Even with an amazing compound bow setup, using the wrong set of arrows will only lead to a frustrating archery experience. Here’s a breakdown on how you can choose arrows for your compound bow!
How to Pick Arrows for Your Compound Bow
Choosing which arrows to use for your compound bow is important. Not only will this necessary step allow you to hit your targets - it will also save you from badly chosen arrows failing on you, or even causing an injury. Here are some short, simple, but effective steps on choosing the right arrows. If you are impatient, you may want to check our suggested arrows.
It Begins with Your Draw Length
The first and most important step you need to do is to find out what your draw length is. This is crucial not only when picking arrows - your draw length will also determine if you are actually using the right size for your compound bow!
Quickly explaining what draw length is, here's what you need to know:
- Draw Length – essentially the distance created when you pull back on a bow.
- Compound Bow Draw Length – compound bows only shoot at full draw. So, you'd need to determine first your draw length, then find a bow that will adjust to that length.
- How to Measure Draw Length – a tried-and-tested method to measure draw length is by measuring your arm span. Do this by:
- Stand with your arms out
- Make sure your palms are facing forward
- Ask a buddy to measure the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the other
- Divide the measurement by 2.5
- The figure will be your recommended draw length in inches!
- You can get all the details on draw length here.
Get your draw length and it’ll open up new doors in archery!
Find an Arrow; Know its Material
Next up is to determine what type of arrows you should use for your compound bow. There are different types of arrows available to choose from. Depending on your needs, you would want to know more about first on the advantage (and disadvantage) of using a certain arrow type. As such, please refer to our section below that will specifically tackle on arrow types!
Determine Arrow Length
After selecting what type of arrow you'd want to use, you can now then focus on the intricate details! And finding out the arrow length is a great way of making sure you'd hit your target.
The right arrow length is one that considers giving enough leeway when arming it on a compound bow. To get this length, take your draw length figure and add 0.5" - 1" inch. Also, do take note that your arrow length is from the nock groove (way down the deepest part of the groove) to the arrow shaft. Arrow points are not part of the arrow length measurement.
Determine Arrow Weight
You're now ready to choose the appropriate weight for your compound bow's arrows. You can determine this depending on what you plan to use your compound bow for:
- Hunting – if you plan to hunt some game, then you'd want your arrows weighing from 6-8 grains per pound (of draw weight).
- Target Practice – firing some arrows in as shooting range? The recommended weight would be from 5-6 grains per pound (of draw weight).
The total weight of an arrow includes the shaft, arrow points/tips, insert, vanes, and nock. Considering that other variables, you’d need to make sure to get the right figure. Otherwise, you might end up missing your shots!
Look at the Arrow Spine
The spine will help you find out on how stiff the arrow is. Generally, an arrow that tends to bend a lot during flight is considered as inferior. The archery spine basically encompasses all the above points - however, it's something that you may want to keep in mind (and eventually explore) once you've improved your archery skills!
Know Your Arrows!
Let's explain even more interesting stuff! Knowing more and identifying the different arrow types will help you improve your overall archery skill!
Considered the best arrows for compound bows. Hunters also favor these arrows for the speed they deliver. These arrows are engineered in such a way to work for fast bows. The details in performance are apparent in carbon arrows: both the spine and diameter are specified and shafts are straight and durable. Not to mention as well, carbon arrows are lightweight! Given the many benefits these arrows have, it’s no wonder that it’s easy to shoot with this type.
If target shooting is your focus, then these are the arrows to choose. Composite arrows are considered the straightest among all arrow types. Uniformed, especially in spine, and very durable, you can be sure that these arrows will hit targets (especially at long distances!). If there is any hindrance about composite arrows is that these can be a costly investment!
This is the arrow to get if you're starting out in archery. Considering that this is an affordable option, various customizations can be done in an aluminum arrow. Durability can be a concern, though, with aluminum arrows considered as the softest among the various types.
Fiberglass Arrows (You Can, But...)
Another choice for beginners, a fiberglass arrow is actually commonly-used for recurve bows. It's inexpensive, and young shooters often use this arrow type for practice. Compound bow users can still use fiberglass arrows - but do so at your own risk. Since you need a strong spine for compound bows,, select carefully for a tough fiberglass arrow to use for your compound bow. Otherwise, there may be a high risk of the arrow breaking upon release!
Wooden Arrows (Take Extra Precaution, Though!)
Go old school with these types of arrows. Meant mainly for recurve bow users, you may use wooden arrows on your compound bow - but you may need specialized arrows and a high level of archery skill to do so! Same case for the fiberglass mentioned above, use these arrows at your own risk!
Know Your Fletchings!
A subtle enhancement to look out for when picking arrows are fletchings:
All About Vanes
Made out of plastic, this type of fletching is considered to best used for outdoor shooting. Aside from his durability (weather-proof!), hunters tend to have these on their arrows because of the minimal wind drift it causes when shooting.
