If you didn’t know that wood fletchings could be used on an arrow, join the club.
One of the best parts of learning history is the hidden gems you occasionally find. Sure, understanding the big events and trends in history is important, but sometimes the tiniest detail can be important as well. Details are like the individual drops of paint on a canvas. When viewed at a distance, the painting is what stands out. At the smallest level though, the painting is nothing more than a culmination of the individual drops. Sort of like history.
One area of history that is particularly interesting to me is the history of archery. Learning about the important people, events, and the timeline of our great pastime, personally adds more enjoyment to the sport itself. In my historical digging I’ve uncovered a few gems in our history, some of which really surprised me. Recently I learned an interesting tidbit I never would have expected. In Medieval times archers used wood fletchings on their crossbow bolts. What?
I first came upon this revelation through this Youtube video. Watch and enjoy.
The presenter makes a few good points. Wood fletchings would certainly last longer than feathered fletchings, and wouldn’t need nearly as much TLC as feathers either. You can imagine that with an army full of crossbow archers, the advantage of having wooden fletchings would have been tremendous.
The fact that Medieval archers used wood fletchings isn’t completely unknown. With a quick google search you can pull up several results on the subject. On one website the admin even posted a picture was what appears to be hand crafted wooden crossbow bolts with wooden fletchings. The fact that some people are still keeping this ancient art alive is a bit inspiring to me.
Today we obviously don’t use wood fletchings all that much. The most popular fletching today are likely Blazer vanes. These compact plastic vanes have proven to be very sturdy, durable, and accurate. They can be used and abused, shot while wet, and need absolutely no maintenance. I would hazard a guess that if we were still using crossbows in warfare, the Blazer vane would likely be the fletching of choice.
This brief Youtube video reenforces what we already know to be true; you can never stop learning. If archery is your passion, you can continually learn more and more about the sport. Not only will it make you a better archer in the end, it will also help you pass on more knowledge about the rich history of the sport.