Choosing the right length for your arrows is a crucial aspect of archery, affecting both accuracy and comfort. In this article, I’ll personally guide you through the factors that influence arrow length, such as draw length, to help you select the appropriate arrows for your needs. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced archer, read on to ensure you have the right arrows for a successful shot.
For an optimal arrow setup that allows you to tune your arrows easily, you need to know if you are using your arrows primarily for hunting or target shooting. You need to know your draw length. You need to know if you want heavy or light arrows. You also need to know how your arrow rest is mounted on your bow and what type you are using. Then, you also need to know what type of broadhead you plan to use. All of these factors play into selecting the right arrow length for your compound bow and I will go through them all below.
Alternative Perspective: Arrow Length Equals Draw Length
While the general guideline provided earlier suggests having your arrow length within plus or minus one inch of your draw length, some experts recommend using an arrow length equal to your draw length. These experts believe that this approach can improve arrow flight consistency and overall accuracy.
Using arrow length equal to draw length might work well for some archers, but it’s important to consider your specific needs and equipment before deciding on this approach. Factors such as the type of bow, arrow rest, and broadheads used can affect the optimal arrow length for your setup.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with experienced archers or professionals at a local archery shop to get personalized advice on arrow length and other equipment based on your specific needs and preferences.
How to Measure Arrow Length
Arrow length is measured by measuring the distance from the groove in the nock where the bowstring rests (throat of the nock) to the end of the arrow shaft where the broadhead is inserted. This is measured in inches and does not include the length of the broadhead. This is the standard set by the Archery Trade Association (ATA). See the picture below.
Short vs. Long Arrows
Some archers want to have the shortest arrows possible because they want to optimize the speed of the arrow while other bow hunters want longer, heavier arrows that maximize the kinetic energy and penetration capabilities of the arrow. Changing arrow length can affect the spine deflection needed for your specific bow setup.
Shorter arrow setups are excellent for target and 3-D shooting or even if you like to use mechanical or expandable broadheads (see below) for hunting. If your goal is to optimize speed, set your arrow length to your draw length or minus one inch. Ensure you know how your arrow rest is mounted before deciding. See below.
Shorter arrows require stiffer spines. The required spine deflection varies depending on your bow’s IBO Speed, draw length, and draw weight. A longer arrow can be heavier than a short one, but this depends on the make and model. If maximizing arrow weight is a concern, consider using our arrow weight calculator.
Arrow Rests and Broadheads
The type of arrow rest you use can affect arrow length due to the rest’s type or mounting placement. It’s recommended that at full draw, your arrow extends at least one inch past your arrow rest for safety. For instance, a whisker biscuit is easy to manage, especially when using field points or mechanical broadheads.
However, if you use large fixed blade or single bevel style cut-on-contact broadheads, you may not have enough clearance for your rest. Drop-away rests are recommended for these types of broadheads. Ensure your broadheads have enough room between them and the bow’s riser when shooting. If not, you may need to lengthen your arrow or change the rest’s mounting position.
*Note: Changing the weight of your broadhead can affect your arrow’s flight and spine deflection. Always ensure your arrows’ weight and length are within range to avoid accidents. Understand the limitations of your arrows by monitoring the vendor’s spine charts and resources.
Now you should have a better understanding of the appropriate arrow length for your needs. Before cutting arrows to length, familiarize yourself with the arrow buying process, including the spine deflection, type of arrow, arrow weight, and broadhead. Luckily there are arrow vendors out there that can figure this out for you like Method Archery and Sirius Archery.
I always recommend visiting your local archery shop and consulting with an archery professional for assistance. Every situation is unique, and they can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs. With the right arrow length and setup, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a successful archery experience.
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