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To choose the perfect arrow every time, you need to know the materials that arrows are made of, which bow you will be using and for what purpose.
How do you choose the perfect arrow every time?
Choosing the appropriate arrow for a bow affects the trajectory, works differently for hunting or practice and is designed to be used on different styles of bows. Choosing the perfect arrow will ensure that the arrow shoots out and hit the target accurately.
There are several factors you need to consider when choosing the perfect arrow every time. Choosing an appropriate arrow for your bow is important to get an accurate shot, will depend on the type of bow you are using and how you will be using it.
If you are interested in learning more about the materials that arrows are made of, the parts of an arrow, how to use an arrow, and with what type of bows as well as additional information, continue reading below.
How Do You Choose Arrows?
Choosing the best arrow can be perplexing to a beginner. Although an arrow seems pretty basic, different arrows are made for different purposes and for different bows.
There are many factors to consider before buying the perfect arrow for your bow. For a quick, decisive, answer I recommend carbon arrows. Read my article here where I explain why Carbon Arrows are the Best!
For instance, some of the factors you need to know in order to select the perfect arrow for you are:
- Types of material arrows are made of
- The parts of the arrow such as:
- The spine
- The length, diameter and weight of the arrow
- How straight the arrow is
- The weight of the arrow
- Draw weight and length
- The types of bows arrows can be used with
- How you are going to use your bow and arrow
Knowing the different types of materials arrows are made of, being able to identify the parts of an arrow and how they function, as well as their measurements and the type of bow they can best be used with will help you choose the perfect arrow every time.
Different Types of Arrows
To a beginner it might seem that all arrows are alike. However, there are several types of arrows that are made from different materials and are best used for particular bows and for certain purposes.
Since there are different types of bows that are used for different purposes and at different ranges, an arrow is manufactured so that it will function accurately with that bow.
It is important to use the appropriate type of arrow with your bow because the arrow can either shatter or not reach the target. You also need to know what type of activity you will be doing with your bow and arrow.
For example, if you are a hunter, you need to use an arrow that is sturdy enough to strike the animal you are hunting. You would want to make sure that the animal will not get up.
On the other hand, if you only use your bow for target practice, you will not need an arrow designed for hunting.
With this in mind, we should learn about the material that arrows are made of:
Wood arrows are traditional and are historically one of the very first types of arrows used for hunting. They can be used by anyone including beginner archers who are just starting out.
Wood arrows are very cost-effective as compared to arrows made from other types of material. They are less expensive because of the material and are easy to produce. You can even make wood bows at home.
The downside to using wooden arrows is they don’t last for very long. Wood arrows usually break, warp, and splinter before they break.
Since these types of arrows are made from wood, they may not all be made in the size and shape, meaning that each arrow is different.
Wood arrows also vary be size and are best used with a traditional longbow. Wood arrows are usually made to be used with a bow that weighs around 40 to 60 pounds. Therefore, a wood arrow that will be used with a longbow should not be light in weight.
Also, a heavier wood arrow is made to best be used with a longbow while a lighter wood is used with a short bow.
- When you use a lighter arrow with a longbow, the wind can knock it out of its trajectory and miss the target.
- If you use a heavy arrow with a short bow, the arrow will be too heavy and will also miss the target.
If you decide to use wood arrows, you will find that they are all similar and will not have to worry about choosing from a selection.
Aluminum arrows are durable and stronger than wood arrows. Arrows made from this type of material are appropriate for hunting and are a good option for a beginner to use, as well as by experienced archers.
Aluminum arrows cost more than traditional wooden arrows but cost less than other modern arrows, such as carbon arrows. Aluminum arrows can be manufactured so that every arrow will be the same size and they also vary in thicknesses.
Because of the material, they can handle a lot of damage which means that beginner archers can use them over and over until new arrows need to be purchased. The tips of aluminum arrows can easily be screwed off making it easy to replace it with different types of arrowhead.
