Many archers would not have experience with fiberglass arrows to know if they are any good. This is because the most commonly used arrows in archery are made of wood, aluminum, or carbon.
Fiberglass arrows are generally used in beginner or group-archery settings because they are inexpensive and durable. However, this doesn’t mean that fiberglass is the ideal material for arrows.
So, are fiberglass arrows any good?
Fiberglass arrows are good for beginning archers, some target practice, and for bulk use. Most advanced recreational and competitive archers would not use fiberglass arrows. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of fiberglass arrows before an archer embraces or disregards them.
Fiberglass is a common material that uses glass fiber to reinforce plastic. It is cheaper and more flexible than carbon fiber, and it can be molded into complex shapes. Fiberglass arrows signify that the arrow shaft is made of fiberglass material.
Traditional and modern archers differ in opinion when it comes to these arrows. Here is a list of 4 pros and 4 cons to help assess if fiberglass arrows are any good.
Pro: Low Cost
When it comes to cost, archers must have an idea of how many arrows they require for a reasonable amount of practice. Some archers feel that using cheaper arrows helps mitigate the practice costs by buying in volume.
Others feel that paying extra for better quality practice arrows makes financial sense, especially those who want the consistency to develop competitive skills.
Since fiberglass is such an inexpensive material, fiberglass arrows are very inexpensive. They often cost as much or less than wooden arrows. Fiberglass arrows are usually ready for purchase in batches at retailers. Therefore, fiberglass arrows are more likely to be used by these groups:
- Beginning archers—beginners are wise to use fiberglass arrows until they are sure that archery is a sport or pastime they wish to pursue. This keeps the initial investment in archery equipment much lower.
- Youth archers—fiberglass arrows are a good choice for youth archers because of their low cost and high availability. Young archers can buy batches of fiberglass arrows as equipment for inexpensive target practice.
- Modern archers on a budget—fiberglass arrows appeal to modern (non-traditional) archers who find themselves on a budget that doesn’t allow for more expensive arrow material, such as aluminum or carbon.
- Group archery programs—since fiberglass arrows can be purchased in bulk at low cost, it’s common for archery camps and other group archery programs to use them. Archery ranges often provide these arrows for beginner patrons to keep equipment and prices more affordable.
Archery can be expensive when it comes to equipment, especially at the outset when so much is purchased. The low cost of fiberglass arrows is, therefore, a definite pro.
Arrows go through a surprising amount of wear and tear in archery. They are subjected to the launch and velocity of the bow, wind speed, target hits, and even knocking against other arrows in the quiver.
These factors can affect the arrow’s resilience and performance. More durable arrows can withstand use, last longer, and perform better.
Each type of arrow has a different strength, which also impacts its durability. In the context of archery, strength often refers to the arrow’s ability to penetrate a target. Here are the basics for arrow strength:
- When archers pull an arrow back against the string of a bow, the arrow gains potential energy.
- This potential energy is converted to kinetic energy once the arrow is “loosed,” or shot from the bow.
- The strength of an arrow is a combination of how well it withstands the kinetic energy and impact of the target.
Fiberglass is an extremely strong, flexible material, often found in aircraft, boats, and even roofing. It is impact and corrosion-resistant. Fiberglass arrow shafts are strong enough to consistently penetrate targets and can withstand long-term use.
For these reasons, fiberglass arrows are incredibly durable.
The durability of fiberglass arrows is a particular pro when it comes to younger age groups that want to try out archery or schools that want to offer an archery program.
Archery has grown in popularity in the past decade, especially among student age groups. Many schools are incorporating archery as part of physical education programs and using fiberglass arrows due to their durability.
Pro: Weight/Straightness Relationship
Another pro for fiberglass arrows is their weight and relative straightness. Fiberglass shafts are highly and consistently straight. This straightness highly enhances accurate shooting.
The weight of an arrow is generally measured in “grains.” The grains per inch weight measurement of arrows depends on the shaft diameter, thickness of walls, and material.
The weight of the arrow used is related to the construction of the bow; the heavier the bow, the heavier the arrow used to shoot.
The weight of fiberglass arrows is heaviest among arrow shafting material, which helps them store more potential energy when drawn against the bow. This increases the kinetic energy when they are loosed as well, which adds to the target impact.
In addition, heavier arrows are less likely to be affected by wind conditions, making fiberglass arrows an effective choice for outdoor archery practice.
