrow in the style of the crest", as it was historically common. This means that the back of the wooden arrow is decorated with color rings painted in various designs.

For this purpose, the BSS shop offers, for example, Bohning's Cresting-Kit Professional, a quite compact device with a built-in motor, which is supposed to help with painting the arrows in the best possible way. You clamp the arrow in the designated places and can then let it rotate by the motor, so that you can provide the arrow with even rings, just like with pottery and the turntable. Matching the apparatus brushes and varnish paint are included.

Bohnings Cresting Kit Professional in our Shop