An arrow is a missile loosed or shot from a bow.
It consists of:
- flights or fletches that are bound along the length of the feathers and before and aft of the same
- a nock typically cut into the end of the shaft itself and sometimes set with a horn insert. Some Viking arrows have been found with fitted bronze nocks but these bare no resemblance to modern plastic nocks.
The heads can be of many different types. They may be barbed for hunting, bodkins for penetrating some forms of armour or broadheads for cutting others.
The flights for the feathers appear in a number of different shapes, none of which are accurately portayed by modern commercially made fletches. Typical shapes include the stereotypical parallel sided fletches (as a child might draw), curved (a long curve that the modern parabolic seems to be based on but has a deeper leading edge), and after the middle of the 13th century, a triangular shape typically seen in the middle ages. There are some variations on this last shape seen.
Arrows in the SCA
- All shafts shall be of wood or of bamboo-like materials.
- Both self and footed shafts are permitted.
- No broadheads or tips that cause excessive damage to the targets shall be used, except for special competitions using these heads with the permission of the Target Archery Marshal in Charge and the Kingdom Archery Marshal.
- Fletched arrows and bolts shall use feathers or other pre-17th century material. Plastic vanes are not allowed.
- Nocks for arrows, and caps, rings, or nocks for bolts may be of any material, provided they are securely attached.
These are used solely for combat archery and are required to meet certain safety standards. These include the use of a rubber stop (a 'blunt') instead of a metal head on the arrow, and the shaft must be taped to prevent injuries from splinters should an arrow break in combat. The requirements for the use of arrows in combat include:
- Arrows must have a blunt head, such as a Markland or... other SCA approved combat blunt. The blunt must have a finished diameter of at least 1 1/4 inches and must not be capable of being forced through the one-inch opening of the bars of a combat-legal helm for more than � inch.
- Padding on the face of a blunt which has compacted under use to less than a half- inch in thickness must be replaced.
- Only wood or solid fiberglass shafted arrows are permitted. Shafts should have a minimum diameter of 1/4 inch for fiberglass or 5/16 inch for wood.
- The wood has to be one of three specific types (can't remember exactly but includes oak, cedar and ramen) - of a type which doesn't shatter when broken
- Blunts shall be firmly secured to the shaft so that they cannot come off on impact or if the shaft is broken. All blunts must be secured by at least one strip of 1/2 inch wide (minimum) good quality electrical or strapping tape. This strip shall run over the face of the blunt and down the sides, and onto the shaft for at least one inch. It shall be secured to the shaft by another strip of tape which wraps around it as well as the base of the blunt and the shaft.
- Maximum allowable draw length (bottom of the nock slot to just behind the blunt) is 28 inches (though this is basically dictated by the length of the arrow). Maximum allowable draw weight is 30 pounds of weight at at draw of ?9 inches
- Metal points must be removed prior to mounting blunt points. The front end of the shaft must be flat, not pointed. The use of metal points or sharp shafts will be considered grounds for removing a fighter from the field and/or revoking his/her authorisation.
- The shaft of the arrow shall be spirally or longitudinally wrapped with plastic tape... totally covering the surface from the front of the fletching to the tip of the shaft. The tape should be strong enough so that if the shaft should break, it will still be held together.
- Wood or fiberglass shafted arrows shall be used only after inspection supervised by a marshal. Archers shall be responsible for re-checking the safety of all arrows at the time of use.
- If an arrow is dropped on the field it is considered "dead" and *must* be rechecked at the arrow-check before re-use
- Similarly, if the archer takes a hit to the quiver and the quiver is a soft quiver (i.e. not made of rigid materials) then *all* the arrows in that quiver are considered "dead" until they are rechecked at the arrow-check
- All arrows shall be clearly marked for identification with the name of the user. For interkingdom wars the name of the kingdom shall be included as well to make it easier to locate the maker/owner of the arrows.
- Arrows may only be used as missiles launched from a bow. No arrows shall be used as hand-held thrusting weapons. Such use may be considered grounds for removing a fighter from the field and/or revoking his/her authorisation.
Arrows in Re-Enactment
Due to the variety of re-enactment groups, there is no single standard for arrows. Provided below is a summary of some examples of their use in re-enactment in different countries.
Target archery is done with modern field, target or bullet points. These are used due to the damage done to targets by broadheads, but at specified times broadheads will be used. Shafts are generally accepted to be of wood, fletched with feathers. Plastic nocks are tolerated for target archery by many groups but self nocks, with or without horn inserts (for the appropriate time frame) are preferred.
Display arrows despite their name are not solely for display, They are also used for testing arrow penetration and target archery as well as being used for display. In general they use forged heads on wooden shafts, feather fletches (often cut from natural feathers), bound with linen thread and have appropriate nocks.
Combat archery blunts are used for combat archery. They use rubber blunts (HTM and Riverhaven MKII style being preferred), on wooden shafts of 11/32nds of an inch diameter and having no greater than 28 inch draw from the back of the blunt to the nocking point. The end of the shaft which will be inserted into the rubber blunt shall have it's end rounded and it is recommended that shafts be taped with Scotch 898, or equivalent, fibreglass tape from the base of the fletching to the tip of the shaft.
Archery in Combat
Archery in Combat differs from combat archery in that it is only done in set volleys at the beginning of combat and does not require the same standard of protection for the receivers of the missiles. *Wooden arrows up to 28 inches from the back of the blunt to the nocking point, and at least three flights with a total length of not less than 15inches (e.g. 4x4�, or 3x5�, etc). If possible, the flights should be bound at each end and for their entire length. (Unbound flights will be accepted at present).
- Shafts should be regularly oiled to reduce the risk of shattering.
- Nocks should be carved into the wood. Horn inserts into the nock are acceptable. (Plastic is currently tolerated, but is not desirable and may be refused in future).
- Only genuine rubber archery blunts of an approved type (HTM and Riverhaven MKII) are to be used.
These are used in volleys at the beginning of a battle.
- Wooden arrows up to 28 inches from the back of the blunt to the nocking point, and at least three flights with a total length of not less than 18 inches (e.g. 4x4�, or 3x5�, etc).
NB: Hastings 2006 is requiring full length feathers on the arrows used in that event.
- Shafts should be regularly oiled to reduce the risk of shattering. Nocks should be carved from horn or into the wood.
- Only genuine rubber archery blunts of an approved type are to be used.
Living History Arrows
Display arrows despite their name are not soley for display, They are also used for testing arrow penetration and target archery as well as being used for display. In general they use forged heads on wooden shafts, feather fletches (often cut from natural feathers), bound with linen thread and feature appropriate nocks.