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Feather fletching
Feather fletching
Plastic fletching (also known as vanes)
Plastic fletching (also known as vanes)

Fletching is the ancient art of aerodynamically stabilizing arrows from materials such as feathers. The English-language surname "Fletcher" derives from this term, meaning "one who fletches." It is sometimes generally used for an arrow-maker, not only for someone restricted to this step of the process. The word is related to the French word flèche, meaning "arrow," via Old French; the ultimate root is Frankish *fliukka.

As a noun, fletching refers to the fins or vanes attached to an arrow, each of which fins is known as a fletch. Traditionally, the fletching consists of three matched half-feathers attached near the back of the arrow or dart's shaft that are equally spaced around its circumference. Today, modern plastics may be used instead. Fletches are traditionally attached with silk thread but simpler methods are also used, such as gluing. The fletching is used to stabilize the arrow through air resistance in flight. Some fletches act to impart a spin on the projectile, but all are there to impart a drag on the tail of the projectile to ensure that it does not tumble during flight.

More generally, it can refer to any structures added to a projectile in order to aerodynamically stabilize its flight, many of which resemble arrows in form and function. For instance, the feathers at the butt end of a dart (of the type cast using an atlatl) are very similar in purpose and construction to those used in arrows. Most of the techniques of fletching were likely adapted from earlier dart-making techniques. The fins used to stabilize rockets also work in a similar manner.

[edit] Further reading

  • Massey, Jim. (1992). "Self Arrows" in The Traditional Bowyer's Bible - Volume One, (Jim Hamm, ed.). Guilford: The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-58574-085-3
  • Engh,Douglas Topic "Arrows" in "Archery Fundamentals". Human Kinetics ISBN 0-73605-501-0

(Source: Wikipedia)
 
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