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Right or Left Helical Fletching: What Should I Choose?

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Archery is an ancient practice involving one of mankind’s oldest and best weapons, and one that is still employed and enjoyed by millions of people around the world today.

close-up of arrow fletching in two colors

Whether you are shooting at targets on your land, hunting big game, or competing at a national or international level, there’s always something you can do to take your game a little further.

Science has melded with art and produced bows and arrows of incredible quality and accuracy, but with this comes many variables to keep track of and tinker with if you want maximum performance.

Helical fletching is an option that can produce excellent stabilization of the arrow in flight, but some archers are unsure if they should choose left or right-hand helical fletching. Which should you choose?

Either. Both impart significant rotation to an arrow. Left- or right-turn helical fletching will both improve stability and accuracy compared to straight fletching. However, only right-turn helical fletching may help prevent broadheads from loosening up inside the target.

You’ll commonly hear tales on the internet and in bow shops about somebody tuning their bow to shoot just right by changing the direction of rotation using helical fletching, or reducing or increasing the rate of rotation to the same effect.

I’m not saying these people aren’t telling the truth, as helical fletching does indeed provide benefits and some drawbacks but I can say with some confidence that the direction of rotation plays very little part in the accuracy equation.

Keep reading and I will tell you more about helical fletching and its impact when you shoot a bow.

What is Helical Fletching?

Helical fletching is a special type of fletching applied to the tail-end of an arrow which causes it to spin as it flies through the air.

This spinning action helps stabilize the arrow in flight and makes it much more accurate, especially at distance, by correcting any errant heading or “attitude” in flight.

Helical fletching can be applied to arrows in either a left- or right-hand configuration, and all of the vanes or feathers must be matched for proper performance and accuracy.

Left-hand helical results in counterclockwise rotation and right-hand helical fletching results in clockwise rotation.

The shape, length and turn of the fletching will affect the speed of the rotation, but it’s a subtle operation: it is generally not recommended to adjust any of these parameters by more than a little at any time to test performance.

How Does Helical Fletching Differ from Straight Fletching?

The difference is pretty much in the name: helical fletching imparts a spin (rotation) to the arrow in flight while straight fletching does not, or at least does not impart much of a spin.

Just like putting a spiral on a football when you throw it, the result is that helical fletching helps stabilize the arrow in flight, and makes it much more accurate, especially over longer distances.

Now, straight fletching can still of course be used and is still chosen for some applications. This is because helical fletching, despite its advantages, also has some drawbacks.

We’ll talk about those in a minute, but first let us look at why you’d want helical fletching in the first place.

Which Direction Should You Choose?

So, which should you choose? Traditionally, a right-handed archer is supposed to shoot right-turn fletching, and vice-versa for lefties.

But there is no practical basis for this grounded in performance and I say it does not really matter.

If your bow isn’t shooting just right, then it might be worth experimenting with left- or right-hand helical fletching to try and dial in, but most shooters will find that there are many other more important factors to check and correct first.

Especially if you’re new to archery and shanking shots all over, don’t just automatically assume that helical fletching is the answer to your woes!

Just remember this is only one aspect of the “package”, so don’t forget about other factors that may also be affecting your group size such as arrow rest position, arrow spine and weight selection.

But if your arrows are generally flying true and you want improved stability and accuracy at longer ranges, then helical fletching is probably a great choice.

I go with right-turn/clockwise fletching as a default since it won’t loosen your broadheads, but there are some folks that swear by left-hand for various reasons.

Why Does the Rotation of the Arrow Matter to Me?

You might be thinking that rotation is all fine and good, but it is a trifling concern if you are dropping your shots where you want them to be. And you’d be right!

If your bow, arrows, and technique are all meshing to provide you with adequate accuracy at the ranges you normally shoot at, carry on!

aiming a bow and arrow
aiming a bow and arrow

But, if you are looking to improve performance under certain circumstances, helical fletching might contribute to that.

Right up front, helical fletching that is functioning properly will improve accuracy under all conditions.

