You can shoot arrows with plastic vanes off the shelf. When shooting off the arrow shelf, you need to take note of a few factors, such as your arrows’ fletchings and bow.
Before we dive into the question of shooting arrows with plastic vanes off a shelf, let’s first know what an arrow shelf is. An arrow shelf, or simply shelf, is typical in recurve and compound bows. As the name implies, this horizontal part of the bow is where you can put your arrow before you shoot it.
If you want to shoot arrows off the shelf, you should consider arrows —one of the most significant factors. Feather and plastic vanes are the two most common types of fletchings for arrows.
You can use either of the two to shoot arrows off the shelf. Yes, you read that right. You can shoot plastic vanes, even though it is not the best material for the job.
Arrows with feather fletchings are the best option for shooting off the shelf. These arrows glide smoothly on the arrow shelf when you shoot them. They are even faster when shot, and archers tend to have better aim accuracy using feathers.
On the other hand, plastic vanes have a high chance of bouncing off the arrow shelf, often resulting in an erratic flight and poor aim accuracy. However, there’s still hope for those who prefer plastic vanes!
Some archers opt to fine-tune their bows to solve the issue of bouncy arrows and wobbly arrow flights when shooting plastic vanes off the shelf.
One of the alternatives is padding the arrow shelf with extra fur. This way, you can still use plastic vanes to shoot off the arrow shelf without any problems.
Is it better to shoot off the shelf?
Many archers prefer to shoot off the shelf, even claiming that they aim better with this technique. It’s simpler and easier to do. When paired with the right arrow fletching, it’s even more efficient.
Shooting off the shelf is straightforward. When you shoot off the arrow shelf, you place your arrow close to your hand when you draw it. This technique often ends up in a successful shot.
Because your arrow is close to your hand, you’ll have better stability and grip. The position also helps with instinctive shooting and helps you aim your target better. As a result, archers prefer to shoot off the shelf.
Before you decide on shooting off the shelf long-term, the first factor you should consider is your bow. It may be surprising to know that not all bows come with a shelf when you purchase them, especially considering that this part is one of the most common parts of bows.
On the other hand, some bows have shelves but are not wide enough for most arrows. There are also recurve bows built a certain way so you can shoot arrows off their shelf.
Take a closer look at the arrow shelf. How would you know if the design of a recurve bow is specifically for shooting off the shelf? If the shape of the arrow shelf has a slight hump instead of it being flat, it’s like an invitation for you to shoot off of it.
Remember, shooting off the arrow shelf is even better when using the right bow. Moreover, as good as this technique sounds, there are still some disadvantages.
For instance, the shelf is not adjustable, which means that you will have less scope for tuning. This technique is also less accurate due to the contact between the vanes and the shelf, but you can adjust your aim to resolve this concern.
Frequent contact with the shelf may also damage your arrows in the long run. For instance, your fletchings may tear from the shaft. This disadvantage leads us to the second factor you should consider when shooting off the shelf: always consider your arrows.
Generally, arrows with feather fletchings perform better than those with plastic vanes. With feather fletchings, your arrow will smoothly pass by the shelf because the feathers compress upon contact with the arrow shelf.
On the other hand, plastic vanes bounce off the shelves unless you make minor adjustments to your arrow shelf. The vanes are also rigid, making them vulnerable to being torn from the shaft easier than feather fletchings.
We will discuss the difference between these arrows in the latter part of the article.
Do you need an arrow rest?
You can put and use an arrow rest on your bow. The rest don’t add significant weight to your bow, so it shouldn’t be a major problem. This bow part also protects the wood on your bow.
Arrow rests are not necessary, but they have some advantages. For instance, the arrow rest helps you keep the arrow in place when you are drawing the bow.
The rest also prevents the feather fletching or plastic vanes from hitting the shelf when you shoot arrows. Hence, you can protect your arrows from significant wear and tear.
Despite the advantages, some people still consider arrow rests as less traditional. It’s also additional equipment that can break or come loose over time. However, to every disadvantage, there’s always a remedy.
First, being less traditional should not be a problem if you are not trying to impress someone with your bow. If it protects your arrow and your shelf and serves its purpose well, what’s there to be wary of?
Second, while it’s true that the rest is only an additional part of your bow, it brings more good than harm. Arrow rests are not significantly heavy, and there are kinds of rests that you can use wherein you won’t even really notice that it’s there.
Lastly, yes, arrow rests can break or loosen, just like any part of any equipment. It’s always a good idea to bring backups when the arrow rest you are using breaks. Arrow rests, fortunately, are most often inexpensive.
