It goes without saying that having access to the right arrows is one of the most crucial parts of archery. Simply changing up the type of arrow you shoot with can make a dramatic impact on your overall shot, including its accuracy and the kind of range you can cover.
To new archers, getting into the world of arrows can seem like a daunting prospect. There’s an enormous range of different manufacturers and brands to choose from, many of which work with different build materials and to different specifications.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to find the right arrow for you, then this guide may be of some assistance. We go over the major types of arrow materials and spines, as well as providing some helpful tips to keep in mind when trying to choose arrows.
But if you’re looking for some recommendations feel free to jump straight in to our roundups on the best target archery arrows and the best hunting arrows.
Table of Contents
Which Material is Right for You?
The type of material that your arrow is made of plays a huge role in its performance. It also has an impact on arrow weight. Wooden arrows, for example, are one of the quieter, lighter, and more affordable arrow materials. However, wooden arrows require a considerable amount of maintenance to keep them in good condition, due in part to them bending so easily.
Aluminum arrows are another option. They are generally on the affordable side, come in a range of spine groups, are durable, and offer good penetration. Carbon arrows offer another, more durable alternative to wood. Additionally, carbon arrows tend to be straighter than wood arrows. However, one potential drawback is that they require more specialized tools to cut.
Finally, if you are looking for the most durable arrows on the market, then you might want to consider fiberglass. Fiberglass arrows are not used as commonly as the other categories, but are often a popular choice for youth archers in particular as they can take such a beating. Additionally, fiberglass arrows are some of the heaviest out there.
Factors to Consider
Naturally, one of the most important factors in deciding what kind of arrow to choose is the style of archery you will be participating in in the first place. For example, if you’re planning on hunting larger game, then using broadheads will essentially be a non-negotiable. Shooting with a blunter arrowhead would not only be counter-intuitive in this instance, but also unethical due to making it impossible to make a clean kill shot at larger game.
Conversely, if you’re only planning on shooting at targets, then hunting arrows would be impractical and unsuitable. You’d likely even find that the blades on the arrowhead get dulled from repeatedly hitting the field targets, making the blunter arrowhead the more practical choice. So, in this instance, field points would likely be the better choice.
There are other types of arrowheads too, like bullet points, blunt points, and judo points. Blunt and judo points are both largely used for hunting smaller game, while bullet points can also be used for target practice.
Arrow Length and Spine
The length of your arrow shaft is another major factor to consider. Shooting arrows that are long enough is important for safety reasons; if your arrows are too short, they may fall off the shelf when you draw them back. A general rule of thumb is that beginner archers should look for arrows that are two inches or so longer than your draw length. Archery shops generally also have a draw length indicator, which you can use to determine your exact draw length.
An arrow’s ‘spine’ also plays an enormous role in its performance. The amount of spine an arrow has refers to how much it bends. It’s especially important that your arrows have the same spine, otherwise you’ll find that your shot is inconsistent and your groupings will be off. Keep in mind that arrows lose their spine over time, too.
Our Tips and Tricks for Finding the Perfect Arrow
Generally speaking, there are certain types of arrows that will work better for particular shooting styles than others. If you’re planning on bowhunting, you’ll probably want arrows with broadheads. Additionally, you may want to opt for heavier arrows, especially if you’re planning on hunting larger game. The heavier your arrows, the more force they’ll carry, and the deeper they’ll be able to penetrate when hitting the target.
On the other hand, target archers may want to choose a lighter arrow, particularly when shooting at especially long distances. You will likely want to look for arrows with a flatter trajectory, too.
If you’re unsure of how much spine you’d like your arrows to have, then it’s generally better to err on the side of purchasing stiffer rather than weaker arrows. We mostly recommend this due to the fact that arrows lose their spine over time, anyway. An arrow that has too much spine will bend a great deal when shot, making it very difficult to hit a target cleanly.
So, stiffer arrows will (within reason) generally be a better investment, as they should last longer and be more reliable before losing too much spine. It’s important to remember that the type of bow you shoot with also has an impact on spine, too. For example, compound bows have cams that put a lot of pressure on arrows, requiring a stiffer spine. You’ll generally want to shoot arrows with stiffer spines with bows that have higher draw weighs, too.
When choosing arrows, you should be able to use a spine selection chart or test kit to help you get a closer idea of the type of spine that will work best for you and your bow. Always try to shoot with an arrow that you are interested in before buying, if you can.
If you’re on the hunt for some new arrows or are just trying to understand arrows a little better, then we hope that this guide will be of some help. Finding the perfect arrow for you can seem a little daunting, but it’s absolutely worth the time and effort spent.