1. Select components you want to use.
2. Spin arrows to determine straighter side (If you are using high end arrows .001 straightness or better this step is optional but for arrows with lesser tolerances it will pay dividends. The Pine Ridge Arrow Spinner is a nice affordable option and every archer should have an arrow spinner in their kit to ensure arrows remain true over time regardless of how durable you think they may be)
3. Cut arrows to desired length removing the less straight side (I like mine to end roughly in the center of my riser to keep the end of the arrow above but not behind my hand and allow ample clearance in front of the rest for broadheads with swept back wings like Rage or QAD Exodus).
4. Remove nocks
5. Square both ends (The G5 ASD tool work great)
6. Clean inside of shafts (Q-tips and water is fine, stay away from harsh chemicals especially on carbon shafts)
7. Apply inserts (Easton's two part epoxy as it tends to be more durable and forgiving than faster drying glues) and allow arrows to settle for 24 arrows laying horizontally on a level surface to prevent shifting of the insert.
8. Re-apply nocks (it's important to keep nocks removed until this point because the airpressure between a nock and insert can cause it to shift forward as it cures)
9. Clean outside of shafts
10. Apply wrap cutting away excess material (Recommend wraps for carbon arrows to protect arrow during fetching removal)
11. Clean wrap and apply vanes be sure to wipe away excess glue during fletching process (There are plenty of great video tutorials on this on YouTube if you are new to fletching and need a detailed walk through. Additional steps may be necessary depending on the type of vanes you use. For example AAE vanes typically require some sort of primer application before fletching to allow for maximum adhesion.)
12. Let vanes dry for 24 hours
13. Screw in field points and SEND 'EM!!!
15. Test, tune & repeat as necessary keeping in mind that different bow poundages, arrow components and tolerances will produce different results.
This is just my process. There is more than one way to build an arrow and you can get as basic or as obsessive compulsive as your heart desires. Some hunters are content pulling a dozen pre-fletched arrows off the shelf and screwing some hundred grain points in and calling it a day. Then there are bowhunters who treat arrow building like a combination of chemistry, physics and brain surgery. They analyze component combinations in Excel spreadsheets while their shafts float in their bath tub to determine the weaker spine side. Finally they select only those components which are both without imperfection and within .1 grains of each other before daring to use them in their prized death darts. Finally assembling each meat missile like Frankenstein assembling his monster. As if every drop of glue represents the difference between a heart shot on a Pope & Young or the end to all their hopes and dreams as a bowhunter. I know successful hunters in both camps...
I myself tend to fall somewhere in the middle and the above process is an indication of that. I genuinely enjoy building and experimenting with different arrow combinations but at some point the time and effort invested begins to produce a diminishing rate of return in terms of performance. I am pretty good shot but I am not Levi Morgan or John Dudley so honestly +/- 5 grains in a hunting situation inside of 50 yds isn't really going to make or break a successful kill for me. After a few years and hundreds of arrows built, the above process produces optimal performance without getting into OCD levels of craftsmanship. When it comes to choosing the right combination of arrows and components that is a subject which demands much debate and discussion and is something I will be diving into in a future article. I hope this helps those of you just getting started building your own arrows.
Weston Arrow Saw (with arrow spinner)
G5 Arrow Squaring Device (ASD)
Pine Ridge Arrow Spinner
AAE Primer Pen
AAE Max Bond Glue
Bohning String Wax