note that there are multiple ways to build these arrows, this is not the
“only” or even the “right” way. I am not an expert
by a long shot, but I have found that this method works the best for both
myself and my students.
you will need:
- 5 foot sticks of
100 psi Siloflex equivalent Polyethylene Pipe. Please go to www.combat-archery.com
for a list of equivalents. You will get 2 arrows per stick.
- PVC pipe cutters,
- Leather punch,
- #6.5 white gum
undrilled rubber stoppers.
- 1” diameter
good quality monofilament strapping tape. Please do not use cheap strapping
tape, Scotch 3M is highly recommended. If you use bargain strapping
tape you will save some change at the register, but your arrows will
quickly fail due to the cheap adhesive and you will find yourself restrapping
your arrows prematurely.
- Cordage. Either
1/8” polypropylene cord (avoid nylon, it unties itself) or doubled
lengths of artificial sinew and leather sewing needle.
- Closed cell foam
pads, 1 3/8 or 1 1/2 inch diameter and 1 inch thick. See the Install
the Foam Pad section below on how to make foam choices.
- Scissors, and razor
blade or matte knife.
- Duct tape, red.
- Duct tape, any
- Nocking system
- Labels and clear
packaging tape to cover them.
If you want to fletch
your arrows by the one piece slot/foam method which I really love you
also will need:
- Drill and 7/32"
- Measuring tape.
- Craft foam (Wal
Mart nonadhesive “Foamie”) or 1/8” neoprene, which
likes to tear and needs to be reinforced with duct tape.
- Vinyl electrical
tape, any color.
- Rotary cutting
tool, such as a Dremel, with cutting wheel.
You have to have some kind of nock in your arrow, that goes without saying.
You can’t just cut V notches into the Siloflex: something needs
to be put in there to keep dirt out and keep the end of your arrow from
collapsing if it is stepped upon. You may not use PVC components or metal,
and film cans crush like paper. You also cannot put anything inside the
pipe to stiffen it: just the end.
It is acceptable to use soda pop bottle caps as nocks by gluing and then
drilling/tying them in place and cutting a V into them. I do not know
how to do that, but I have read about it. There also may be other equally
valid and effective nocking systems out there I haven’t encountered,
so feel free to look around.
The Ramin wood Saint Artemas nocks very popular here in Caid will not
work with these blunts. A Saint Artemas nock weighs 30 grams while a rubber
stopper/foam blunt weighs 20 grams: your arrow is going to fly sideways
and/or swap ends if you try to use them (and believe me, we tried to find
So, before you begin, you need to decide what type of nocking system you
want to use. I prefer to use Siloflex nocks made of 160 psi Siloflex stoppered
with half a used wine cork. If you want to try that, go to the “Siloflex
nock” article on this web page which will show you how to make and
install these guys. But it does make a difference as the length you are
going to cut your blanks depends on what type of nocking system you are
planning to use!!
Step One: Prepare the Arrow Blanks.
You already have decided what nocking system you want to use. Remember
that according to Society standards the maximum length an arrow can be
is 28 inches from the base of the blunt to the V notch of the nock. So
if you are going to use a Siloflex nock, cut your blanks to 28 inches.
If you are going to use a self V notch or pop bottle cap method, cut them
longer, like 30 inches, to allow for mistakes you can cut off.
Using the leather punch or drill, drill or punch 6 small holes comparable
to the diameter of your cordage around one end of the blank.
If you want to fletch, now jump to the Fletching section near the end
of the article and install the fletching cuts.
Step Two: Install the Rubber Stopper.
The rubber stopper now needs to be wedged into the end of the pipe where
you punched your holes. It will only go in about 1/3 of the way and this
is normal. A small screwdriver or metal nail file can be helpful to wedge
it in place: pounding is pointless.
Using your cordage or artificial sinew, lace the rubber stopper tightly
in place. Tie a square knot on the side of the stopper and not the top.
Pull three pieces of your strapping tape and tape the stopper down, spreading
the pieces of tape down the sides of the pipe to make maximum contact
Pull a fourth piece and wrap it sideway around the circumference of the
pipe right where the rubber stopper and the pipe meet. This anchors the
first three pieces of tape in place and protects your cordage and knot.
Step Three: Install the Foam Pad.
Remember Society standard calls for 1 inch of closed cell foam padding
on these arrows. Side wrappings are not necessary. So if your foam is
less than 1 inch thick you need to build them up till they are.
You need to use closed cell foam, not open cell like a sponge or eggcrate
foam. (Closed cell foam is watertight and will float.) Please choose your
foam carefully. Blue camping mats sold by Wal Mart, Target et al are closed
cell, but please avoid using them. In the first place they are only 3/8”
thick so you need to glue 3 layers together to get an inch: and in the
second place the quality is variable and mostly poor: they last an average
of 5 shots before they decide not to spring back anymore and then you
have to replace them. You can get good quality foam if you look around.
