How to Choose the Perfect Arrow

a number of different types of arrows

Once you get the compound bow of your dreams, the next big decision is on the type of arrow you will need to succeed in your shooting hobby.

And since it’s quite a bewildering question for new compound owners, we decided to tackle it comprehensively.

This guide is thus for you if you have been wondering what is the best type of arrow for your compound bow.

We will start by explaining the common type of arrows for compound bows.

Common types of compound bow arrows

Overall, the market will present you with 5 types of arrows to choose from as explained below.

1. Wooden Arrows

Wooden arrows have been there since the days of yore. They were actually the only choice before civilization came around and still command a sizeable following among traditional longbow and recurve bow hunters.

As regards compound bows, shooting wooden arrows are no-go zone due to their numerous issues.

For instance, you’ll be shooting an outrageously thick arrow – I can’t see any practical reason for taking this route.

In any case, it’s never going to fly far thanks to its scary weight.

Can I use wooden arrows?

Like I had stated, wooden arrows are terrible with compound bows so many shooters largely shun them.

2. Carbon arrows for compound bow

Many compound-bow archers are all praises for carbon arrows and with good reasons.

To begin with, carbon material is lighter than and not as stiff as the competing types.

Additionally, they feel much smoother not to mention that carbon happens to be more tolerant of abuse.

Add to the list of its pros the reduced wind drift, more powerful penetration, and improved accuracy and you have yourself a winning compound bow arrow.

What’s more, carbon shafts are straight and offer more customizing options (sizing, spine, etc.)

One downside is that carbon arrows do also splinter and could hurt you.

When should you go for carbon arrows?

These have tons of positives going for them.

I personally love carbon arrows for their unparalleled durability and consistency. I also really like the fact that they flex easily and you can feel or hear if there is something amiss with the arrow.

In a nutshell, carbon is according to me the best bang for your buck despite being costlier.

3. Fiberglass Arrows for Compound Bow

Fiberglass material is super strong, heavier, and very durable.

Besides, these arrows are cheaper and don’t wobble that much (they give a relatively good flight).

Their higher weight, however, cuts two ways…

It, on one hand, gives them strength and deeper penetration but on the other hand, makes them slightly sluggish.

This means they’re awful when shooting long distances.

Also counting against them is the fact that they usually start splintering over time making them risky to shoot.

When best should I use fiberglass arrows?

Fiberglass arrows are typically marketed as youth/child arrows.

And yes, looking at their blunt tips and the rest of the limitations, they’re in my opinion not good for serious shooters.

4. Aluminum arrows

Aluminum is the second most popular choice because it’s also cheaper and more practical in several aspects.

You enjoy good strength, flight straightness, and plenty of customization (diameter/length/spine)

As a matter of fact, they have the best accuracy-to-price as a result of the lower price compared to their carbon rivals.

Even so, I dislike their tendency to bend after hitting hard surfaces like rocks and frames because they make you waste time straightening them- not the easiest task- each time you miss.

In comparison, with carbon, all you need to do is replace the tip (and maybe check for cracks) so you usually resume shooting sooner.

When are aluminum arrows most suitable?

I would say these are the best for the shooter who would like to experience a performance closest to carbon.

I say close (not equal or better) because they’re heavier and thicker, and will, as a result, fail to shoot distance as exemplarily as carbon arrows.

5. Composite Arrows

Composite arrows comprise of aluminum core and carbon.

The alloy core keeps them light and upgrades their stiffness. The carbon, in the meantime, improves their strength besides reinforcing the stiffness.

On the whole, this construction makes them the straightest and most uniformly built arrows around.

These arrows also come with your entire desired diameter, spine, and sizing flexibility.

They are hence your best bet if you aspire to be an Olympic or World champion in archery.

Not surprisingly, you need to cough up a good amount of money to own one.

Buying them is also an uphill task and you may need to consult an expert to help you select the best model.

Who are composite arrows for?

As I had hinted, these are ideal for experts and anyone else who has mastered how to always hit the bull’s eye.

How to choose an arrow

Let’s shift gears since you’re now conversant with the regular types of arrows for compound bows.

Now, compound bow arrows selection is complex.

I say so because you have to consider assorted factors- some technical- if you want to avoid disappointment.

These include the arrow length, point weight, fletching, and spine, among others.

I want us to look at them and please don’t panic- the idea is to help you understand so we will try to use the simplest terms possible….

Arrow spine

This is the most important factor by a distance.

What exactly is it?

To put simply, the arrow spine refers to your arrow’s stiffness.

And because of the mechanics that follow an arrow after you’ve shot it, the stiffness (resistance to bending) matters a lot.

Allow me to explain.

The moment an arrow leaves your bow, it usually flexes before straightening out on its flight. We call this the archer’s paradox.

Now, to fly stably and land on the target, your arrow should flex optimally- that is not ‘over-flex’ or ‘under-flex’ as it flies off.