It can make the difference between hitting a 10-ring and missing it, or even potentially between hitting the target at all.

The stabilization also allows it to better resist wind and other factors that might otherwise throw off its path.

I resisted switching to helical fletching once upon a time because I was generally happy with my setup, but after I started working toward longer and longer shots, I noticed a steady decline in my own performance.

I told myself that it was I that needed to get better, not blaming the tools and all that, but once I switched to helical fletching and got dialed in with them the improvement was immediately apparent.

But it isn’t just pure accuracy we are talking about here: helical fletching might at times be a necessary upgrade.

Probably the most important benefit of helical fletching for hunters is that the rotation imparted will greatly help stability with large, fixed broadhead points from any given bow.

Shooting broadheads with straight-fletched arrows from a bow that isn’t optimized can lead to lots of wobble and poor attitude.

Finally, one of the more practical applications of helical fletching (in the case of right-turn fletching) is that it helps prevent broadheads from loosening up inside the target, be it animal or something else.

The clockwise rotation of the arrow helps to snug the broadheads tight upon impact, sometimes preventing loss.

Is Helical Fletching Always a Good Thing?

Contrary to popular opinion, helical fletching is not so totally superior to straight and offset fletching that you should only ever use it. It does, indeed, have drawbacks all its own.

Consider these factors before you commit to new arrows or want to re-do the fletching on your older ones.

First, helical fletching imparts more drag because it is imparting more spin. This drag equals reduced velocity, which is noticeable- and especially noticeable with heavier vanes and heads!

If you are doing your own fletching, you’ll find that helical fletching is significantly more sensitive to misalignment. If you make a mistake, the arrow may start to fishtail. For this reason, using a fletching jig is imperative.

Finally, helical fletching can cause problems with some arrow rests due to a lack of clearance.

No, not because it will turn a fletch into the rest: the arrow effectively does not begin to rotate until it has left the bow.

But, because of its shape and size helical fletching can contact certain arrow rests. Make sure you check compatibility before you buy or be prepared to modify!

Caution: Counterclockwise Rotation May Loosen Broadheads

One other thing to be aware of with left-hand helical fletching is that it can cause broadheads to loosen up after impact.

The counterclockwise rotation of the arrow is actually working against you in this case even while it is improving accuracy and stability, so be careful to tightly and securely seat your arrowheads to prevent this.

In conclusion, helical fletching does impart incredible stabilizing benefits for an arrow, and can improve accuracy under certain conditions or when using fixed-blade broadheads.

Source link: https://www.survivalsullivan.com/right-or-left-helical-fletching/ by Tom Marlowe at www.survivalsullivan.com

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Wilderness Survival Skills That Can Save Your Kids’ Lives 

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Teaching children wilderness survival skills can be an enriching and empowering experience, fostering their confidence and independence while instilling a deeper connection with nature. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety and age-appropriate learning experiences when introducing children to outdoor skills. 

It’s important for a prepared parent to find age-appropriate wilderness survival skills for children. These skills should emphasize hands-on learning and the importance of supervision.

Shelter Building For Kids

Building a shelter is a fundamental survival skill that children can learn and practice under adult supervision. Start with simple shelter designs using natural materials such as branches, leaves, and tarps. Teach children how to assess their surroundings for suitable shelter locations and how to construct sturdy structures to protect against the elements.

Identifying Edible Plants For Kids

Teaching children to identify edible plants can enhance their foraging skills and knowledge of the natural environment. Begin by introducing them to a few common edible plants in your area, emphasizing safety and the importance of proper identification. Supervise children closely and guide them in harvesting and tasting edible plants responsibly.

Fire Safety and Fire Starting For Kids

While starting a fire may seem like an advanced skill, children can learn basic fire safety principles and techniques under adult supervision. Teach them about fire safety rules, including selecting a safe location, clearing the area of debris, and using proper fire-starting tools such as matches or fire starters. Demonstrate how to build a small fire and maintain it responsibly, emphasizing the importance of fire management and extinguishing techniques.