All About Feathers
For ease on arming an arrow, feather fletchings are highly recommended. The soft texture of feather fletchings will definitely not distract nor be a hassle when sliding an arrow onto a compound bow's riser. Perfect for indoor target shooting!
If needed, you can have an arrow customized with several fletchings. More fletches on an arrow may mean a smoother and more accurate shot. Of course, please you need to test and compare - more fletches will also mean a heavier arrow to shoot!
Pointing Towards Arrow Tips
Now, let us find out more about the different arrow points for your preferred type:
Aptly named for its shape, this type of arrow point is commonly used for target practice archery. Take note that a bullet point needs to be smaller than the the same diameter of the arrow shaft. Otherwise, flight will suffer.
Also known as combination points, these tips are sharpened specially for smaller penetration. This is done to save the target you practice on, or for hunters who are after smaller game.
A sharp arrow point that is primarily used for hunting. The tip is designed to cause large wounds. Considering the design of this arrow tip, take the time to practice shooting - it flies differently than the other arrow point variants!
Ever found it a hassle retrieving arrows when they get snagged out in the wild? Then this may be just the right arrow tip for you. Also called grabbing points, these tips are designed to snag right up on the ground with the hooks installed on it. The specialized function does come with a hefty price tag, though!
These points are also known as JUDO points. JUDO is a registered trademark of Zwickey Archery, Inc.
Bow Fishing Points
Meant for fishing, these arrow tips come with barbs to latch onto fish.
When the need arises (or if state jurisdiction requires it), blunt force may be needed when hunting prey. This type of arrow tip offers that solution!
The stuff of Rambo dreams! Although highly unlikely that you'll get to use these arrow points, these explosive tips are truly the bomb!
Miscellaneous Compound Bow Arrow Information
Lastly, we’re listing other information that will help you pick the right arrows for your compound bow:
Why does your Arrow Spine Matter?
We've mentioned earlier that arrow spine is mainly composed of various variables from the draw length, arrow weight, to the arrow length.
But to break it down even further, the arrow spine mainly deals with the wiggle that happens on the bow when it's shot.
You read that right - your arrow wiggles! And that's just normal! It may seem ironic for you to set everything right to hit straight towards a target, that your arrow needs to bend!
But seriously speaking, checking out an arrow's spine is also important. And like everything else in archery, preference and getting that feel of that archery balance is essential in making things happen.
What will happen if you don't get the right spine balance? Well, there are two possibilities:
- Too much spine – less accurate shots (with the possibility of the arrow flying sideways!).
- Too little spine – the arrow may collapse upon release.
So, check the arrow spine out!
What is the Perfect Arrow for my Compound Bow?
Well, that depends. But aside from learning about the different arrow types (plus, the fletchings and points mentioned above), simplify matters by keeping these two essentials in mind:
- Hunting – choose arrows that will work best outdoors. Depending on the need as well, always make sure to stay in line with state laws.
- Target Archery – usually within the confines of a controlled environment. Recommended arrows would be those meant for long distance shooting. Cheaper arrows are also recommended (for practice usage). You can read more on where to practice here. We also have recurve and compound bow suggetions for you.
Again, it all boils down to preference. Which leads us to our next point…
Buying Guide When Picking Arrows for Your Compound Bow
Let's quickly list down some factors to consider when you're ready to buy some arrows:
- Arrows are Disposable – always remember that! As much as care and attention is always needed for your archery gear, sooner or later, your arrows will break. So don't fret if your arrows break – it is bound to happen!
- Practical Alternatives – practice makes perfect, so start shooting those arrows. But as much as you'd want to go for the cheapest, always check for practical alternatives. Fiberglass (or even wooden) arrows may be cheap, but the risk that it will damage your compound bow is high. So, instead of these types, why not try going for a lower variant of a carbon arrow?
- Pre-Made or Shaft-Only – arrows are usually sold in two forms: the ones that come with points, vanes, and nocks and those that only come with a shaft. This is more of a preference. Beginners may find the complete types easier to use. If you like to customize or a DIY person, then the shaft-only variant may appeal to you!
- That's Not a Defect – worried about that vane that doesn't seem to stick on your arrow? Don't be. It's designed to be that to make the arrow spin!
- Shaft Design – perhaps an aesthetic feature, arrows do come with different shaft patterns. Get one that will suit your style!
Shoot Better with the Right Arrows
Remember - your compound bow’s arrows will help determine if you’ll have an excellent time shooting. Hope you get to pick the right arrow!
Find out more about arrows for your compound bow!
Should you use wooden arrows for your compound bow? This reddit thread tackles this issue!
The Sticks Outfitter Youtube Channel presents a great case on how to choose arrows for your compound bow!
Did you know that there's a program that will help you choose arrows for your compound bow? This article explains how to make use of this awesome tech!
Hunting for deer? Check our arrow recommendations!
If you own a Hoyt Powermax, we have tested a few arrows with it.
We also have tested a few arrows for compound bows.