Styles in Arrow Shafts.—Arrow shafts may be (1) cylindrical, in which the shaft is of the same diameter throughout its length; (2) barreled, in which it is of somewhat larger diameter at the middle than at the ends; (3) chested, in which it tapers from the nock end to the pile end; and (4) bobtailed, in which it tapers from the pile end to the nock end. Everything considered, the cylindrical shaft is about as satisfactory as any and, being easier to make, should commend itself to all who desire good arrows with a minimum of labor.
Arrow Woods.—The best woods for arrow shafts come from the great family of evergreen trees. Only a few species, however, make good arrows. A good arrow wood must be comparatively light, strong for its weight, and have plenty of spine or spring. Birch is recommended for inexpensive self-arrows, especially for beginner's use. Because of its toughness it is also recommended for the shaft of the heavier hunting arrow. However, it falls far short of being a first-class wood for target arrows. It has toughness but lacks spine, which means almost more to an arrow than cast does to a bow. Spine is important because every arrow is forced to bend somewhat around the bow as the shaft speeds by, and the quicker it springs back to its original shape the truer will it take the expected course.
Norway pine, the kind actually grown in the Baltic, is given first rank as an arrow wood. Other woods grown in the United States will make very serviceable arrows. Among these are Port Orford cedar, white spruce, and Douglas fir. One may even find a particular piece of yellow pine lumber which will make good arrows. It is of utmost importance that whichever of these woods is used, it shall be straight of grain, well-seasoned, and generally of a grain which is well defined but not coarse. Douglas fir and yellow pine are commonly found on the market as building lumber, so there should be no difficulty in picking up what one wants of these woods. But the condition of seasoning in which they are found is another matter. Some left-over lumber after building operations which has been stored for some time in a dry place, might contain good arrow material.
Any tough wood with straight grain may be used for footings. Lemonwood makes an excellent footing but, inasmuch as the ornamental effect of a contrasting color of wood is often desired, beefwood with its red color is a common choice for this purpose.
Any of the woods for arrow shafts may be secured from archery supply firms in the form of 5⁄16 inch by 30 inch 16 dowels or rods. Or if preferred, they may be ordered in the square. However, excepting birch, which is too tough a wood to work easily, it is more satisfactory to saw up one's own shaft material, provided the equipment for doing so is available. Birch dowel rods are also obtainable from mills which make use of dowels in the glued joints of doors, bench tops, counters, etc. Wood for footings may be obtained in short lengths ⅜ inch square.