Arrow Rotation

A common misconception about fletching is that even straight fletches—those affixed to the shaft with no degree of offset—will cause the shaft to rotate as it flies downrange.

Not so. This past winter Brady Arview, New Archery Products’ VP of Sales & Marketing, showed me some high-speed video, which revealed that a carbon arrow straight-fletched with standard 2-inch plastic vanes does not even rotate one time at 30 yards from a bow shooting about 260 fps. If you add a bit of offset—say 2 degrees—you will get the shaft to rotate perhaps 2-3 revolutions at 30 yards. That’s it. In contrast, using New Archery Products’ 2-inch QuikSpin vanes fletched with either straight or with a small offset, the same shaft will rotate at least 10 times at 30 yards. 

And there’s no doubt that the more a projectile—be it bullet, football or arrow shaft—rotates in flight, the more consistently accurate it will be. It doesn’t matter if the shaft is tipped with a field point, mechanical or replaceable-blade broadhead—more rotation is a good thing.
“Many years ago, when we were first researching the QuikSpin vane concept, we determined with a rather detailed and complex series of tests that to stabilize a broadhead at about 260 fps the arrow needs to turn about one rotation over three yards,” said Arview, himself a very serious archer and bowhunter. “During testing, our guys found that standard 4-inch vanes fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reaches one full rotation between 12 to 15 yards; 5-inch helical feathers fletched with a 3- to 4- degree wrap reaches one full rotation in between 4 and 7 yards; NAP QuickSpin 4-inch vanes fletched perfectly straight reaches one full rotation between 4 and 7 yards; and NAP QuikSpin 4-inch vanes fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reached one full rotation between 1-4 yards. Today’s 2-inch QuikSpin vanes, though, provide the highest degree of rotation of anything we’ve tested.”

The Bottom Line
For maximum performance, you should equip your arrow shafts with the smallest fletching that will stabilize your arrows. Smaller fletching will help you maximize the shaft’s downrange speed for flatter trajectory. There will also be less side air resistance, which translates into less horizontal arrow drift. You also want the shaft to rotate through the air as it flies downrange. But remember, the more offset and/or helical you apply to fletching, the slower the arrow will fly because more drag is occurring.

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