Moreover, if you are a DIY kind of archer or you want an option that’s more cost-efficient, you can always try some alternatives to arrow rests.
For instance, you can use felt pads, the same ones that you use at the bottom of your chair or table legs. They are easy to cut and customize and have adhesive on the back, making them easier to stick on your shelf.
Another thing that you can use is a hook and loop tape, most commonly called Velcro. Use the softer side of the Velcro, not the rough one. Velcro is also easy to cut into shape, and you can use an adhesive to stick it on your shelf.
Are feathers more accurate than vanes?
When you shoot arrows off a shelf, arrows with feather fletchings perform better and are more accurate than those with plastic vanes. The arrow smoothly travels when you shoot feather fletchings off an arrow shelf. Meanwhile, plastic vanes bounce off the shelf.
If you plan to shoot off the shelf, you must know that your choice of arrows affects your performance. The thing that you should heavily consider is your arrow’s fletching. Arrows with feather fletchings are the best option for shooting off the shelf.
“Why are feathers better or more accurate than vanes?” you may ask. When you shoot arrows with feather fletchings, the feathers compress when they come in contact with or brush by the shelf. This compression allows the arrow to have a smooth flight and, in most cases, better aim accuracy.
As much as possible, avoid using arrows with plastic vanes as there’s a high probability that they will hit the shelf and bounce off it. Hence, the arrow flight won’t be smooth compared to arrows with feather fletchings.
An erratic arrow flight also results in poor aim accuracy.
Since the plastic vanes are rigid, there’s a chance that in the long run, you can damage not only the vanes but also your bow.
What size vanes should I use?
The size of your vanes depends on whether you will use them for outdoor or indoor shooting. Smaller or shorter vanes perform well in outdoor shooting, while longer or taller vanes perform well in an indoor shooting.
Arrows used for indoor shooting are commonly wider in diameter (around three to four inches) and heavier. When you are shooting indoors, the distance between you and the target isn’t too big, so the arrow needs to stabilize faster to hit the target accurately.
Because of the characteristics of these vanes, the arrow stabilizes faster. Thus, it flies smoothly towards the center of the target despite the short distance. Hence, longer or taller vanes are perfect for indoor shooting.
It’s also beneficial that you don’t have to consider distance and wind resistance for indoor shooting. Simply put, the more surface area your arrow and fletching have, the faster it will slow down mid-flight to stabilize itself and maintain a straight path towards the target.
Hence, archers are not encouraged to use a longer or taller vane for outdoor shooting because there’s a chance that the arrow will fall to the ground before it reaches the target.
On the other hand, distance and wind resistance are huge factors if you shoot outdoors. Hence, the arrows used for outdoor archery activities are thin with shorter or smaller vanes (around 1.75 to 2.25 inches).
Thin arrows with shorter or smaller vanes provide the required amount of stabilization to hit the target from a far distance accurately.
How do you keep the arrow from falling off the rest when shooting a recurve bow?
To keep arrows from falling off the rest, identify and correct the leading causes. For instance, if your grip on the bowstring is too tight, relax your muscles and hold the bowstring properly. Also, don’t use a bow with a draw weight heavier than you can handle.
If you are a novice in archery, your arrows will fall off your arrow rest a few (or many) times. However, don’t let frustration get the best of you. There are a few factors that cause your arrows to fall off from your arrow rest. These factors include finger tension, grip, and draw weight.
The first possible cause of arrows falling off the rest is finger tension. Finger tension means that you may be gripping the bowstring too tightly. Instead of holding the bowstring tightly, place it between the first and second joints of your ring, middle, and index fingers.
Adjust the placement of the bowstring as you see fit. When you are ready to draw the bow, ensure that you are holding the bowstring in place with enough tension to prevent it from slipping off your fingers.
While drawing your bow, relax your hand and keep the back of your hand flat. This way, you won’t be gripping your bowstring too tightly, and your arrow will travel mid-air smoothly.
The next possible cause of arrows falling off the rest is too much draw weight of your bow. If the bow’s draw weight is too heavy for you, you will end up pulling the bowstring with too much tension, to the point of gripping it—tense muscle results in twisted arrow and poor release.
How would you know if your bow’s draw weight is too much for you? Draw your bow and hold it for ten seconds. You should adjust your bow’s draw weight if you didn’t sustain that draw position.
It is important to remember that beginner archers start with a draw weight that matches their weight. As they gain strength and experience over time, they can slowly increase the draw weight of their bow.