With different manufacturers making arrows of varying lengths and material, shopping for arrows can be overwhelming. There are arrows suitable for fishing, hunting, target shooting, and competitive use. In addition to the use of the arrow, keep in mind the materials used in crafting the arrow, and the length and weight of the arrow as well. Below is a brief guide to make your arrow evaluation process a bit friendlier.
The oldest evidence of the use of arrows as a weapon with a tip made of stone dates back 64,000 years ago. Arrows crafted out of pinewood materials date back some 10,000 years, and 4,500 years ago the practice of archery as we know it now came into being.
Arrows for fishing and traditional use: Since arrows used for fishing will be shot into bodies of water, they have to be made with extra durability in mind. Despite hitting water, fishing arrows are projectiles that stop short after release from the bow. When fishing, the arrows will likely strike parts of the underwater landscape such as rotting logs and rocks, so while they must be durable, these same arrows must have a set degree of flexibility so they do not break when they come in contact with obscured landscape. These arrows feature barbed tips made of aluminum material. Near the nock one will find a line where the fishing line can be inserted and attached to the arrow; this same line is connected to a bow mounted fishing reel.
As an alternative, one could use traditional arrows made of cedar or pinewoods. These wooden arrows are exceptional when using long bows or recurve bows, and are fairly dense and stiff. When an arrow is made of wood it can certainly be used in the hunt or even target practice, however, the spine and weight of wooden arrows can often be inconsistent thereby making such arrows less ideal for tournament usage.
Arrows for hunting and target practice: Hunting and target practice arrows are specifically designed to deliver a greater degree of shock and more kinetic energy when released. Arrows for hunting are crafted out of materials like carbon fiber or aluminum. The type of metals used to make these arrows make them stiffer and heavier than the types of arrows one would use for recreational pursuits. Arrows used for target practice usually have plastic or metal non-piercing pointed tips. These arrows must be light and flexible yet durable enough to penetrate a target made of hay, insulation, or foam materials. The most common kind of target arrows are those made of carbon fibers since such arrows are a perfect blend of lightweight and flexibility contributing to greater consistency in every shot. Points have a precise weight to ensure flight balance and down-range target accuracy.
To learn more about the types of arrows available, here is a Youtube video on the subject:
It can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with some of the common terminology used to describe arrows and their use before purchasing. “Shaft” is a term used for describing the main portion of the arrow; it is a tube made of graphite composite, carbon, or aluminum. The tube is hollow so it is light and aerodynamic. Each arrow shaft has one end with an arrow tip or head and the opposite end fit with a molded nock made of plastic materials. The “arrowhead” is what pierces the target or prey. The “nock” attaches to the bowstring and makes it easier to draw back and take a shot. An “insert” is at the arrow’s upper end; this insert is what fits between the arrowhead and the shaft, connecting the two. A “screw in tip” allows you to swap out different points including fishing, field, and judo points as well as blunt-tips and broad heads. The “fletching” of the arrow is made of feathers or plastic vanes of varying colors. There are often three fletches, two of matching colors, and one of a mismatch. The non-matching colored fletch is also called the “cock-fletch.” Each of the fletches has a parabolic shape.
Aluminum Arrows: Affordable, Straight, & Well Constructed
First hitting the market in the ‘40s, then increasing in demand in the ‘70s, aluminum arrows are still the most desired arrows on the market today. These arrows are affordable because they are inexpensive to make, and the integrity of the arrows in terms of construction is exceptional. Aluminum arrows have excellent rebounding qualities, are resistant to humidity and other weather conditions, and have nearly perfect straight shafts to ensure down-range shot accuracy.
Carbon Arrows: New, Improved, Stronger, and Split-Resistant
The earliest carbon arrows offered the archer great flight, but their excessively small diameters limited arrow strength. Modern carbon arrows, however, have overcome the limitations of their predecessors and are stronger and straighter than ever before, which means they are more resistant to splitting. Carbon arrows are wrapped or weaved to reduce the likelihood of splitting and to increase their strength. What’s more, with lighter weight arrows, the archer is getting more feet per second with every shot. Carbon arrows have good energy transference, are straight flying, durable, and are becoming more affordable with each passing year.
