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How to Choose the Right Arrows

Nov 28, 2022Arrows

Among all the archery-related questions, one of the most challenging things to figure out is how to choose arrows. There are hundreds of different options when it comes to arrows, so trying to find the perfect one could take a while. Luckily you have come to the right place! Let’s dive into how to choose the right arrows for you and your bow.

5 Types of Arrows

A great place to start is the material that the arrows are made out of. There are five different types of arrow materials out there, each with its own benefits and disadvantages.

1. Wood Arrows

Wood is the oldest and most traditional choice for arrows. Arrows that are made out of wood will usually include a lacquer finish to ensure they are smooth. You’ll usually see them with feather fletchings, adding to their traditional look. This is why they are most often paired with longbows and recurves. They can be made from cedar, spruce, pine, or Sitka spruce and are the easiest type of arrows to break.

2. Fiberglass Arrows

Fiberglass arrows are some of the cheapest arrows that you will find and are usually shot with low-power bows or even toys. They do this job well, but you will most likely want to go with a different arrow material if you are serious about target practice or bowhunting.

3. Aluminum Arrows

Aluminum arrows are known to be great for beginners but are used by veterans as well. They cost a little more than wood arrows, but they are cheaper than other materials. They are also more durable than wood arrows, but not as durable as options like carbon or composite. In fact, aluminum arrows can become bent if not properly handled. I’ve used aluminum arrows in the past and I was always checking my arrows during competition to be sure they were straight. That said, aluminum arrows are a great value for their cheap price tag and perform really well.

4. Carbon Arrows

Carbon arrows are among the most expensive options but provide some of the best performance. They are the most popular type of arrow that archers choose thanks to their excellent speed and accuracy. They are extremely stiff, making them great for heavier compound bows or hunting. You will also pay a little more for this type of arrow compared to other types.

5. Composite Arrows

Composite arrows are a combination of aluminum and carbon. These are among the most expensive types of arrow, but provide you with the advantages of both materials. Most composite arrows feature an aluminum center with a carbon coating. These arrows are lightweight, very stiff, and fly well. This makes them popular with competitive shooters, bowhunters, and anyone who wants top-notch performance.

Arrow Measurements to Understand

In addition to choosing an arrow material, you will have other important factors to consider when it comes to arrows. This includes various measurements for the arrows and how they relate to your bow. All of these measurements are vital to getting an arrow that is optimized for you and your bow.

Arrow Spine

Arrow spine is one of the most important things to consider when selecting an arrow. The spine is a measurement of the stiffness of an arrow. Different spine measurements will tell you how much the arrow can flex or bend. Spine ratings can be found labeled on the arrow and in a variety of ways. For example, carbon arrows will have a number like 350, 400, etc. The larger the number, the more flex an arrow will have. We will go into further detail about the type of spine ratings further below. But your draw weight will help determine what kind of stiffness you should be shooting out of your bow. Most arrow manufacturers will have a chart to help you determine the best spine measurement for your draw weight.

Arrow Length

The length of your arrows will depend on your draw length. Archers who are larger in stature or have longer arms will have a longer draw length, therefore needing longer arrows. Your arrow length is important, as you don’t want to be shooting arrows that are too long or too short for your bow. It will also affect other things such as the arrow’s weight and the spine. The longer the arrow, the weaker the spine when compared to shorter arrows. Arrows are often sold in longer lengths and intended to be cut down to the right size for the archer.

Arrow Diameter

The arrow diameter might not be as important as other measurements such as length or weight, but it is still important to consider. For example, many bowhunters are moving to smaller-diameter arrows in order to get better penetration. The reduced surface area also means that the arrows are a little easier to pull out of targets. On the other hand, many people competing in indoor tournaments will opt for a large-diameter arrow in order to gain a small advantage when it comes to breaking scoring lines.

Arrow Straightness

Believe it or not, not all arrows are perfectly straight. This is one thing that can impact the price of your arrow more than anything, and the difference is as small as five-thousandths of an inch. For example, an arrow that has +/-.001” straightness is considered to be a premium, high-quality product while an arrow with +/-.006” straightness would be considered a cheap, beginner-level arrow. Straightness is important, as the straighter the arrow the more accurate it will be.

Arrow Weight

Your overall arrow weight will play a big role in your arrow speed and trajectory. Lighter arrows are much faster and will not have as much loss in trajectory (also known as arrow drop). Heavier arrows are slower but carry more kinetic energy and hit harder. Target archers might prefer a lighter arrow, while bowhunters might need one with a little weight to it in order to get better penetration.

Tip Weight

The tip of your arrow will add significant weight to the overall arrow. This is actually a good thing, as you want this weight up front in order to achieve better flight and accuracy. The type of tip will affect the weight. Broadheads and other hunting tips weigh much more than sleek field tips that are designed for targets. The tip weight will also affect the arrow spine. The heavier the tip, the weaker the spine, and vice versa. It will also play a large role in F.O.C., or “front of center”.

F.O.C. is the percentage of the arrow’s total weight that is found in the front half of the arrow. The more weight you have at the tip of the arrow, the more forward the arrow’s center of balance will be found. F.O.C. is important as it affects accuracy. Arrows with low F.O.C. can hold their trajectory better, but can also fly erratically. Arrows with high F.O.C. will fly with better stability, but will lose their trajectory quicker and begin to nose-dive. The type of shooting you will be doing, as well as the average distances, will determine what F.O.C. works best for you.

Reading Arrow Measurements

Wood Arrow Measurements

Arrows made out of wood will have a four-digit number on them. This number is used to determine what draw weight they are designed to be used for. For example, a wooden arrow with the number 5055 is for use with bows that have a draw weight between 50 and 55 pounds. The first two digits and the last two digits refer to the two draw weight ranges. While wood arrow measurements are easy to understand, they do not give you the whole picture of the arrow. You will only know what poundage of bow you can use them for.

