The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

 

Fletching

 

The making of arrows, including shaping the wooden shafts and attaching the feathers.

 

Status Currently viable
Craft category  Wood, Metal
Historic area of significance  UK
Area currently practised  UK
Origin in the UK  Neolithic
Minimum no. of craftspeople required  Driven by demand
Current no. of trainees  7
Current no. of skilled craftspeople  45 members of the Guild of Bowyers & Fletchers
Current total no. of craftspeople  51-100?

 

History

Started for hunting, developed for warfare, became a recreation, still continues.

Fletching is the craft of making arrows. It involves the producing of shaped and tillered staves suitable to project arrows, the producing of arrows suitable to be shot, the producing of suitable strings for the bow, and the producing of suitable heads for the arrows.

 

Techniques

  • Split stave, shape, tiller, add nocks and string
  • Square staves, remove edges, shape to a dowel, make or add nock, add point and feathers
  • Twist threads together, make a loop at one end, serve centre section for protection
  • Heat and hammer metal to required shape, with socket for attachment to arrow

 

Local forms

There are variations depending on what wood is available and what the customer requires (e.g. for target, for field shooting for re-enactment or warbows for distance shooting, etc.)

 

Sub-crafts

 

Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Demand for the service
  • Too few young people to follow older ones as they retire
  • Not being able to accept apprentices in the usual commercial manner
  • Shortage and increased prices of quality timber
  • Market prices cannot be charged which provide a living
  • Most craftsmen only working part time on the craft and have other jobs

 

Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known

A list of fletchers can be found on the website of the Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers & Fletchers.

Other information

 

References

  • Challenge of Archery, D. Stamp, A&C. Black 1971
  • Archery, the Modern Approach, E.G.Heath, Faber 1966
  • Bowman’s Handbook, P.Clover, Br. Archer 1950 .
  • History of Target Archery, E.G. Heath, David & Charles 1973
  • The Bowmen of England, D. Featherstone, Jarrolds 1967
  • An Essay on Archery, W.M.Moseley, E.P. Publ: 1974(R:1792) .
  • The English Bowman, T. Roberts, E.P. Publ: 1973(R:1801)
  • Archery, Longman & Walrond, Longmans 1894
  • Archery, its Theory & Practice, H.A.Ford, Llanerch Press (F:1856)
  • The Archer’s Guide, Anon, Tabard Press 1970 (F:1833)
  • Anecdotes of Archery, E.Hargrove, Tabard Press,1970 (F:1792)
  • How to Train in Archery, M W.H.Thompson, Llanerch Press (F:1879) .
  • Pro Aris et Focis, R.O. Mason, Tabard Press 1970 (F:1798)
  • Toxophilus, Roger Ascham, Simon Archery (R:1545)
  • Medieval Warfare, H.W. Koch, Bison Books 1978 .
  • The Royal Company of Archers Ian Hay, Blackwood 1951
  • Archery in the Middle Ages, Milliken, MacMillan 1967
  • The Bow, Notes on its Origin and Development, Gad Rausing, R.Habelt:Bonn 1967 (Acta Archaelogica Lundensia Series No.6)
  • The Bowman’s Glory, Wood, S.R. Publ: (F:1969)
  • English Longbowman, Bartlett, Osprey 1996. .
  • The Art of Archery, E.G.Heath, Kaye & Ward 1978 .
  • Archery – a Military History, E.G.Heath, Osprey 1980
  • The History of Archery, Edmund Burke, Heinemann 1958
  • Encyclopedia of Archery, Paterson, Robt. Hale. 1984
  • The Book of the Bow, Grimley, Trinity Press 1958
  • In Pursuit of Archery, Edwards & Heath, N. Kay 1962
  • The Medieval Archer, Bradbury, Boydell & Brewer.
  • Of Bowmen & Battles, H.D.H.Soar, Bradford
  • The Crooked Stick, H.D.H.Soar, Westholme
  • Secrets of the English Warbow, H.D.H.Soar, Westholme
  • The Romance of Archery, H.D.H.Soar, Westholme
  • Straighten and True, a select history of the Arrow, H.D.Soar, Westholme
  • The Great Warbow, Hardy and Strickland,Sutton