The thing is whether it flexes too much or too little is determined by the arrow spine value (Don’t worry, we will soon find out how much it should be)..

What happens if your arrows are too lightly or heavily spined for your bow?

If the arrow is lightly spined for your compound bow, it experiences wayward flight (veers right) and will mess your accuracy.

Too heavily spined arrows also tend to have a disoriented flight path (goes slightly left) as the distance increases.

That’s why we reiterate that you must try your best to get the arrow spine decision correct.

How do I know what arrow spine to use?

Manufacturers indicate the spine rating for each arrow on their websites so you will notice values like 330, 400, 550, 700 grains etc.

The higher the rating, the weaker the resistance meaning that 550 grain is shakier than a 330, for example.

The tricky part is that spine ratings depend on your bow’s draw weight and draw length so you have to consider these figures as well to get the correct measurement.

How does the draw weight affect?

Draw weight is nothing else but the force generated by a drawn compound bow and is stated in lbs.

The most important thing to know here is that bows with higher draw weights need stiffer arrows. The converse is also true.

How do I get my draw length?

This is the distance you pull the string of your weapon before it stops.

How do you determine it?

Just stand naturally, arms spread out then ask a friend to measure (using a tape measure) your arm span.

He/she should spread the tape from your first middle finger (starting at the tip) to the other. You then divide the answer (in inches) by 2.5.

The result is your estimated draw length.

In conclusion, you must get these figures first then read the arrow spine charts on the seller’s website for guidance.

The other option would be to contact your nearest archery shop and enquire about the best arrow spine for your bow.

Lastly, software like Archer’s Advantage may help select arrow spines easily as it allows you to see the results of changing various variables.

Arrow weight

There is another rule: Make sure that your arrow’s total weight matches your bow.

That’s because it will damage the bow if it’s too light or even cause you an injury.

Note that total weight refers to the entire setup -after you have included the weight of the tip, insert, shaft, fletchings, and obviously, the nock.

Regarding the recommended weight, most shooters are fine with arrows weighing at least 5 grains per pound (GPP) of the bow’s draw weight.

As an example, you should use an arrow of at least 300 grains if your normally shoot a 60 lb. bow (5x60lbs.).

Weights below 5 GPP are seen to be dangerously light and anything over 8 heavier.

Your bow’s guidelines on preferable arrow weight can give you a clear direction.

Arrow length

The other factor you cannot overlook is the arrow length and it’s again because of your safety- a shorter arrow may land on the back of your hand harming it.

How do you determine arrow length for a compound bow?

Getting your ideal arrow length is really easy:

Just add 2” to your draw length.

And so if your draw length was 29, your arrows should be 29+2= 31 inches long.

There are other ways of measuring the length but I like this because it is straightforward.

Fletching/vanes

Plastic might be needed for outdoor shooting since they are waterproof.

They adopt different profiles and are especially crucial if you own a whisker biscuit, the best-known type of arrow rest for compound bows.

Feather fletchings are, on the other hand, best for indoor shooting.

Your type of shooting

Certain arrow specifications depend on your objectives in archery.

For instance, if you’ll be shooting outdoors, your focus should be on arrows with exceptional aerodynamics because it needs to cut through obstacles like wind and rain.

Likewise, if you’re in 3-D archery, you want light and lightning fast arrows to be able to cut the scoring rings on your 3-D targets.

And so forth.

What brand of arrows is the best?

Okay, this is a controversial one and I don’t want to say that I have a favorite compound bow brand.

Nevertheless, Easton arrows and Shiny Black are some of the brands that seem to have a large following among enthusiasts.

Having said that, the brand name doesn’t necessarily imply that an arrow is brilliant/horrible.

What you should be asking yourself is whether the arrow fits you (remember the draw length), your bow’s draw weight, and your shooting (outdoor, indoor, hunting, competition, etc.).

How much do arrows cost?

Well, arrows have varying price ranges.

From as low as $45 for a dozen (for generic types) and all the way to as high as $200/dozen (for the high-end ones).

There are tons of others in between so your budget and unique needs will have a big say.

Safety Tips

To avoid injuries, always check your arrows for visible fractures/stress lines before shooting. Ideally, you should test the arrows by flexing them a couple of times before shooting just to be sure.

You then watch/listen for any cracking noises.

Stay away from obviously damaged arrows at all times, no matter how slight is the damage.

Also, don’t forget to set up your arrows properly.

Finally, don’t ever hold your arrows with their points facing up. Instead, they should face down place or placed in their case.

Final Thoughts

The best type of arrow for your compound bow should be the one that suits your shooting style, needs (field, indoor, 3-D, target archery), besides meeting all the technical requirements.

These include the spine rating, draw weight, arrow weight, length, and more.

We know it can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out so don’t hesitate to talk to a pro for assistance on selecting the best arrows as per your budget and bow specifications.

Good luck.

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