We all know enough about an arrow to understand it’s a long straight shaft projectile with a weighted tip (or arrowhead), with fletchings to improve travel through the air, and nock at the rear end where it meets the bow string.
In the past, wood was the common arrow shaft used, and all too often they were either soft and light, or heavy and hard. Today, arrows benefit from modern construction and materials, and so they are most commonly constructed from fiberglass, aluminum, carbon fiber, or some combination of these materials. Let’s review the options from most desirable to least desirable:
Carbon Fiber Arrow Shafts
Carbon fiber arrow shafts are the best quality option available, and can be purchased as full carbon fiber, carbon with fiberglass or carbon with aluminum. In general, the more carbon fiber, the higher the price.
Pros: Fast, accurate, strong, lightweight, most use inserts which accept various points, work with feather or plastic fletchings, available in a variety of colors, and sizes
Cons: These are the the most expensive options
Aluminum Arrow Shafts
Pros: Lightweight, most use inserts which accept various points, work with feather or plastic fletchings, available in a variety of colors, and sizes
Cons: Moderately expensive, not as fast, accurate, or strong as carbon fiber shafts
Fiberglass Arrow Shafts
Pros: Tubular fiberglass shafts are inexpensive, durable, and have fletching options
Cons: Less accurate, and heavy
Arrow Points (or Arrowheads)
Arrow points vary mostly by intended purpose, here are the options:
Bullet points: Bullet points are commonly used for target practice against sand bags, or foam targets.
Grabbing points: Grabbing points are practice arrow points with wire springs that stick out to prevent them from being lost in the dirt or brush when target shooting.
Blunt points: Often used for hunting rabbits, birds, squirrels, and other small game. These Blunt arrow points are flat and kill their target by sudden force.
Bowfishing points: Often used for fishing, this arrow point has barb to make it easier to pull in a carp or gar fish. These steel heads commonly have removable barbs for ease of recovering an arrow from it’s target.
Hunting Broadheads: Used for hunting in the field, and designed to penetrate the animal, these are the real deal and vary by your need and preference.
Hunters generally match the weight of their practice points with what they plan to use hunting so their target practice when full dividends in the form of accuracy when on a hunt.
Fletchings are the 3 vanes (or feathers) which are attached to the arrow shaft to stabilize while in flight. The fletchings, most typically 4-5 inches in length, cause the shaft to spin as it leaves the bow and thereby allowing it to maintain it’s path and flight for longer, more accurately, and with greater speed. The general rule is that the fletchings should be wider than the arrowhead.
- Offset Fletching: Used for hunting and target shooting, fletches are symmetric (parallel) to one another
- Helical Fletching: Used for hunting and target shooting, fletches are slightly spiral to generate more spin
- Plastic or Vinyl
The nock is located at the end of the arrow, and has a recessed notch where the bowstring fits. The nock snaps onto the bowstring and detaches when the bowstring is pulled, then released. In other words, the nock detaches from the string when you load it up and release the the string. There are 3 styles of nocks each differing by how they are attached to the shaft:
- The insert where the nock is glued to an insert which is glued to the shaft
- The cap where the nock slides over the tapered end of the shaft
- The push-in insert where the insert is part of the nock and inserts into the shaft
Selecting an Arrow
First and foremost, the arrows you choose should be matched to your bow. You must consider weight and arrow length when determining which arrow will work with your bow. We recommend a visit to your local archery supply to determine the correct length of arrow to purchase.