How Kids Can Signal for Help

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In emergency situations, knowing how to signal for help can be a life-saving skill. Teach children basic signaling methods such as using a whistle, mirror, or brightly colored clothing to attract attention. Practice signaling techniques in a safe outdoor environment, and discuss the importance of staying calm and alert while waiting for rescuers to arrive.

Hands-On Learning Experiences

Encourage hands-on learning experiences to reinforce wilderness survival skills and build confidence in children. Plan outdoor activities such as nature hikes, camping trips, or wilderness outings where children can practice shelter building, plant identification, fire starting, and signaling for help under adult supervision. Provide opportunities for children to apply their skills in real-life scenarios, fostering a sense of self-reliance and problem-solving abilities.

Teaching children wilderness survival skills can be a rewarding and educational experience, fostering their appreciation for nature and their ability to thrive in outdoor environments. By introducing age-appropriate skills such as shelter building, plant identification, fire safety, and signaling for help, children can develop valuable life skills and a deeper connection with the natural world. Remember to prioritize safety and supervision, and encourage hands-on learning experiences to empower children to become confident and capable outdoor adventurers.

How do you teach your children survival and preparedness skills? Share your thoughts on how to teach children in the comments below. 

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Knife Skills for Preppers: Mastering Essential Techniques

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In the realm of survival preparedness, few tools are as fundamental as the trusty survival knife. However, owning a high-quality knife is only half the battle; mastering essential knife skills is equally crucial for any prepper. This tutorial is designed to guide preppers through fundamental knife skills that will enhance their ability to navigate and thrive in diverse survival scenarios. 

From safe-cutting techniques to carving methods and practical tips for shelter building and food preparation, these skills will prove invaluable in the face of the unknown.

Safety First: The Foundation of Knife Skills

Before delving into specific techniques, understanding and prioritizing safety is paramount. Follow these foundational safety tips:

  • Proper Grip: Hold the knife with a firm yet comfortable grip. The index finger should wrap around the handle, ensuring control and preventing accidental slips.
  • Knife Inspection: Regularly inspect your knife for any damage, including chips or rust. A well-maintained blade ensures safer use.
  • Clear Workspace: Create a clean and organized workspace. Clear away debris and ensure good lighting to avoid accidents.
  • Body Positioning: Pay attention to your body positioning. Keep your non-dominant hand and fingers away from the cutting path to prevent injuries.

Basic Cutting Techniques: Building a Foundation

Next, it’s important to learn basic cutting techniques. Without knowing these cutting techniques, you have no chance of performing more advanced techniques with your knife. 

  • The Rocking Motion: Ideal for chopping and slicing, the rocking motion involves moving the knife’s blade back and forth while keeping the tip in contact with the cutting surface.
  • Draw Cutting: Drawing the knife towards you in a controlled manner is effective for precision cutting, especially when creating fine slices or making detailed cuts.
  • Tip Control: Mastering control over the tip of the knife is essential for intricate tasks. Practice guiding the tip with precision for accurate cuts.

Carving Methods: Precision in Action

A man is cutting mushroom with a knife.

Carving is one of the most important skill sets you can have with a knife. The basic carving methods are as follows:

  • Whittling: Whittling involves carving small, controlled cuts to shape wood or other materials. It’s a useful skill for crafting tools or creating tinder for fire starting.
  • Feathering: Feathering is a technique for creating fine curls of wood, often used in fire starting. It requires controlled slicing with the grain of the wood.
  • Notching: Notching involves carving small grooves or notches into materials, a skill useful for creating traps, shelters, or tools in a survival setting.

Practical Tips for Survival Scenarios: Beyond Cutting

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Once you go beyond cutting, there are a number of things that you can use a knife for that will keep you alive in survival scenarios. 

  • Shelter Building: Use your knife to process materials for building shelters. Master techniques such as notching, carving stakes, and shaping branches for a secure and weather-resistant shelter.
  • Food Preparation: From gutting and filleting fish to processing game, a well-honed knife is essential for procuring and preparing food in a survival situation. Practice efficient and safe cutting techniques for various food sources.
  • Fire Starting: In addition to knives with built-in fire starters, use your knife to prepare firewood by splitting or feathering. Mastering these techniques ensures a reliable fire, a crucial element for survival.
  • Tool Crafting: A versatile knife can be used to craft essential tools in the wild. From fashioning cordage to carving simple implements, having a repertoire of tool-making skills broadens your capabilities in the field.

