Arrow Vane Basics

By Cody Larrimore

standard vanes

What are the trade-offs in the different types of arrow vanes? Let’s focus on the two most common types:

Standard Vanes (Duravanes/Rubber Based):

Vanes are made of soft flexible plastic and are the popular choice for today’s archer. They’re inexpensive, easy to apply, quiet in flight, available in almost any size/color, and they can be easily fletched in a number of different patterns (straight – offset – helical). Since vanes are impervious to water, they make an excellent all-weather choice for hunting. In addition, they’re also relatively durable. Vanes can be crumpled and abused (up to a point of course) and they still pop back into shape… or they can be heat-treated with a hair dryer and made to pop back into shape. Either way, vanes aren’t nearly as delicate as feathers.

However, compared to feathers of the same size, vanes are heavier – as much as 3X the weight of a comparable length feather. And since most vanes have a smooth surface, they don’t “dig-into” the air as well as the rougher surface of feathers. So all other things being equal, vanes don’t stabilize arrow flight quite as well as feathers. But don’t make too big of a deal out of the vane’s limitations. For the vast majority of applications, they’re more than sufficient for the task.

Blazer Vane:

The standard Duravane style vane is an enduring staple item of the industry, and it’s the most widely used type of vane, but someone is always trying to invent a better mousetrap. So specialty vanes make a splash in the archery market periodically (Quikspin Vanes, Blazer Vanes, Vanetec High-Profile Vanes, Spin Wings, Bi-Delta Vanes, FOB’s, etc.). Of course, the “improved” vane designs tend to come and go over time, but the one specialty vane that seems to be hanging tough is the increasingly popular Blazer Vane, by The Bohning Company.

The Blazer Vane is a small stiff 2″ vane which is more plastic-like (urethane based) than rubber. Its claim to fame is three-fold. First, it’s a little tougher than rubber-based vanes, so it stands up to Whisker Biscuit abuse without distorting or wrinkling. Secondly, the surface of the Blazer Vane isn’t smooth, it’s textured slightly to “bite” into the air better than smooth vanes. And finally, the manufacturer claims that the unique shape of the vane – specifically the straight leading edge – provides some kind of aerodynamic benefit. Over the past few seasons, we’ve begun to see our customers opting for High-Profile Vanes more and more often.

The only obvious downsides to High-Profile Vanes are increased cost (roughly +$5 p/dozen arrows over standard Duravanes) and the fact that they can be harder to fletch.

Fletching Turn

Another factor that determines the effectiveness of your fletching is the turn of the fletch. If your fletching is arranged in a helical (spiral) pattern — like a boat propeller — your arrow will rotate in flight. Much like a football that’s thrown with a perfect spiral, an arrow will fly straighter and be more stable if it rotates in-flight. Aerodynamically, a helical configuration is clearly a better choice. However, a helical fletch may not always be appropriate or necessary for your particular bow setup. For example, some arrow rests will not provide enough clearance to allow a helical fletch to pass thru without contact. In this case, many archers use an offset fletch, where the vanes are still straight, rather than in a spiral pattern, but they are slightly turned on the shaft to promote some rotation in-flight without compromising fletching clearance.

For very unforgiving arrow rests with limited clearance, or for competition target setups that don’t require much stabilization, the straight fletch may be the best option.

Via: All Outdoor

Category: Hunting, Shooting, Arrow Vanes


Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.