Traditional Archery Gear – Arrow Shafts

Source: Stick & String Adventures Podcast – Episode 27 – Archers Roundtable

The Continuing Conversation between


Ned Miller – Do you guys have a preference or recommendation for new archers for a particular type of wood for shafting?

Nick Viau – Port Orford Cedar.  I’m cedar all the way.  I’ve shot pretty much everything.  I started with laminant birch.  Then I went to chundoo pine because it’s cheap.  I went to P.O.C. (Port Orford Cedar).  I’ve also shot ash.  I experimented with ash for a while. And doug fir actually.

“I know a lot of guys really swear by doug fir.  I’m not crazy about it because of the way it breaks.”

I think the shaft I like the least is probably the laminant birch.  It’s suppose to be easier to straiten.  They didn’t work very well.  I know a lot of guys really swear by doug fir.  I’m not crazy about it because of the way it breaks.  It’s really jagged on the inside.  It gets really chippy and moisture really seems to have its way with those.  If you don’t get a good shaft batched up first, you’re in for some problems.  My dad just put one into his hand the other day.  that wasn’t a very good situations.  I haven’t tried poplar yet.  I’ve always wanted to.  I know it’s a little cheaper.  P.O.C followed by Chundoo are my two favorites.

Ned Miller – That’s good to hear.  I think just from a market perspective, P.O.C definitely has the market.  From what I’ve seen, it seems to be the most preferred shaft out there. Personally, I like P.O.C. and I like sitka spruce a lot.

Nick Viau – I’ve never tried spruce

Jason Albert – I like sitka spruce a lot, but it is a little more expensive.  That’s why I recommend port orford cedar from the get go.  I like the sitka spruce because, for me, it seems like it’s stronger and theirs not much of a weight difference.

Ned Miller – It takes a little bit more work to work with a sitka spruce shaft.  It’s a little hairier.  You have to work with it a bit more.  It is more expensive.  If I were a new time archer, I wouldn’t start with it. But, give it a shot once your into this for a little while.

Nick Viau – I will say that no matter what you buy, no matter what you go with. A lot of them make some nice arrows, but it’s quality of shafting.  I’ve learned that the hard way from day one.  Except for the last few months, I’ve never bought a premium set of shafts.  I’ve always done whatever was twenty bucks.  second grade stuff that has knots and weren’t that strait.  It’s not that they just don’t hold up, it’s just that they don’t fly as consistent as the premiums do.  There’s a reason why they’re premium.  They’re okay for your stump shooting.  They’re great for practicing, I’ll say that.  Sometimes I think it’s okay to buy a snakier shafts instead of a premium shaft because it helps you practice your straightening.  Which is the hardest part of arrow making in my opinion.  I’ve worked on a lot of really bad shafts for a long time before I figured all that out.  It’s okay to experiment, but at least spend the money and get a nice set of shafts for your target shafts or for your hunting shafts  Especially if you’re hunting.

Ned Miller – I couldn’t agree with you more on that. It’s like anything else.  You do kinda get what you pay for.  There is no difference with that.  One shaft we didn’t talk about…  I don’t recommend it for a new archer based on price alone, but what about bamboo shafting?  What’s your experience with that, guys?

Nick Viau – I’ve never tried it so you would be the bamboo guy, Ned.

Ned Miller – What about you, Jason?  Have you tried it?

Jason Albert – I haven’t tried bamboo, but I have tried making my own river cane arrows.

Ned Miller – Okay.  Not a whole lot of difference.  Same basic concept.

Jason Albert – the one thing I have to say about it is that it is a lot of work.

Ned Miller – Yes it is.  From a durability standpoint, they’re tough as nails.  I’ve shot them directly into two-by-fours, directly into real hard wood, I’ve hit metal with them and they haven’t broken.  These are tough, tough shafts.

Jason Albert – They act like a spring.

Ned Miller – Oh yeah, it’s amazing. But you’re right.  They’re harder to work with.  They’re a lot more detailed and advanced to work with.  Putting in the nocks and putting in the tips and just working it the right way.

