Bamboo Arrow University2019-07-16T14:57:59+00:00
Todd Mathis shooting bamboo arrows

TODD MATHIS

Professional Arrow Maker

Most of us have experienced the frustration of trying to find good advice on how to make great wooden arrows that work for us. I certainly never found good advice on ANY wooden arrow by calling the usual places. Heck, I often got bad advice on carbon arrows! When I called a wooden arrow maker, typically calls weren’t returned and when I called back I often found an irascible fellow who wouldn’t explain much and knew little or nothing about bamboo arrows. Being dependent on such a process can only lead to disappointment. As a custom arrow maker, I can only make so many good matching arrows in a week. But I do sell the highest quality bamboo and heads too. It is simply good business to show archers how to make great arrows. I Hope this website empowers you to finally get what you want!

WELCOME TO BAMBOO ARROW UNIVERSITY

If this website inspires and empowers you to learn the lifetime skill of making your own perfect arrows any way you want, you may want to start with buying high quality bamboo.  

SHOP FOR HIGH QUALITY BAMBOO ARROW SHAFTS

What you will find in the 3 levels of this course.

Getting Started – The Basic Skills

  • How to measure the length of an arrow

  • How to measure the static spine of an arrow

  • How to properly place a nock

  • The cult of the “exploding arrow”.

  • How to get minor curves and bends out of a bamboo arrow without breaking it.

  • Why heavy arrows actually are a better choice for any archer at normal shooting distances.

  • Those tiny details….

  • How to fletch a bamboo arrow

LET'S GET STARTED

An early choice you will need to make is whether you want the current traditional style of glue- on heads or the much older traditional style of insert arrow heads.  The choice is up to you. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT INSERT HEADS
LEARN MORE ABOUT GLUE-ON HEADS

LONG AGO A MENTOR EXPLAINED TO ME ABOUT “THE VIRTUOUS CYCLE”, AND “THE VICIOUS CYCLE”.

The virtuous cycle is the opposite of the vicious cycle.  Of course, this is applicable to most choices we make in life, but in archery, here is how it worked for me.  Perhaps it sounds familiar to you?

When your arrows don’t really group all that well, the problem could be any number of things.  That’s the vicious cycle.  You make changes, and start chasing your previous shot around the target.  “Why did that arrow hit there?”  Maybe the problem is not only your form.  Maybe your archery form needs improvement, but maybe it is your equipment too?  I certainly spent my time chasing a group around the target face at 20 yards with a wonderful bow, and arrows that were nowhere near what I should have been shooting.  However, WHEN YOU CAN depend on your arrows to group tightly, and one arrow doesn’t go into the group, then the problem was your form.  This informs you on what you need to improve. 

If you are not careful, this inevitably leads to you splitting your own arrows.  

WHEN I SPLIT FIVE ARROWS OVER 3 WEEKS, I DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO CELEBRATE OR CRY.

Those who knew me when I transitioned from carbon to wooden arrows will recall how erratic my shots were.  We all agreed that the arrows were not matched to my bow, but NO ONE, including the large online outlets knew how to spine a carbon or wooden arrow to a horse bow.  In fact, most archery suppliers didn’t even know what a horse bow was.  That was 25 years ago.  Happily this is not the case any longer.  I did finally get started in the right direction from a bow maker, and began to understand how to properly match an arrow to a bow.  Of course, I didn’t know what bad bamboo looked like until I somehow laid my hands on good bamboo.  That created even more questions.  25 years later, I have now arrived at enough answers to find a “sweet spot” between bamboo arrow and traditional bow which allows me to start splitting my own arrows.  At first I thought I was just having an extraordinarily good day on the range.  After so many busted arrows, I now know that my days of mindlessly standing on the range and “plinking” 20 arrows are over.  I actually have to go down after 3 or 4 shots and pull them.  Well OK!  Somehow I’ll struggle through it all!

floating anchor point

JUST SO YOU KNOW…

Due to all the health issues that confront me, my days of shooting outside are very limited.  Here is what I expect of myself and my arrows.  I expect to stand at a 20 yard range and shoot 20 arrows into a target with this horse bow, using my thumb draw, with a floating anchor point, and group EVERY arrow into the red ring  or better.  Do I always achieve this goal?  HARDLY!  But that’s what I expect to do because I am CERTAIN my arrows will get there.  The rest is up to me.  This is the kind of challenge I love.

NOW LET ME ASK YOU.  WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

IN THE END, YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO RAISE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  

By having perfect confidence in your arrows, you can focus on the real problems you have in archery; shooting form and fatigue.  One thing leads to another.  That’s the virtuous cycle instead of the vicious cycle.  

