Extending the Length of Your Arrows
This article appeared in Stick and String Traditional Archery Magazine, Summer 2013 issue.
EXTENDING THE LENGTH OF YOUR ARROWS
Arrow losses during the hunting season and indoor leagues have left you in short supply. So, you flip through your favorite archery catalog and locate the arrow shaft section. A review of the stock merchandise indicates that most arrow shafts suitable for traditional bows (400’s – 500’s) come in full lengths of 31.5 inches. If your correct full-draw length is greater than 31 inches, you have a problem.
I have a friend who had just such a dilemma. He needed a 33 inch arrow length to ensure a safe full draw and did not want to pay for custom shaft material. One night after a league shoot, a few of the members sat down and helped him come up with a potential solution. He developed a way to add an inch and a half to the shaft length thereby giving him sufficient point relief beyond the bow shelf.
To begin with, most of the necessary tools and materials can be found in any well-equipped archer’s workshop.
Tools: Basic tools are all you need.]
Arrow saw, Dremel cutoff saw, machine lathe, etc. to accurately cut the extensions to length.
Vice grips or bench vice to hold inserts while tapping threads
8-32 tap and handle
Thread cutting oil
Hand drill or drill press to help remove collar from inserts
Bastard file to remove collar from inserts
Tooth picks to apply epoxy
Paper towels to wipe off excess epoxy
Full-length arrow shaft
1½ inch shaft extension of the same brand, size, and spine as the full-length shafts
½ inch length of 8-32 threaded rod
1¼ inch insert – normal
1¼ inch insert with collar removed
Okay let’s get started. First, you need to create your extensions. Using shaft material of the same brand, diameter, and spine as the full-length shafts you are using, cut a number of extension pieces equal to the number of arrows to be modified. An arrow saw works best but a steady hand with a Dremel cut off wheel will do in a pinch. My friend uses a machine lathe but not everyone has one of those lying around. Speaking of lying around, the arrow material for the extensions can come from your arrows that are too short. I would not recommend using seemingly solid portions of broken arrows as they may or may not be sound. For this method, the extensions should be exactly 1½ inches in length and must be cut off square. The more accurate you are during this procedure the better fit you will have when the pieces come together.
Next, cut off enough ½ inch sections of the 8-32 threaded rod to ensure you have one for every finished arrow. Once again a Dremel cutoff wheel works well. Be sure to debur the cutoff so the rod will thread easily into the inserts.
Now divide your inserts into two piles. One pile will be used to accept your points. These inserts will keep their collars, the little lip at one end of the insert. You will need to remove the collars on the second pile. These inserts will be the connecting point between the shaft and the extension.
To remove the collars, use either a hand drill or a drill press. Place an insert into the drill jaws and snug it up. Run the drill at the lowest speed possible. While the insert is turning in the drill, make seven or eight passes across the collar. It does not take much pressure. You are only trying to shave the collar flush with the rest of the insert. This way the insert can slide completely into the shaft and extension. More on that later.
Now for a tricky part. Place a drop of thread cutting oil into an insert. It doesn’t matter which one. You need to do this step to all of them. Place the insert in a vice or hold it with a vice grip. Using your 8-32 tap start the tap into the existing threads. Work it down until you feel it start to cut in the bottom of the insert material. Continue to cut new threads through the rest of the insert until the tap protrudes for the opposite end. Now back the tap out and GENTLY work the tap into the opposite end trying hard not to strip out the new threads you just cut.
The idea here is to end up with an insert that can be threaded from either end. Take your time. It is easy to mess this up. Repeat this same process on every insert.
Take a break. The prep work is done. Your hands are probably a little stiff from cutting so many threads. Drink a cold soda and clean up your workspace a bit. The next step involves working with epoxy and it can get messy. You don’t want everything on your workbench sticking to each other.
Refer to the materials list and gather everything you need. Since you have a limited working time with epoxy before it starts to set up. I would recommend that for your first few arrows, you should plan on building one arrow to completion before moving to the next arrow.
Once you have all the materials ready, try a test fit so you understand how the pieces fit together. The threaded rod will connect the collared and un-collared inserts together. The collared insert will fit into the point end of the extension. The un-collared insert will protrude an inch out of the extension and slides into the arrow shaft creating a very strong joint. The pictures should help you see how it comes together.
Okay, place a drop of Loctite on each end of the threaded rod and thread the rod onto the narrow end of the collared insert. Then thread the un-collared insert onto the other end of the rod. The two inserts should butt up against each other. If the threads are slightly off-center, you may have to loosen the inserts to get a better alignment. Don’t worry too much about a little slop as the epoxy with fill in any gaps. You have created an insert/connection package.
Next, mix up enough epoxy to complete one arrow. Apply epoxy to the inside of the extension using a toothpick.
Insert the un-collared end of the insert/connection package into the extension and push the inserts all the way through the extension until the collar butts into the end of the extension.
Apply epoxy to the inside of the point–end of your arrow shaft and press the un-collared insert into the arrow shaft until the extension and the arrow shaft meet flush. Wipe off any excess epoxy. Check for any gaps in the shaft joint. If you cut the shafting extension material off square, your will end up with a joint that you can barely see. Let the epoxy fully cure before adding your favorite point.
The results should be an arrow shaft that is a full 1½ inch longer than the original shaft and will let you come to full draw. Arrow flight does not seem to be affected substantially and the joint should be strong enough to take the rigors of shooting practice, stumping, and hunting. For the record, I’ve seen arrows, using this extension method, deliberately skipped off of a concrete floor without a single failure at the joint. I do not recommend this practice! However, it does show how strong the joint is.
For those of you who are conscious of arrow weight, the entire extension adds approximately 50 grains to the total arrow weight using aluminum inserts.
So for those of you with monster draw lengths or just prefer a longer arrow. I recommend you give this process a try.
Disclaimer: This writer does not take responsibility for the quality of materials or workmanship that the reader might choose to use in recreating this process. The reader should check to see if arrow and insert manufacturer’s warranties will be voided by the alterations performed.