Paleontologists believe arrows have been around for over 60,000 years. Do you think cavemen wondered about arrow clocking? Probably not. The first arrows were honed from tree limbs, arrowheads fashioned from bone, and fletching did not exist for another 50,000 years. Feathers were the first fletching used followed by an assortment of other materials. Fast forward to today where soft plastic and nylon is used to make them.
A quarterback throws a football causing it to rotate. The lands and grooves of a rifled barrel cause a bullet to rotate. The primary goal in each instance is accuracy and consistency. Arrows are not much different.
When it comes to arrow rotation, which way does it naturally occur off your bow? If you build your own arrows, you should already know the answer. If you have your arrows built, continue to read and learn something new that can make you a more proficient archer.
What Causes Your Arrow to Rotate?
Ideally, your vane’s offset is fletched in such a way to promote spinning in its natural direction. Most bows have a natural counterclockwise – or left – rotation due to the way the string is twisted when it is built. The build of your bow's string has the most influence on the natural rotation of your arrows. Due to the manufacturing process of the actual fibers in bow string material the vast majority of strings have a clockwise twist resulting in a left clocking arrow.
Outside of the bow's string, nock pressure also has minor influence on the natural rotation of your arrows. Nock fit is easily one of the most overlooked aspects to archery hunting. When you think about the nock of the arrow being the sole component responsible for transferring the bow's energy into the arrow, it becomes easy to see why proper nock fit is so important. In regards to arrow clocking, if you have improper nock fitment with pressure not being equal on each side of the nock's throat, you may have inconsistencies in your natural arrow rotation. Or worse, you may have arrows leaving your bow like a knuckleball. Keep this in mind, if you have a clockwise built string and arrows clocking to the right.
Determining Which Way Your Arrow Spins
By leaving your vanes on, you will not be able to draw a conclusion. Here are the steps to employ:
1. Verify proper nock fit
2. Strip the vanes off any two arrows you want to use and thoroughly clean the shaft of remaining adhesive/glue.
3. Once the shafts are bare, take a Sharpie and make a small line from each nock’s mouth. Note the Sharpie mark and ensure the same orientation when shooting.
4. Make sure you are using a field tip
5. Nock an arrow onto your bow and stand about 10’ away from your target
6. Release the arrow into the target
7. Repeat your shooting sequence
8. If the line you made is to the left, your arrows naturally clock counterclockwise
9. If the line you made is to the right, your arrows naturally clock clockwise
What To Do With This New Found Information?
Once your arrow’s natural rotation is determined, you know how your arrows need to be fletched.
1. Left offset or helical will enhance counterclockwise rotation
2. Right offset or helical will enhance clockwise rotation
You now know what type of offset your arrow needs. Sharing this information with whoever builds your arrows is a key component to downrange precision.
Also keep in mind, if you have arrows rotating to the left, naturally you will experience with field points and broadheads unthreading. While it shouldn't cause a critical failing point in your arrow setup, it is something to pay attention to while shooting reps.
There is Always an Exception
If you shoot mechanical broadheads, you are in the clear. Those that shoot fixed broadheads and/or single bevel broadheads, this next part is written especially for you.
Some fixed broadheads are designed with an offset – typically to the right. If you fletch your arrows in a way that does not match the blade’s offset, the two will work against each other. You want your broadhead and vanes working in harmony to promote proper arrow spin.
How can you determine if your fixed broadhead has an offset? Simply follow the steps to determine which way your arrow spins, but instead of using a field tip, use your fixed broadhead.
1. If your blade’s offset is to the right, your vane offset should be to the right
2. If your blade’s offset is to the left, your vane offset should be to the left
If you are an archery hunter shooting single bevel broadheads out of your compound you will want to match the beveled broadhead to the rotational direction of your hunting arrow.
1. Right single bevel on an arrow rotating to the right
2. Left single bevel on an arrow rotating to the left
Your Arrow has One Goal to Achieve
Whether your arrow is a three-fletch or four-fletch, has a left or right helical, fashioned with 3” or 4” vanes, or you shoot mechanical or fixed blade broadheads, the desired outcome is the same: repeated success.
Does it matter is your arrow naturally spins left or right? Yes, it does – unless you hate accuracy and consistency.
AUTHOR: Geoff Guzinski, Exodus Black Hat Team Member