Serious competitors usually home in on one discipline or have specific arrow setups for each. Most archers, however, lack the time or money to build, tune and sight in several sets of arrows. Therefore, keep reading if you prefer one bow-and-arrow setup for backyard fun and competitive disciplines.
Let’s learn the arrow’s various parts. An arrow’s shaft is its body. The arrow’s nock clips onto the bowstring. Fletching, which attaches ahead of the nock, stabilizes the arrow in flight. The arrow’s tip is the pointy end that drives into the target.
The Arrow Shaft
Your first decision is choosing one of the market’s many great arrow shafts. Arrow diameter is a vital factor in do-all arrows. Fatter shafts work well for 3D and indoor archery. However, they’ll cost you points on windy days when shooting field and other outdoor events. Likewise, skinny arrow shafts are great for field and outdoor events, but catch fewer lines when shooting 3D or indoor events.
To compromise, choose a standard-diameter carbon shaft. These shafts have 5/16-inch diameters, and are the most common shafts in archery shops. Their components will also be easy to find.
P.J. Reilly, Lancaster Archery Supply’s technical writer, recommends the Carbon Express Maxima Red SD for do-all arrows. It’s a slightly thinner shaft than a standard 5/16-inch shaft. Reilly thinks mid- to small-diameter shafts are best for all-around shooting. “It’s a lot easier to tune than something like a 27,” he said. A “27” is a 27/64-inch diameter shaft, the fattest competitive archery allows.
Large and small fletchings also have advantages and drawbacks. Larger fletching stabilizes arrows faster, and works great for 3D and indoor events. Short- and low-profile fletchings drift less in the wind, which is ideal for field and outdoor events. Medium profile 3-inch vanes are good all-around options. An alternative is a four-fletch, low-profile vane that still stabilizes the arrow for 3D and indoor events.
Archers can tinker constantly with fletching to find the best setup for their bow. Removing fletchings and replacing them is easy work if you have a few supplies from an archery shop.
Reilly’s choice for do-all fletching is 2-inch Blazer vanes. He also recommends fletching the arrows for stability and accuracy at longer distances.
“Don’t get too crazy with the helical,” Reilly said. “Something like a 3-degree offset will be good indoors, and it’s not going to parachute at 80 yards.” Helical adds lots of spin, but it also increases drag. As arrows slow downrange, excessive drag can destabilize them.
This video covers the basics of fletching arrows. Note that some plastic vanes require special prep for strong adhesion. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s recommended steps.
Nocks link the arrow and bow. This is a vital component. The nock you choose depends on the shaft and your bowstring. The nock must match the shaft’s inner diameter or fit into its nock bushing. Bushings are metal inserts that protect the back of the shaft.
“The real X factor is nock fit,” Reilly said. The fit between your nock and bowstring is a vital consideration that’s often overlooked. The ideal fit creates an audible click as the nock slips onto the bowstring. A light tap should make the arrow leave the bowstring. Nocks that are too tight won’t cleanly release from the string, which can hurt accuracy. A nock that’s too loose lets the arrow fall off the bowstring while you draw, which is unsafe.
Point and Arrow Weight
Should you shoot a light or heavy arrow? Heavy arrows shoot better in a wind, but lighter arrows help when shooting unknown distances in 3D events.
Again, take the middle-of-the-road approach for do-all arrows. Your arrow point’s weight depends on your draw length, draw weight and arrow tuning, but 90- to 130-grain points are a good weight range.
“A simple 100-grain point is a middle-of-the-road option for all those disciplines,” Reilly said. “It’s probably not the best choice indoors, but it’s not a bad choice. It’s perfect for hunting, 3D, field and outdoor target archery.”
Multipurpose arrows are all about compromise. They might not be ideal for one discipline, but they’ll perform as well as you can shoot in all disciplines. To start building your ultimate do-all arrow, visit an archery shop for professional advice. You can find a nearby shop here.