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How Heavy Should Hunting Arrows be in Traditional Archery?


When I started shooting traditional archery, I noticed how many different weights of arrows there are. I did more research to figure out how heavy those arrows should be when used in traditional archery.

How heavy should hunting arrows be in traditional archery? Traditional archery hunting arrows should weigh between 375-1000 grains depending on the bow draw weight and arrow length. The bow draw weight will always be countered by the weight of the arrow. Example: A 40-pound bow draw weight should use a 500 gr arrow.

Many new archers in traditional archery don’t know how to figure out the weight of a hunting arrow needed because they have yet to figure out their proper draw weight and draw length. These two factors will give you a more accurate answer on the weight of the hunting arrow needed.

How do I determine my proper draw weight?

The proper draw weight for bowhunting will be determined by State regulations. Many states have a minimum draw weight of 45 lbs for traditional archery that is being used for hunting purposes. You need to double-check your state restriction before figuring out your draw weight.

But 45 lbs might be too heavy for some beginner traditional archers.

A good plan as a beginner in traditional archery would be to start with a 25 lb draw weight and practice target shooting. Once your muscles get used to the drawback, add 5 lbs to the draw weight until you have come to your preferred draw weight.

It is always a good idea to practice target shooting before hunting with a new recurve bow. The BEST way to practice is with 3D Archery. Check out this article for more about 3D Archery.

It can take a while to get used to the draw weight making it easier to pull back. And it can take several target practice sessions for the recurve bow to settle in on the draw weight. Once you’ve worked your up to 45 lbs, you’re at a good place.

In traditional archery bowhunting, 45 lbs is a good choice for youth and female archers (or those with a smaller frame). Most men archers should stick with a draw weight of 50-60 lbs and this will do a perfect job for taking down most North American game at typical bowhunting distances.

Hunting with a recurve bow is different than target shooting. If you are doing traditional archery in the form of target shooting then you will want to use a lighter draw weight but for hunting reasons, you will use a heavier draw weight.

Using a heavier draw weight will launch the arrow at higher speeds and create more kinetic energy. More kinetic energy means more penetration.

That is why it is important to figure your draw weight ahead of time and get lots and lots of practice before going hunting. This will help prevent unnecessary harm to you and your game.

How do I determine my proper draw length?

There are a couple of different ways to measure draw length for traditional archery.

Measuring Tape Method

The easiest way requires a measuring tape and can be done by yourself.

You simply hold the measuring tape in your bow hand and pull the tip of the tape back as if you were drawing your bow.

Determine draw length using a measuring tape.

The measurement on the tape is your draw length.

Swing Span Method

The next way I will give you is going to be easier with an extra person to do the measuring. First, stand with your back against a wall and stretching your arms out against the wall. You will look like the letter “t”.

Next, have the extra person measure the distance from the end of your middle finger of one arm to the end of the other middle finger on the other arm. You will take this measurement, minus 15, then divided by 2, and that is your draw length.

If you don’t feel like doing the additional math, you can use this calculator to automatically calculate your draw length from your measurements.

AMO Draw Length Measurement

The third way to determine your draw length is to go to your local Bass Pro Shop to get an AMO draw length measurement. AMO stands for the Archery Manufacturers Organization. This organization helped create standards for things like figuring out your bow length, arrow length, bow speed, etc.

When you talk to the staff at your local archery pro shop and they give draw length in inches, they are referring to the AMO draw length. The AMO draw length is always given in inches.

AMO draw length is always determined while the bow is at full draw length and is measured from the nocking point on the string to the arrow’s “pivot point” on the riser. This is always the arrow rest.

Then you 1.75 inches to get the AMO measurement of draw length.

AMO Draw Length Measurement

If you use the Measuring Tape Method, add 1.75 inches to get your AMO Draw Length.

The AMO draw length is also to the equal to the minimum arrow length you can safely use for your bow.

The Archery Manufacturers Organization is now known as the Archery Trade Association. They offer education and innovation to new and experienced archers and are a great resource for more research.

What arrows would I use for a recurve bow?

There are two goals in choosing the best arrow for your recurve bow. Safety and accuracy!

If you use weak or poorly constructed arrows that don’t match the power of your bow that can then you could potentially injure yourself or the animal (not make an ethical harvest).

If you use a weaker arrow (too bendy), this will affect the flight. If you use too heavy of an arrow, you might not even reach your target.

You have to find the balance.

When target shooting, a lighter arrow is preferred since it will fly straighter, faster and not too much power.

When an archer is hunting, a heavier arrow is preferred since it will have more kinetic energy which means better penetration. For more info on kinetic energy and how to construct the perfect arrow check out this article about bowhunting with a 40 lb bow.

Wood Arrows are the old school arrow for the traditional archer. It is a light material (though heavier than modern carbon arrows) and is very affordable. This is a great arrow for beginners.

You need to be aware that this material can cause inconsistent results due to inconsistent characteristics of wood. This material can break easily so it is not recommended for high powered (heavier draw weight) recurve bows.

Aluminum Arrows are lightweight and are favored among modern archers. Most tournament archers and beginning archers use this for practice and target shooting.

They are budget-friendly and can be reused several times. They are typically stronger than wooden and fiberglass arrows and have a uniform design. With their lightweight material, they are a quiet flight for hunting as well. They can be prone to bend if they hit harder surfaces though.

Carbon Arrows are the most popular for bowhunting. They are very lightweight and offer fast speed with very little projectile loss. They can be custom made and also wrapped which makes easier fletching. The only downfall is that these can be very expensive.

Fiberglass Arrows can be a good replacement for carbon arrows. They are durable and have a consistent straight flight pattern. The downfall is that these are heavier arrows which means they are slower but have great penetration power.

There a lot of choices and it depends on the activity you are taking apart in as an archer. Finding your draw length and draw weight can help better determine what arrow is perfect for the archer and their use. As a beginner, I would recommend aluminum and carbon.

Related Questions

Do recurve bows need an arrow rest?

A recurve bow does not need an arrow rest because you shoot off the shelf when shooting a recurve bow. If you are shooting off the shelf you should use a shelf rest to protect the wood.

Can arrows be too long?

Determining your draw length will help determine the length of your arrow. But yes, arrows can be too long because the longer the arrow the weaker the spine. If your arrow is too long, it will not shoot straight and your accuracy will suffer.

What happens if your arrows are too lightly or too heavily spined for your bow?

Every arrow has a spine which refers to its resistance to bending. If the arrow is too long or to short this will affect the spine which will affect the flight to be off and have less accuracy. For more details check out this article all about how to tell if your arrows are too weak or too stiff.

Sarah Huffman

I enjoy giving knowledge to any bowhunter from beginner to experienced. My family has grown up as avid bowhunters here in Virginia and we mainly target shoot with compound bows and crossbows. I can't wait to add to the Archers Hub community!

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