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"It predates history". I have thought this was a stupid statement since before the beginning of time :-) How can something predate history? cbm 08:23, 2004 Feb 12 (UTC)

History is said to be the time from the emergence of the first written language (which was egyptian in about 4000BC if memory serves) to modern day, everything before is known as pre-history which is what the sentence is refering to.
There is some more precise (?) history in Bow (weapon).

Somebody else supply how-to for using a crossbow and maybe something on how arrows differ from darts. (removed this from the article) --cprompt 02:51, 13 May 2004 (UTC)

I think a crossbow is shot like a rifle, or so I've heard. Maybe you could look up that, instead. (Adam)

There is some redundance with archery, especially in the instruction chapter. Both articles could perhaps use some more editing to better complement each other. --blades 23:58, May 15, 2004 (U

The instructions for shooting a bow and arrow are very poor, and could be dangerous. I recommend dropping this until someone competent in providing archery instruction rewrites the section. For one thing, when drawing the bow, the arrow should be pointed towards the ground. -- 19:10, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)

"The instructions for shooting a longbow were obviously not written by someone who has shot a bow in English 15th Century armour. There are several points I disagree with: 1.It also acceptable to use a three finger draw, especially with a high powered bow. 2.You cannot pull the string back to your face if wearing a jack (Linen body armour) and a sallet (helmet). The jack restricts the strings movement if the archer pulls it back to his face. Also when wearing a sallet you have to keep the string away from it to avoid snagging and damaging the string on it. In fact to shoot in an English military style it is necessary to pull the string back to a position about 6-8 inches parallel to the ear. This makes it impossible to aim down the length of the arrow. Aiming therefore becomes far more intuitive as you are shooting across your body. -- 16:06, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)


I had to correct "Spine", a common mistake: More spine = more flex = lighter arrow for less powerful bow. MRCorbett 23:04, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Mea culpa. I picked up the term informally from the Bowyer's bibles. Turns out, they never really mention explicitly whether spine is more or less stiff. --Eyrian 23:41, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

This article's definition of the term 'spine' conflicts with the definition presented in the article entitled, "Archer's Paradox" ( Keylime314 (talk) 06:01, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

I have just corrected the Archer's paradox article which had it precisely wrong. More spine means a stiffer arrow, according to the sources (including TBB which I have open in front of me). Richard Keatinge (talk) 10:02, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

How to remove an arrow[edit]

I've been trying to figure this out for some time, as most arrow heads have teath pulling it out could cause alot of damage, my father says you should push it through but this doesn't seem right either. Does anyone know how medics in the dark ages would remove arrows from injured soldiers?

It depends on the shape of the arrow head, where in the body, how deep etc. MRCorbett 23:02, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Well "Medics" usually either took it out dispite the damage, or just snapped the shaft off and left it in. But, usually the former. Bobo the Talking Clown 22:21, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

There were specific tools for opening up the wound to allow an arrow to be extracted, but I've no idea how far back they go or how widespread they were - the Romans seem to have used them, but preservation of Roman surgical techniques across the Dark Ages was patchy at best. Otherwise I'd guess you cut and risk further damage. Henry V had an arrow extracted from his face and did farily well thereafter, but I doubt this was a typical case - not least because it involved the fabrication of a specific surgical tool. (talk) 16:59, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Today, medics would smack you on the head with a mallet and get the arrow out while you are out. (talk) 15:12, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Separate Arrowheads[edit]

While the traditional and romantic vision of an arrow is one with a stone or metal arrowhead, I'd say it was much more common for arrows to be blunted than stone-tipped in indigenous tribes in North America, with the tipped arrows being solely reserved for large game or for warfare. Naturally, most of the game shot with the bow would have been small-game, where a blunt head would have been more than efficient than having to make a sharp stone or bone tip. According to American Antiquity by Frank Hibben in 1938, in a cave in the Gila River area of New Mexico, a cache was found containing several thousand reed arrows. Less than a dozen of the arrows had stone points, and the rest were hardwood blunts, and the main way that the arrows were blunted was by roughly sharpening a point on the shaft and then fire-hardening it.