Here’s one of the perspective I’ll throw out there.  Just from somebody that’s had some experience selling new arrows to new archers.  There’s a lot of different choices out their.  I think it depends on the level of how new you are.  Did you read a lot?  Did you just talk to somebody?  It depends on what level you’re at.  When it comes down to shafting, you’ve got parallel shafts.  You’ve got tapered shafts. You have all these different styles, all these different woods.  From somebody that sells some shafts and sells finished arrows.  I like giving consumers or archers options.But, I like to make it real basic at the same time.  Only because, when you add all these choices, people get confused.  They get frustrated.  I don’t want to force anybody out of the sport by making it too complicated at the same time.

Jason Albert – Right.  I say when you are starting off the bat…  Start cheap.  Even me today.  I’ve been doing it for a while and I’m still forever changing.  I’m going to buy more bows.  I’m going to buy different arrows.  I’m still forever changing.  So, figure out what you like and don’t like right off the bat with the cheap stuff.

Ned Miller – Yeah, I think that’s great advice.



About rasherquivers

Owner/Operator of Rasher Quivers
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One Response to Traditional Archery Gear – Arrow Shafts

  1. HunterArchery says:

    I have shot traditional on and off for about 40 years. I’ve worked with Port Orford Cedar shaft and Chundoo shafts exclusively.
    I prefer Port Orford Cedar Shafts for a variety of reasons.
    1) POC is traditionally correct from my point of view for Traditional shooting and bow hunting.
    2) I Love the aroma of POC above anything else and love working with that material because of its great aroma. I find myself saving shavings and pieces of it and just putting them in the dresser drawers and such not only for it’s scent but it also makes a good mothproofing agent as well.
    I have always used parallel shafts only and I have worked with Bohning products myself despite the very strong odor of the lacquer paints and finishes.
    With that said though I have made some beautiful looking arrows using the above products.
    I agree that straightening would shafts out can be a challenge especially for a beginner. It can be a lot of work and tricky as well. The one tool that I have found helpful for this is the Apple Archery Spin Tester. I’ve tried a variety of methods of checking shafts for bends including rolling them over a glass top surface on top of perhaps a coffee table which clearly shows where the bends are as well. But I have found that the Apple Archery Spine Tester makes it a little easier and that I can move the shaft to the left or right and check it in the center or more on the ends as well find me where the bends are or not.
    The Apple Spinner is also a excellent tool when mounting broadheads to be able to spin the shaft afterwords and check for Brodhead alignment. If the broadheads are not perfectly aligned you will see a wobble when spinning the shaft and thus can correct it.
    I have shot aluminum arrows quite a bit for Traditional shooting. And I have also shot carbon shafts out of my compound bows – and I know some guys like them for Traditional shooting as well and state that they work very well – which I’m sure they do due to the straightness tolerances of them. I am sure this is true. The one thing about carbon shafts are they are virtually a no maintenance shaft that remains true consistently. They either break or they are straight. That’s it! They virtually require no maintenance other than just checking them for any cracks or such that compromise the integrity.
    However as you know we traditionalists don’t really care about what’s necessarily easier or necessarily more advanced and modern.
    I personally don’t.
    I derive a lot of enjoyment working with POC shafts in-general. In my opinion wood is one of the most beautiful mediums to work with and create Beautiful highly functional arrows and I have no plans on going back to aluminums or using carbons for any of my traditional shooting. As G. Fred Asbell said in his first book ‘INSTINCTIVE SHOOTING’ – and I quote – he said ” I don’t shoot wood arrows because I think they are better. I shoot wood arrows because I like the idea of wood arrows.” And he is correct. I don’t shoot them myself because I think they are superior in any way or necessarily better than anything else. I shoot them because I like them and I like making them. And I like the way they look when they are made and finished! They are beautiful works of art from a natural God given creation here on earth that I don’t feel even modern technology at its best can duplicate on our best day!
    This is a nice blog and forum that I just happened to see today on Facebook and wanted to make a quick comment on as such.
    So I had to, because I personally had battled with this myself for a while on “What do I want to shoot out of my 1971-73 Bear Kodiak Magnum?”
    Well, in the end I chose wood! POC to be exact.
    While I know it will require more work and such – it’s a labor of love as far as I am concerned and I enjoy it. It’s a fun thing to do on days of really bad weather or when one can’t go out hunting or such and when hunting season is now over with and someone is looking for something fun to do during the winter perhaps when the weather is really bad outside.

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