Can Compound Bows Shoot Wood Arrows?

Shooting wood arrows from a compound bow is not recommended because the force generated from most compound bows are too powerful and can shatter your wooden arrow.

Can compound bows shoot wood arrows? 

Yes, but it’s STRONGLY NOT RECOMMENDED. The reason is that compound bows are mechanical and the force that it projects can shatter your wooden arrows, which can cause harm to those around you and yourself.

Compound bows use pulleys and cables that use more energy to shoot an arrow.  Therefore, the arrow shoots out faster and with greater force as compared to traditional-style bows. 

For those who are new to archery, you can find some introductory information about compound bows, why you should not use wood arrows on a compound bow, the types of arrows you should use on a compound bow, what type of wood arrows could be used and additional basic information about bows and arrows.

Compound Bows

A compound bow is more of a mechanical type of bow, as compared to traditional bows such as longbows or a recurve bow. A compound bow can be used for hunting or just for practice. We’ve got a great step-by-step guide on How to Choose Your First Compound Bow right here!

Compound bows use a great amount of force and are powerful because they are more mechanical.  A compound bow uses pulleys, levers, and cables to pull at the ends of the bow.

It is because of the mechanics in the pulley system that makes a compound more powerful than a manual bow and projects your arrow with more force.

As the pulley and cables contract, it stiffens the limbs of the bow making it rigid.  When the limbs of the arrow are rigid, they are less elastic and shake less when you shoot an arrow.  Therefore, the arrow will shoot with less outside forces acting on it.

Additionally, because of the mechanics of a compound bow, the string is easier to draw and the arrow can be let-off two ways:

  • Hard draw
    • When you draw your string hard, your arrow will shoot quickly. This is great for quick hunting or hitting large targets.
  • Soft draw
    • When you draw your string softly (or slowly), the arrow will shoot out gradually. This is usually better when you are required to hit a target that demands more focus.

What Do You Mean Hard Draw and Soft Draw?

When you draw the string of a bow, the tension becomes harder as you pull or draw the string back.

With a compound bow, the pulleys and cables lessen that tension to draw the string.  Because there is less tension on the string, it becomes easier to exert an opposite force—in this case it would be pulling the string. as a result, the let-off will be different.

Because a compound bow is mechanical and uses pulleys and cables, a compound bow can be drawn two ways. The ways in which the bow can be drawn are called “let-offs”.

The type of let-off that you want from your compound bow will depend on what activity you are doing.

For instance:

  • If you are practicing or in a competition, you will be focusing on a target that is not moving.  Therefore, you can draw the string softly; this is perfect for focusing on concentration and skill-demanding shots.
  • If you are hunting, your target will likely be moving and you will need to act quickly.  Therefore, with a hard draw, your arrow will shoot out quickly. A hard draw is ideal for fast-paced situations that don’t require accuracy.


Different types of arrows are manufactured for different types of bows. 

An arrow is long and straight, has an arrow point attached to one end, fletchings attached at the opposite end and has a slot at the end (where the fletching is) where the string is docked. 

Fletchings act as stabilizers so that the arrow can shoot straight and in the direction that you want.

For those who are not familiar with archery, there are different parts of an arrow:

  • The arrowhead (the front/main part of the arrow, where the arrowhead is attached to)
  • The shaft (the long straight middle section)
  • The fletching (at the back of the arrow where the feathers or plastic vanes are attached)
  • The nock (the slit where the string is placed at the end, towards the fletchings)

It is also good to know that a person who makes arrows is called a fletcher and a person that makes the arrowhead is called an arrowsmith.

Additionally, the shaft of the arrow can be made out of wood, bamboo, carbon fiber, plastic or aluminum to name a few materials.

Different types of arrows are manufactured and recommended to be used with different types of bows due to the forces created from the bows or the structural integrity from the arrows.

What Type of Arrows Should I Use on a Compound Bow?

Two types of arrows that can be used on a compound bow are:

  1. Carbon fiber
  2. Aluminum

Carbon fiber is a material that is much sturdier than wood and can handle the force that the compound bow projects.  These types of arrows can be used for hunting or any high-energy activity.

Carbon arrows are hands down the BEST arrows to use for any style of archery. I even wrote a whole article explaining why carbon arrows are WAY better than aluminum arrows and you can read it right here!

With the advances in modern arrow technology, carbon arrows are generally very easy to find. Here are 3 of my top picks, all of which can be found at Bass Pro Shops:

  1. Carbon Express Maxima Red Hunting Arrows
  2. BlackOut X5 Envy Carbon Arrows
  3. Victory Archery VAP Elite Arrows

Aluminum arrows can be used with a compound bow as well as a recurve bow.  These types of arrows are also good for beginners to use. They are not only lightweight but more cost-efficient as compared to carbon fiber arrows.

Again, since compound bows are mechanical and use force to project the arrows, wooden arrows are not recommended because the power of the bow can shatter your arrow. Thus, there is no use in buying the cheaper wooden arrows if you do not get to properly enjoy their use.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Using the right arrow is not the only thing you need to know about compound bows.  Although compound bows use pulleys and cables to shoot the arrow, you need to know what type of arrows are best for you to handle and how to draw the string.

The technicalities of archery are important and should not be dismissed in order to make the experience more pleasurable.

Additionally, there are certain things to consider such as:

  • The length of your draw
  • The length of your arrow
  • The weight of your arrow 

If you don’t know the length of your draw, this can be measured by a professional. The length of your draw is the length of your nock grove all the way to the throat of your grip. It is measured by finding the length of your arm-span then dividing by 2.5.

Once you learn what your draw length is, the length of the arrow should be approximately 1 inch longer or added to your draw length.  For example, if the length of your draw is 25 inches, then the arrow’s length should be at least 26 inches.

The weight of the arrow will depend on what you are doing.  For hunting, you probably want to use an arrow that weighs about 8 grains (per pound of the weight of your draw).  For practice, the weight will be less, about 6 grains.

Luckily, when you go to a retailer and purchase a compound bow, your salesperson will recommend which types of arrows to use.

Why Should I Not Use Wood Arrows on my Compound Bow?

Many experienced archers recommend not to use wooden arrows on a compound bow for the simple fact that the arrow can shatter.

One important reason for this is because of the power that the compound bow projects. 

Although you might think that a stronger manufactured wood arrow could work with an older, less powerful compound bow, it is still not recommended to shoot wooden arrows from a compound bow. 

Remember that a compound bow is mechanical and uses a pulley to project the arrows. 

Therefore, if you use one of your wooden arrows, it is likely to shatter.

Not only would a perfectly good arrow be destroyed, but your safety can also be compromised when dealing with the forces of a compound bow. 

What Type of Bow Can I Use Wooden Arrows With?

It is recommended to use wooden arrows on traditional bows such as a classic longbow or a recurve bow.

These types of bows are made with simple mechanics that require you to use your own vision and your draw strength.

These types of traditional bows can also be used with arrows made of aluminum as well. There are also more modern longbows and recurve bows that you can use with your wood arrows if you prefer a nicer and sleeker-looking model.

It is important to remember that the ability of a wooden arrow to withstand the pressure and force exerted from a compound bow is extremely poor.

Rather than compromise the structural integrity of some of your favorite wooden arrows, a good alternative is to look into buying a traditional or recurve bow.

Another alternative is to find some arrows that are intended for the use of a compound bow instead.

Wooden arrows can make any archery collection stand out above the rest, but they cannot be admired in their full respect if they are used incorrectly with a compound bow.