The more advanced you become at archery, the more you will likely realize that making improvements in the sport often depends on tiny adjustments and changes to your gear or technique. This leads many archers to obsess over all aspects of their performance, and one area that tends to get a fair bit of attention is arrow speed.
But, how important is the speed that your arrow travels at? What impact does this actually have on performance, and how can we calculate arrow speed? This guide discusses some of the factors that affect your arrow speed, why it matters, and some of the methods you can use to calculate arrow speed.
Which Factors Affect Arrow Speed?
There are a number of factors that influence arrow speed, with the primary ones being your draw weight, draw length, the type of bow you’re using, and the grain/weight of your arrows. Recurve bows generally produce a lower arrow speed, for example, with an average of between 140 to 200 fps. Compound bows, on the other hand, tend to fire off arrows at a speed of between 230 to 280 fps.
Grains of arrow weight also has a major role to play in arrow speed. Generally speaking, when shooting with a higher grain arrow, you will have a lower arrow speed before the arrow reaches its target, due to the additional weight. Every additional inch of draw length you add to your bow will also increase its arrow speed. The same goes for draw weight; the higher the bow’s draw weight is, the higher your arrow speed will be.
Of course, there are additional factors that also have an impact on arrow speed, like technique, the condition your bow is in, how well-lubricated your bow is, weather conditions if shooting outside, and so on.
What is a Good Arrow Speed?
Generally speaking, when shooting with modern archery gear, a faster arrow speed is going to be a better arrow speed for a number of reasons. While the concrete figure can vary pretty widely depending on your draw weight, physical strength, arrows you use, and so on, your shot is generally going to benefit from greater arrow speed.
There’s a number of reasons that faster arrow speeds are preferable to slower ones. For one, arrows with a faster arrow speed tend to fly at a flatter trajectory. Arrows that fly faster can also pass cleanly through smaller holes in the brush, which can be crucial when hunting. Another hunting-related advantage of having a higher arrow speed is that animals (deer in particular) have less time to react then you shoot; some animals react very quickly to the sound of a bow being fired.
<blockquote>Arrow speed also gives you a greater margin for error when shooting at greater distances. This is especially helpful when you aren’t able to use a rangefinder and is mostly relevant to bowhunting. If you estimate the range of a shot wrong but are only off by a few yards, then having a greater arrow speed may just save the shot and help you snag a clean kill.</blockquote>
How do You Calculate Arrow Speed?
So, we’ve established what arrow speed is, the factors that affect it, and why it’s so important. But how can you actually calculate your arrow speed?
The easiest way to calculate or estimate your arrow speed is with one of the many calculators you can find online. They’re generally free to use, as well as being fairly straightforward. The calculators generally use slightly different parameters from one another, which gives you a range of options in terms of how you can dial in your arrow speed, or calculate other performance markers, like arrow kinetic energy or arrow velocity.
We recommend the following arrow speed calculators in particular:
- This one by Complete Guide to Archery
- Archery Calculator’s bow speed calculator
- Omni Calculator’s arrow speed calculator
If you would like to read about how arrow speed is estimated, as well as find instructions on how to manually estimate your arrow speed based on draw weight, arrow weight, and draw length, we recommend this article by Archery Report.
It’s worth noting here that bow manufacturers often advertise the average arrow speed that their bows produce in FPS. This number will often be considerably higher than the arrow speed you yourself are able to get out of that bow, and this is because of the fact that the arrow speeds manufacturers typically use are what’s called ‘point blank’ speeds. This is the speed that the arrow is traveling at the second it’s been fired from the bow; of course, arrows lose speed throughout the trajectory of their flight.
Understanding your arrow speed is a great way to optimize the setup of your bow. It’s also helpful in maximizing your performance, as higher arrow speed is generally desirable, especially when bowhunting. With the information we have provided and calculators we recommend, we hope that you will be able to get a more accurate understanding of the arrow speed you shoot at, as well as the ways in which you can improve upon it.