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Keith Dunlap
Field Evaluation - Flex Fletch Glow in the Dark Vanes
By Keith Dunlap - Field Evaluator
Mar 6, 2010 - 7:02:02 AM
 



Flex-Fletch Products was the first archery manufacturer to develop an all-weather flexible vane that archers could glue to any arrow shaft.  This vane was first used in competition by Dick Mersch to win the Minnesota State Target and the Wisconsin State Field Championships in 1970.  In 1971, the Minnesota team won the Cobo Hall shoot and Flex-Fletch expanded worldwide. 

Flex-Fletch compounds their own resin from which the vanes are molded. This allows them to control the vane characteristics, such as quick recovery without vibration at the super fast arrow speeds being generated from today's bows.  The unique manufacturing process which is exclusive to Flex-Fletch Products, allows them to cast the strips that their vanes are die cut from, in precision molds.  This enables them to produce vanes in many colors with excellent recovery and durability. Flex-Fletch vanes are available in all sizes and 18 colors.

The new Glow-n-Shoot vanes from Flex-Fletch - find 'em in the dark.

In this evaluation, we will be reviewing the features and performance of the new EXTREME Glow in the Dark vanes from Flex-Fletch Products.  These new EXTREME vanes are similar to Flex-Fletch hunting vanes, but with a more rigid spine. Some of the features that Flex-Fletch boast about their arrow vanes include: zero vibration during high-speed arrow flight; tighter groupings resulting from arrow stability provided by their vanes; durable…outlasting other vanes 4 to 1; and Flex-Fletch claims their vanes are silent during flight.  I'll be testing the two-inch FHP 200 Flash EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vanes to see how they measure up.

Initial Inspection:
The Flex-Fletch EXTREME vanes arrived in damage-proof packaging, and all vanes were in good condition.  I received various sizes of the EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot glow in the dark vanes, and some sample 2" vanes in various colors (see figure 2).  I inspected the vanes for any obvious defects and for consistency of form.  I found no visible defects and all Flex-Fletch vanes were consistent in size, shape and quality. The base of each vane had a consistently smooth surface for adhering to arrow shafts. 

Comparing the rigidity of the EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vanes to several other plastic vanes I had on hand, I noticed that the EXTREMES seem much more rigid to me.  I researched information on the Flex-Fletch website and here is what I found…they are produced using a process involving thermal set resins. Other vanes use a thermal plastic extrusion process that uses a type of plastic that is not as durable, but allows for quick mass production.  My father always told me that haste makes waste, and so is true when trying to produce quality products.  Flex-Fletch vanes take longer to process than most other plastic vanes. The strips are molded, and require time to set and cure. The curing process alone takes 8 hours.  This process provides for a more rigid and durable vane.

Some of the new colors of vanes available from Flex-Fletch.

I proceeded to install the EXTREME 2" Glow-n-Shoot vanes onto three new Gold Tip arrow shafts using my new right helical "EZ Fletch Mini" from Arizona Rim Country (see figure 4).  Arizona's EZ Fletch tool fletches all 3 vanes at the same time, and the "mini" is perfect for fletching vanes up to 2 ¼ inches long.  Once I had three arrows fletched, I was ready to put the vanes to the test. 

2.05" EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vane (.490" high), 4.8 grains of weight.

Testing:
I proceeded to test the EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vanes using my new Elite Judge compound bowhunting rig, outfitted with a DropZone fall away rest and a Flex-Fletch 3/16" Shurz-a-Peep.  Testing the vanes was fairly simple.  I evaluated them for accuracy, noise level, and durability.

I shot three arrow sets from distances of 15, 20, and 30 yards.  I repeated this test until I had shot 30 arrows from each distance.  Comparing to typical results from my arrows fletched with other plastic vanes, and I was pleasantly surprised with the accuracy with which I shot using the new EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vanes.  When compared with my average groupings using the same shafts with the 2" plastic vanes I normally use, my arrow groups tightened an average of 1/4 - 3/8 of an inch overall using the 2" EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vanes.

As I shot my bow at my indoor range, I compared noise level with the Flex-Fletch EXTREME versus another popular 2" plastic vane (same shafts, same bow).  The arrows fletched with the 2" EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot vanes did not make as much noise traveling down range.  This is rather subjective, so I solicited the help of one of my sons to listen for the difference.  He too felt that the Flex-Fletch vanes were quieter than other plastic vanes I shot.

The glow in the dark feature of the new Glow-n-Shoot vanes definitely sets these vanes apart from other vanes.  Vince Grundman of Flex-Fletch states; "Glow-n-Shoot vanes are aerodynamically designed plastic vanes that are manufactured with a special proprietary formula that enables each to glow brightly in all low light situations for incredible visibility. Each vane will glow brightly between 10 and 12 hours after exposure to 20 to 30 minutes of artificial or direct sun light. These highly durable, long lasting vanes are easily regenerated to their vivid glow by 5 to 10 minutes of light." 

I typically use illuminated nocks on my arrows in order to find them after I've taken shots in low light situations.  These nocks typically add 20 grains to the rear end of your arrow, which changes the arrow forward-of-center (FOC) weight…which changes your shot accuracy.  So, when you practice you need to use these lighted nocks so that you are shooting consistently during practice and hunting situations.  The Glow-n-Shoot vane really adds visibility when also using an illuminated nock. Or in some cases diminish the need for lighted nocks…their expense, added weight, etc.  This is exciting because now I can recover my arrows in low-light without using the lighted nocks…which means I can start tracking my quarry more quickly.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the Flex-Fletch EXTREME vanes is its durability.  So often plastic vanes get dinged, ripped, and creased when they hit together down range in the target.  Some plastic vanes seem to last only a handful of shots before they are creased or ripped and need to be replaced.  Some plastic vanes even require heat to return to form.  Not so with the Flex-Fletch EXTREMEs…shot after shot they held their shape and form without tearing or creasing.  I was very impressed with their durability.  I read some of the customer testimonials on the Flex-Fletch website, and several people indicated that they have been using their vanes for years and would not use anything else.  Many of them spoke about the durability and lack of vane damage shooting the Flex-Fletch vanes.  My evaluation confirmed for me that these vanes come as advertised…made to last.

I used the new Arizona E-Z Fletch 'Mini' tool to glue the Glow-n-Shoot vanes.


Conclusion:
In conclusion, the EXTREME Glow-n-Shoot 2" vanes from Flex-Fletch performed as advertised.  The vanes provided improved groupings and I found them to be very durable during my testing.  They might not be as "extravagant" in appearance as some other vanes on the market, but performance is everything when it comes to arrows, and my evaluation confirmed the "as-advertised" features of the Flex-Fletch vanes.  The glow in the dark feature is very nice when trying to find your hunting arrows after taking shots near dusk.  You no longer need expensive illuminated nocks to find your arrows in the dark if you use the new Glow-n-Shoot vanes from Flex-Fletch.

This shot was take four hours after the arrow as placed in a dark room.


Specifications as Tested:

  •     Overall Size: 2.05" long x .490" high
  •     Weight:  4.8 grains per vane
  •     Main material:  thermal set resins

Pros:  Durable, true arrow flight, quiet
Cons:  Priced higher than some others (but worth it)

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