Reviewed By Steve , 18 March 2011
Most people will be familiar with the phrase " you get what you pay for", it usually refers to something cheap that turned out to be crap, I have a friend who's philosophy in life is " always buy the very cheapest", I have lost count of the times I have gone round to his place to find him fixing a thing which refused to work correctly or bemoaning the fact that "such and such" has just broken... I am also constantly amazed that he has never been able to grasp the connection between buying cheap and buying crap, still he is convinced that his way is best because when he is throwing out the offending article he will say " well at least it didn't cost much".
There are always exceptions to rules and in the past I have on occasion paid more than I should have for something which turned out not to be worth the money.
Very occasionally and this doesn't happen very often, but, very occasionally, you get more than you paid for, because these occurrences are so rare these are the times when that special purchase will have you grinning like the cat that got the cream...
For Cat read "me" and for cream read "shafts". Nidderdale archery are producing a range of arrow shafts that include services you would expect to pay extra for, such as each shaft being hand spined and hand selected at the extraordinary price of just £14.95 per dozen.
When something appears too good to be true ones first instinct is to view it with scepticism, here at archers review we try to keep an open mind, after all thats why we review stuff. We decided to check out a selection of the shafts offered to see exactly what you get for £14.95
The first shafts were Ash in 5/16th, most archers will be familiar with Ash but in this diameter it is something of a rarity, in this size it will generally weigh in at between 12.4 to 14.4 Gpi, in actual fact this little batch was very consistent at 12.5 Gpi. You can expect a 28" to BOP arrow to total up at about 470 grains ( when fitted with a 100 grain point), pretty heavy for a skinny shaft. The grain of course is striking and easily recognisable, these particular shafts were very straight indeed and required no straightening. The spine was spot on, not surprising really as Richard at Nidderdale produces a superb spine tester that measures in thou's and allows you to convert the deflection in to a #age value. This dozen were 35-40# and once they were made up shot extremely well from one of my lighter recurves and from a budget flatbow, in fact from the flatbow the fairly heavy arrows soaked up some of the handshock that is often found with budget bows, if you shoot a bow with a little shock a heavier arrow might be what you need. Ash will produce a robust arrow, so if you are looking for a set of arrows that will stand up to a little rough punishment, these would seem to be a good choice.
Ash is more commonly found as a 3/8th shaft and we had some of these too, just to try...at around 21Gpi these make arrows for the more muscular bows, spine will come at between 55# up to 110#, these chaps were marked at 85-90# and once again each shaft had the spine value marked, unsurprisingly the marked spine was spot on. 35.5" is a long shaft and even at this length the shafts were incredibly straight, no messing required. Warbow archers will of course probably be using Ash already but if you are looking for a shaft with Maximum "stripe" then Ash in 3/8" is the way to go.
The next dozen we looked at were Birch shafts in 5/16" at 50-55# they are at the very top of the spine weight that you can get out of a 5/16" shaft. Birch shafts are nothing new, we saw heaps of them whilst down at the Mary Rose, in fact around 15% of the arrows recovered were Birch. (5/16" is not the only size that is on sale, these shafts can be purchased in 15/32" too.) The range of spine available is from 20 up to 55# in the usual 5# increments. Unusually the shafts are offered in a length of 35 1/2".
In this size Birch will generally weigh from 12 to 13.4 grains per inch and we found this dozen to be around the 13 Gpi mark, for lighter spines the weight could possibly be a little less, the weight of the shaft and the spine being related. The advantage of a long shaft is that you can cut your length from the straightest portion. These shafts were pretty good and required only a small amount of hand straightening - Birch has quite a fine grain structure and is fairly easy to straighten. I have never used Birch but these made up some nice arrows which would fit one of my favourite bows. 5/16" is not a size I generally use either as this is a high spine for a slim shaft, in fact it weighed a little more than the 11/32" shafts I normally us. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I had no reason to be surprised just because they worked... but I was, they shot just as well as my usual arrows.
