Little John Matched Arrows

Reviewed By Steve

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For me a matched set of arrows means more than all of them being crested the same. Of course it's wonderful to have arrows that look nice, but the main criteria for me is that they should match the bow. I am certain that a lot of archers spend very little time tuning their bows and tuning their arrows. There are many ways to do this but all involve spending time shooting and messing with both brace height and nock point and then testing with variously spined arrows at the correct draw length and with an arrow that is the right length.

Little John-

All of this can be laborious and at times frustrating, but with a little patience you will be rewarded with the best flying arrow, when you discover that arrow it will be as if you are shooting a different bow and suddenly your accuracy with take a step up as if by magic.

You will find several combinations that work "pretty well" but just just one set up that puts you in the pro ring. once you have it either put it down on paper or commit it to memory. When I don't have the correct set up and the correct arrow I don't bother shooting - once you have experienced the "perfect" arrow for a particular bow you will know what I mean.

So when John Cately of Little John Arrows offered to make a matched set of arrows to my spec I jumped at the chance. Having seen what John can produce in his workshop I spent the next month being patient and awaiting the day they would be delivered.

At last the box arrived. As I said my main interest was to have an arrow that flies just so, when I took the first arrow out they looked so beautiful that even I had to smile.

As you can see from the photo, in addition to the cresting lines stripes of red and gold, John has airbrushed in 3 areas of purple that fades to blue which in turn then turns red, if they look good in the photos let me tell you that in reality they are even better and the camera hardly does them justice. The finish too is as slick and smooth as the paintwork on an Aston Martin.

A close inspection of the shaft showed them to be Boyton pine and one thing I do love about Chris's shafts is that they  always seem to have such straight grain, nothing running out to the sides, just clean lines from front to back.

I resisted the urge to go in to the workshop and start measuring for length, spine and weight. There was a much easier way to test them - the particular bow I had specified these arrows for was just to hand and it would tell me all I needed to know.

Looking about for a suitable target I had already set up my Eleven Roman soldier earlier in the day just 20 yards away, he seemed to be giving me funny looks - soon fix that, to finish I stuck one on his nose. When your arrows are right you will have the confidence to take even mad shots in the knowledge that your arrows will go just where you want.

As I hoped they would these arrows were just right for this bow. But just how matched are they ? first a weight test, these turned out to be the closest arrows I have ever had with just 2.4 grains spread between the lightest and heaviest - that's +/- 1.2 grain.... totally insane !! A set would be called very well matched if the spread were +/- 5 grain - but this level of matching takes that to another plane.

The arrows themselves are tapered, 11/32 at the front to 5/16 at the back, it's the last 10" that holds the taper and to keep the weight so close is going to require some serious skill. John made his own tapering jig and has obviously cracked that particular nut as I could detect no imperfections on the shaft from sanding or planing.

Tapering is a funny old game, I have never developed a specific formula when using tapered shafts but have conducted extensive tests with several of the bows I own in an effort to find the perfect tapered arrow for each bow. This bow loves a 52# parallel shaft, however when I initially made tapered arrows with a 54# shaft which dropped to the 52# once tapered, the arrow shot just ok, it seemed that 52# with a taper on it reacted differently dynamically from a 52# parallel. Thing is, with a tapered shaft you get a much bigger range of acceptable arrows, they are more forgiving of spine and tend to fly well even when over spined. Strangely enough when I use a tapered arrow I have to use about 58# to get the same level of dynamic perfection that I get with a parallel shaft.

Is a tapered shaft better than a parallel one ? not necessarily, a perfect arrow is a perfect arrow, however with the tapered shaft you have a much wider range of spines that can be shot.

As it happened I knew exactly what I wanted by way of spine on a tapered arrow with this bow and John hit the nail bang on the head.

