Left or Right handed?
No I'm not joking, unlike modern Carbon or Aluminium shafts, wooden arrows can be made for left handed or right handed shooting and it is important to use the correct one - the reason is outlined below.
The bulk of modern wooden shafts are cut from planks by saws and more often than not the saw cuts do not follow the grain of the wood precicely. If they did the shaft would look something like this if you looked at it from the side, the edge of the grain:
If you have such a shaft, treasure it for the force is strong in this one and it will be difficult to break. Unfortunately the vast majority of shafts look like this:
Still strong and perfectly useable, but only one way round! If you look at the top of one of these shafts then where the grain rises to the surface you will see sharp points outlined on the wood - like this:
Make sure that when you have an arrow in your bow and you look at it from the top, the points of the grain are pointing to the tip of the arrow away from the string because if the arrow breaks during the loose it will tend to break along the grain and the sharp points of the grain will slide up over the rest of the arrow shaft away from your hand.
magine now you shoot the same arrow from the other side of the bow; you have to turn it upside down to realign the cock feather and the points of the grain will now be going the other way. If it breaks now, the sharp point of the grain will be forced under the rest of the shaft straight into and probably through your hand. This has happened in the past.
So if you are like the vast majority of Right handed European archers and shoot off the Left side of the bow you need your arrow set up like this, viewed from the top:
Or if you are like the vast majority of Left handed European archers and shoot off the Right side of the bow you need your arrow set up like this, viewed from the top:
Occasionally shafts appear with uneven grain when viewed from the side like the one below:
This is a judgement call, as when viewed from the top or bottom the points of the grain may be facing in both directions. Usually the main grain is straight, giving strength to the arrow and I tend to orientate the arrow so that the majority of forward facing points are on the top. Even then I would only use them on lower power bows unless I was sure they were safe.
Shafts with grain like the one below I would reject out of hand!