Arrows have different work to do, and are, therefore, made of different woods. Knock-about arrows, beginner's arrows, roving, field and hunting arrows are made of birch. Better target arrows are made of imported Norway Pine and Port Orford Cedar. Excellent hunting arrows are also made of these woods.
Birch:—Is a hard, tough, white wood, and the best of it comes from the New England States, especially Maine. If birch could be had straight, and if it stayed straight, it would be the ideal arrow wood. Birch used in my shop is specially selected, and is as straight as this wood comes. Even though arrows made of birch may not be as perfect as fine target arrows made of the soft woods, when fletched with long triangular feathers, they whistle straight and true to the mark. Birch has one distinct advantage; it may be straightened with the fingers when out of line. My quiver full of sturdy birch field arrows have been in use for a long time. They get lost, but they stand up and rarely break.
Port Orford Cedar:—Is a light, straight grained, soft wood. It has a delightful odor, and makes excellent self and footed arrows. It comes from the West Coast.
Norway Pine (Pinus Sylvestris):—This comes from the Baltic Sea forests, where the cold, stern climate makes for slow growth and splendid "spiney" wood. It is the old "red deal" of the English yeoman and there is no finer arrow wood than good Norway Pine. It is used for both self and footed target arrows. Shafts in the 3/8" size make the very finest hunting arrows for big game.
There are two kinds of arrows—self arrows and footed arrows. Self arrows are arrows made of one piece of wood. Footed arrows are arrows with an inlay or "footing" applied to the head end of the shaft. Norway Pine and Port Orford Cedar are "footed". The footing is a hard, tough wood that strengthens the head end of the arrow, gives it a hard wearing tip, makes for balance and beautifies the arrow. Footings are of beef wood, lemon wood, purpleheart, hickory and birch.
Arrows also have various shapes. The cylindrical shaft is most common. Chested arrows are thicker below and under the feathers and taper to the nock and head. Barrelled arrows are thicker in the middle and taper to each end. Bob-tailed arrows are thicker at the head end and taper from the pile to the nock. There are target arrows, flight arrows, roving arrows, field arrows and hunting arrows.