Arrow Hybrids: Carbon & Aluminum Mixes
A bit less common than aluminum or carbon arrows alone are those that bring the two materials together in a single arrow. These hybrids give the archer the best of both worlds by providing them with a stiff, but light, fast flying arrow with superior energy transference. The hybrid arrows are as powerful and flexible as aluminum arrows. The shaft is light and made of an aluminum core wrapped in a carbon covering. There are also new carbon core, aluminum covering hybrid arrows as well. The hybrids are the priciest of arrow models to date.
A Word on Draw Weight
Shopping for arrows requires you know your draw weight. A comfortable draw weight will determine what, and how much you can shoot with an accurate shot. At a comfortable draw weight you should be able to fire 25 arrows, one after another. If after eight or nine shots you are starting to feel fatigued, reduce your draw weight to something more comfortable. Keep in mind that draw weight is not determined by your experience as an archer, rather by what you can comfortably handle at a given time.
To Determine a Comfortable Draw: Using a bow release that is locked so it cannot fire, attach the release to the bowstring to the nocking loop. Only hold the release and allow the bow to hang as you imagine you are in a tree stand looking down on your prey. Behaving as if you will make a shot straight toward the ground, bend at the waist, grab the bow grip, and pull back the string. Remember to bring your elbow all the way back past your ear so your hand aligns with your ear and lower jaw. Gain your anchor point and then release slowly by letting it down as you guide the string back into position.
Common Buying Considerations
Before you buy, figure out your bow length and your draw weight as well as the kind of tips you are planning to use. All of these will factor into your arrow selection. Arrow charts are available for use with listings for point weight, arrow length, make, model, brand, and whether to use a recurve bow, modern long bow, medium cam, compound bow, or medium hard cam. These charts can help you quickly find the appropriate arrow for your target practice, tournament, or hunting needs.
Straighter, lighter, and longer arrows are the most expensive as the quality of the make lends to a better shot. There is a big difference between aluminum and carbon arrows when it comes to weight. For every three grains an arrow varies in weight, it increases or decreases the speed of that arrow by about a foot per second, respectively.
Carbon arrows do not bend as easily as aluminum arrows. When an aluminum arrow strikes the target, the remaining kinetic energy will force the arrow to flex from side to side. Carbon arrows do not have this type of flexibility, and the remaining kinetic energy naturally causes the arrow to drive forward with the impact.
You should use the same arrows for hunting and practice. When you use the same arrows, your sights remain the same, the weight feels the same, and you are honing your skills using the same arrows you will use during the hunt. Practicing with your hunting arrows means greater familiarity with the look, feel, speed, and penetration of the arrows you have chosen initially.
Best Hunting Arrows
By far the best hunting arrows on the market are produced by Easton. Their XX75 Jazz Aluminum Arrows are available in packs of six and come in 28, 29, and 30-inch lengths. The arrows are feather-fletched and made out of an aerospace alloy with a weight tolerance of ± two percent. Every XX75 Jazz arrow features a hard-anodized finish. The arrows are ± .005 straightness guaranteed, and precise, nock designs featuring a flawless throat design. Easton’s Jazz arrows are great for archers ages three and older. Easton makes the arrows with a right helical three to four-inch fletched feather for the purpose of causing the shaft to spin while in flight. When spinning in flight, the offset causes the arrows to have greater flight stability. The fletch feathers are Easton’s Trueflight feathers, meaning that authentic domestic turkey features are used to make the fletches or each arrow. The arrows are ideal for 15 to 50 pound bow weights. Best of all, Easton’s XX75 Aluminum Arrows are inexpensive.