However, this only applies to North America. Europe could be largely different, I just wanted to point out that it was not common all-around for most arrows to have separate arrowheads attached. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:3726:F9A0:B856:B434:EB2D:C99 (talk) 22:29, 23 July 2017 (UTC)

Bodkin points[edit]

Does anyone have a published source on modern tests of these? I've done a few, and I've seen several tests that show they are horrible against armours. I however can't think of a source off hand currently and I can't use my own work as a source. The long iron points from the period are soft, so when hitting any armour, especially plate, the tip will bend and fold. If they are made from modern tempered steel they would work great (and this is actually a design concept used in modern anti-take weapons) but I have never seen any research showing the heads to be anything other than soft wrought iron, a metal that you can't harden and temper well. As for using them against maille, I've found them to be far less effective than a lot of material suggests. After including the riveted maille, and a good padded coat under that, the effect of an arrow strike shows as minimal against test dummies. What does show as useful against armour is a shorter point, something almost like a modern field point, with a very short point that isn't as likely to bend when it hits a target. Best suggestion I've seen for a reason to use a bodkin point is range value, but I haven't had a good place to test this.--Talroth 23:26, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

This quote is on the Talk:Mail_(armour)#Arrow_resistance page -
Indeed, experiments undertaken by the Royal Armouries in Leeds have shown that when chain armour is outfitted on a free-flowing dummy, effectively mimicking the human body in motion, as it would be in a military engagement, it is almost impossible to penetrate using any conventional modern weapon. Sword slashes are deflected, with spear, sword and arrow thrusts effectively stopped by the ring defenses. Even bodkin arrows are unable to penetrate the chain armour in these experiments. When layers of leather, felt or even cloth undergarments are added to the chain armour, the protection is even better. The results of these experiments are confirmed by the injuries recorded on medieval skeletons which have been excavated near battlefields or in medieval cemetries. These skeletons almost exclusively have wounds only to the head or limbs, the torsos remaining protected by armour. Taken from Kelly DeVries, "Medieval Military Surgery", Medieval History Magazine, Vol 1 is 4, December 2003.
And it does a nice job of proving your point

For the top statement: I think you might need to read the article more carefully. It says it (bow and arrow technology) predates recorded history. Somehow I doubt that cave-men were writing documents on their history. (Adam, 2007)

Huh? what have cavemen to do with the medieval bodkin arrow, (which is what this discussion is about)? Anyway, I have more references (I posted the above MHM one on the Mail page). Again, the Royal Armouries offer a brief analysis of medieval arrowheads, which clearly states a bodkin point is a waste of time against plate. "Despite claims that bodkin and quarrel heads were suited to the attack of armour, there is no evidence that these were normally constructed of materials that would provide sufficient mechanical strength to overcome metallic plate armour." [1]; however, it does discuss another arrowhead type which might. But, a further study has suggested no arrowheads could pierce good quality plate, as discussed at a sword forum. The article they are discussing is in the Arms and Armour journal. Does anyone have access to a copy? Gwinva (talk) 02:04, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm going to go ahead and change the wording about the bodkin point as per this discussion, and what it says in the main article for bodkin point. --Sus scrofa (talk) 18:18, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

No Safe Arrowhead[edit]

The section on SCA Legal Arrowheads states "There is no arrow head that can safely be shot at un-armoured targets." However, the following paragraph describes a type of arrowhead that can be safely fired at unarmoured targets. I'm going to change this sentence to indicate that these arrowheads are not safe to fire at unarmoured targets. I will also remove the space from "arrow head" and the hyphen from "unarmoured" 00:15, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Could we come up with a more sophisticated wording that indicates that while some people have come up with bow/arrow combinations that they are happy to shoot at each other, this is not an absolute guarantee of safety? Richard Keatinge 12:14, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Arrowhead Metallurgy[edit]

From the article: "Medieval broadheads were made from steel"

Iron, surely? The production of steel didn't become reliable until well after the Middle Ages. There would have been some high-carbon iron available that would be classified as steel these days, but production of it was haphazard, and most steel was probably made by accident rather than design.

