You might be here from a Timmy Gillingham video where he talks about shooting 4 fletches on an arrow. Although I don’t personally shoot 4 fletches I admire your willingness to try it! So lets get you set up.
The steps to fletch a 4 vanes on an arrow are:
- Prepping the arrow
- Choosing the Fletch
- Setting up the jig
- Configuration of 4 fletches
Now that you know the steps lets get you that Timmy Gillingham Set up going.
Prepping the arrow
This is standard practice with all arrows especially if you already have vanes on your arrows. You’ll need to remove the fletches with a knife and scrape all the excess glue from the shaft. This can be tricky and may take a while but it is a necessary step if you want this set up to work. Run your knife parallel with the shaft so your scraping off the glue and not the carbon of the shaft.
Once you have all the glue removed then get some alcoholic wipes and wipe down the surface of the arrow where the fletch will be going, once you have done this try not to touch the shaft of the arrow with your hands as this will make the surface of where you’re gluing dirty again.
It’s not a very nice job to be doing but it is a necessary step. If you want more info on this you can read the following article where I give more info on cleaning arrows…
Choosing the fletch
Depending on what season it is you may have some considering to do. Any standard outdoor fletches will work for a 4 fletch configuration as they are usually only about 2″ in length. However for indoor season you need to choose carefully. As you’ll find out later in this post with fletching 4 vanes onto an arrow comes some clearance issues. This is why you need to consider your fletch carefully. Personally for 4 fletches I would rule out any 4″ vane. Trying to get clearance with a 4″ vane is difficult enough with 3 fletches let alone 4. The longest length that you are consistently going to get away with is somewhere between 3″-3.5″. For indoor fletches GasPro make they’re signature Dave Cousins series of indoor fletches with measure 2.8″ in length which would be perfect for a 4 fletch configuration.
You may need to mess around with different lengths of fletches to see what actually works for you, if I were you I would start at the longest vane that I had and I would work my way down the list to see what’s the longest fletch that clears your bow.
Setting up the Jig
The theory behind using 4 fletches is that you get more arrow rotation. The same can be said the longer your fletch is the more spin you get as well as how much of an offset you put on the fletch. This is all one big balancing act. We are looking for the longest possible fletch with the most spin possible (while still having full contact).
With 4 fletches you’re not going to be able to put a huge amount of spin on them as getting full contact with the fletch and the arrow is more important than having the fletch offset an extra half degree. So here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to zero your fletching jig. What I mean by this is making it so that there is no angle that the fletches will be going on at. You can sacrifice there not being any spin on your fletches because you’ll have an extra fletch on your arrow anyways. Now with 4 fletches you may be able to give it a half degree offset but nothing too crazy. If you are going to give it an offset please make sure that you are getting full contact with the arrow shaft to the fletch from tip to tail.
Configuration of 4 Fletches
I can’t speak for other fletching jigs but I do know that this is one of the reasons that the bitzenburger fletching jig is the best out there. It offers two versions of a 4 fletch configuration. One where the fletches are 90 degrees of one another and the other is…
If clearance is an issue for you, you should consider the second option as your blade might just be skinny enough to let it clear. With this option you shouldn’t be offsetting your fletches as two of your fletches on both sides of the arrows will be close together and that could possibly cause issues.
Personally I wouldn’t call the difference between the two a game changer but it is an excellent option if you are really struggling with clearance.
Now speaking of clearance..
This is the biggest issue when setting up 4 vanes on your arrow. I’ve talked a little bit about it throughout this article but here I am going to highlight any points you should know and issues I personally found.
Some factors will be like where exactly your nocking point is on your bow. If your nocking point is a little high then you my find it difficult to clear the fletches past your cables. If your bow allows you to move the cable guard you can mess around with that to possibly get more clearance. If not unfortunately you may have to redo your nocking point and tie it lower on your strings. Now that’s more of a drastic move and I would definitely save that one for last.
Another issue you may come across with clearance is the width of your blade. If the size of your blade is too large it’s going to be hitting off your fletch every time you shoot it until it strips the fletch off the arrow. This ones a double down because you’ll also be wearing out your blade a lot quicker than it should be.
As I said countless times in this article but it is a killer, the spin on your fletches is really going to get you if your running 4 fletches. Accompanied with the last reason (blade being too big), you’ll go through vanes like there’s no tomorrow.
To combat clearance you can have no spin on your fletches to ensure you get the least blade contact possible, however it’s very difficult to get 100% clearance. Now this goes against my better instincts but this is where drop away rests come into play. They will allow you to put some spin on your 4 fletched arrow without the worry of it hitting the blade on the way out. In my opinion a blade rest is undefeated, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? But there definitely is a time and place for a drop away rest.
And that’s all there is too it, everything you should know about fletching your arrow with 4 vanes. I must confess I still shoot 3 vanes even after going out and testing 4 vanes. But hey what works for me might not work for you so give it a whirl you don’t know till you try.