Before choosing to use aluminum arrows, you need to know that they are sized in four digits and measure the:
- Diameter of the arrow
- Thickness of the outside wall of the arrow
It is important to understand what the digits mean. (Sizes and diameters will be discussed shortly.)
Once you become familiar with the sizes, you will know which type is best to be used either for practice or for hunting.
Carbon arrows are becoming more popular than aluminum arrows. They are a good type of arrow for hunters to use for hunting medium sized to big sized game. They are also very low maintenance and durable for beginners.
Carbon arrows are light in weight, are faster, have a small diameter and are sturdier than aluminum arrows. They also work better with bows that have heavier draw weights.
The measurements of carbon arrows can be very thin making it faster for hunting. And, by using a sharp arrowhead or tip, like the broad head tip, the arrow penetrates larger game better than aluminum arrows.
Carbon arrows are manufactured to have a very straight shaft, or spine. And, the straighter the spine of the arrow, the more precise it works and the more expensive it is.
Specifications of carbon arrows come in different classifications:
- Standard-grade arrows are used by hunters and beginners.
- Mid-grade arrows are slightly better than a standard-grade yet comes at a higher price.
- Pro-grade arrows
- Pro-grade arrows are for those expert archers who want to use the best grade arrow every time. These are the most expensive.
One of the best types of carbon arrow is the Maxima Hunter because it is very fast and accurate. These types of carbon arrows are manufactured to be heavier in the front of the arrow.
The Parts of an Arrow
Arrows are designed to shoot at a target accurately. And, in addition to knowing the types of material that arrows are made from, you should become familiar with the basic parts of an arrow.
Though arrows are made from different materials, arrows have four basic parts which are essential for trajectory. Knowing the parts of an arrow will help you decide which is perfect for you.
The basic parts you need to familiarize yourself with are:
- The shaft
- The shaft of the arrow is also referred to as the spine. It is the longest part of the arrow and the arrowhead and feathers are attached to the ends of the shaft. The shaft can be made out of wood, fiberglass, carbon or aluminum. Despite the materials, the shaft has to be sturdy and stiff to withstand the energy that shoots out the arrow.
- Fletching is the part of the end of the arrow; it is located at the opposite end where the arrowhead is. The feathers, or plastic vanes, that you see at the end of the arrow are called fletching. The purpose of fletching is to stabilize the arrow and guide it to hit the target with accuracy.
- The arrowhead is the point tip at the front end of the arrow (opposite of the feathers). The arrowhead is the part of the arrow that impacts the target.
- The nock is located at the end of the arrow and it a slit where the bowstring is inserted, when you draw the string. This part is what holds the arrow in place before releasing it.
Just as we’ve described the parts of the arrow above, the spine is one component that you need to consider.
The shaft, or the spine, of the arrow needs to be as straight as possible. Straight arrows will give you that accurate shot.
When an archer refers to an arrow having too little spine, it means that the arrow is weaker. And, if the spine of an arrow is stiff, it means that the arrow has too much spine. When choosing an arrow, you need to make sure that the spine has sufficient strength.
- If the spine is not strong enough, the arrow can fall apart or bend.
- If the spine is too strong, or stiff, the arrow will not shoot accurately.
In addition, the more precise the straightness of an arrow, the more expensive it will be.
Also, one factor that will affect the spine of the arrow is the bows draw weight. This means that if you’re using a bow with a high draw weight then you will need a stronger arrow. If your bow has a lower draw weight then you should use a lighter arrow.
When an experienced archer refers to the “static spine”, it means that how the arrow will be affected by how much the center of the arrow weighs. Too much weight will cause the arrow to bend.
Another factor is the length of the arrow if you have a longer arrow then you’re going to need a stiffer arrow and if you’re using a shorter arrow then the arrow needs to be weaker.
Additional factors are the weight of the arrow tip and the material and size of the arrow. Also, if you are using a compound bow, you need to consider the cam.
In addition to the stiffness of the shaft (spine) of the arrow, different fletchings are produced and used for different types of bow.
