Besides the knowledge about the different archery bows, information about the different types of arrows are of great importance for the archer. If you would like to learn archery but are afraid of all the technical terms when buying arrows, we are happy to help you. Because what at first sight seems to be so extensive, is actually not at all. If your searching for the best bow for beginners, we have put together some essential information about buying new arrows for archery in a concise way so that you can find the best arrows for your archery bow. Have fun with our Arrows Guide!
The different Arrow Types for Archery
In earlier times, when the shooter only used the longbow, there was not as much choice as today. What they had were their best bows. The best arrows for hunting was made of wood. Today archery arrows are available in all possible variations – from wooden arrows to aluminum arrows, fiberglass arrows, and carbon arrows, everything is available. What exactly the differences are and how the material of the archery arrows affects the flight characteristics, we explain to you below.
The wooden arrows are, as already mentioned, the classic among archery arrows. If you have a traditional attitude towards archery, you will not be able to avoid wooden arrows. They are cheap to buy, but have some disadvantages: they break easily, which increases the risk of injury. In addition, they warp under different weather conditions and tend to swell when wet, which can have a very negative effect on their flying characteristics.
If you are a recurve bow shooter, we strongly advise against wooden arrows. They break far too easily to withstand the energy transfer of a recurve bow. It goes without saying that they are also not suitable for the compound bow with its extreme power.
Carbon Arrows are relatively expensive but very beginner-friendly. The carbon arrow is extremely durable and weatherproof. It does not warp and forgives many a mistake.
However, it tends to splinter. Therefore you should check it for damage before each shot. Bend it back and forth very slightly and listen for any crunching. If not, you can use it.
Carbon arrows are suitable for Recurve Bows, Longbows, and Compound Bows. In archery arrows comparison, carbon arrows do best in our opinion, because they have a few disadvantages and combine many advantages.
As a rule, the compound arrow consists of pure carbon. The high tensile weight means that the load on the arrow during the impact is very high. Therefore an arrow made of aluminum would not be very suitable. Aluminum arrows bend, especially with targets made of stramit, because the load on the arrow during impact is simply too high in the long run.
Aluminum arrows are light, robust, and suitable for recurve bows as well as longbows and compound bows. However, they are not particularly beginner-friendly as they bend quickly, especially when hitting a hard target. Experienced archers are known to hit the soft target more often than beginners – therefore aluminum arrows should only be used by the former, otherwise, it will quickly become expensive.
Fiberglass arrows are not only very inexpensive but above all one thing – unsuitable for all bows with a tensile force of more than 30 lbs. Therefore we generally advise against these arrows, unless they are used by children’s bows or recreational shooters without great ambitions. In addition, their flight characteristics are rather unfavorable and can quickly frustrate experienced shooters.
The arrow mainly consists of a shaft made of wood, aluminum, carbon or aluminum/carbon. The thickness of the shaft has a great influence on the air resistance: the thinner a shaft is, the further it flies.
Each shaft is equipped with an arrowhead. The main purpose of the arrowhead is to make the shaft heavier at the tip, which stabilizes the trajectory. A heavy tip shifts the center of gravity of the arrow forward. If the tip is light, the center of gravity is not quite as far forward. This shift is called FOC (Front of Center) and should be between 7% and 16%.
Since the arrow has to overcome inertia, it is compressed first when it is fired. The following applies: The heavier the tip, the greater the compression of the arrow. The weight of the tip has a significant influence on the spine value. The spine value and the correct determination are pretty much the most important things for an archer in the field of archery.
The arrow of each archer must fit exactly to the bow and the shooting technique. The arrow is compressed when fired and is set in a strong pendulum motion. The arrow must twist so that it flies straight to the target despite its own speed when fired. A lot of basic knowledge is needed to find the right arrow for the bow. For the necessary rough and fine-tuning even more knowledge and experience is required.
At the end of each arrow is the cam. This is available in many variations. Some cams are specially designed for certain types of arrows and can only be used with “inserts”. These are small sleeves that are put on the end of the shaft to mount the cam. It is important to make sure that the cam fits exactly into the string and is not too large or too small.
At the end of the shaft, the fletching is attached to each arrow. This stabilizes the arrow aerodynamically in flight. The fletching is also available in different sizes and materials. The larger the fletching, the faster the stabilization in flight. However, large fletching also leads to increased air resistance and thus to a shortened range. For the somewhat weaker bows (under 30 lbs) only smaller feathers are suitable so that the arrow is not braked too much.
The shaft together with the point, the feathering, and the cam make the arrow. If you want to participate in tournaments, you have to mark the arrows, because your arrow on the disc has to be different from the others. The feathers could fall off in flight, so the shaft must be clearly marked (e.g. with name signs). For field bows or 3-D tournaments, the arrows must also have a number or be marked with a different number of rings.