Archers must consider arrow weight carefully, as heavier arrows move at lower speeds. Yet lighter arrows are less likely to penetrate targets.
The heavyweight and consistent straightness relationship of fiberglass arrows make them an excellent choice for refining accuracy in certain archery target practice situations.
In archery, arrows are considered reusable if they can be shot effectively into a target more than once.
If an arrow is cracked, permanently bent, or damaged in some way, it can shatter when shot from a bow and cause damage to the archer. Using damaged arrows can also ruin archery equipment.
When it comes to fiberglass arrows, reusability is definitely a pro. This is especially true when it comes to youth archery or beginner group archery programs. Fiberglass arrows are resilient, which makes them an excellent choice when it comes to heavy and repeated target practice.
Young and/or beginning archers can reuse fiberglass arrows often while learning form, technique, and getting a feel for whether they enjoy the sport.
Breakage is one of the biggest concerns when choosing arrow shaft material. Young and beginning archers are more likely to lose fiberglass arrows than to break them under normal shooting conditions with proper bow weights.
This may lead some to believe that fiberglass arrows are nearly indestructible, which is not the case. They are certainly heavyweight and durable, which increases their rate of reusability.
However, like all sports equipment, continued use and reuse causes wear and tear no matter the weight and durability of the material.
Safety should be the highest priority for archery. Therefore, archers and/or professional archery supervisors must check all arrows before each use to determine if they can be reused properly and safely—even fiberglass ones.
Due to the heavyweight of fiberglass arrows, they fly at slower speeds.
Heavier arrows do store more potential energy than lighter ones, which is converted into more kinetic energy causing greater impact when the arrow hits a target. However, the heavier weight ultimately impacts the speed of the loosed arrow.
There are some paradoxes when it comes to the physics of archery. However, understanding the basics of arrow speed doesn’t have to create frustration or require an advanced degree for understanding. Essentially, the weight to speed relationship of an arrow can be explained as follows:
- The heavier the arrow, the more potential energy is created during a draw
- This potential energy is converted to kinetic energy upon the arrow being loosed
- The arrow is at its highest velocity at the moment of launch
- Once the arrow is in flight, air resistance acts on it as a negative force, called drag
- This drag affects both the arrow’s speed and power
- The greater the mass of the arrow, the greater the negative deceleration force
- Therefore, heavier arrows lose more speed than lighter arrows because of drag
A more visual analogy might be to compare an arrow’s weight to speed relationship with a baseball pitcher’s throwing speed and weight of a ball.
Using the same amount of throwing force and speed, a ball with greater mass (weight) would fly at a slower speed when pitched than a ball with lesser mass.
For most young or beginning archers, this loss of speed would not be a big concern. These archers would be developing basic skills for which arrow speed wouldn’t be an important factor.
However, as archers advance and/or become competitive, arrow speed is an important element. Since fiberglass arrows are ultimately slower, they would not be a good choice for long-term or competitive archers.
In addition to slower speeds, fiberglass arrows travel shorter distances. This is considered a con (negative) by archers due to the fact that distance is partly the measure of an archer’s skill. Target archery, in particular, is based on the distance an arrow is shot and the accuracy of impact on the target.
When an archer shoots an arrow, the experience is called cast. Cast is basically the arrow’s speed and distance range. Archers strive for greater cast, meaning that the greater an arrow’s speed, distance, and momentum, the better the cast performance.
Lighter arrows are faster (see the previous section) and therefore take less time in flight through the air. This allows them to travel a more direct route to the target and experience less overall drag.
Heavier arrows better penetrate both the air and target due to their mass, yet the negative drag force slows them down and they cover less distance.
When it comes to arrow cast, most archers value three principles:
- Strength—the endurance of an arrow when potential is converted to kinetic energy, and the endurance upon target impact
- Speed—the velocity with which the arrow is launched and the level it maintains in flight
- Distance—the amount of linear area the arrow travels from bow to target
Fiberglass arrows are strong, but also heavy in weight compared to wood, aluminum, and carbon arrow material. This weight affects their speed, which in turn affects their distance.
Again, the baseball pitcher can be used for visualization. A heavier ball, when pitched, would not travel as far as a pitched ball with lesser mass.
Fiberglass arrows are excellent for short-distance target practice, but they are much less effective in performance for longer target distances. Therefore, as archers progress in skill, fiberglass arrows would become a hindrance.
