Switching from indoor to outdoor shooting can’t come soon enough for most archers, and that usually means changing their arrows and fletching.
Archers who use fatter arrows indoors can easily change arrows when going outdoors. They usually have another set of components for outdoor shooting, such as sights and an arrow rest; or another complete bow setup.
When choosing fletching to shoot outdoors, archers consider several variables, depending on whether they’re hunting or competing in target, field or 3D events. For archers shooting compound bows, the options are endless. However, let’s review how some top compound shooters choose outdoor fletching.
Most pros use plastic vanes for shooting outdoors, and generally choose Plastifletch by AAE or Flex Fletch. Their main consideration is the fletching’s durability. How well does it withstand tight groupings and pass-throughs on weakened targets?
Linda Ochoa-Anderson (Mexico/USA) shoots AAE. “I use the AAE Plastifletch Max 2.0 shield cut,” she said. “They have always worked well for me, and they glue on easy. They are structured, and have different thicknesses in different sections, which is supposed to (provide) the proper stiffness for compound speeds.”
Lucy O’Sullivan of Great Britain shoots the AAE Nock On shield-cut fletch. “They are a really durable fletch and, paired with the (Bohning Fletch-Tite) Platinum glue, they never come off,” she said. “I shoot through targets a lot [be]cause my arrows are so tiny.”
Peter Elzinga of the Netherlands has different requirements. “My vane pick is the GasPro GS-200,” he said. “I (don’t) like fletching. I trust a vane that last[s] a long time, and especially has a memory.”
Likewise, Italy’s Sergio Pagni, a multiple Vegas champion and World Cup medalist, likes plastic fletching because of its performance in wind compared to softer materials.
Shape and Size
The current trend for fletching shape is the shield cut. Crystal Gauvin of the USA shares the opinion of many competitive archers. “Virtually every top archer uses around a 2-inch shield-cut fletching,” she said. “These seem to give the best performance at 50 meters, especially in the wind.”
Vane length is another interesting factor. Canada’s Chris Perkins said he prefers the Flex Fletch 225 or 187, depending on point weight. “The more (the) point weight, (the more) I prefer a slightly longer vane to help control that extra FOC [front of center],” he said.
Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands agreed. “I choose the Flex Fletch 225 because I shoot a pretty heavy arrow outdoors, and I think the bigger vane matches better with that,” he said.
Croatia’s Domogoj Buden makes sure to keep his FOC between 12.5-13.2% depending on the spine because he has found that anything outside this range does not perform well in the wind. He does this by choosing either the 1.6 or 2.0 Plastifletch vane made by AAE.
Brandon Reyes of the USA, a prominent 3D shooter, goes even bigger with his fletching, which he uses for hunting and competition. “I prefer the new Flex Fletch Silent Knight 300 (3 inches). I love the stiffness of the Flex Fletch product for 3D and target. The shape of the vanes is also great for any archery application.”
Canada’s Fiona Maude has a short draw length, which means she uses thinner-diameter carbon arrows. Maude chooses vanes based on their easy application. “I use the AAE Max vanes on my outdoor arrows,” she said. “I love using these vanes because a slightly larger base makes the application process very easy for any archer. The vane material is very durable, and it has the low profile needed for riser clearance.”
Sergio Pagni of Italy makes an interesting point about choosing GasPro 1.75-inch vanes. These vanes have a 1-inch height from the shaft’s center. Pagni said when tuning from 5 to 10 meters in paper tests, fletching any higher than that causes lots of instability.
This survey of high-end compound archers found universal agreement that shield-cut vanes perform better in wind, and with little increase in drag.
Archers consider many variables when preparing for the outdoor season. They do extensive experimenting with fletching to learn what works best in conditions they face daily. This information can provide great guidance, but it might not necessarily work for you. Each archer must learn what works best through trial and error. The more you experiment, the less you’ll find error and enjoy more success.