Advanced Bamboo Arrow Making practices

  • An Overview of Tonkin River Reed

  • How best to measure the static spine of a bamboo arrow

  • What is the “archer’s paradox” all about, and how an arrow maker use it for tight groups?

  • How Arrow Weight effects the dynamic spine of an arrow

  • How arrow length effects the dynamic spine of an arrow

  • The Archer’s Paradox Renamed

  • How the balance point of an arrow effects arrow flight

  • Why heavy arrows are a better choice for traditional archers.

  • Tuning arrows with heads of different weights

READ MORE

JUST HOW TOUGH IS GOOD BAMBOO?

Khan’s arrows sells closely matched sets of U-Fletch arrows in any length or spine you want. You are perfectly free to fletch them yourself with any feather you care to use. Our finished arrows are all made with common and readily available 5 inch, left wing, shield cut feathers in either black, white, or barred colors. Lastly, my feathers are glued down to stay! I recently put one through a 4 layer wall and not only was the arrow just fine, but the feathers were completely in place and undamaged. To see the video, click here.

2 dozen of my own black arrows just like I want them2!

Making Entire sets that are tuned to group tightly – What I have learned.

 

READ MORE
  • The Arrow Maker’s Conundrum

  • Why Arrows Scatter

  • Finding the “sweet spot” – A Case Study

FINDING HIGH QUALITY BAMBOO IS THE FIRST CRITICAL STEP TO SUCCESS

When I started buying them 20 years ago, I got crooked pieces and brittle pieces quite often. Fully half of the shafts I would buy would break during the arrow making process, or were completely unusable. Junk bamboo costs the same as excellent quality bamboo. Excellent bamboo is the first step to excellent bamboo arrows.  But it isn’t the only step to excellent bamboo arrows.

LEARN HOW TO KNOW WHAT HIGH QUALITY BAMBOO LOOKS LIKE

What kind of sorting should you expect?

How confident are you that your bamboo dealer is sorting through every shaft and sending only the good ones?

 

The bamboo shafts which I sell are a variety known as the Tonkin Cane.  When the old Khan used these, it was called “River Reed”.  Arundinaria amabilis has been used for thousands of years and has always been considered ideal for arrows.  The reason is because it is very durable AND it is the toughest arrow in the world I recently had a customer put several through an armored chest plate.  All of them penetrated, and none of them were damaged in the slightest.  It is my opinion that bamboo arrows are the TOUGHEST arrows in the world, including carbon and aluminum…if you get a good quality bamboo shaft… and this is the key point to know.

When I started buying them more than 20 years ago, I frequently got crooked or brittle shafts.  Typically 50% of them were unusable.  Either they would break during the arrow making process, or were too brittle.  Junk bamboo costs the same as excellent quality bamboo.  If you have the right contacts you can get perfection.  If you don’t believe this, I invite you to find this out for yourself.

This is why I buy them, sort through them, spine them…exactly… mark where the best placement of the cock feather is, and then bundle them in sets of 12.  These are exactly the same shafts I use to make my own and I can assure you, I don’t shoot junk!

“…I finally had a chance to shoot these arrows that you made for me.  What can I say?  They are just great for me!!  At some point I was afraid to shoot more than two arrows to the same target.  They were hitting just too close to each other.  Thank you very much!!

Boris BorchevskyBoris Borchevsky, Khan's Arrows
oval vs. round

SOMETIMES SMALL FLAWS CAN MAKE NO DIFFERENCE, BUT SOMETIMES THEY CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.

This is a very subtle problem, and can be easy to miss.  You can see that the bamboo shaft on the left is just a bit oval.  The shaft on the right is nice and round.  This can be a deal breaker, or it can make little difference at all, depending on where you place your nock!

LEARN MORE ABOUT NOCK PLACEMENT

SOMETIMES SMALL FLAWS CAN MAKE THE BAMBOO SHAFT UNUSABLE AS AN ARROW.

Another small, subtle problem that is easy to miss is the problem of uneven wall growth.  After all, bamboo is a grass, it won’t always have the same wall thickness.  While it is often possible to simply place a nock to work around a slightly oval bamboo shaft, nothing can fix this problem.  I start by ordering the best bamboo available.  I go through EVERY ONE of them looking for irregularities and problems.  This happens as I sort them by spine.  Once this is complete, then it is time to take each spined group and sort them into groups closely matching by weight.  But STILL, the process isn’t over.  There is more to do if you want to claim you make the best custom bamboo arrows in the world.  I do make that claim.  

LEARN MORE