5 Expert Tips on Arrow Selection
Timmy Thomas, Archery Education Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlfie presents the third of a series of videos for the beginning bow hunter.
In this video, Timmy shares with you expert tips on arrow selection for a hunting bow. Bows are incredibly individualized pieces of gear and arrows have a profound impact on how your bow shoots.
VIDEO: 5 Expert Tips on Arrow Selection
Carbon arrows reign supreme in the compound bow world, mainly because they are:
- Durable – They’re less likely to crack or bend, even with heavy use.
- Thin – The smaller diameter facilitates better flight in windy conditions and enhances penetration.
- Faster – They have slightly faster downrange
- The vast majority of today’s compound bow-wielding bowhunters choose carbon arrows. If you’re starting out bowhunting, you’ll want to follow suit here. There are also plenty of newer composite arrows that actually combine carbon and aluminum to get the best of both materials. Consider these options as well, but keep in mind that they can be significantly more expensive.
The size of arrows actually refers to their stiffness or “spine”. Proper spine is probably a great deal more important than other factors that typically get more attention such as arrow straightness or fletching. You could have the fanciest arrow setup money can buy, and it won’t mean a thing if you don’t have the right spine.
Most manufacturers have easy charts to follow — the bow’s maximum draw weight and your arrow length gets you the right spine. However, keep in mind that sizing is not universal across arrow manufacturers.
Safety first here. Arrows that are too short for your individual bow rig are a SERIOUS SAFETY HAZARD. They have the potential to fracture upon release and send fragments hurtling toward your bow arm and hand.
Always make sure your arrows are cut to 1-1.5″ past your arrow rest at full draw. As long as you’re shooting a modern compound bow with a cutaway riser, measuring from 1-1.5″ past the arrow rest at full draw to the groove of the arrow nock will give you the proper arrow length.
Don’t attempt to cut your own arrows to length (unless you have a high-speed abrasive-wheel saw and you know how to use it). Your local archery pro shop will have this equipment as well as the knowledge needed to properly cut your arrows for you. They’ll also take care of gluing the inserts in. That way, you’re ready to screw in a field point and start shooting.
The weight of your arrows has a profound impact on how your bow shoots. Lighter arrows produce more speed, giving you a flatter trajectory, which is more forgiving of range estimation errors. As you decrease arrow weight, you get less penetration and a noisier shot.
So, how do you decide on your arrow weight? The first step is to find your minimum arrow weight so you can be confident you’re shooting a safe arrow. The AMO (Archery Manufactures Organization) standard is the easiest to calculate and the most commonly used. It’s simply your bow’s draw weight multiplied by 5. So, if your bow’s draw weight is 60 pounds, then 60 X 5 = 300. There you go. 300 grains is the minimum your finished arrow (that includes the tip, fletching, and nock) should weigh.
The typical bowhunting range is 5 to 9 grains per pound of draw weight (known as “grains per pound”). So, with that same 60 pound bow, you could move up to 6 grains per pound (60 X 6), which gives you a finished arrow weight of 360 grains.
Most bowhunters strike a balance between speed, penetration, and noise by opting for something in the midrange, such as 6 to 7 grains per pound. The average finished weight of bowhunting arrows is probably around 400 grains.
Fletching is the “wings” at the end of the arrow that stabilize it during flight. Feathers are the original fletching material, and this style still has followers today. Feather fletching is extremely lightweight, and it provides the best arrow stability possible. Feathers definitely excel in certain bowhunting niches. However, feathers are relatively fragile, they’re not waterproof, and they can be very expensive.
When it comes to choosing a fletching material, vanes are the clear choice for beginners shooting modern compound bows with standard setups. They are durable, waterproof, and economical. They simply stand up to weather and general abuse much better than feathers.
Longer fletching gives you more surface area, which produces better arrow stability during flight. The tradeoff here is reduced speed. However, stability (which translates into accuracy) tends to be of much greater importance at typical bowhunting ranges. 4″ vanes are the most common, so if you’re just starting out, that’s a great place to start. The shorter, wider 2″ Blazer vanes (and similar styles) have also become popular and are another good option.
The final consideration in arriving at your ideal fletching is the amount of helical or “turn” the fletching has. This simply denotes the angle of the fletching in relation to the arrow. You can choose from straight, which has no turn; offset, which has some turn; and helical, which has the most turn. The amount of turn influences the arrow’s stability. More turn results in more spin, which gives you greater stability.