Tapering Wood Shafts to Reach EFOC

I’ve been shooting a hickory longbow with poplar arrows. I matched them to grainweight about 675 grains with both 125 standard glue on field points of the two blade Zwickey broadheads. Unfortunately my entire setup was stolen from my vehicle so I’m back using an old recurve and carbon Gold Tip shafts as well as some Easton Full Metal Jackets. Because of my wife experiencing a bout with Cancer, from which via prayer and good health care she miraculously recovered and my fixed income I can’t spend more money on broadheads and arrows at this time so I’m doing the best I can in regard to tuning and EFOC. I’ve been using what I have namely using weight tubes to get total shaft weight up and inserts glued into the glue on Zwickey broadheads and Judo points for stumping. I also practice decapitating my free range roosters for the pot using  screw- in Bullheads from Magnus. However when I shoot the roosters in the snow with a 50 to 60 # traditional bow if there is ice beneath the snow both the Bullhead broadheads and the carbon and even the full metal jacket arrows will break at the point end or even at the nock end. Yes a 37 # recurve will kill the roosters and leave the Bullhead broadheads and arrow combination intact but do not cleanly decapitate the roosters as readily as the heavier poundage bows. I have not yet tried an EOF with the Bulhead for the 37# bow but that might prove to be just as devastating to tthe chickens without destroying the arrows. At the least, with the heavy bows (50-60#) the nocks will pop out  of the carbon arrows and the weight tube will evidently recoil, which may or may not be why the nocks blow out. Frankly my wooden poplar arrows seem to hold together better than any of my other arrows made of synthetic materials, whether solid aluminum, carbon or carbon with full metal jacket.

Therefore, I’m looking to build wooden English longbows and American Flatbows from staves in my shop and some really tough but excellent flying arrows from wood. I already have the wood for some of the arrows I intend to make.  I have a 3/8″  dowel cutter from Veritas which I use with a power drill to turn to make my homemade wooden arrows (so far from Douglas Fir) and it works well even in my sixty# recurve. I do have some tropical hardwood material which may prove decent for arrow making but I will probably mostly be using Straight grained conifers, poplar, oak, and hickory for arrow shafts.  In your experience in regard to making wooden arrows, will tapering the shaft from the head (pointy end) at 3/8″ diameter back toward the nock end (especially with the dense hardwoods)  down to either 11/32″ or even 5/16″provide the EFOC as per Ashby guidance? Yes I could probably purchase the woody weights from 3 Rivers but with  my financial status that is another expense I would prefer to forego.

I read where your Tuffheads can fit up to 3/8″ diameter tapers so in keeping with Dr Ashby’s findings on keeping the shaft diameter equal or less than the ferrule diameter it seems your broadheads would fit what I intend to make in regard to arrow shaft destined for EFOC. For example, just the poplar shafts in my possession of 11/32″ diameter parallel shaft with fletching can weigh 500 to 600 grains at a 32″ length. My Douglas Fir shafts I’m making will weigh 375 to 475 grains just fresh from the dowel cutter without sanding so I suppose I could foot the conifer shafts with dense hardwood, but that is more work I would rather not do.

I’ve seen replica arrows for  English warbows made of ash which were parallel and weighed around 700 grains but I’ve observed  1/2″ at point tapered to around 3/8 at nock end arrows of poplar for heavy replica warbows, as in 150# pull for those strong enough and skilled enough to shoot such amazing, yet simple weapons. Keep in mind these warbow arrows were intended to put French Knights out of combat readiness at well over 200 yards; so I think it safe to assume that although they may not have understood the why it worked of EFOC the old English arrow makers definitely knew that an arrow heavy in front was pretty devastating.

James T

Jamers-You sound very resourceful and knowledgable about arrows and Dr. Ashby research…..This will serve you well !

Tapering the heavy wood arrow will defiantly help achiveing FOC by putting additional weight over the last half of the arrow. It probably is not a effective as having the weight exactly up front but defiantly help contribute to FOC. The problem I am sure you know is that the spine will change and be considerably less than when it was parallel.

If I were doing this I would start off with the heaviest spine parallel full length shaft I could find and taper it . Then start experimenting with weight up front just as if experimenting with a carbon  arrow. Select the broadhead weight that you want to end up with. Then shooting it bare shaft start shortening the arrow small amounts at a time  if it is to weak until it will fly right . This is not as easy as following the procedure on carbon arrows that you can remove the nock  to cut the shaft…… If the arrow is to stiff add more weight up front or try shooting it with feathers to see if that makes any difference. The only other alternative is start over using a weaker shaft.

The amount of taper you put on the shaft could become a variable you experiment with….. more becomes a weak shaft ,,,less a stiffer shaft.

Experimenting is a lot of work but I do not know any short cuts,

Yes all our broadheads 190 MeatHead and 225 & 300 TuffHeads all have a inside diameter ferrule of 23/64 so they will except a 3/8 arrow and be very close to the diameter of you arrow. As you are aware we want the outside of the broadhead to be larger or equivalent to the outside diameter of the arrow so as not to impede penetration.

Good luck with you project and thanks for the detailed letter.


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