Have we got any references that say that Medieval arrowheads were routinely made of steel? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:42, 30 May 2009 (UTC) (Whoops, not signed in: should have been 2p0rk (talk) 11:49, 30 May 2009 (UTC))

The Royal Armouries reference mentions steel broadheads, and I do recall some mediaeval comment about requiring "well-steeled" broadheads. Presumably not all of them, and I have changed to more cautious wording. Richard Keatinge (talk) 18:58, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Single dimensional VS multi dimensional fletching[edit]

With conventional three-feather fletching, one feather, called the "cock" feather, is at a right angle to the nock, and is conventionally placed so that it will not contact the bow when the arrow is shot. However, many modern target archers have no "cock" feather on their arrows, thus improving accuracy. Four-feather fletching can have the advantage of no cock feather, so making nocking the arrow slightly easier, though some four-fletched arrows are not evenly placed in order to make the fletches towards the bow closer to vertical.

This paragraph is a bad joke, even on its best day. It just says that two feathered arrows are optimal even though three feathered arrows are referred here as to being the "conventional" types.
Why would the bulk of realtime fletchers waste time, effort and in some cases money to craft three or four feather ended arrows when two feathered are considered the downright best type any archer could have? And I mean realtime fletchers as in fletchers who used to make arrows for actual usage in massive scale combat and not those who make arrows for hitting a static bullseye in some recreational sport as how modern day archery is. Comparing the occupational prowess of modern day fletchers to medieval or even earlier fletchers would be like comparing the skills or any Average Joe handheld-catapult maker to Carl Walther's gun making skills, one is good what he does while the other is just trying his best to imitate someone better.

However, many modern target archers have no "cock" feather on their arrows, thus improving accuracy.

