Two of the most popular styles of fletching are shield cut and parabolic feathers. They each have strengths that hunters look for in specific scenarios.

The parabolic feathers are faster through the air while the shield cut vanes tend to drag. This trade-off is beneficial, however, with the shield cut vanes giving the arrow more stability in flight.

If you are mainly shooting over shorter distances you would be concerned mainly with accuracy and choose the shield cut. 

Over longer distances where speed and momentum are important, you would choose the parabolic feathers.

Some people have found arrows using shield cut vanes are louder and tend to hiss on the way to the target. 

Aesthetically, old-school hunters believe Shield Cut vanes look nicer, particularly if they’re on a cedar wood shaft.

What Are Parabolic Feathers?

Let’s take a closer look at parabolic feathers. What are they, what do they look like and what would you use them for?

The parabolic vanes are the most popular shape of cut sitting on the majority of hunting arrows in the US.

They have a rounded shape and a low profile that gives them a reduced surface area resulting in greater speed.

They are considered to be the quieter arrow vanes out of the two compared here.

Feathers are a natural material that are very effective at correcting arrow flight providing a greater level of forgiveness.

There is a great deal of versatility available when looking at parabolic vanes with a variety of lengths and heights to choose from.

The vane height you want will depend on things. These include the type of arrow rest you’re using, the game you’re hunting and the distance you expect to be shooting from.

Similarly, whether you decide on 3 inch parabolic feathers or 4 inch parabolic feathers will depend on multiple factors.

This includes the distance you expect to be shooting, the diameter of the arrow shaft and the type of broadhead up front.

The point is that they are available in each of these sizes. This gives the arrow flight more or less stability, depending on the size you use.

What Are Shield Cut Vanes?

Shield vanes have a high profile cut that provides greater stability than other styles.

As can be seen from the image above, the rear of the vane has a concave shape to it. This gives it the look of an old-time shield.

The reason why some hunters prefer the shield cut has to do with the extra drag to help keep the arrow flying truly and on course.

Hunters who prefer the shield cuts are happy to lose a tiny amount of speed to gain the control from these vanes as they stabilize the arrow.

Parabolic Feather Examples

Gateway 3 Inch RW Parabolic Feathers

Gateway produces the 3 inch parabolic feathers as either right wing or left wing. This lets  you match based on the way you want your arrow to spin.

This particular feather has an average height of 13.5 millimeters and an average weight of 2.04 grains.

It is suitable for all types of arrow shaft materials and can be used by either right or left handed archers.

You can buy them in packs of 12, 50, 100 or 1000.

Note: Gateway also produces 2.5”, 4” and 5” parabolic feathers.

View the full range of feathers by visiting the Gateway Feathers website.

TrueFlight Parabolic Feathers

The TrueFlight feathers are a natural feather fletching option that looks really good and performs incredibly well.

They are the perfect choice for longbow or traditional bow shooters.

They are lightweight, high strength and exceptionally durable and are available in a wide range of lengths.

Not only that, the range of colors is extensive, both solid block colors and striped feathers to give your arrows a more distinctive look.

The sizes are 2”, 2.25”, 2,5”, 3”, 4”, 5” and 5” as well as Max Fletch and Full Length feathers.

Visit the TrueFlight website for a full run-down of the range of colors, patterns and dimensions.

Shield Cut Vane Examples

Gateway 3 Inch Shield Feathers

These natural material feathers provide all bow hunters with a tough option in a range of color combinations and patterns.

The height of the feather averages 16mm tall and weighs an average of 2.21 grains each.

It is made in either a right hand or a left hand spin.

The feathers are available in packs of 12, 50, 100 or 1000.

View the full range of feathers by visiting the Gateway Feathers website.

Bohning X-Vane 3 Inch Shield Cut Vanes

Bohning is one of the more well-known archery vane producers and has a well-earned reputation for producing strong performers.

The range of shield cut vanes is quite large with a size and height for all hunting scenarios.

The X-Vane is a popular crossbow vane although it is very effective when used with compound bow hunting, too.

This 3 inch shield cut vane measures 12.7mm in height and weighs 10 grains.

The size and design provide control for large diameter arrows.

Bohning sells them in packs of 36, 100 or 1000.

Visit the Bohning website to get the complete range of vanes available.

AAE Plastifletch Max 2.0 Shield Cut Vanes

These are an example of 2 inch plastic vanes that are ideal for field points or expandables. 

They are tough and provide the steerage required with high speed compound bows.

The average height of each vane is 0.38” and they weigh around 3.9 grains each.

AAE sells these vanes in packs of 40 and 100. 

Visit the Arizona Archery Enterprises website to get the complete range of vanes available.


Shooting a compound bow, longbow, recurve or crossbow, there is a vane or set of feathers that will suit each.

Whether you’re looking for feathers to give your arrow a distinctive appearance or are more interested in performance, there is a wide selection available.

For a more in-depth examination of how different vanes will affect your arrows, take a look at our article about short vs long arrow vanes.

We have merely scratched the surface of brands and sizes available. 

Vane manufacturers not mentioned above include Easton, Flex-Fletch, Q2i, TAC, Gas Pro and Spider just to name a few.

You simply need to decide whether you want speedy parabolic feathers or stable, controlled shield cut vanes.


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