Using oils to waterproof feather fletching?

Discussion in 'Archery' started by EGBrandan, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. EGBrandan

    EGBrandan Tinder Gatherer

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    Can oils be used for effectively waterproofing feather fletching, or does anyone know of it being done? I figure if it works well for ducks, it ought to work well for us. I’ve looked around, done some Google searching, and can’t find any reference to this, though found numerous complaints about various sorts of waterproofing and their attributes or lack of effectiveness. I understand that there are a variety of synthetic products specifically for this on the market, as well as using a number of other products intended for a variety of uses, but it seems like the obvious solution (and one which could appeal to the more primitive folks).

    I was even able to find some beauty product which claims to be a synthetic preen oil, which is intriguing on this count. I had no idea where to ask about this, but remembered I’d made this account, and a few searches on BCUSA showed a remarkable lack of discussion on the topic. There doesn’t seem to even be a thread dedicated to feather waterproofing.

    It’s mostly become relevant to me as I just bought a recurve (Samick Sage; I know, how original and unique) and intend to be shooting off the shelf with feather fletchings. I certainly won’t need to waterproof anytime soon, but eventually do intend to hunt with it at higher draw weights. So I figured I'd ask/ start a discussion here.

    My apologies if I somehow manage to get or do something wrong, I did check the forum rules and it's been quite a long time since I signed up.
     
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  2. GreySwampFox

    GreySwampFox Tracker

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    EGBrandan,
    I've tried the waterproofing powder for fletchings, silicone sprays and even the sprays and "shakey powders" used for dry fly fishing and had marginal results. Fletch covers worked OK but the waterproof ones were noisy if they brushed against something. What has worked the best for me is using a quiver that covers the fletchings like a CatQuiver. I used the CatQuiver Mini for several years and really like it.
    Also most traditional archers are concerned about waterproofing / keeping their fletchings dry but many forget about their bows. Some of the rest and strike plate materials for shooting off the shelf for traditional bows are affected by rain. I had a rug rest on one bow that compressed considerably when wet thus changing my nock height and affected my arrow flight and also a leather rest that when wet made so much noise when drawing the arrow that it spooked a deer. So testing your set up while wet in your backyard will bring any issue to your attention before drawing on game in the woods.
    Good Luck!
     
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  3. JEB

    JEB Guide

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    EG: I have been around archery for 60 years and the only thing I heard of for fletching is what GreySwampFox mentioned and that is a powder that doesn't really work well. I guess you could try some things for an experiment and let us know how they work.
     
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  4. EGBrandan

    EGBrandan Tinder Gatherer

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    Those are quite good points; when reading about this I’d thought my ideal solution for covering the arrows might be some sort of integral flip-up cover for a back quiver. I was thinking something Howard Hill- ish style, though just going to use a pant leg sack quiver for practice now. I sort of want to work my way up in draw weight on the sage doing things mostly traditionally with some modern stuff, but think I want to move over to be more traditional later, so a catquiver is less than ideal for those purposes.

    I did briefly consider the bow, but I believe the Sage comes sealed or impregnated with some sort of plastic; not sure, but that’s the impression I get. Definitely a good point for bows which aren’t though. The bowstring should also be considered I suppose, as well as all accessories. Imagine having a soggy bow silencer *thwock.* The bow’s coming with a Bearhair rest set up, and I think that’s synthetic so it ought to be alright. I’ll have to check though. Goodness knows how rain would affect the path of the arrow though, that would probably take some practice in and of itself.

    I’m definitely considering getting some store bought feathers which probably have no remaining natural oil, or using some arrows if any break, and just testing as many different solutions as I can think of; some powder which I ordered with the bow, various household chemicals/ sprays, oils of a number of types (including that synthetic preen oil, it's not too expensive). Or trying them on this set of arrows when I move up in draw weight. Still have to wait at least a week for that stuff to get to me though, and finish some other projects. When I do though, I'm definitely going to post the results; here at least, maybe start a blog and put them there as well. Probably also how the whole setup works when wet as well, and how the arrows shoot with the waterproofing solution to see if it changes.
     
  5. Ranger99

    Ranger99 Tracker

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    when i was using feathers for a while, i tried one of these powders that you
    pour out of a bottle and into a bag and shook up with your arrow inside.
    it was too messy for my tastes.
    i'd think an oil would make the fletching cement let go, jmho.
    another jmho- most all my best shots have been close enough that
    i could have used an unfletched arrow and just looked down the
    shaft to aim. i'd wait until the issue of moisture was effecting you
    until i worried about it.
     
  6. Skeptiksks

    Skeptiksks Supporter Supporter

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    I know nothing about archery, I would live to make my own bows, but it haven't gotten to it. So, from my inexperienced opinion, why not use synthetic fetching on an otherwise natural arrow for hunting purposes? I can see the draw of making your own gear out of entirely natural materials but for food gathering and where the materials are available, why not simplify the entire process? As I said, this is an entirely uneducated opinion. So go easy on me here haha.
     
  7. trekker111

    trekker111 Tracker

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    I have a bottle of liquid waterproofing for fletching, it works ok. I will have to see if I can find it when I get home.
     
  8. OrienM

    OrienM Scout

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    I never bothered to, one of the advantages of real feathers is they still fly well when wet and scraggly-looking. After they dry back out, just hold them in the steam of a teapot, and they'll pop back into their original shapes.

    I have read this was a reason goose feathers were preferred historically over turkey, etc.
     
  9. Eric Westbrook

    Eric Westbrook Supporter Supporter

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    Same here, never worried about it too much. I've shot arrows where the feathers were matted right down on the shaft and they flew right with the others. That's why its important to have properly spined arrows.

    Natural (right off the bird) turkey feathers are quite moisture resistant but still not like a goose feather.
     
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  10. EGBrandan

    EGBrandan Tinder Gatherer

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    Because afaik, you simply can't shoot with vanes off the shelf; you'd need to install an arrow rest or similar, and then you'd need to change both your setup and how you shoot. They're not directly interchangeable, otherwise it really would be a moot point. Like if someone came up with a synthetic feather fletching replacement that acted like a feather rather than a vane.


    Hm; so it may or may not be much of an issue and I could just steam them? Interesting. Maybe I'll try to get some different types of feathers to use
     
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  11. Skeptiksks

    Skeptiksks Supporter Supporter

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    Huh, that's good to know. Like I said, completely lost when it comes to archery. Learn something new every day!
     
  12. trekker111

    trekker111 Tracker

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    I found my bottle of stuff, it is bohning dri-tite, but some internet research shows it was discontinued years ago. I also found several instances of people trying to buy partial bottles off the people who still have it.

    My concern with using an oil is the added weight, which would change the balance of the arrow.
     

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