The archery equipment you use on the range can be as exciting and unique as you are. You can customize your quiver with keychains and stickers; you can customize your bow with paint and bedazzling; and you can customize your arrows with hand-painted crests and unique fletching. Personalized equipment adds a layer of creativity to an already unique and exciting sport. Let this article inspire you to get out on the range and have fun.
Jill Hejza, owner of Hideaway Archery, creates beautiful hand-painted arrows. Hejza learned the art of fletching arrows from her local archery shop after their usual arrow tech didn’t show up for work one day. “I had been watching the other guy fletching and said, ‘I think I can do that,’” Hejza said. “So, I would go in and shoot for a while and then fletch arrows when I was done.” Hejza fletched arrows for the shop until they went out of business. Coming into fletching arrows might have happened to her by chance, but that chance would lead to almost a decade of providing archers with unique and fun custom arrows.
Hejza and her husband, Steve, opened their shop, Hideaway Archery, in 2008. About six years later, she realized that the arrow wraps they had been using weren’t sticking properly and that the process of removing the wraps for re-fletching was an absolute pain. Then, another opportunity presented itself. “A customer brought in some old wood arrows with cresting on them for us to hang up in the shop,” Hejza said. “I got to looking at them and thought, ‘Why don’t I try that?’ I am a very creative person and was needing an outlet for my creativity.” And what a great outlet it turned out to be. Hejza’s custom arrows at Hideaway Archery are beautiful and entirely unique.
“I started this thinking that I would do this once in a while but [it] has turned out to be much more,” Hejza said. “Every arrow that leaves our shop has some kind of cresting on it. I was fortunate to have met the late George Thielbar from Riverside Archery in Indiana. I talked on the phone with him a lot. He taught me some of the old cresting techniques. I also hand draw on our logo on every arrow. Some arrows I paint with fluorescent paint. Hunters will use a black light flashlight to find them after they have shot their deer.”
Hideaway Archery offers premade arrows and custom arrows, all made by Hejza. Putting in a request for custom arrows is by far the most popular choice in the shop. Hejza estimates about 70% of the arrow orders are custom. “Sometimes it is because they like a certain color combination or there is an arrow that I have made that they like but not in their brand or spine,” Hejza said. “I let them pick the color vanes they want and I paint the shafts to match. I explain that each arrow will be a little different because they are hand-painted. What I really like is when they say have fun and I make all six arrows a little different.”
When asked if she has a go-to design, she said that there isn’t one in particular she uses more than others. She likes painting fades, crackle, lines, and the American flag. “OK, I like them all,” Hejza said. “Every one of my own arrows is different because I can’t choose just one.” It takes Hejza about three days to make six arrows, depending on the complexity. The hand-painting process includes washing the arrows, adding a base coat, creating the crest, adding a top coat and, finally, the fletching.
How You Can Use Them
If you’re intrigued by the prospect of having your own unique arrows, here’s how you can use them:
- At Competitions
Using customized arrows at a competition is a neat way to make your equipment stand out and showcase your individuality. Hejza notes that the paint and materials she uses to customize the arrows adds about 1 to 2 grains to the weight of the arrow — significantly less than wraps, which can add anywhere from 7 to 10 grains. Check the organization’s guidelines before you compete. For example, World Archery allows fletching and cresting for recurve arrows as long as the color and pattern of the nocks, fletching and cresting are the same on every one of your arrows and the diameter of the arrow shaft doesn’t exceed 9.3 mm. Read more about World Archery’s guidelines here.
- As Decoration
Custom arrows can also make great décor pieces. You can add custom-painted wooden arrows with feather fletching to your table in a decorative vase as a centerpiece. You can display your arrows alongside your bow in your bow rack on the wall or mounted in a quiver. Wherever you display the arrows, they’ll be sure to be a conversation starter.
- As a Gift
If you have an archer in your life who has really gotten into the sport and wants to make their mark, you can give them custom arrows as a gift. Cool and unique arrows and feather fletching may even get a new archer more excited about the sport than they already were and encourage them to go to the range to show off their cool gear.
Custom, hand-painted arrows can make a fun statement at the range. They also make great decorative pieces for your walls or table. Using your customized arrows during practice or competition could make an already fun and exciting sport that much more entertaining.
Visit your local archery range to see if they offer customized arrows and/or to try out the new batch you just got in the mail.