A French study has provided important and useful advice for shooters when choosing the right arrow for archery competitions.
When it comes to archery, choosing the right feathers for an arrow is key to winning and the final decision is usually based on the intuition of the shooter and his coach.
But, scientists from the Laboratoire d'Hydrodynamique at the Ecole Polytehcnique found that it is primordial to consider the environmental impact on the arrow, particularly on the so-called "feather" in it.
A "feather" is the tool of aerodynamic forces on the arrow, and is generally made of light and flexible materials similar to regular feathers. The aspect of feather size and shape in archery accuracy has not yet been studied in depth. However, this study did so and demonstrated it on Saturday, at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Seattle.
The researchers first shot arrows with various feathers using a throwing machine. They then used a wind tunnel to observe the aerodynamic forces on the arrow. These experiments were compared to theoretical models of arrow flight.
The wind tunnel is a testing facility used to conduct experiments and research on the impact of air movement on objects and to measure the impact of different air velocities. The researchers found that the best size depends on the environmental conditions. If there is no wind, a shooter must use very large feathers. The limit of the size is actually mostly dictated by geometrical constraints of the bow.
In a report published on the American Physical Society website, the study's lead author Tom Maddalena said "Although large feathers provide more stability, they're also affected more easily by the wind. We plan to further investigate environmental effects on the arrows."
"Currently, the choice of the feathers is based on intuition and comes directly from the athletes and their coaches. With our work, in which we collaborated with the French Archery Federation, we hope to tell them which feathers are the best, so that they can fully trust their equipment," he added.