buffalo horn nocks and horse bows.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT MY GOAL WITH BAMBOO ARROW UNIVERSITY IS TO HELP YOU BE SUCCESSFUL WITH BAMBOO ARROWS. I want you to be happy with the results. But anything can fail for various reasons. Here are the common ways to make my bamboo shafts AND my bamboo arrows fail.
Sometimes my customers are my best product testers. After all, I do claim that my arrows are tough, so why shouldn’t they believe my shafts are too?
When I say my ARROWS are tougher than carbon, there are a few things I never considered. I DO NOT MEAN that my SHAFTS are tougher than carbon. Shafts can break quite easily. What follows is an excellent cautionary tale which both myself and one of my customers learned the hard way. The shafts are not as tough as the arrows.
I recently sold some shafts to a customer who does something called “bare shaft” tuning. I have never done this, and I can’t speak on the subject much. I learned to tune wooden arrows another way. The reason I have never done this is because a wooden stick with some weight on the end isn’t going to flex and spin in the same manner as an arrow with feathers. This is why it makes no sense to me…with regard to traditional bows which require an arrow to flex around the bow at launch, and an arrow which needs to line up the weight of the arrow directly behind the point not only to penetrate, but to take advantage of the compressibility of the unique grain of bamboo. However, to say this is true of bamboo is NOT to say it is true of all arrows, or all wooden arrows. Additionally it is not true to say that because an arrow behaves in a certain manner in flight that a partially finished arrow will do the same. Since I have never seen any data on the subject, all I can use to make a judgement call on this subject is observation and opinion. This whole issue recently came to light because of an unusual circumstance.
Recently a very knowledgeable archer bought some matched high quality bamboo shafts from me. Shortly after he received them, he called to tell me that two of them had broken in half on the first “bare shaft” trial. He sent me photos, and several things got my attention.
First of all, when bamboo shafts break ACROSS THE GRAIN it is because the hollow grass tube can’t take some sort of SHEAR stress (sideways stress) placed on it which is perpendicular to the grain. This unfinished arrow shaft broke in that manner.
Having shot these arrows for decades, it has been my experience that when a finished arrow fails it is nearly always a break ALONG the grain, NOT ACROSS the grain. The next photo below demonstrates this.
These arrows were shot directly into a hardwood tree at about 10 yards. The arrows did break. BUT THE KEY POINT IS THAT THESE WERE FINISHED ARROWS WHICH WENT STRAIGHT INTO A DENSE TARGET. THEY WERE STABILIZED IN FLIGHT PRIOR TO HITTING THE TARGET. As I understand it, bare shaft tuning assumes that an arrow without fletches might not be fully stabilized prior to hitting the target. This is precisely what an arrow maker would be looking for so they could tune this out…if I understand the concept of bare shaft tuning.
Second of all, I have NEVER EVER had a customer tell me they broke two arrows, or shafts, from a bundle of 12…EVER! On rare occasion, I have had a customer tell me one broke due to a bit of straightening. But that is a rare event. I get probably two of those comments a year. So why did these shafts fail? LET ME BE CLEAR, it wasn’t the customer’s fault! This was a great learning opportunity for us both and I was grateful for the knowledge. The entire purpose of Bamboo Arrow University is to set an archer up for success with bamboo!
I suppose the reason for this unique but undeniable event was because the shafts were NOT fully stabilized in flight PRIOR to hitting a very hard backstop, the shear stress was simply too great and the shafts snapped in half rather than fail along the grain.
The last point is that I have never had a customer use bare shaft tuning on their bamboo order before. My suspicion is that bare shaft tuning may be incompatible with the bamboo I sell.
I simply can’t guarantee that the shafts will survive the bare shaft tuning method. The manner which I tune my bamboo is different, and is found in Bamboo Arrow University.
What I mean by a tough ARROW, is that when a finished arrow is shot directly into an unyielding target at a reasonable shooting distance, they may well survive the encounter when nearly every other arrow might break…including carbon. However, please keep two things in mind. The first is that while the black arrows are amazingly tough, there may still be damage to the head. Also, please keep in mind that I have only had one archer complain about WHITE arrows breaking, but he was shooting them into hardwood trees at 10 yards.
Here is the key point with regard to finished arrows. If they are NOT fletched and shot at close distances, the full weight of the arrow IS NOT lined up behind the head. The arrow may WHIP when it hits. When the backstop is extremely dense, this doesn’t help. This unfinished arrow (basically a shaft with a point on it) is shot in this manner….IT JUST MIGHT BREAK!
With regard to FULLY FINISHED arrows shot at a reasonable distance, I have had one customer, and I myself had had the arrow break when it was pulled from a backstop by the middle of the arrow. THIS IS A QUICK WAY TO BREAK A FINISHED BAMBOO ARROW…or any wooden arrow probably.
My product testers in New England have discovered that shooting my bamboo arrows directly into trees at 10 yards distance will often break them. This may sound silly, but I think it is a great point to bring up about realistic expectations.