Aluminum Arrow Measurements

Aluminum arrow measurements are similar to wooden arrows with a few differences. You will see numbers again, but this time the first two numbers are the diameter of the arrow. This is measured in 64ths of an inch. The second two numbers will give you the thickness of the arrow walls. The aluminum arrow walls are measured in thousandths of an inch. For example, if the arrow is numbered 1916 it means that it is 19/64ths of an inch in diameter, while the 16 refers to the walls of the arrow that are 16/1000ths of an inch thick.

Carbon Arrow Measurements

Carbon arrow measurements are a little tricky, especially considering that they are measured differently by arrow manufacturers. The most common form of measurement is a three-digit number. This number tells you how much a 28-inch spine arrow will bend when 2 pounds of force are pulling against it. For example, a carbon arrow rated at 300 would bend 0.300 inches. The smaller the number, the stiffer it is and the better it will be for heavier draw weights.

How to Choose the Right Arrows

Understanding the various measurements is only one piece of the puzzle. Now how do you use all of this to choose the right arrow? There are plenty of things to think about that will help to narrow down your search.

First, consider your personal style and needs. Are you a traditional archer who will be shooting a longbow? Wood arrows might be the best choice. On the other hand, a competitive shooter will want to stick with high-end carbon or composite arrows. Your style and what you intend to use your arrows for will be one of the biggest deciding factors to consider.

You will also want to consider your budget. If you want something for simple target practice, then cheap wooden arrows might be easier on your budget than other materials. Lastly, think about the draw length and draw weight. Some lengths and weights will vary in availability, as well as cost more than others. You may even decide on a specific brand and model of an arrow, only to find it doesn’t come in the right measurement that you need.

This is why it is so important to narrow down your search by considering your intended use, budget, and needed measurements. This will help you to decide on what specific arrow will work best for you.

Buying Your Arrows

Buying Arrows Online

A great way to get your hands on some arrows is to order arrows online. Not only will you have a much wider selection to choose from, but they will often be cheaper than buying from an archery pro shop. The downside, however, is that these arrows will not come cut or set up for your bow. You will need to cut your own arrows with the use of an arrow saw.

You must also ensure you get the proper arrow spine before you order. The last thing you want to do is purchase a bundle of arrows, only to get the wrong ones because you were unsure of what you needed. To ensure you get the right spine, refer to an arrow chart. Most arrow manufacturers have one on their websites that you can utilize. Arrows are generally sold in sets of a dozen or half dozen, but It’s also possible to buy a few single arrows. You can do this with various spine ratings in order to test them before committing to buying a complete dozen or half dozen.

Buying Arrows At A Pro Shop

The easiest way to get some arrows is to go to your local archery pro shop and purchase them in person. While it tends to be a little more expensive, this ensures you get exactly what you need since the archery shop can help point you in the right direction. Not only can they cut the arrows to the right size, but they can usually fletch and glue all of your arrows as well. They may even allow you to test them out if they have an archery range.

Buying Tips

Most arrows are sold non-fletched and must be done yourself or by your local pro shop. Of course, you can also buy them pre-fletched, which could save you some time. It’s often best to learn to do it yourself or have your local shop fletch the arrows, considering how pre-glued fletchings can often be low quality. Doing them yourself or at a shop also gives you the option to choose the helical pattern that they use as well as size and colors.

Speaking of fletched arrows, many archers might have to decide between using real feathers as vanes on the arrow or the usual plastic. There are pros and cons to both, but feathers are generally only used with recurve and traditional bows. This is due to the arrows not messing up the flight of the arrow when they come into contact with the bow shelf, whereas plastic vanes will alter the flight of an arrow. The downside to feathers is that they are not as durable or as accurate for hunting or competition. This is where plastic vines really shine.

As you can probably tell, there are many considerations when it comes to arrows. The most important tip is to not get overwhelmed and remember to enjoy the entire process. Play around in trying to find the right balance between things like your arrow weight and speed, penetration and stiffness, etc. There is no such thing as the perfect arrow since the perfect arrow is different for everyone. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different measurements, materials, styles, etc. until you find what works best for you.

Arrow Recommendations

Pointdo carbon arrows

1. Pointdo Carbon Arrow Target and Hunting Arrows

For those that want a great all-around arrow for either hunting or target practice, the Pointdo carbon arrows are an excellent choice. Not only are they inexpensive, but they are very durable and accurate. The bright fluorescent colors stand out against your target or in the woods for easy visibility. They also come in a variety of different options in order to get the best possible arrow for your bow.

2. Gold Tip XT Hunter Carbon Hunting Arrows

One of the most popular hunting arrows on the market, the Gold Tip XT Hunter arrows are extremely strong and high quality. Considering how great they are, the price tag really isn’t that bad either. Extremely accurate and straight, these carbon arrows have proven themselves over the last two decades of being one of the best arrows for serious bowhunters.

3. Easton XX75 Gamegetter Arrows

For archers who want to try out some aluminum arrows, there are few better choices than the Easton XX75 Gamegetter arrows. Extremely straight and durable for aluminum arrows, the Gamegetter arrows come at a good price and can be used with recurves or compounds. They are also designed for anything from target practice to hunting and everything in between.

Final Thoughts

One of the most complicated aspects of archery is the arrow. As simple as they may look, there is a lot that goes into the arrows and each is important. From the various materials to specific measurements, it may seem overwhelming at first. But with so many options comes the exciting journey of choosing the arrow that is just right for you. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how to choose that arrow, so good luck and happy shooting!

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