Reviewed By Steve , 30 June 2010
For me a matched set of arrows means more than all of them being crested the same. Of course it's wonderful to have arrows that look nice, but the main criteria for me is that they should match the bow. I am certain that a lot of archers spend very little time tuning their bows and tuning their arrows. There are many ways to do this but all involve spending time shooting and messing with both brace height and nock point and then testing with variously spined arrows at the correct draw length and with an arrow that is the right length.
All of this can be laborious and at times frustrating, but with a little patience you will be rewarded with the best flying arrow, when you discover that arrow it will be as if you are shooting a different bow and suddenly your accuracy with take a step up as if by magic.
You will find several combinations that work "pretty well" but just just one set up that puts you in the pro ring. once you have it either put it down on paper or commit it to memory. When I don't have the correct set up and the correct arrow I don't bother shooting - once you have experienced the "perfect" arrow for a particular bow you will know what I mean.
So when John Cately of Little John Arrows offered to make a matched set of arrows to my spec I jumped at the chance. Having seen what John can produce in his workshop I spent the next month being patient and awaiting the day they would be delivered.
At last the box arrived. As I said my main interest was to have an arrow that flies just so, when I took the first arrow out they looked so beautiful that even I had to smile.
As you can see from the photo, in addition to the cresting lines stripes of red and gold, John has airbrushed in 3 areas of purple that fades to blue which in turn then turns red, if they look good in the photos let me tell you that in reality they are even better and the camera hardly does them justice. The finish too is as slick and smooth as the paintwork on an Aston Martin.
A close inspection of the shaft showed them to be Boyton pine and one thing I do love about Chris's shafts is that they always seem to have such straight grain, nothing running out to the sides, just clean lines from front to back.
I resisted the urge to go in to the workshop and start measuring for length, spine and weight. There was a much easier way to test them - the particular bow I had specified these arrows for was just to hand and it would tell me all I needed to know.
Looking about for a suitable target I had already set up my Eleven Roman soldier earlier in the day just 20 yards away, he seemed to be giving me funny looks - soon fix that, to finish I stuck one on his nose. When your arrows are right you will have the confidence to take even mad shots in the knowledge that your arrows will go just where you want.
As I hoped they would these arrows were just right for this bow. But just how matched are they ? first a weight test, these turned out to be the closest arrows I have ever had with just 2.4 grains spread between the lightest and heaviest - that's +/- 1.2 grain.... totally insane !! A set would be called very well matched if the spread were +/- 5 grain - but this level of matching takes that to another plane.
The arrows themselves are tapered, 11/32 at the front to 5/16 at the back, it's the last 10" that holds the taper and to keep the weight so close is going to require some serious skill. John made his own tapering jig and has obviously cracked that particular nut as I could detect no imperfections on the shaft from sanding or planing.
Tapering is a funny old game, I have never developed a specific formula when using tapered shafts but have conducted extensive tests with several of the bows I own in an effort to find the perfect tapered arrow for each bow. This bow loves a 52# parallel shaft, however when I initially made tapered arrows with a 54# shaft which dropped to the 52# once tapered, the arrow shot just ok, it seemed that 52# with a taper on it reacted differently dynamically from a 52# parallel. Thing is, with a tapered shaft you get a much bigger range of acceptable arrows, they are more forgiving of spine and tend to fly well even when over spined. Strangely enough when I use a tapered arrow I have to use about 58# to get the same level of dynamic perfection that I get with a parallel shaft.
Is a tapered shaft better than a parallel one ? not necessarily, a perfect arrow is a perfect arrow, however with the tapered shaft you have a much wider range of spines that can be shot.
As it happened I knew exactly what I wanted by way of spine on a tapered arrow with this bow and John hit the nail bang on the head.
Each of the 12 arrows is a clone of the rest in every way. The length is right, the taper is the same, the balance point is matched and the spine, weight and cresting are perfect. If it sounds like I am excited then that is because I am an arrow nut ! Because I spend hours on my own arrows I know exactly how much work is involved in making arrows that are a match.
Part of the reason my arrows always look simple is on account of the time already spent to sort through shafts, weigh them, spine them and straighten them. I have no patience to crest them in anything other than a basic way, so to see all of my stringent criteria met AND an incredible custom paint job is staggering.
Having seen Johns prices we should all thank our lucky stars that he does this because he loves it, if he charged by the amount of time he puts in... well.... all I can say is order some now before he realises and starts charging what these arrows are really worth !!
Those who know me will know that I always use my best arrows, in fact I only possess best arrows, for me a second rate arrow isn't worth shooting, so even when just practising or messing about I use my top arrows, if one breaks or gets smashed then so be it. But, I am going to have to own up that I have become very very fond of these arrows, they are easily the most beautiful I own and I will be using them but not for the times when I am just messing !!
|Features & Design|
|If you want matched arrows and you want them to be right make sure you have the full spec that you require. John will make you exactly what you ask for.|
|I didn't even mention straightness, with bespoke arrows that is a given and John has produced arrows that are dead straight. Given that I had ordered the specification I wanted they are precisely as requested and shoot exactly as they should.|
|Value for Money|
|Check out his prices on supplier page... Click here for more information These arrows offer total value, in fact the deal is so good it's like someone put a horses head in your bed !! |
|Insert your own superlative here... put as many as you like and you will still be only half way there. These arrows are awesome.|
Steve Nicholson and Andy Gilfrin, are real archers interested in the best archery suppliers have to offer. In our search for the very best bow, arrows and equipment we have shot, used and worn pretty much everything on offer.
Contact Steve .. email@example.com
Contact Andy .. firstname.lastname@example.org
We are now offering the opportunity for suppliers, manufacturers and bowyers to get involved. Check out the sponsors page for more information.
Little John Matched Arrows
In all honesty I shot them all a little higher and left of each other for fear of taking my nocks off. Shooting 6 at a time is asking for trouble.
When your arrows are bang on it doesn't pay to shoot more than one arrow at any target.
Better to shoot 1 at 3 different targets.
We take a tour the length and breadth of the British mainland to visit Scotland with Border Bows, Yorkshire with Aidy Hayes, the Wirral with Jason from thelongbowshop.com, down South with the Company of Canterbury Longbowman, and Geoff is in Spain.
A list of other Arrow ReviewsNidderdale Maple Shafts