Each of the 12 arrows is a clone of the rest in every way. The length is right, the taper is the same, the balance point is matched and the spine, weight and cresting are perfect. If it sounds like I am excited then that is because I am an arrow nut ! Because I spend hours on my own arrows I know exactly how much work is involved in making arrows that are a match.

Part of the reason my arrows always look simple is on account of the time already spent to sort through shafts, weigh them, spine them and straighten them. I have no patience to crest them in anything other than a basic way, so to see all of my stringent criteria met AND an incredible custom paint job is staggering.

Having seen Johns prices we should all thank our lucky stars that he does this because he loves it, if he charged by the amount of time he puts in... well.... all I can say is order some now before he realises and starts charging what these arrows are really worth !!

Those who know me will know that I always use my best arrows, in fact I only possess best arrows, for me a second rate arrow isn't worth shooting, so even when just practising or messing about I use my top arrows, if one breaks or gets smashed then so be it. But, I am going to have to own up that I have become very very fond of these arrows, they are easily the most beautiful I own and I will be using them but not for the times when I am just messing !!

Click here for more information and how to order Little John Arrows
 
Rating  
   
Features & Design
If you want matched arrows and you want them to be right make sure you have the full spec that you require. John will make you exactly what you ask for. 
Performance
I didn't even mention straightness, with bespoke arrows that is a given and John has produced arrows that are dead straight. Given that I had ordered the specification I wanted they are precisely as requested and shoot exactly as they should.
Value for Money
Check out his prices on supplier page...  Click here for more information These arrows offer total value, in fact the deal is so good it's like someone put a horses head in your bed !!
Overall
Insert your own superlative here... put as many as you like and you will still be only half way there. These arrows are awesome.

 


Your Comments

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  • Posted by: Martin Pettinger on Jul 26, 17:16

    John Cately is the best, and he is a Gentleman as well. Those of a certain age will know what that truly means. Thanks for all your help John much appreciated :-)


  • Posted by: Jason on Sep 3, 16:26

    Asked John to make me a set of footed clout arrows. He listened and made some suggestions and I waited patiently for their arrival – they turned up and I can honestly say are the best looking and best finshed arrows I’ve ever had the pleasure to own. Made by a true craftsman and worth twice what I paid and then some. I took them out to a record status clout shoot over the weekend without any new sight marks to see what they could do and broke the county record so John I owe you a pint mate – massive thanks and I’m coming back for more!


  • Posted by: Jayne Motson on Nov 5, 11:01

    I was introduced to John by my coach and I felt comfortable straight away….I went into his workshop wanting arrows like the pics on his website…but as I had only just started developing with my longbow he advised me not to spend on the fancies until I’d got my technique..the arrows I got were brill!!! I couldn’t believe the difference it made to my shooting, I was amazed…since then I have progressed, and John went that extra mile to watch me shoot at competitions, talk to my coaches and came up with the arrows which suited my style and bow….needless to say they came out of my bow unbeliveably well and I got the results at the target based on my technique…He is a real gent, always at the end of the phone to answer questions and help out…even when my first bow snapped….. because he had watched me shoot, he helped me get intouch with a bowyer for my next one…John you are amazing, I would recommend you to anyone…oh and I need my next set!!! lol x


  • Posted by: Adrian Hayes on Jan 3, 16:43

    I bought a set of Little John arrows – parallel matched, pine shafts, 29” long, spined at 37. Shot once in practice and the second time I shot them was at a clout tournament which I set two national records. The arrows were perfectly matched to my bow through Little Johns advice and came out of my bow straight and true, also I did not have to aim too far off to one side of the target due to the arrows. I used to make my own arrows and could not believe the difference Little John’s arrows made to my shooting. The arrows cost me £80.00 and for the price of them, they are well worth the money. If you are looking for some arrows, do yourself a favour and get in contact with Little John. cheers John for the advice given and for the fab arrows. Aidy Hayes :)


  • Posted by: brian maude on Jan 23, 21:24

    hi,my name is Brian maude I shoot for the Green man club, south yorkshire. I have shot with long bow at top level for many years,all around the uk at all distances.I seem to have my best results over the past several years, thats when I started shooting with Little John arrows. I personally think they are excellant quality,good value made buy a craftmans who is a perfectionist in his work.There’s no top archer in yorkshire who I have not beat I put this down to using Little John arrows.Like many other people Iv had ago at making my own, take my advice leave it to an expert.
    thankyou john.


