It is fully as important to have well-made, well-proportioned arrows of good wood as it is to have a fine bow to shoot them. A good bow with poor arrows produces inferior results; a mediocre bow with good arrows can produce fair results. The Indian, of which Maurice Thompson speaks in his Witchery of Archery, puts it more strongly. He says, "Any stick do for bow—good arrow dam heap work."
The Parts of an Arrow.—The essential parts of an arrow are indicated in Figure 20, A. They are 1, the shaft or stele; 2, the point or pile, 3, the feathers or vanes; and 4, the nock or groove to accommodate the string.
The shaft is a straight-grained piece of round wood selected for its spine or spring. A self-arrow is made of a single shaft of wood; a footed-arrow has for the pile end a short length of hard, tough wood glued to the main shaft by means of a single fishtail joint, F. The footed-arrow will stand the shock of impact better than the self-arrow, in which the wood is generally too soft.
The pile may be one of several types. For target shooting, they are usually of two styles, as shown in A and B. One is the bullet point and the other is the parallel pile, the choice between the two being largely one of personal preference. One of the advantages claimed for the latter is that, since the sides are parallel and merely a continuation of the lines of the shaft, the arrow is not deflected to one side by the changing diameter of the pile as the string is loosed. This assumes a condition of draw which brings the point even with the bow. Another advantage claimed for the parallel pile is that one can better feel the point as it passes over the bow hand at the moment of full draw, thus tending to make more certain that the length of all draws is the same.
The feathers are three in number equally spaced over the circumference of the shaft and far enough in front of the nock to make room for the fingers. One, known as the cock feather, stands out at right angles to the nock, a, and for easy recognition should be of a different color from the other two. The cock feather is on the outside when shooting; that is, the arrow shaft lies between it and the bow, as the arrow speeds forward. The best vane feathers, considering the available supply, are from the wings of the turkey. Goose feathers may also be used.
The arrow nock is usually strengthened to better withstand the force of the string, which tends to split the shaft. In the more expensive arrows, a wedge of horn or fiber, on which the nock is formed, is glued into the end of the shaft, H. A very satisfactory reinforcement is a small piece of ordinary sheet fiber glued into a saw cut made across the middle of the nock, G. Sometimes, as in I, a tube of fiber is fitted over the nock end of the arrow. Again fine thread may be wrapped around the shaft just below the nock and set in glue.