The purpose of fletching is so that it can stabilize the arrow and guide it accurately to the target. When the arrow has three fletching attached, one of them known as the index feather, is meant to position the arrow correctly on the riser.
The fletching can be made from natural feathers or plastic vanes.
- When you use natural feathers, they are softer and more flexible. This allows less contact with the arrow rest as the arrow shoots outs.
- However, with plastic vanes, they are harder and will make contact with the arrow rest. The contact can bump the arrow as it shoots out.
Although many archers choose natural feathers because of its classic history look, an arrow with natural feather fletching is better to use.
Natural feathers are more expensive than plastic vanes and can drive up the cost of the arrow.
Arrow Tips or Arrowheads
One more thing to know about your arrow is the arrow tip, or arrowhead.
Arrowheads are also manufactured differently either for target practice or for hunting. Therefore, the archer can purchase the best tips they need either for hunting or target practice.
If you are a beginner, you really don’t have to worry about choosing arrow tips because most arrows already have tips attached to it, as well as fletching. As you become more experienced, you can start looking at the different types of arrow tips.
Depending on which arrow is perfect for you, there are several styles to get to know:
- Bullet point tips:
- Bullet point tips are somewhat sharp. This style is best used for target practice or even hunting small game.
- Field point tips:
- Field points are sharper than bullet point tips. They can also be used for target practice and makes hunting small game easier.
- Blunt point tips:
- Blunt point tips are not sharp; the tips are flat. When blunt points hit a small animal, it uses blunt force to cause damage.
- Judo point tips:
- Judo point tips can be either blunt or flat. They have little leg tips that grasp on to the target when it hits. This style is best used on small animals.
- Broadhead tips:
- These tips are very sharp and have razor type blades. These are the best types of tips for hunting.
Once you become more familiar with the different arrow tips, you should learn about the lengths, diameter and weights of the arrow.
The Length of an Arrow
To determine the correct size arrows for your bow you need to find your bows draw length and get arrows accordingly.
Typically, the length of the arrow should be longer than the length of your draw.
For beginners, you should get arrows that are around 2 inches longer than your bows draw length. Once you progress and become better you can move up to arrows that are 1.5 inches long to 1 inch longer than your bows draw length.
The length of the arrow needs to be appropriate for the type of bow you are using. So, you also need to consider the type of bow. For instance, if you are using a longbow, keep in mind that the length of the bow will be about the same height as the archer.
In addition, the length of the draw will also be affected by the length of the arrow.
Therefore, for a longbow, you will need a longer arrow than for a short bow.
- A typical wood arrow that is made to be used with a longbow that weighs between 40 to 60 pounds will be about 30 increases in length.
If you are not aware of the length of your draw, there is a way to figure that out.
How to Find Your Draw Length
Your draw length is how far you draw the bowstring from the bow, as if you were in shooting position. Holding your draw requires strength and steadiness to shoot at your target accurately.
To figure out what your draw length is, you can use a draw length indicator. You can find this tool at most outdoor goods shops that sell archery equipment.
To use a draw length indicator tool, you place an arrow that is already measured and place it along the bow. When you draw the bowstring, you can use the measurements on the arrow to determine your draw length.
Once you find the exact measurement of your draw length, remember that the length of an arrow should be at least two inches longer.
Arrows have different measurements; they have different diameters for different purposes. The diameter of the arrow will affect the shot of the arrow and penetration. It also affects how long the arrow is sustained through its trajectory.
For arrows with thicker diameters:
- For target practice, archers use thicker arrows. A thicker arrow is heavier and the flight will be longer and easier to reach the target. Or, if you are using our bow for competition, using thicker arrows will gain you more points.
On the other hand, arrows with a smaller diameter are mainly used by hunters or target archers that are shooting outdoors.
- Hunters use thinner arrows because the thinner arrows will shoot out faster. When the arrow shoots out faster, the wind affects the surface area less.
