Building a perfect arrow from a bare shaft is somewhat of an art; it takes time, focus, and of course some equipment. Some archers enjoy this process, and I would count myself among them. However, I would venture to say that the majority of bowhunters don’t build their own arrows from raw shafts.
Many bowhunters buy pre-fletched arrows from a retailer, have the arrows cut, get the inserts installed, and then walk out the door with an arrow that is ready to fly. I understand why the majority of folks go this route. There is a financial investment involved in getting setup to build your own arrow, not to mention the investment of time and energy that it takes to learn and then execute arrow building. According to one good friend of mine, “It all seems like a big hassle.”
Over the past few years we have seen products like Quikfletch and NuFletch hit the market. Both of these solutions attempt to make it simple for bowhunters to fletch their own arrows, but in my opinion neither of these solutions is as simple, strong, or effective as the new Blood Vane by Outer Limit Archery.
The Blood Vane is a one-piece vane which slides on your arrow shaft. With the vane in the proper position on the shaft, you then take standard super glue and drop a couple of drops into the holes of the vane’s body. These holes are aligned along a channel that runs the length of the vane, allowing the glue to travel under the vane’s body and make a proper bond between the vane and the arrow shaft.
Installation is as easy as this… Slide the vane on, drop a small amount of super glue to each port, tilt the arrow back and forth to allow the glue to run along the channels, wait a few minutes for the glue to dry.
Slide, drop, tilt, and wait…congratulations you are finished. This seriously couldn’t be any easier.
Not only is the Blood Vane incredibly easy to install, but it is also unbelievably durable. Because the vane assembly is one piece, and the “vanes” themselves are molded into the “body” of the assembly, there is no chance that you are going to rip one off one of your vanes off like you would with a standard fletching setup, or with something like Quickfletch, where the vanes are just glued to the wrap assembly.
One of the tests that I performed was to take a 6” deep box and fill it with layers and layers of cardboard. I shot my arrow through this 6” layer of cardboard dozens of times. The vane themselves got a bit wavy, but it didn’t affect flight, and the vanes showed no signs of wanting to tear or separate from the main assembly. These things are tough!
I found the Blood Vane, with its 3 degree offset, to be very accurate, even at distances of 50 yards and more. I shot the Blood Vanes for three months, side-by-side with my standard fletching setup of 3” Fusion vanes. There was no marked difference in accuracy at hunting ranges, and even when shooting long distance I noticed very little difference between the two setups with field points. The Blood Vane was slightly less accurate at long distances (50+ yards) with broadheads. That said, I don’t think that most bowhunters who would be interested in the Blood Vanes are going to be shooting broadheads beyond 50 yards.
In addition to simple installation, great durability, and more than acceptable hunting accuracy, there are some other benefits that I found while testing the Blood Vane.
First, the Blood Vane makes it incredibly easy to align the vanes with the blades on your broadhead. There is some debate as to whether aligning fletching with broadheads is beneficial, but I have found it to improve flight in my testing.
Additionally, I think a huge advantage to the simple installation process of the Blood Vane makes it a great “just in case” item to have in the field. I will definitely be carrying a Blood Vane or two, along with a tiny bottle of super glue, on all of my hunting trips away from home; it will be incredibly easy to pack these items, which weigh next to nothing, and make an arrow repair in the field, or at your base camp.
Finally, I think it is worth mentioning again, that anyone can use the Blood Vane. The process simply could not be easier. You don’t have to boil water, you don’t have to understand fletching, you don’t have to have any tools, jigs, or other supplies – just a Blood Vane and super glue.
The Blood Vane isn’t free from some potential downsides. That said, none of the following concerns would keep me from recommending the Blood Vane to someone who is interested in building or repairing their own arrows, but isn’t interested in the investment of money, time, and energy that it takes to build an arrow the “traditional” way.
Weight – The Blood Vane weighs in at 31 grains, which is no doubt more than a standard 3-vane setup. This increased weight on the back of the shaft has the potential to mess with an arrow’s FOC. I found that the increased weight did not change my arrow flight at all until about 45 yards; at that distance the Blood Vane began to hit lower than my arrows fletched with 3” Fusion vanes. I don’t think the slightly increased weight should prevent many bowhunters from considering the Blood Vane. After all, most of the guys who will be interested in this vane will have never even heard of, much less calculated, their arrow’s FOC.
Noise – I noticed a slight, and I mean slight, increase in noise during flight with the Blood Vanes. The noise was quieter than shooting a fixed-blade broadhead, and I don’t have any concerns that this would cause any issue in alerting game.
Sizing – The Blood Vane obviously won’t fit every arrow. The current model is built to accommodate “standard” size carbon shafts. I tested the Blood Vanes on Harvest Time HT-2 arrows, as well as Gold Tip XT and Expedition Hunters. I also test fit the Blood Vane to a Carbon Express hunting shaft. This product is just getting off the ground and I know that you will see more sizes in the future, including for the newer micro-diameter shafts.
Price – The Blood Vanes, at $16 per half-dozen, aren’t cheap, but if you factor in what you save on the equipment to fletch your own arrows, or the price you pay to have a pro shop fletch them for you, then I think that the Blood Vane is still a good value for many bowhunters.
I am excited to see the Blood Vane hit the market. I think it is great that bowhunters will have a new option to build or repair their own arrows without investing in equipment. I would most definitely choose the Blood Vane over the other popular fletching alternatives, such as the Quickfletch and the NuFletch.