There are numerous companies out there that supply shafts or even complete arrows either via retail outlets or mail order and of course there is eBay, but the quality can vary greatly. So I thought it might be worth putting forward a few views, thoughts and suggestions.
Please be aware that I’m not associated with any shop or companies, nor do I have an axe to grind with any retailers.
The advantage is you know exactly what you want and are in charge of getting it, the disadvantage with this process is it takes times. Sharon and I have spent a good couple of hours in archery shops before now, sorting through a mountain of shafts to find the ones that meet our requirements.
The other advantage of visiting a shop is you can wander around looking at all the nice bows, quivers etc, window shopping archery style whilst chatting to other archers.
Selecting shafts or how to get what you want?
It is very easy to go to a shop and grab a dozen 11/32 or 5/16 shafts from the box marked 40/45 spine or order a dozen online. We have found the possible problem here is that the actual shafts spines can vary widely. They might have been 40/45 at time of initial sorting and boxing, but they might not be now post transit from the wood mill to the retailer. Storage affects the shafts too, sometimes drying the shafts out.
The physical weight of the shafts can vary as well and this is important as all bows have a minimum mass weight for arrows. Below this weight you run a risk of damaging the bow as there is insufficient mass in the arrow to absorb the energy being transferred to it by the bow. Think of it as being similar to dry firing a bow and we all know the damage this can cause.
Likewise the shafts may have been put into the wrong box.
I’d like to make a quick point in defence of the retailers here. In fairness we have all been to shops and supermarkets where stock isn’t always on the right shelf, a tin of beans with the chilli mix or chopped tomatoes rather than whole ones etc. We spot this because the packaging is different, but with wooden shafts this is a lot harder, after all they all look the same so you can’t easily distinguish a 35/40 from a 55/60. This is why some retailers colour code the tops of the shafts e.g. Red tops are from 40/45 box, brown 45/50 and so on. This is a good idea and helps with initial sorting.
When I use them I have a small piece of sponge with a groove cut into it where the shaft rests. This helps to lift the shafts clear of the plate as I find this prevents the shaft snagging on surrounding items which would result in a false reading.
Remember to take a pencil or pen and paper to note the weights.
We tend to weigh the shafts first and then spine them. This saves some time as weighing them is a quicker process than spining and you aren’t spining ones that prove too light or heavy.
It is worth noting that not all retailers allow you to do this and some don’t have the necessary space or equipment.
Wales archery (http://walesarchery.com/) situated just over the border in South wales have a huge selection of shafts and have in the past allowed us the use of their digital spining gauge. They are very friendly and helpful and have loads of bows you can look over. There are also some nice country pubs you can pop in for lunch.
Merlin archery (http://www.merlinarchery.co.uk/) in Loughborough too have always been very helpful and allowed us to use their spining gauge although their’s requires a bit of mathematics. I leave that to Sharon as she has the brains (skills and looks). We used to pop up on a Tuesday evening as they are open late.
The great Internet!!
The other option is buying on-line. Finding good suppliers of wooden arrow shafts by mail order is even harder to find than you realise. You take a risk buying off the net and I would not recommend this unless you know the supplier has a good reputation. Pay for the service – I don’t mind paying a bit more if the quality of the product and service is good and some retailers offer a spining and/or weight matching service.
For my take down recurve I found Richard Head Longbows (http://www.english-longbow.co.uk/) for 5/16th was excellent. They are slightly more expensive than others but are of very good quality. He does spine and weight matching.
As many of you know I’ve swapped back to AFB (American flatbow) and needed some 11/32 shafts and was recommended Longbow Emporium (http://www.longbowemporium.co.uk/). Marc was really friendly when I spoke to him concerning my requirements.
I hope it proves useful.
Thanks for reading.