How to Choose the Best Arrow for Bowhunting Success

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Bows and arrows work as a team for accuracy and bowhunting success. While bows get all the attention, the arrows are the real stars of the team.

Like bows, arrows come in many varieties. A quality arrow is made of top-notch materials and matches your bow. An arrow that isn’t properly matched will fly erratically and affect your downrange results. Even if you shoot with excellent form, a poorly matched arrow can cause you to miss or, even worse, wound an animal.

So how do you select the right hunting arrows? The material, spine, weight, length and fletching are all variables to consider. If you choose the right ingredients, you’ll have a reliable and accurate arrow that won’t let you down in the woods.

Arrow Materials

For extreme accuracy, carbon-aluminum composite arrows are the cream of the crop. Top competitive archers and bowhunters often use small-diameter, aluminum-carbon composite arrows. Photo Credit: John Hafner

When you walk into an archery store, you’ll find carbon-fiber and aluminum arrows. You might also see composite arrows and traditional wood arrows. Each of these arrow materials will harvest game, but the key is finding the right material to suit your needs.

For extreme accuracy, carbon-aluminum composite arrows are the cream of the crop. Top competitive archers and bowhunters often use small-diameter, aluminum-carbon composite arrows. The downside? These arrows are more expensive than others, and they’re not as durable as an all-carbon arrow.

In fact, the most popular arrow material is carbon because it is durable and accurate – two highly desirable traits in a hunting arrow. Hunters also appreciate that carbon arrows are available in a variety of price points.

Aluminum is a vintage arrow material that is affordable and accurate. These arrows might not be the most high-tech, but aluminum stands the test of time.

Finally, wood arrows have been around as long as bowhunting. A traditional bow with a beautifully crafted set of wood arrows captures the spirit of archery. They win out in aesthetics, but these arrows are fragile and should be carefully matched to your bow.

What do the arrow numbers mean?

A quality arrow is made of top-notch materials and matches your bow. An arrow that isn’t properly matched will fly erratically and affect your downrange results. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Archery shop technicians use several metrics to match an arrow to a bow: arrow spine, weight and length.

Arrow Sizing

Arrow spine, weight and length are all important factors in matching an arrow to a bow. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Spine is the measurement of the amount of flex or bend in an arrow. You’ll find the arrow’s spine number on the arrow label. Some examples are 350, 400, 500 and 600. The higher the number, the more flex in the arrow

Once you choose an arrow spine number that works for your bow, you’ll stick with it. The only exception is when you make changes to your bow like increase your draw weight . A bow with a heavy draw weight will need a stiffer arrow; a bow with a lighter draw weight will need a softer one.

However, many variables – bow design, arrow length, and point weight – will affect arrow spine. Your archery shop professionals will consider these factors when selecting your perfect arrow size.

Arrow and Point Weight

Arrow and point weight are measured in grains. In general, a heavy arrow will penetrate an animal better than a light arrow. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Arrow weight and point weight are also considerations when selecting an arrow. These weights are measured in grains. In general, a heavy arrow will penetrate an animal better than a light arrow. The trade-off? A heavier arrow will shoot slower. Ask a shop expert for advice on finding the perfect balance between speed and arrow weight for your needs and equipment.

Arrow Length

Your bow is tailored to fit your draw length and so are your arrows. An archery store can cut your arrows so fit just right. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Your bow is tailored to fit your draw length, and so are your arrows. At the archery store, they will cut your arrows so they fit just right.

Fletching

If you’re hunting in dense woods where you have close shots and little wind, larger fletchings are ideal. If you’re hunting in an open area and are confident in shooting longer distances, then try a smaller fletching. Most people will find a happy middle ground by choosing something in between. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Fletchings play a vital role in stabilizing your arrow and increasing accuracy. They come in different shapes and sizes. Large fletchings are ideal for close-range shooting because they create a lot of drag, which stabilizes the arrow quickly. However, this drag slows down the arrow at further distances.

Small fletchings have less drag and less wind drift, making them perfect for hitting distant targets. So, which one is best for bowhunting? It depends on the area you hunt.

If you are hunting in dense woods, where you have close shots and minimal wind, a larger fletching is ideal. For open-area hunts, where you’re shooting longer distances, try a smaller fletching. Most hunters will choose something in-between. Talk to the fletching experts at an archery shop for advice. And, of course, remember you can choose from a wide selection of colors to make your arrows as cool as they are deadly.

Obviously, you have to analyze many variables in picking the perfect hunting arrow. Before you head to the woods this fall, make sure your arrows are matched to your bow by talking to the folks at an archery shop. Their technical knowledge and bowhunting experience will give you an edge in the woods.

Once you have your hunting arrows, share them on the Bowhunting 360 Facebook community. We want to know what type of material, spine, arrow weight and fletching you’re using to fill your freezer.


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