Important: the correct Arrow length
To buy the right arrows for your bow, you first have to calculate the arrow length. The arrow length is very important for the following reasons:
- An arrow that is too long leads to cramps in your posture and in the long run to severe tensions, since you virtually overstretch your optimal extension length when shooting
- You will not learn to handle the wrong arrow length – you will never get the most out of your shooting skills
- An arrow that is too short means an extremely high risk of injury because it can slip off the shaft and drill into your body parts or the body parts of bystanders when the tendon is released
To determine the correct length of the arrow, you do not necessarily have to calculate the extension length. You can also take the basic position in archery and test with a long stick how long your arrow must be exactly. Please note that your basic stance must be correct. A beginner should therefore take a solid shooter to help him or her evaluate their stance.
By the way, an alternative to a long stick is a measuring arrow.
The arrow that is optimal for your bow now protrudes between five and eight centimeters beyond the shaft in the basic archery position.
Another way to determine the correct arrow length is of course to calculate your extension length. To do this, you stand with arms outstretched and a second person measures the distance from one middle finger to the other. It is important that you do not overstretch! The arms must be spread out loosely. You can enter the value determined in this way into an online extension length calculator and thus obtain your extension length.
First of all, it is important that you already have a mature technique or someone who can teach you the basic stance when you draw and hold the bow. In the starting position, the correct arrow length is relatively easy to determine. However, an incorrect position will falsify it.
You should not shoot with arrows that are not adapted to your draw length. Otherwise, the risk of injury for you and the other archers will increase considerably. If the arrow is too short or too long, you will automatically assume an incorrect stance to compensate for the wrong arrow length.
Danger from an Arrow that is too short
An arrow that is too short represents a danger. If it falls from the holding position on the shaft of the bow, it is even possible that you release the arrow at the wrong moment and it drills into your hand. Otherwise, the arrow becomes uncontrollable and you will not be able to hit it well. The mere feeling that the arrow could slip off at any moment will damage your concentration and thus impair your performance.
You should always remember that the arrow is probably the most important tool to prevent serious injury. A quick search on Google can show you the painful consequences of an arrow that is too short. Even experienced archers are not spared the consequences of a short arrow. From your very first attempts at archery, you should seek advice from your coach on the choice of arrows that match your draw length.
You should make sure that the arrow protrudes about five to eight cm above the bow shaft when taking the shooting position.
Also, the question of the right arrowheads is one that every archer should ask himself. With some experience, you can easily buy your own arrowheads and mount them on the arrow if your arrowheads have been damaged. However, you should make sure that they match your arrow shafts because the arrowheads take on some essential tasks in archery:
- The arrowhead improves the flight characteristics of the arrow through its aerodynamic shape
- The weight of the arrowhead also provides more stability during the flight
- The arrowhead protects the arrow shaft from damage caused by the impact into the target
For these reasons, the tip of the arrow must be adapted to the respective arrow in size and weight as well as shape.
- Arrowheads for wooden arrows must be mounted outside, as wooden shafts are compact and not hollow. Therefore they are pushed over the shaft and then either glued or screwed. Arrowheads that are glued are more durable than those that are screwed, but they are not so easy to replace if they are damaged.
- For arrowheads for fiberglass arrows the same applies as for wooden arrows: Fiberglass arrows are not hollow either, which is why the arrow tips are pushed over them. However, tips for fiberglass arrows cannot be screwed together. They are always glued.
- Arrowheads for carbon arrows are inserted into the shaft, as it is hollow. This has a big advantage: When removing the arrow from the target, your arrow will not get stuck, because there is no overhang to the outside due to the inserted tip.
- Arrowheads for aluminum arrows are mounted according to the same principles as tips for carbon arrows.
By the way, if you find it difficult to mount your tip on your wooden arrow, you can easily point the arrow. There are special arrow sharpeners for this purpose. Conically converging arrowheads can then be pushed over it very easily and glued or screwed on.
Clever shooters get themselves so-called inserts. These are screw threads that are glued into the hollow carbon or aluminum arrow. The various tips are then screwed into these arrow inserts. This has the advantage that you are very variable, concerning your used bow arrows. You can always change arrow tips and test their different effects on your shooting skills.
The arrow feathering has an important task: It stabilizes the arrow and gives it better flight characteristics. The larger the feathering, the more stable, but also slower the flight of the arrow. Therefore you should consider the following rule of thumb:
The further away your target is, the smaller the fletching should be.
Of course, it is not only the size of the arrow fletching that matters but also the material. The traditional longbow archers have it relatively easy here, because they may only use wooden arrows from archery sets, which have a feathering with natural feathers.
There is, besides the nature feathering, also synthetic feathering. Natural feathers give the arrow incredibly good flight characteristics, they stabilize it quickly and keep it steady. If your fletching grazes an obstacle when shooting in the terrain, your arrow with natural fletching will hardly be deflected, unlike with plastic fletching. Nevertheless, arrows with natural fletching are more suitable for indoor use, because they soak up water, for example in rainy weather, they stick to the shaft and make the arrow unnecessarily heavy. Here the plastic fletching, which has a water-repellent effect, is clearly advantageous.
Generally, arrows are feathered with three feathers. An exception is the so-called Fluflu arrows, which are meant for very short distances and have six feathers.
You can also feather your own arrows, but you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Not every change has a positive effect on flight behavior.
You can see that buying arrows is not as easy as it sounds at first. If you follow the information in our Arrows Buying Advisor, nothing can go wrong. Have fun with archery!