With around 80% of the Mary Rose arrows being Poplar it is one of the strangest things that we see so little of it about. Now let me tell you those Medieval guys knew things about making arrows that we are still re-discovering and if they found Poplar to be the wood of choice there has to be something to it. We had 2 sets of Poplar shafts the first in 5/16" and spined at 40-45#. Poplar is clean and fresh and easily recognisable on account of it's yellowy tinge, it's a light wood in colour and weight, in this diameter expect 11-12.5 Gpi. This set were close in weight at 11.8 Gpi, offering an all up arrow weight of around 450 grains (when fitted with a 100 grain point). Each shaft was straight as you please and marked for spine, again bang on. These made some very nice arrows which shot really nice groups on a Western target shoot. This size shaft is available in spine from 20# to 55#
The Warbow boys tend to use a lot of Polar as it makes a nice military arrow, ( see the one above) however the 3/8" shafts I managed to get were at the lowest end of the spine range at 55-60#. This lightness in spine meant that the weight was also at the lowest end at only 12.3 Gpi, some judicious cutting and a 12" taper at the nock end bring these shafts in to the range for another of my modern R/D high performance Longbows. This is a diameter I would not normally use for a sub 50# bow or an arrow I would think about for 3D shoots. Once made up the total weight of a smidge over 500 grains ( when fitted with a 125 grain point) made it a similar weight to the smaller 11/32" shaft I shoot in a different arrow wood. Shooting a great fat shaft is hugely enjoyable and looks very impressive when sticking out of a 3D, I liked the very positive shot the large diameter offered, these shafts gave me the biggest surprise and they will certainly be on my shopping list.
Following my own maxim of only buying the most expensive in the hope of getting the best quality I would normally not have come across these shafts, but in these times of austerity, with inflation and price rises and fuel rising on a daily basis I am very I glad I did. Sometimes good value is just that..... good value. It's generally perceived that only a couple of woods will make good arrows, these shafts offer an alternative and at a considerable saving, each shaft is hand selected and hand spined. £14.95 is a brilliant price.
As if all this wasn't enough Nidderdale archery also sell a range of bargain shafts in Birch, poplar and Ash, these I guess, are those shafts which don't meet Richards rigorous shaft selection process. We grabbed a bunch of these just to see what was on offer. These 5/16" shafts have been cut to 30" and are pre cut (tapered) for points, they are unspined - which means they could be anything from 20# to 55#, you can expect most to be in the middle range as these were and not necessarily as straight as his premium selection, some may need a little work by hand but I have paid top dollar for shafts in the past that were no straighter, however, all are shootable once you have spine tested them for yourself. .... At just £9.95 these are cheap, cheerful and will make excellent practice arrows or re-enactment arrows.
|Features & Design|
|These are not new arrow woods, in fact these were the shafts used back in "the day". In size they are correct, the spine rating is bang on and they have been selected by hand. |
|Absolutely as you would expect a shaft to perform.|
|Value for Money|
|I am sure thatyou will not need me to spell out what excellent value these shafts are... £14.95 per dozen speaks for itself |
Excellent shafts that Richard hand selects and hand spines, not only that but he writes on each shaft for you.The Ash in particular is a tad heavier than the shafts that are more widely available, this can be an advantage depending on the reuirements of the arrow and the bow style. The other woods make perfectly good arrows at either diameter. The killer blow is the price of £14.95, when you put all that together you have to start wondering why you haven't bought some.
For re-enactors, or those that tend to break lots of arrows or even just for the tight-wads... the bargain selection at £9.95 just means a little extra work and a huge saving.
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.
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Nidderdale Premium Arrow Shafts
£14:95 per dozen
Birch has a clean grain structure and tapers nicely.
Ash makes War arrows that will deliver serious penetration.
Up close the quality of this Birch is evident
Beautiful Straight Ash
Becomes a beautiful straight arrow
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.
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