- Another reason hunter use thinner arrows is because a thinner arrow will penetrate the game easier.
Regarding the measurements of aluminum arrows, which are sized in four-digit sizes such as 1716, knowing the definition of the sizes gives you a better understanding of the arrow.
- The first two numbers stands for the diameter of the arrow; this measurement is by 64th inches which means that the arrow is 17 out of 64th of an inch.
- The last two digits is the diameter of the outside of the arrow (called the “wall”). The outside wall of the arrow is measured by 1000ths of an inch, so an arrow size of 1716 means that the wall is 16 out of 1000ths of an inch in thickness.
The diameter of a carbon arrow is measured differently than an aluminum arrow. If we compare the diameter of a strand of human hair (which is about .002 to .004 inches in diameter), the diameter of the straightness of a basic carbon spine is slightly higher at about .006 inches.
The measurements for each classification of carbon arrows are:
- Standard-grade shafts have a diameter of .005 to .006 inches
- Mid-grade shafts have a diameter of .003 to .004 inches
- Pro-grade shafts have a diameter of about .001 to .002 inches
The weight of an arrow also needs to be considered when choosing the perfect arrow. Although a light arrow can shoot out faster, the weight can make the arrow get off course. A heavier arrow will be less affected by element factors such as the wind, especially when the target is at a farther distance.
The weight of an arrow is measured in grains or grains per inch (GPI). The GPI of your arrows will vary with the diameter of the arrow, the thickness of the walls of the arrow, and the material of the arrow.
The weight of the arrow should be related to the amount of draw weight your bow has.
- If your bow has a lighter draw weight then you should use a lighter arrow with your bow.
- If your bow has a heavier draw weight then you should use heavier arrows.
Also, if you’re a beginner, your arrows can all be the same weight. As you progress and become more experienced, you can experiment with different arrow weights.
If you’re a hunter then you would probably use a heavier arrow because a heavier arrow retains more of its kinetic energy when fired giving you the best chance possible to penetrate your target.
A heavier arrow is also best used with a longbow since they are designed to shoot at farther distances.
Types of Bows
Arrows are manufactured to be used with different types of bows. When you use the proper arrow, your bow will function the way it’s supposed to and your shot will be accurate.
- Wood arrows are typically and traditionally used with traditional bows such as the longbow. If you are using a longbow, then the length and weight of the arrow must be proportionate to fit the bow.
- One brand of aluminum arrow you might want to try is Easton Jazz. These are durable, can be used with a recurve bow and have steel tips.
- If you use a compound bow, you will need to use a stronger arrow that has a stiffer spine because of the force that the compound has.
- If you use a crossbow, you can use either aluminum or carbon arrows (called bolts).
So, Which is the Perfect Arrow?
After all that we’ve learned about arrows, now it’s time to determine which arrow is perfect every time for you.
With all the information, the perfect arrow to choose every time really depends on the archer, how the archer will use their bow and arrow and what type of bow will be used.
Additionally, keep in mind all of the factors discussed.
- If you are an avid and experienced hunter, a pro-graded carbon arrow with a broad head tip is the best type of arrow to use. With a pro-grade carbon arrow, you will get the straightest spine and your shot will be accurate. The broadhead tip will easily penetrate any game you are hunting. For a better hunting experience, you might also consider using carbon arrows with a crossbow. Just be sure to check to see if you need a special license where you want to hunt.
- Otherwise, if you are only a beginner and want to learn the basics of archery, you should consider using more economical and lighter arrows. Aluminum arrows with a field point tip are great for beginners and for target practice. These arrows can be used with a traditional recurve bow as well.
- If you are an archer who prefers to use their bow more traditionally or for personal enjoyment, wood arrows can be the best option for you. Wood arrows can best be used with a classic longbow. They also cost less and you can even make them.
If you are still unsure of which arrow is perfect for you and your bow, you can always visit your archery shop for recommendations. Just know that there is a perfect arrow out there for every archer.
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.