In this short article I would like to show you what you can do to find the right arrows for your bow. At first sight it looks pretty easy, but there are indeed a few things you need to keep in mind when buying them.
Which Arrows For Compound Bow
Before I answer what arrows a beginner should get for a compound, I’d like to explain which types exist. This will give you a good overview about what’s available on the market today.
Wooden models are very old-school and preferred by traditional archers who shoot over the shelf only. They are very authentic and really inexpensive. On the other hand they tend to break easily and are not always uniform. You should check them for damages regularly. Arrows made from wood are only recommended for recurves and longbows.
Fiberglass models are more often than not the choice for youth camps and a lot of group archery programs as they are very inexpensive and in general good for starting out in archery. The downside is that they tend to splinter so many shooting ranges or 3d parcours don’t like archers using them. Some even forbid it completely.
Apart from that fiberglass models are pretty heavy in general, which means that this is bad for accuracy at longer distances. Those kind of arrows are recommended for recurve bows only.
Aluminum arrows have the highest precision-to-price ratio. They are cheaper than carbon arrows and hunters like them because they are deadly quiet shot by a hunting bow. Another advantage is that there are many spine choices available.
A clear disadvantage is that they will always be heavier than carbon models of the same spine. So you will have to use arrows with a smaller diameter and thinner walls to compensate this – which unfortunately means less penetration so a big negative for hunters.
One last problem is that aluminum arrows can bend. Some can be unbent, the rest are lost. They can be used with recurve and compound bows.
Carbon arrows were made because the manufacturers built faster bows, so archers wanted faster arrows. As they are in general lighter, they fit faster bows pretty well. A big plus is that they do not bend and thus have no straightness issues at all. Another advantage of them is that they have less wind drift while being shot which is good for more accurate shots and consistency.
The downside is that they are more expensive than other options (aluminum). In case they break, they usually are lost. Carbon models are recommended for recurves and compounds.
Composite arrows combine the best of both worlds (aluminum and carbon) and are the choice of Olympic world class shooters. They are the straightest, most uniformly spined types which is extremely good for long-distance accuracy.
They rarely break or splinter and are very durable in general. The price for these kind of arrows is pretty high, of course, and they are definitely not recommended to be shot by beginners.
Full Metal Jacket hunting arrows by Easton. As their name implies, they are mainly used by bowhunters and are not recommended for archers that are just starting out.
Now you maybe want to know which are the best arrows for compound shooting but as you already may have assumed, there is no one single best arrow for compounds.
I would recommend you to start out with aluminum ones if you are on a budget (the choice between carbon or aluminum is often more a question of price, as they are both good options to begin with) . If you can afford it I would recommend carbons. Don’t use fiberglass ones as there are too many problems with those.
Vanes Or Feathers
Vanes or feathers? Does that really matter? Fletchings are like propeller fins that induce spin and stabilize the flight of the arrows (which are commonly fletched with three vanes or feathers). They can be made from feathers or plastic. But which type is better?
Feathers are often made from primary flight feathers of turkey wings. They are lighter and more flexible and thus are often used for recurve bows shot off the shelf. Vanes may hit the riser or shelf which can lead to very inaccurate shots.
Feathers are also preferred by a lot of Olympic recurve archers because of their forgiveness while sliding across rests and risers and by competition compound archers for indoor shooting. They are also used by some bowhunters for steering broadheads with maximum guidance and therefore – accuracy. One disadvantage is that they get water logged. This makes them very heavy when it is raining.
Vanes are made from plastic and are not influenced by bad weather. They are more durable, withstand most weather influences and are often used by outdoor compound archers and bowhunters because they have less wind drift due to their low-profile vanes. Olympic recurve archers shooting outdoors prefer vanes as well.
So again: the question if vanes or feathers is not right. You rather should ask which type of fletchings is better for what purpose? Shooting indoors or outdoors or hunting etc.
What Arrow Tips Do You Need
Lucky you, there are only a few options to choose from. I would say there are only two main categories: Target practice and bowhunting.
For target practice you can get field tips for field practice, tips for Olympic shooting and tips for target practice etc. All those tips were designed to penetrate foam targets.
For bowhunting you will want to get broadheads (come in great variety, 2 blades, three blades, etc.) or similar purposed tips. They are designed to penetrate skin, muscles and flesh. Don’t you ever use them on a 3d target or you will get in trouble 🙂
If you ask yourself what tip weight you should get I would answer that this depends on the weight of the other parts (shaft, insert, nock, fletchings etc.) of the chosen model as its whole weight (including the tip) must match the draw weight of your compound (I will explain that in the next paragraph).
How To Choose An Arrow That Fits You
First of all, you have to determine your draw length (not the one of the bow!). You can use a special arrow for measuring it (available in bow shops). So all you have to do is draw your bow with that arrow (full draw), then have someone look at its scale and note down the point that is right where the handle / riser ends.
Another tested method goes like this: Determine your arm-span length from middlefinger to middlefinger, then divide that figure by 2.5.
You can read our guide for determining your draw length here => How To Determine Your Draw Length
If you have no idea about how to measure your draw length I would recommend you go to a professional shop. They will measure it for you and will choose the best arrows for you and your bow because to be able to measure in a correct way you need to know what a full draw looks / feels like. If you are off on that one the numbers will be off as well.
Why are bow and arrows important, you might ask yourself? I would go a step further and claim that the right ones are more important than the bow. If they are chosen badly your results while shooting will be bad as well.
So what arrow length for compound bow shall you choose? A rule of thumb is that one should add one inch to the draw length. For example yours is 28″ (which is standard, by the way), then choose one that is 29″ long. An arrow that is too short might hit your own hand while shooting, so keep that in mind!
Next you need to choose the right weight for your arrows. The right one needs 5-6 grain per pound of draw weight of the bow for target practice (lighter ones travel in a rather straight line) or 6-8 grain per pound for hunting (hunting models need to be heavier for better penetration). If you’d like to learn more about Kinetic Energy feel free to read my article here => Kinetic Energy For Bowhunting.
So in general if you stay between 5-8 grains you are good to go. What you should not do is use ones lighter than 5 grains per pound. This might lead to damage of your bow or injury because if it is too light the effect equals dry-firing, which means shooting without an arrow, so the energy that is usually relieved into it goes back into the bow (Read this if you want to learn more about it => Dry Firing A Compound Bow). The weight of an arrow includes all its components (shaft, fletchings, insert, nock, tip).
The IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) recommends five grains arrow weight per pound of peak weigh as well.
So the formula goes like this: Peak Draw Weight(Lb) X 5 Grains per Pound = Minimum Safe Arrow Weight (Grains)
The overall weight of an arrow can be determined like this:
- get the weight of the arrow’s shaft from a chart based on size and length
- add the weight of the arrow’s tip (broadhead, field tip etc.)
- add aditional 35 grains for covering the insert, nock and fletching
What is archery spine
An arrow’s spine expresses its stiffness. As this can get confusing for a beginner pretty fast I would recommend you not try to understand it right from the beginning. What is important for you is to start shooting.
Concentrate on proper form and get yourself familiar with your compound and how it performs. After this phase you can go deeper and choose models with different spines and try those.
For now I would like you to get some that are advertised as being suitable for your bow’s draw weight and that fit your draw length. Start shooting and make your experiences. Then you can buy better models and concentrate on their spine.
I hope this article helps you to see that there are no best arrows for compound bows or bows in general. They need to fit you (draw length), your compound (draw weight) and the purpose (indoor, outdoor, hunting).
Thanks for reading and shoot straight!