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Home > Books > The Art of Archery > Chapter V: Of the Shaft used with the Bow
Fifth Chapter.
Of the Shaft used with the Bow

In order to do my work properly it is necessary that in this third part I should speak of the arrow, as in the first and second I have spoken of bows and strings.

You must know that there are only two sorts of shafts (trait), the glued and the waxed.[5] Waxed arrows are of two kinds, of which one is feathered with the front wing feather, and is only good for butt shooting, and the other which is feathered with the hinder wing feathers, and is both good and favourable for target shooting. And understand that a good round waxed arrow should be feathered from the wing of a swan, except those for flight shooting, of which I will speak later. Many arrows are made and feathered from the wing of the goose, but they are not so good, and are only fit for war arrows. Waxed arrows are also feathered with gerfaulcon's feathers, these are better, and fit and proper for flight shooting, but for no other purpose. But these should have very light iron heads, and they should be scarcely thicker than a flight arrow, and of the lightest and stiffest wood, as I shall explain hereafter.

If the head of the arrow is fight, the feathers should be cut low and short, if it is heavy the feathers should be higher and longer. Arrows for butt and target shooting should have the barbs in the same direction as the nock, but for flight arrows there is no danger, as the heads of these should be round like horn ones.

The harder the silk is on the wax, the better the arrow will fly and the stiffer it will be. The wood of which arrows are made should not be much baked, especially for flight arrows, as if it is, the jar on hitting the ground breaks them. Every good arrow for butt or target shooting should be made of aspen (tranne), seasoned by being kept a year or two, and without artificial heat. Flight arrows may be made of stiffer wood, such as birch or cherry.

Many arrows are made of ash, but they are only fit for proving armour. They should be large at the point and reduced at the feathers so as to stand the jar on impact.

Arrows are likewise made hollow, like balista arrows, and with a long head, but they are only used for holding a flight arrow to win bets, and are varnished above and below; this is enough as regards waxed arrows.

In order to embarrass an adversary's choice, flight arrows are also made which look alike, though some are for shooting against the wind, and Borne with it, so that the chooser is not in fault if he loses when on the shooting ground.