Though fiberglass shafts are strong, flexible, and durable as arrow material, their structure is quite rigid.
This is part of what enhances their straightness quality, yet it can be a negative aspect when considering fiberglass arrows for archery use. Fiberglass arrows are difficult to custom-size and can be a safety risk.
The rigid structure of fiberglass shafts actually makes them more brittle compared to their wood, aluminum, and carbon counterparts. This brittle nature causes fiberglass arrows to be prone to splintering, which can be dangerous for archers—especially youth and beginners.
Though all arrows are subject to breakage, the potential structural splintering of fiberglass shafts is a definite safety consideration.
Under no circumstances should an archer, at any skill level, fire a damaged arrow. Shooting even a slightly damaged arrow can result in serious injury for the archer and even others nearby. In addition, damaged arrows can ruin archery equipment which elevates costs for repair or replacement.
Experts recommend that archers thoroughly inspect each individual arrow before shooting. This includes arrows made from any material, purchased at any price, and brand-new or previously used.
Archery is statistically a very safe sport, but the responsibility of avoiding injury and/or damage due to equipment falls on the archer. When it comes to fiberglass arrow users, many of them are beginners or youth.
In these cases, arrow safety inspection should be done by a supervising or more advanced archer.
Use of fiberglass arrows is pretty much limited to beginner-level archery practice, over short distances. This is due in part to their speed and distance capabilities, but also because non-beginning archers gravitate towards more refined and quality arrow shaft material.
Traditional archers adhere to the basic foundations and traditions of historical archery. These archers are most likely to use wood for shaft material, due to its organic archery nature.
Some traditional archers are incorporating carbon arrows, but fiberglass arrows would not be a consideration among this group as proper arrow shaft material.
Modern archers may start with fiberglass arrows as beginners and/or youth. However, they would soon transition to a different arrow material for better performance. This applies to competitive and professional archers as well.
Though there is a niche among archers for fiberglass arrows, it is quite limited.
What about bowhunting arrows?
If you’re considering bowhunting, fiberglass arrows are probably not your best bet. What are the best hunting arrows?
Check out this article we put together detailing the Top 4 Best Hunting Arrows Use by the Pros. You’ll find out which arrows are the best and why the op Professional Archers are using them when they go bowhunting.
Other Things to Consider
Archery appears to be a simple sport made up of bows, arrows, and targets. However, there are intricacies when it comes to archery equipment—especially the arrows. For this reason, it’s important that archers, beginning to expert, compare arrow material and make the best investment for their needs.
Archery is considered both a pastime and competitive sport, with a long history and deep tradition. Modern archers use different arrow shafts than their traditional counterparts.
Recreational archers may stay at the beginning level and simply go to archery ranges occasionally to use the equipment provided. Olympic or professional level competitors invest hours of practice and significant money in striving for archery championship.
The common thread that ties all levels of archers together is choosing the proper and best equipment—particularly arrows.
Most archery experts acknowledge that choosing arrow material is significant in determining an archer’s success and enjoyment of the sport.
Based on the pros and cons mentioned above, here are the archers that would benefit best from using fiberglass arrows:
- Young archers, just trying out the sport
- Beginning archers, just learning the basics of form and technique
- Practicing archers, just acquiring experience in target practice
- Limited-budget archers, just wanting inexpensive and decent-quality equipment
- Archery camps, schools, and ranges, just buying consistently straight, durable, and reusable arrows for bulk availability
And here are the archers that would benefit best from not using fiberglass arrows:
- Traditional archers
- Competitive or professional archers
- Archers developing distance shooting skills
- Archers developing speed shooting skills
- Archers requiring high-quality arrows
Overall, archery is a learning process. As a sport and pastime, it’s meant for both skill and entertainment and occasionally a competition. If an archer is assessing the material for arrow shafts, there are pros and cons for them all.
Fiberglass arrows are inexpensive, durable, heavy-weight and straight, and reusable. They are an excellent choice for people who wish to try archery and build their skills.
Fiberglass arrows are also slower, travel shorter distances, prone to splintering, and limited in usability. Non-beginners would be better served by different arrow shaft material.
Individual archers should research and try various equipment, so they know what is right for their wants and needs. As for whether fiberglass arrows are any good, they are certainly a good place to start.