The more advanced you become at archery, the more you probably 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 gets 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 factors that affect your arrow speed, why it matters, and some methods you can use to calculate arrow speed.
Which Factors Affect Arrow Speed?
There are several 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 produce a lower arrow speed, for example, with an average of between 140 to 200 fps. Compound bows fire off arrows at a speed of between 230 to 280 fps.
Grains of arrow weight also have a major role to play in arrow speed. Generally, when shooting with a higher grain arrow, you will have a lower arrow speed before the arrow reaches its target, because of 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 impact arrow speed, like technique, the condition your bow is in, how well-lubricated your bow is, weather if shooting outside, and so on.
What is a Good Arrow Speed?
Generally, when shooting with modern archery gear, a faster arrow speed is going to be a better arrow speed for several 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 going to benefit from greater arrow speed.
There’s several reasons that faster arrow speeds are preferable to slower ones. For one, arrows with a faster arrow speed 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 when you shoot; some animals react very quickly to the sound of a bow being fired.
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.
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 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
- Archery Topics 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 checking out that Omni speed calculator above.
It’s worth noting here that bow manufacturers often advertise the average arrow speed their bows produce in FPS. This number will often be considerably higher than the arrow speed you yourself can get out of that bow, and this is because 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 they have fired it 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 desirable, especially when bowhunting. With the information we have provided and calculators we recommend, we hope you will get a more accurate understanding of the arrow speed you shoot at, as well as how you can improve upon it.