The arrow has four parts: the shaft, the knock, the fetching, and the arrowhead, each is made up of different materials.
Parts of an Arrow
1. The Shaft:
The shaft is the backbone of the arrow and makes up the majority of it. Over the years, the shaft has been fabricated using a host of materials. Traditionally, (light) wood and bamboo are the materials of choice. Seeing that the shaft bears the buck of the impact on the arrow hitting its targets, it is sometimes constructed from hardwood too, by incorporating it at the front end.
Modern arrows are still being made from wood too, particularly for traditional archery purposes. However, fiberglass, carbon fiber, aluminum, and even plastic are increasingly the materials of choice for both manufacturers and archers. It is also common to find modern arrows as a composite of these and other materials. A critical property of the shaft of every arrow, irrespective of the material it was made from, must possess is called spine: which is essentially the degree of flexibility of the arrow as it is released. The shaft of arrows has spine ratings. Differently rated spines are usually meant for different purposes.
2. The Nock:
The part of the arrow known as the nock as evolved over the years. In its simplest form and one used in the oldest examples of arrow making, the nock is usually an extension of the shaft and made by cutting a wedge or grove at the other end which snaps onto the string and holds the arrow into position before shooting. Plastic is commonly used to construct the nocks of modern arrows. Perhaps due to the fact it can be molded with more precision compared to other available materials.
3. The Fletching:
Commonly referred to as the feathers, the vanes or feathers are a very crucial part of the arrow which provides it with stability while in flight. Historically, the fletching was done with feathers from birds. Even today, fletching is still being done with feathers. Although, most archers prefer fletching made from plastic. Either done similar to the bird feather style or by placing three single or more cuts of plastics known as vanes, with two of the vanes spotting similar color while the third one is painted differently and known as the “cock” feather.
4. The Arrowhead:
Easily recognizable is the arrowhead, very distinct and largely responsible for defining what the arrow is going to be used for. Hence, among the major parts of an arrow, it has the most varieties. Many different kinds of arrow points are available for the different purpose. There are designs with speed the crucial variable, while others may focus on creating a larger area of contact as it is the case for hunting birds. Arrowheads can be made by simply sharpening the other end of the shaft away from the nock. Arrowheads were made from stone, bones, and metals in by the earlier cultures who practiced archery. Even though you will still find some modern arrows made from those materials, newer designs are geared towards plastic, fiberglass and carbon fiber.
Archery has come a long way and has a long history. Archers form an important part of the military of ancient civilizations such as those of ancient Eygpt and Shang Dynasty in China. Perhaps, some of this people never shot their arrows from bows as we are used to today. Hence, with such a storied history, “what are arrows made of?’’, may not be so simple to answer. Two major reasons for this include the fact that the arrow comprises of different parts or components, and the arrows have gone through major stylistic changes over the years and as we move from one region to the next.