boiling water, stove, kitchen
A simple solution for freeing a stuck insert. yuksing via Flickr

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About three years ago I bought a dozen Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 250 arrows with inserts and helical 2-inch Blazer fletching. I tried to forget that I’d paid something like $10 apiece for them, because things tend to happen to little sticks you send zinging through the air at great speed from a compound bow. They decide to go somewhere other than where you want them to. They disappear into the grass. Fly far away over the rivers and through the woods. They hit very solid things like bricks, which are not kind to arrows.

I live in the suburbs, where the only way I can reassure the neighbors they’re not at risk from my archery practice is by shooting towards my own house. So that’s what I do. I have a little McKenzie Crossbow Travel Pro target with sides that measure 18 by 16 inches. It’s the only target I’ve ever had that will stop both compound and crossbow arrows reliably. And if you don’t leave it out uncovered or let the kids test it to see if it’s flammable, it will last for years. The only drawback is that I really need a target that’s about 9 feet by 8 feet.

Anyway, after three years, I’m down to six arrows. The other day, I was shooting when a small asteroid must have hit nearby, throwing off my aim. My arrow went smack into the brick wall of the house and bounced back about 15 feet. The nock and field point were MIA. Remarkably, the shaft survived intact. I felt it for cracks. I flexed the shaft while rotating it. It seemed fine. The only problem was that the insert was still attached. The recoil had caused about 1/8 inch of it to protrude from the collar. If I could get it out, I could rehabilitate the arrow.

The insert epoxy was determined stuff. I couldn’t turn or pull it out the tiniest bit.  Solvents, I thought. Over the following week, I successively soaked the insert end in isopropyl alcohol, nail polish remover, and finally, gasoline. Usually, one or more of these is powerful enough to defeat sin itself. Not the epoxy.

Finally, I Googled the problem. The consensus on was to place the insert end of the shaft in boiling water, then drop an appropriately sized drill bit—3/16 inch, in this case—down the shaft from the nock end and jig it up and down a few times. Worked like a charm.

I learned two lessons from this. The internet is, as Homer Simpson observed about beer, is both the cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems. And from now on, I’m standing closer to the target.