For beginner bow hunters, choosing the right arrow is often a common question that they ask friends who are experienced bow hunters. Getting your bow, stand and arrows correct is a complicated task. Below we outline some of the best tips on selecting the right arrows for your hunt, answering some of the most common questions on arrows.
Spine (or “spine deflection”) is arguably the most important factor in choosing the right arrow. Arrow “size” actually refers to the spine and is essentially a measurement of the arrow’s stiffness. There are two different types of spine measurements:
- Static spine indicates how an arrow reacts when a weight (an 880-gram weight, to be precise) is suspended from its center, with its supported points exactly 28 inches apart. Static spine refers to the number of inches the arrow bends times 1,000. A 330 arrow bends .33 inches. The less deflection, the stiffer the arrow. When you see the spine listed in arrow specifications on the DICK’S Sporting Goods website, this measurement refers to static spine.
- Dynamic spine measures how an arrow reacts when shot from a bow, specifically how much it flexes. Most manufacturers don’t list dynamic spine, as there are a number of factors that go into its calculation in contrast to static spine.
Take time to reference the arrow manufacturer’s sizing chart to find exactly the right size based on your bow’s weight and the arrow’s length. Otherwise your arrows may fly erratically.
The two most popular arrow materials are aluminum and carbon. Carbon has become the preferred choice of most hunters because of its lightweight durability, speed and reliability. That’s not to take anything away from aluminum arrows, which are strong, flexible, lightweight and affordable.
Arrows that are too short are dangerous. They can also slip off the arrow rest and cause very serious problems (i.e. an arrow through the hand). Your arrow should extend 1 – 1.5 inches beyond the arrow rest to ensure a safe shot.
You may be tempted to cut your arrows to length at home. Keep in mind, arrow cutting is best reserved for commercial arrow saws. Using anything else could potentially ruin fibers and jeopardize the structural integrity of the arrow.
The weight of your arrow directly affects its speed and accuracy. Lighter arrows will travel faster, but an arrow that’s too light is potentially dangerous as it can shatter upon release. That’s why it’s essential to find your minimum arrow weight. The IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) standard is easy to calculate. Simply take your draw weight and multiply it by 5. If you shoot a bow with a 70 lb. draw weight, you will need an arrow that weighs at least 350 grains. The typical weight is anywhere between 5 to 9 times your draw weight.
Fletching refers to the trademark, parabolic “wings” on the back of an arrow that provide stability during flight. What is fletching made of? Feathers remain a popular choice in some circles because of their lightness and stability, but vanes are the most popular choice for most modern archers. They are durable and waterproof. Vanes are typically 4” in length, but 2” Blazer vanes are also a popular choice.