Continuous Improvement: Sharpening and Maintenance

Even the most skilled preppers need to maintain their knives for optimal performance. Regularly sharpen your knife using your preferred technique, whether it’s a whetstone, rod, or sharpening system. Keep the blade clean, dry, and well-oiled to prevent rust and maintain its longevity.

Knife skills are the unsung heroes of the prepper’s toolkit. By mastering essential techniques, preppers enhance their ability to navigate and conquer diverse survival scenarios. From safe-cutting practices to carving methods and practical tips for real-world applications, continuous improvement in knife skills is an investment in preparedness. 

As you embark on your journey to master the edge of survival, remember that the knife is not just a tool; it’s an extension of your capabilities, a versatile ally in the face of the unpredictable challenges that may lie ahead.

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Prepping with Kids: Teaching Your Children Survival Skills

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In the world of prepping, involving the entire family is not just a practical decision—it’s an essential one. Teaching children survival skills not only imparts valuable knowledge but also fosters a sense of resilience and preparedness. Balancing age-appropriate information with practical skills is the key to making prepping a family affair. 

Getting Started Teaching Your Children About Survival Skills

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Start with age-appropriate discussions about preparedness. Tailor the information to the child’s understanding, focusing on the importance of being ready for unexpected situations. Avoid instilling fear but rather emphasize the empowerment that comes with knowledge and preparation.

Conduct family emergency drills to make the learning experience tangible. Practice fire drills, evacuation procedures, and basic first aid. Make it a game by timing each drill and celebrating successful completion, turning what could be a stressful experience into a positive and empowering one.

Teach basic navigation skills through fun activities like treasure hunts or geocaching. Introduce the concept of using a compass or map, turning it into a game that enhances both navigation skills and the ability to communicate effectively in the wild.

Making Survival Skills an Adventure for Children

Plan family camping trips to teach children essential outdoor survival skills in a controlled environment. Teach them how to set up a tent, build a fire safely, and cook simple meals. Use this time to introduce concepts like Leave No Trace ethics and respecting nature.

Involve children in gardening and foraging activities to impart sustainable survival skills. Teach them about edible plants, gardening techniques, and the importance of self-sufficiency. This not only provides practical knowledge but also instills a sense of responsibility toward the environment.

Cooking can be an excellent way to teach children practical survival skills. Demonstrate how to prepare meals using non-perishable or long-lasting ingredients. Discuss food preservation methods like canning or dehydrating and involve them in the process.

Engage in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that build preparedness tools. Create emergency kits together, incorporating age-appropriate items like a flashlight, whistle, or small first aid supplies. This not only imparts practical knowledge but also instills a sense of ownership over their preparedness.

Use Your Words to Teach Survival Skills to Children

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Incorporate storytelling into the prepping process. Share survival stories, both fictional and real-life, to emphasize the importance of quick thinking, resourcefulness, and preparedness. Discuss the characters’ actions and decisions, encouraging critical thinking in different scenarios.

Create an open environment where children feel comfortable asking questions and expressing curiosity. Encourage them to share their thoughts on preparedness and discuss any concerns they might have. This fosters a preparedness mindset and reinforces the importance of ongoing learning.

Prepping with kids is not just about imparting survival skills; it’s about building resilient families. By balancing age-appropriate discussions with practical activities, families can turn the prepping journey into an engaging and empowering experience for children. 

From outdoor adventures to DIY projects, every activity becomes an opportunity to instill a sense of preparedness, responsibility, and the importance of working together as a family. As you embark on this journey, remember that teaching survival skills to children is not just about preparing for the unknown; it’s about shaping resilient, capable, and confident individuals who can navigate life’s challenges with strength and resourcefulness.

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