In today’s market, you can find many options for arrows for your compound bow. Picking the right one is critical for your safety and success.
Compound arrows are made of aluminum, carbon or a mix of both elements. Stay away from wooden arrows; they’re not for compounds.
Carbon arrows are arguably the best all-around choice for compound bows today. They’re straight and durable. What more can you say?
Aluminum arrows are as straight as carbon arrows, but they’re prone to bending and tend to cost less.
An aluminum/carbon arrow mixes the best qualities of both materials to produce a smaller diameter arrow with a solid spine and decent weight. Target archers love the spine of the arrows that feature an aluminum core bonded to a carbon sheath. Bowhunters, on the other hand, like the heft of the arrows that have a carbon core bonded to an aluminum sheath. As you probably guessed, these arrows come with a larger price tag.
Whatever material you choose, the most important factor in selecting the exact arrow for your bow is the spine. Arrow spine dictates how much an arrow flexes in flight. You want it to flex some, but not too much.
Arrow manufacturers recommend proper spine selections based on arrow length and draw weight. Gold Tip, for example, recommends a 300 spine for an arrow that’s 29 inches long and shot from a compound bow with a peak draw weight of 70-74 pounds.
Most arrow spine charts assume the archer is using a 100-grain point. Understand that if you choose a heavier point, it will weaken the arrow spine, meaning you should choose a stiffer spine. Conversely, if you use a lighter point, you might need a weaker spine.
Arrows for compound bows come in a variety of diameters: Fat ones – up to .422 inches outside diameter; skinny ones – down to .211 inches outside diameter; and the ones in between. Generally, the skinniest arrows are meant for outdoor shooting, as they cut through the wind. The fattest arrows are meant for indoor target archery and 3D archery where scoring lines are important. A fat arrow has a better chance of hitting a scoring line than a skinny one.
Arrows for hunting tend to fall in the middle, although some bowhunters like skinny arrows because they penetrate better. If you’re looking for one arrow to shoot at indoor and outdoor targets as well as bowhunting, choose the arrows with average diameter, about .300 inches.
Fletchings for compound arrows have either plastic vanes or feathers, which can be real or synthetic. The feathers offer excellent stability and steering, but they’re not as durable and can fold flat in the rain. Plastic vanes are durable and will perform in any conditions.
Fletchings are made in various lengths. When deciding what to choose, think about wind drag. The bigger the vane, the greater the drag. You might like a big fletching – 4 inches – for indoor target archery, where you’re shooting 20 yards with no wind. But you’d go for a small one – 1.75 inches long – for shooting outdoor targets out to 100 yards.
Bowhunters shooting fixed-blade broadheads will want a decent amount of steering, such as 2-3-inch fletchings, to keep that broadhead from veering off course. If you use mechanical broadheads, you can get away with less.
Get the point
You can choose from different arrow points for various applications. Broadheads, of course, are for hunting. For target points, you can select from two basic groups – glue-in and screw-in. The screw-in points can only be used if you have threaded inserts glued into the point end of your arrows. These receive the screw-in points, and they’re great for switching between broadheads and target points.
Glue-in points are most commonly used in arrows designated for target archery only. The points are almost always glued in place with hot-melt glue, rather than a cyanoacrylate, or super glue. With the hot-melt, you can easily remove damaged points by applying heat. Target archers like these points for many reasons, but chief among them is that the point weights are more consistent.
When you’re looking at point weights, think of 100 grains as “par” in golf vernacular. That’s an average weight that will give you adequate performance across a range of applications.
Points that are less than 100 grains are a good choice for archers shooting compound bows set at light weights, like 50 pounds and under. Points that are more than 100 grains are great for bowhunters looking for some extra arrow weight for punching through game animals. They’re also great for target archers who want some forgiveness in their arrows. The heavier points are better at keeping a target arrow on its intended flight path.
All arrows are not the same when it comes to compound bows. Think about what you’re going to do with those arrows, and then find the right ones at your local archery shop when you pick up your next dozen.