I’ve noticed some people have been looking at buying arrows recently and have been asked several questions about what to go for. Therefore here is a fairly large (although not exhaustive) list of things to look out for when considering the purchase of new arrows. I wrote this with mainly novice archers thinking about a first set of arrows and senior archers going into the outdoor season in mind.
First, I will preface with two things:
Wooden arrows are generally for traditional bows and longbows
You’re not allowed to shoot all carbon arrows outdoors at Wide Lane as they cannot be picked up by a metal detector. If you buy all-carbon arrows then you CANNOT shoot them at Wide Lane. You will be removed from Wide Lane if you shoot carbon arrows there.
This already narrows it down to two types: aluminium and carbon aluminium (from here on called composite). Aluminium arrows are cheaper than carbon aluminiums, and therefore easier to replace. They also can have bends taken out of them. However, they are usually heavier and have a larger diameter than composite arrows which means they won’t necessarily fly as far or may be more affected by the wind. Therefore most archers shoot composite arrows outdoors and will opt for thicker aluminiums indoors. That’s not to say you can’t do it the other way round, but most archers really see the benefit of composite arrows outdoors.
Spine vs Arrow Length
These are the big things to think about when purchasing a set of arrows. It doesn’t matter what arrow you’re buying, these two things need to be worked out first before you even think about it as they will change significantly for different people. So the question you want to ask is how long is my drawlength and what spine arrow do I want to shoot?
This is the easier of the two to work out in some ways. Find an arrow that comfortably sits on your bow not too far out and not too far back towards the button. I usually consider an arrow to be about right when the tip of the arrow comes just in front of the front edge of the riser when pulled back to full draw. This will give you plenty of space on your clicker plate for learning how to utilise your back properly so when you gain a bit of extra drawlength, you don’t need new arrows! This is easiest done with an arrow measure or by trying out lots of different arrow lengths and getting someone to watch where the arrow gets to at full draw. When you measure the arrow, make sure you measure from the tip of the point to the inside of the “D” on the inside of the nock.
This one is a little bit more tricky. You need to work out what poundage you have on your fingers at the moment first. However, you should also consider if you’re going to make any significant changes to poundage in the future. If you’re going to go up poundage in the next year, consider how you’re going to get there (sensibly) and therefore what arrows will work well for when you intend to use them. For instance, a set of composite arrows bought at the end of the beginners’ course that you intend to shoot outdoors in several months time should not be spined to your poundage now! Therefore, once you have worked out and decided on a poundage that you will be comfortable on, you have to look up the relevant poundage and arrow length to get the spine. An example of this is on the Easton website at the bottom as an interactive plug in, but remember these will only be recommendations for arrow spine considering poundage and arrow length.
So what should I go for?
You should go for an arrow that when you’re at your worked out poundage (either current or where you want to be at for these arrows to be useful), you should normally go for what they recommend. You can buy arrows which are stiffer than they recommend and slowly work up poundage until they tune into the bow. But, this requires you to work hard to move up poundage to make them tune in. I would not normally recommend buying arrows weaker than they recommend as when you go up poundage they will only get worse for you to shoot, although you can keep stiffening the button to make them tune in, but you can only do this so much before it becomes dangerous to shoot them. Normally a spine above or below the recommended one is ok and often arrow charts will give you two recommendations if you want a stiffer or weaker arrow.
What’s on the market
SUAC’s equipment officers generally buys Easton Platinum Plus XX75 arrows for the club. This is for several reasons:
- They are good quality (straightness to .002”)
- They are relatively cheap (at about £4 a shaft)
- They use the “push-in” nock system which makes changing nocks easy
These are sturdy, cheap and relatively easy arrows to put together. You have to buy push in nocks and points separately, but again these are relatively well made and cheap.
The other aluminium arrow that I would consider getting is the X7 arrow, which is just a slight improvement on the XX75. Again by Easton, it has slightly tighter tolerances and may be slightly better but as I’ve not shot them, I don’t know. These are slightly more expensive but if you want a bit more precision, then you can get these instead. Be aware however that with the uni nock system, if you get an arrow shaft larger than 1916s, then you need to buy the super uni nocks and bushings. A good shop will know the difference and fit them correctly if you ask them.
Image on left: Valentina Lopez [Public Domain]
These are much more useful in the outdoor season. The carbon weave on top of the aluminium means you get the stiffness of the carbon but the metal detecting abilities of the aluminium. This means that the arrows are usually smaller in diameter, lighter and therefore less affected by the wind and fly faster respectively. There are several composite arrow suppliers but I will focus on a select few for specific reasons.
The first arrow is the Easton A/C/C. These are the cheapest composite Easton arrow on the market currently. They are very tough, hardwearing and the cheapest of Easton’s composite arrows, but to achieve this they are thicker in diameter and quite heavy (for a carbon). If you are cash strapped but really want carbon arrows these are a good buy as they will help speed wise outdoors. They come in at around £150 for a fully made dozen usually and can often be bought singly to replace those ones that you do damage. So this is quite a nice feature if you’re worried about breaking them. Unlike other Easton carbons, you cannot buy break off points to give different weight arrows for A/C/C’s, although you can still buy different weight points.