  • Posted by: Jayne Motson on Sep 22, 14:35

    I needed to get a better reference point for 80yards and Little John was there to help again…he made me a set of thinner arrows and along with my Powell bow which he also shortened for me…the results are good..the new arrows fly fantastic out of my now 40lb Powell bow…thanks John x


  • Posted by: Martin Jordan on Sep 23, 16:48

    any one can glue a pile and some fletchings onto a shaft, but not everyone will measure your draw length, weigh your bow and then sit for hours selecting spine and weight matched shafts, weighing piles and nocks and then selecting fletchings to ensure that you recieve a set of arrows that will be weight matched to within ten grains and that suit you perfectly. Take the oportunity to visit John in his workshop you will find all the trappings of a man that loves his craft. Talk to the man and and you will find it does not end there, history lessons and a study on aerodynamics are all a part of the service. For a little extra cash you get a paint job that would make Van Gogh green. I have been shooting Johns arrows for five years and in July I shot a three gold end at one hundred yards did John’s arrows help you can bet your life they did.
    Thanks John


  • Posted by: martin Leonard on Nov 14, 12:55

    Quality product and fantastic service too.
    I wouldn’t buy any other arrows


  • Posted by: Chris Boyton on May 25, 20:54

    I just took delivery of a fine matched set of roving arrows that John made for our society.
    I asked for a set of 8 and between us we agreed the specification, and John set to work.
    Well none of John’s arrows are going to improve your love life or give you a better physique, but with the attention to detail, and time he spends close matching and weighing the shafts the archer can be sure his arrows are going to shoot well and consistently.

    There are two types of people in the traditional archery trade, those that make stuff, and lots more that want to sell it, all I can say is thank god there are still people who care about quality workmanship and want to make good equipment so that people can continue to enjoy the pastime of shooting wooden bows and arrows.

    In Victorian times a good set of footed and matched arrows were often three quarters of the price of a bow, which by today’s standards means John is almost giving his work away.
    John is an old school craftsman, and a pleasure to know and do business with.
    Chris Boyton.


  • Posted by: A. Walker on Oct 18, 20:25

    I have recently had a set of 32 inch 11/32 tapered shaft matched arrows made by John. They are for a 65lb at 28 inch warbow.

    I took my bow to John and he did the rest. They are matched within four grains and are absolute quality.

    I am new to archery but wanted a good set of arrows; how do you know if you are improving and becomming more consistent unless your arrows are matched.

    They shoot twenty yards further than the club arrows I was shooting with; and with less draw.

    John is a master of his craft and a gentleman; I cannot recommend him highly enough.


  • Posted by: Rick Turner on Nov 15, 08:44

    Just managed to shoot my set of matched barrelled footed arrows in a competition, made by John. Having walked away with two awards I can honestly state that the confidence comes from knowing that my arrows are of the best quality. So yes have fun making your own arrows and yes to having fun shooting them. And yes to ordering a set of arrows from Little John Arrows.


  • Posted by: Julie Moore on Jan 7, 19:12

    I went to John when i got my first Longbow ,I had no idea what on earth I was doing. But he did! He knew what i needed and persuaded me not to go for the very very top of the range ones ( I sooo wanted the purple pretty ones )and Thanx John as usual you were right. Now nearly 4 years on quite a number of medals later, i can honestly say of every arrow i have bought made and had made for me. Johns arrows are by far the best not only are they unmatched by the quality and craftsmanship they are a thing of beauty by themselves they are a joy to shoot and to behold. Thank you Julie


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