Best Target Arrows
Wizard Archery makes the best target arrows appreciated for their high quality design and affordability. The fiberglass arrows are available in a 12-pack, and are available with a black-colored spine measuring 26, 28, or 30 inches. Wizard makes the arrows with extended durability in mind; each arrow comes with a high-quality target point made of steel and an Eastern nock. The arrows are perfect for both synthetic and Styrofoam targets, and work with long and recurve bows alike. The tips in the arrows are permanent and made of nickel-plated stainless steel. Wizard’s target arrows are exceptional for beginner archers as well as adept archers looking for a durable set of practice arrows for target shooting. The AAE plastic fletching and nock are colored.
Best Carbon Arrows
By far the best carbon arrows an archer can buy are the Maxima Red arrows by Carbon Express. The arrows come complete with nocks and collars, and they arrive with shafts in full length. The arrows promise the archer a consistent shot thanks to the repositioned arrow flex, the section of the arrow the manufacturer identifies as the RED ZONE™, which minimizes font end oscillation. With a reduction in oscillation during flight, the archer benefits from tighter groupings with every shot. Each arrow comes complete with the LAUNCHPAD™ Precision Nocks for superior control when the arrow is released. The nocks also ensure greater arrow alignment and shot consistency. Each arrow also comes with Blazer® vanes, Plastic fletchings, and the BullDog™ Carbon Express® Nock Collar to minimize impact on the arrow shaft. The Maxima Red arrows are available in two sizes: 250 and 350, and with shafts measuring between 33 and 34 inches in length.
Best Arrows for Recurve Bow Use
Allen Company makes some of the best arrows for recurve bow use. The manufacturer makes Adult Carbon Arrows and sells them in an affordable three pack. Each arrow Allen Company produces is tested to ensure its durability and quality. These arrows are made for users that might be a bit rough or tough when handling the arrows during the hunt, thus the shafts are made of carbon. They arrows are rated for 55 to 70 pound draw weights and every arrow has a helical fletching to lend to greater flight control, reduced oscillation, modeled vanes that are individually injected, and shafts with a high carbon content. The inside diameter of each arrows is .245 inches. The exterior diameter of each arrow is .295 inches.
Best Arrows for Compound Bow Use
The ICS Hunter Classic by Beman is one of five arrows the company manufactures. Absolutely the best arrows for compound bow use, they are made of multilayer carbon shafts available in four sizes: 300, 340, 400, and 500. The available weight grains/inches are as follows: 9.5, 9.3, 8.4, and 7.3. These arrows have a straightness of +/-.003 and they include CB inserts. Direct S-Nocks are also pre-installed on the arrows for you. These carbon arrows even feature the words “Don’t tread on me” along the shaft. They are priced at a midrange level thereby making them relatively affordable for every hunter seeking quality arrows for use with a compound bow.
Best Arrows for the Money
XT Hunter’s Gold Tip 5575/400 arrows are fit with blaze wraps, blazer vanes, and are made of carbon material. By far the best arrows for the money, they can be purchased by the dozen for under $150.00. These arrows are durable, light, fast in flight, and accurate. The vanes on the arrows are chocolate and white colored and the wrap has a mossy oak camo pattern. These arrows are good for a 55 to 75 pound range. The arrows are rigorous, stiff, stringent, and tough. These arrows are 8.2 grains for every inch of shaft. The spine deflection on the arrow is .400. Each arrow has an aluminum insert and a nock that rotates 360 degrees.
Getting the right arrows for target practice, tournaments, or hunting will undoubtedly define the overall success of whatever archery endeavor you undertake. Even the most powerful, well made, visually appealing bow on the market won’t be effective without the right arrows to supplement the perfect shot. When shopping for arrows, prepare in advance by knowing exactly what you require. Knowing the type of archery, the draw weight, the preferred material, and the ideal speed per foot will help you get the best arrows for all of your archery pursuits. The right arrows mean a more accurate shot, a more ethical kill, and a more productive target practice.