Down and Dirty DIY: Fletching Arrows with Duct Tape

by Todd Walker

There’s gotta be a limit to the usefulness of duct tape. I’ve just not found it yet.

An older friend of mine gave me several wooden and a few aluminum arrows the other day. He’s unable to bow hunt due to an injury. The arrows needed fletchings.

Since the Dirt Road Girl has to take a year off of work for her cancer treatments (horrible side effects), money is tight to say the least. I refuse to buy “stuff” unless it’s a critical need. Wants have to wait.

No worries! I’ve got duct tape.

Years ago I watched Dave Canterbury fletching arrows for a survival scenario with one of the most important items to have on your person at all times – duct tape! In a survival situation, it’s a God send. While my backyard is not quite a life or death theater, it pays to practice doing the stuff in a controlled environment. A real survival situation filled with panic, extreme weather conditions, fatigue, and stress is not the time to practice a new skill. Especially one that requires fine motor skills like adding vanes to a makeshift wooden arrow.

Here’s what you’ll need.


1.) Gather the materials you’ll need: Duct tape (I use Gorilla Tape), knife, arrows. Of course, I’m in my shop and I used a table and other modern stuff. In the wild, you’ll only need the three items listed.

Materials: arrow, duct tape, knife

2.) To make one vane, you’ll want to cut two pieces of the tape about 4 inches long each. If I remember right, Dave applied one piece of tape on the arrow shaft at a time. I chose to go ahead and stick the two pieces together leaving about a 1/4 inch of sticky side exposed. Then I applied this to the arrow. Apply the vane about 3/4 of an inch from the end of the arrow giving you room to grip the arrow with your fingers. I don’t use a release. I shoot traditional bows.

Be careful when sticking the surfaces together. Once they touch, they’re not letting go. I went too far on a couple and had to start over. Wasted some good duct tape.

3.) Here I applied the first vane. In hindsight, I would recommend applying one piece at a time and then sticking the sides together. I had to trim the excess off the shaft with my method. Applying one at a time allows you to more accurately place the edge of the tape on the shaft. Lesson learned.

4.) Trimming the excess tape off the shaft.

5.) I used a straight edge in my shop to cut the vanes. The back of the vane measured about 3/4 of an inch tall going to zero on the front of the vane.

6.) I then measured in about 3/4 of an inch from the back of the vane and cut the corner off.

7.) I added three vanes to two arrows in about 10 minutes. They are not as pretty as store-bought, but they shot just as well. Pretty don’t always put meat in the pot. 

8.) I’d have no problem harvesting game with these in a survival situation or not. I plan on using them in the upcoming bow season. Practice your skills now. It will make all the difference when it really counts.

Nice group at 20 yards with down and dirty duct tape fletchings.

Hope you enjoyed my down and dirty duct tape fletching project. Got any other projects you’d like see? Suggestions and comments are always welcome!

Here’s another duct tape fletching link that might be of interest:

Sensible Survival – I really like the simplicity of Hank’s method.

Doing the stuff,


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Categories: Bushcraft, DIY Preparedness, Doing the Stuff, equipment, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Down and Dirty DIY: Fletching Arrows with Duct Tape

  1. That is so ridiculously brilliant I am almost speechless. I just knocked my personal common sense meter down a few pegs for not thinking of this myself.


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  4. I, Like you, love duct tape, so I thought I should advise you of something even better. Stagehands use GAFF tape. It comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Also, it is re-usable, sticky as hell, and outlasts duct tape like you would not believe. It is a bit more expensive, but is totally worth it. Thx for all the neat field expedient ideas 🙂


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