Staying with the Easton theme, they have two more arrows above the A/C/C. The first is the A/C/G which is heavy but slightly more sturdy than the A/C/Cs and also slightly smaller diameter. They are more pricey however and a lot of shops don’t sell these as they sell the A/C/Gs bigger brother the A/C/E. The A/C/E is very light. The carbon weave is quite strong on them but they will snap if you shoot the wood with enough regularity. The A/C/Es are about £250 for a fully made up dozen. You can sometimes buy them in sets of 6/8 but normally you have to get them sent to you by the dozen as they’re all matched at Easton’s factory. I would suggest going for the A/C/Gs or A/C/Es if you’re a confident enough archer with your shots. If not, then probably better to stay with the A/C/Cs. Also a small point about these arrows, please be aware that the points are usually quite long, so when you work out the “shaft” length to order, they will come out longer than your aluminiums with the short blunt points. With these arrows, you can also buy break off points, which allow you to vary the weight of the arrow to spine the arrow into your setup without buying an entirely new set of points, although once the weight is taken off it cannot be put back on. In addition, you can also buy pin nocks which defend the back of the arrow (somewhat) from being rear-ended by other arrows. These can be very useful of course if you want to save on money as you will be replacing broken arrows less.
I will put a small note here that there are two more types of arrows that Easton make: the X10 and the X10 Protour, but unless you’re a top, top archer, you probably won’t benefit from the improvements these arrows give and so best to think about them as a future buy.
There are other composite arrow manufacturers out there of course like SkyArt, but Easton does make a lot of arrows and I’ve only really had experience with Easton’s carbon/aluminiums unfortunately so I can’t give the other ones any reviews.
I feel I should also give a small mention to all carbon arrows, as there are lots of manufacturers that make them to high quality. However, you will NOT be able to shoot these at Wide Lane. Therefore this section is structured around indoor all carbon arrows and not outdoor ones.
The main reason for buying a carbon arrow for indoors is the stiffness and the speed you get from them. They’re very tough but when they do splinter they do so spectacularly so always use an arrow puller as you don’t want to get carbon splinters! Having said all that, you can buy arrows like the Carbon Xpress X-Buster and the Easton Fat Boy which are large-diameter arrows for indoor shooting. These will get you lots of line cutters but are about twice the price of an aluminium set, so if you can shoot large-diameter aluminiums then you don’t need to spend the money on these.
Nocks, Points, Fletches, Wraps
The main nock to use on Easton aluminium arrows is the “push-in” G nock. These are easy to replace and can be spun around to be in the correct direction. However, please be aware if you buy 1916 spined shafts or higher, you need to buy “Super nocks” and the bushings to go with them. If you’re getting them made up then any good archery store should know the difference and do it for you. To turn the nocks to the correct position relative to the cock fletch, use a nock turning tool.
There are also other types of nock on the market, most common are the Beiter nocks which come in a variety of forms. You can also go a Beiter nocking point that goes well with the nocks to give a cleaner trajectory for the arrow as it comes off the string.
These are all dependent on the arrows you’re getting, but you can usually find different points for different arrows. The aluminiums that I’ve mentioned use “Easton nibb points” and can come in different weights. The composite ones tend to be longer and need to be factored in for shaft length. Again any good archery shop should be able to properly advise you on which ones to buy.
Additionally, you can buy different point weights, which will make your arrow heavier or lighter. A Heavier point will weaken the arrow (and slow your arrows down slightly) whereas a lighter point will make the arrows stiffer, but won’t hold it’s position in the wind as well.
There are loads of these on the market so I won’t go into an exhaustive list. There are three main types: feathers, straight vanes and spins. Feathers tend to be fairly large and slow your arrow down the most. These are good for indoors when you’re trying to stabilise the arrow flight quickly out of the bow before the arrow hits the target. These aren’t so good outdoors, however. Straight vanes come in a range of sizes and are what all the club arrows are fletched with. These are generally pretty good and can be used indoors and outdoors. I’d suggest smaller fletches for outdoors though to get some more arrow speed. Finally, spin vanes line “spin wings”, “eli vanes”, “K vanes”, “Gas-Pros”, “Kurly Vanes” and “XS Wings” to name but six, speed the arrow’s rotation up and generally give a faster arrow flight. For this reason, they’re good outdoors and will usually group slightly higher than your straight vaned arrows for the same sight mark. They are different to put on to normal vanes as they use double-sided tape. This can easily be done but takes a bit of practice.
Wraps are not a required part of the arrows but are nice to make the arrow yours and unique. I have custom made Cookie Monster arrow wraps from Arrow Socks, but there are lots of suppliers out there. They can be made with names (required for World Archery rounds), numbers (again required) and clubs (maybe quite useful) so you can identify your arrows clearly on a target or if you lose one and someone finds it a week later. You can also get small decals to go on your arrows too to show your initials and arrow number.