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Fletching (also known as a flight) is the aerodynamic stabilization of arrows or darts with materials such as feathers, each piece of which is referred to as a fletch. The word is related to the French word flèche, meaning "arrow," via Old French; the ultimate root is Frankish fliukka. A fletcher is a maker of arrows.
As a noun, fletching refers collectively to the fins or vanes, each of which individually is known as a fletch. Traditionally, the fletching consists of three matched half-feathers attached near the back of the arrow or dart's shaft that are equally spaced around its circumference. Today, modern plastics may be used instead. Fletches are traditionally attached with silk thread, but simpler methods are also used, such as gluing. The fletching is used to stabilize the arrow aerodynamically. Some fletches impart a spin on the projectile, but all are there to impart stability to the projectile to ensure that it does not tumble during flight.
More generally, it can refer to any structures added to a projectile to aerodynamically stabilize its flight, many of which resemble arrows in form and function. For instance, the feathers at the butt end of a dart (of the type cast using an atlatl) are very similar in purpose and construction to those used in arrows. Even the cotton of tampons can be used as the fletching of blow darts in survival situations. Most of the techniques of fletching were likely adapted from earlier dart-making techniques. The fins used to stabilize rockets also work in a similar manner.
- Massey, Jim. (1992). "Self Arrows" in The Traditional Bowyer's Bible Volume One, (Jim Hamm, ed.). Guilford: The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-085-3
- Engh, Douglas. Topic "Arrows" in "Archery Fundamentals". Human Kinetics ISBN 0-7360-5501-0