Bearpaw Deluxe Fletching Jig
Something I have learnt recently is that making arrows is fun, no seriously it is. Spending hours in a shed sticking bits of goose or turkey feathers to long bits of wood can be the highlight of a long stress filled day. The fact that you do it so rarely that the fletching glue, which incidentally took hours to find in a drawer, has gone off months ago, the fact you keep putting hen feathers on the shaft first, or you measured one with the nock already on and then cut the rest a little bit too short all seem to melt away when you step out at 2 a.m. bleary eyed clutching a set of fresh new virgin arrows dripping in half set glue makes it all seem worth while... no seriously it does. Well it certainly does when you have a nice new toy to play with, especially if there are lots of features to push, twiddle and generally fiddle about with.
In my opinion even the most impractical and lazy archer (that's me) should have a fletching jig knocking about somewhere, you just never know when you might need to glue the odd feather back on. There are plenty on the market, in fact so many it's difficult to know which one to pick, I don't think any area of archery paraphernalia has as many options to do what is a reasonably simple job. They range from small and flimsy up to big and sturdy with as many knobs as the Starship Enterprise. One recently new entry in to an already crowded market is the Bearpaw Deluxe Fletching Jig which I had the recent pleasure or trying out.
The first thing I noticed when I received it was that the pictures online do not do it justice at all, lined up on a website with a white background next to all the other jigs on offer it is difficult to get an accurate idea of how big something is, well this one is a monster. In the pictures it's also difficult to tell how sturdy something is, the black colouring suggests plastic but it is in fact a nice solid metal construction and really does feel as if it will last a life time. The jig comes in three different versions, right wing, left wing and straight, however this is determined by the clamp which holds the feather and they are interchangeable and so you can purchase a single jig and then just change the clamps.
As far as features go the clamp is packed out. As with many jigs there is a fletching selector at the back end where the arrow sits, however rather than some fiddly arrangement requiring allen keys there is a simple switch which pulls down to allow three, four or even six feathers. The clamp sits on the jig via a magnet arrangement, however there is a very positive fit in to a frame and so it feels much more stable when in place than many jigs. The jig holder can be moved left or right, or even offset slightly using a couple of bolts, there are also distance markings and a pointer at each end of this so that you can match them up or offset them consistently.
Up front is a small holder for the front end of the arrow to sit, however this is fitted for smaller arrow diameters of 5/16 and 11/32. But the jig also comes with a holder for 23/64 which rather ingeniously is fitted to the main body of the jig so that you don't misplace it. It's something I have never seen before on a jig and it is just another example of the level of detail Bearpaw have added to make this a really excellent jig. The crowning glory however is the detailed instructions that come with the jig, that might seem like something that should be standard, but it really isn't when it comes to jigs. I have spent a lot on jigs in the past, many more complicated than this one with no instructions what so ever, so for me it is a real plus point.
One final feature is the ability to link the jigs together via a separately available base plate. A number of fittings on the bottom of the jig allow it to fit in to the base plate and be solidly held together with another jig, these can be linked indefinitely and so you could, if you had space, set up a massive array of them. The clamps as mentioned previously are also available separately and yet another nifty design feature is that the original box has holders for two clamps even though it is only supplied with one.
This really is an excellent bit of kit, some of the parts such as the rotator at the back, the clamp holder and the clamps themselves are plastic but that really is a non issue in my opinion given the price, which incidentally is very reasonable. It feels very solid and stable when in place and you have the confidence that when you turn the fletch positioner at the back, the next fletch will be placed in exactly the right position.
Features & Design
Nice solid construction for the body and packed with features. The easy to use selector for the number or fletchings is great. The addition of an adapter to allow for larger arrow diameters is a real plus.
Does exactly what it needs to without any fuss. Once set up doesn't need any further adjustment.
Value for Money
Not the cheapest but the number of features and build quality make this excellent value for money. Performs as well as the very expensive top models.
An excellent jig which even for a good price feels and performs like a very expensive one. The additional features, manual and overall attention to detail mean this is a great jig for the serious arrow maker or somebody just looking to replace the odd missing fletch.