This single sentence alone contains so much of gibberish that I cant even begin to understand how the lack of a "cock" feather actually improves accuracy. This "cock" feather is identical in its function to a rudder of any aircraft on the horizontal axis. Is the editor here trying to say that all modern day aircrafts would be more stable, or in his words more "accurate", if they flew around without a rudder? And who actually calls this a "cock" feather? My knowledge on archery lingo is suspect at best but do a majority of people anywhere actually call it a "cock" feather?
Without going into the job of disclaiming every other line of this poorly written fiction, I am going to delete out this odd paragraph, given my lengthy explanation as to why this paragraph doesn’t make a shred of sense. Provide actual references, and the editor can copy-paste it back onto the article but I doubt anyone can find any substantial material debunking the importance of having a "cock"...feather.Was†ed(Ag@in) © 03:36, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
The sentence about "no cock feather" may or may not imply only two feathers. You're right, three feathers is absolutely normal, but I suppose with modern non-flat plastic vanes you might get good stable flight with only two vanes. I've no idea if that's correct (I don't do high-technology archery) and I think you are right to remove it.
Some arrows, never a majority, have been made with only two feathers - see the Laubins on American Indian Archery for example - and in New Guinea traditional arrows usually don't have any fletching at all, see Gardens of War. As all my references are packed for a house move I'll come back to this later.
Yes, it really is called the "cock" feather. As opposed to "hen". I suppose it's worth a few childish giggles.
I hope this helps. Richard Keatinge (talk) 10:10, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
If you insist that this perpendicular feather is indeed called a cock feather then I will take your word for it, since during the rather brief time I spent on archery, I had never heard anyone refer to the third feather in such a manner.
But one thing I would want to point out regarding this particular topic on its discussion page, since this article lacks any point of reference as it is right now, that Flight Arrows were bound to have just two feathers on its tail end while target seeking arrows(for a lack of a better term) were more prone to having three or more feathers arranged on a multi dimensional scale on their tail ends, and both could be considered to be the most suitable style of fletching that increased accuracy in their own respective standards of flight pattern.
It was so because, Flight Arrows were designed to utilize both the weight(drag) that was created by the heavier arrowheads as well as the force of the launch that was delivered by the bow. This created a combined effect where gravity would act as a secondary force along with the initial kinetic velocity at the time of impact. In such an instance a third feather along a horizontal axis would alter the arrow's flight arc making it glide for a longer duration as well as making it less prone to stalling down with an increased impact since the third feather would act as a counter weight to the arrowhead's drag while utilizing the propulsion force by keeping the arrow in a state of horizontal equilibrium. So the arrow instead of forcefully "nose diving" into the target would instead make a gentle "belly land" into the expanse beyond. Moreover, Flight Arrows were used more as a medieval form of single or multi waved artillery barrage rather than for sniping individual targets.
Target seeking arrows on the other hand were (mostly)used for short distance skirmishes where accuracy was of paramount importance. Since the duration from launch to impact and the distance of the archer from the target were short, there would be minimal loss of kinetic energy at the time of impact. A third feather on a horizontal axis would play the same role as mentioned above, by stabilizing the arrow during flight, and preventing gravitational drag to alter its course of flight on a short term basis.
Helically inclined feathers would be the "middle man" of sorts between these two types of arrows by offering spin motion to counter changes in flight pattern caused by the presence of a secondary force, i.e. heavy winds, rain and such, but the arrow constantly loses out on kinetic velocity due to the drag caused by the rotating tail end.
Another thing that is worth knowing is that the combat success of target seeking arrows puts importance on not only the quality(flexibility, weight, etc) of the arrows but the quality of the bows utilized as well. Since from the time of launch to that of the impact these arrows are driven only by the initial force imparted by the bow. Whereas Flight Arrows could be launched from short bows and bows made from weaker strains of wood and could still deliver a heavy impact over a short distance since the initial force is mostly utilized only till the extent when gravity starts to cause acceleration.
So all in all, a two bladed arrow is in its own way more accurate when used as a means of "dumb fire" form of barrage. But the three bladed arrow still is the more stable form of an arrow from an accuracy driven point of view.
But like you said, arrows can even have zero rear extensions like the ones used by the indigenous people of New Guinea as mentioned, but these arrows become more of short ranged projectiles rather than anything that could accurately be used over a long distance. They also hold a high probability of failing beyond a certain point after launch, meaning that even if the arrows do strike the target they do not end up penetrating it or only graze the target's surface because of dislocated centre of velocity when compared to the arrow's point of impact created by the rolling or yawing of the arrows sometime during its flight. These arrows would be effective on a really short range but I seriously doubt if they could even compete with the effectiveness(accuracy included) of hand thrown javelins on a moderate to long distance basis.
Since most of what I have explained is based on personal research I will have a hard time bringing references in here, but if such citations can be found then I do wish these few paragraphs can be incorporated into the article with a few minor edits to fit the overall context.
Again about the cock feather, its just that I was accustomed to phrases such as "notch the arrow" and "creak the bow" but I found the term "cock feather" odd. Even calling it a crest feather (after a cock's head crest) sounds more passable so it took me by surprise that people call it such. Was†ed(Ag@in) © 21:12, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
The perpendicular fletch is indeed traditionally called the cock fletch, though the term "index fletch" is more widely used these days. The idea that arrows with two fletches will be more accurate than arrows with three fletches is indeed quite wrong - such an arrow would tip and plane all over the place, unless the fletches were large and helically-applied.
On flight arrows, I assume you're talking about historical ones? Modern flight arrows are solid thin rods of graphite machined into a slightly barrelled shape, with a machined point. At the one flight shoot I've been to (RAF Church Fenton, 2007), the specialised flight arrows used by Barry Groves and Alan Webster all had three fletches.Mr Barndoor (talk) 13:47, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Related requested move[edit]

The usage of Arrows is under discussion, see Talk:Arrows, where the page is suggested to be renamed to Arrows (F1) so that it can be redirected to Arrow as the plural form. -- (talk) 13:34, 24 October 2012 (UTC)


The article says "Whenever natural fletching is used, the feathers on any one arrow must come from the same side of the bird. The slight twist in natural feathers then makes the arrow rotate in flight, which increases accuracy." Is this correct? If the arrow has flight fins (feathers) it surely should not need to spin for accuracy? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:19, 17 September 2013 (UTC)


Animal glue

Fish Skin glue

  • fish skin

Pine Resin/Pitch glue

  • resin
  • charcoal
  • rabbit dung

Birch tar was used widely as an adhesive as early as the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic era. Ends of fletching of arrows were fastened with birch-tar.

  • Tar kilns are Dry distillation ovens, historically used in Scandinavia for producing tar from wood. They were built close to the forest, from limestone or from more primitive holes in the ground. The bottom is sloped into an outlet hole to allow the tar to pour out. The wood is split into dimensions of a finger, stacked densely, and finally covered tight with dirt and moss. After a few hours, the tar starts to pour out and continues to do so for a few days. (talk) 00:57, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

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