Look for crosslinked polyethylene, polyurethane or polyolefin materials
such as the “Minicell” brand, which I use. If nothing else,
go to your local army/navy surplus store and buy their sleeping mats:
they are made to military spec and if nothing else are relatively consistent
in their quality. Hit the foam with a hammer several times if you’re
in doubt to see how long it’s going to live when shot from your
bow, and remember to use common sense: if the foam you’re considering
feels like either concrete or mush it is not going to work and the marshal
is going to fail your arrows.
OK, you’ve found the foam of your dreams. Cut 1 3/8" or 1 1/2”
circles and make sure they’re 1 inch thick. Put your precious pad
on top of the taped stopper and pull 3 more pieces of strapping tape.
Tape the pad down the sides of the pipe as you did the stopper and be
sure not to compress the pad while doing so. Then pull a fourth piece
and wrap it circumferentially around the blunt right where the foam pad
and the rubber stopper meet.
Pull two pieces of your red duct tape: remember the striking surface of
your arrow needs to be red. Cover the blunt with the red duct tape till
it’s covered. Then pull one piece of your any color duct tape and
wrap it again circumferentially around the arrow below the rubber stopper
level if you can (feel for it).
Using your razor or matte knife, trim off any pieces of strapping tape
that protrude below that last piece of duct tape. Any strapping tape left
exposed will degrade and unravel, and look sloppy besides. So off with
Step Four (Optional): Fletch.
go to the “Fletching” section if you want to fletch by the
one piece slot/foam method. Remember that most any soft material such
as foam, duct tape, feathers, etc can be used to fletch combat archery
arrows. But if you want to use the one piece slot/foam method that I like
you need to do it before the nock goes on.
Step Five: Install the Nock:
is going to be a short section. Remember that a nock can only protrude
1/2” past the end of the arrow to be legal. So if you are cutting
self nocks via the pop bottle cap method or any other self nock method
keep this in mind. If you are using Siloflex nocks and have made them
yourself, you’ve made sure that your nock vee is 1/2” or less,
right? Go ahead and nock your arrows.
Step Six: Mark Your Arrows.
Your arrows need to be labeled in English with your name, kingdom and
local area of play. Other identifying information such as warband, etc,
helps too. Label your arrows and cover the label with clear packaging
tape to protect the writing. You also can crest your arrows with brightly
colored duct or electrical tape to make for easy spotting on the field.
Fletching Your Arrows:
Fletches can be made of just about soft anything. This method describes
the one piece/ slot method which is Society approved and works very, very
well. I use it on all of my arrows and crossbow bolts. They really do
fly better if they are fletched.
Here is a pattern for the one piece fletch. Wal Mart (non-adhesive) craft
“Foamies” sheets work beautifully to make these. If you have
neoprene that works too but be forewarned—neoprene likes to tear
while you are pulling it into place and it is best to cover neoprene fletches
with duct tape to aid in their longevity—and they’ll last
pretty much forever, much longer than craft foam if you want to take the
extra time/hassle for immortal fletches. Suit yourself.
(Thanks to Brun Canutesson, Middle Kingdom, for the
Step One: Cut
Measure 2 inches from the end of your arrow (without nock) and drill a
7/32 hole completely through the pipe—leather punch won’t
do it. Then with the measuring tape measure up 2 3/4” (or a bit
more) and then drill another hole, again completely through the pipe.
The purposeof these holes is to prevent the slot you are about to cut
from extending itself any further (“stop holes”).
Step Two: Cut the Connecting Slots.
Using a rotary cutting tool such as a Dremel with a cutting wheel, cut
a slot connecting the first stop hole to the second stop hole. Wear gloves
as some of the plastic will melt and sting your skin if it lands on it.
If you are a fussbudget, angle the slot ever so slightly so that you start
at the bottom of the first stop hole and end up at the
top of the second, and exactly the opposite on the other
side. This very minor detail will make your fletch spiral ever so slightly,
so your arrows spin beautifully once you loose them.
Flip the arrow over and cut another slot on the other side, connecting
the stop holes.
If any gunks of melted plastic cling to the slots, trim them off with
your razor or matte knife.
Step Three: Pull the Fletch Through.
Self explanatory. Push the one piece fletch through one slot and then
pull it out the other side and center it. If the fletch rips, feel free
to cuss if nobody’s listening.
Step Four: Close Up the Stop Holes.
The stop holes are now dirt portals. Pull two pieces of duct or vinyl
electrical tape of your choice color and tape over them by wrapping a
piece circumferentially around the arrow bottom and top. Don’t bunch
the fletches while doing so.
Happy Combat Archery!!