Your local archery retailer can help you choose the right arrows. To prepare you for that visit, we’ve put together a handy guide to the top arrows for beginning archers.
Wooden arrows fly through the forests near District 12 in “The Hunger Games,” and throughout Middle Earth in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”And for good reason: Wood is the authentic, original, old-school arrow. Cedar – long favored by traditional archers and traditional bowhunters – remains the wood of choice for building this arrow.
Pros: Inexpensive, authentic and a project: You can spend your leisure time learning to build, crest and fletch them.
Cons: Time-consuming to make, prone to breakage and warping, and a challenge to get them uniform. For recurves and longbows only.
Fiberglass is the arrow of choice for youth camps and other group-archery programs. Inexpensive, relatively straight and available in varied lengths, these arrows are a great way to get started in the sport. They help you learn whether archery is something you enjoy before investing some coin on equipment.
Pros: Inexpensive, usually ready-made at your archery retailer; and consistent from batch to batch.
Cons: Difficult to custom-size; prone to splintering, which can be dangerous; heavy, which hurts accuracy at longer distances. For recurve bows only.
Aluminum makes a great arrow for archers investing in a first bow and striving to be relatively accurate at competition distances of 18 meters and beyond. These arrows feature uniform straightness and durability, with nearly endless options for diameter, length and spine (flexibility). They’re competition-worthy but won’t break the bank.
Pros: Can be custom-made by your archery retailer; lots of options for custom-sizing for you and your bow; compound and recurve archers can shoot them; can usually be customized with fletching colors and wraps.
Cons: Because aluminum is relatively soft, it can bend or “canoe” when hit by another arrow, but it’s still stronger than wood and fiberglass. More expensive than wood or fiberglass.
Carbon is favored by many bowhunters and compound-bow archers. Carbon arrows fly straight out of recurve bows, and are a mid-priced option for competition arrows. Carbon shafts are uniform and straight, with specific options for spine and diameter.
Pros: Custom sizing and spine options; straight; durable and reasonably priced. Can be fletched and custom-wrapped. Lightweight and fast.
Cons: If they splinter, they can hurt the archer; composite arrows should be used for long-distance recurve and compound-bow archery.
Composite arrows are the choice of Olympians and World Champions, and are usually an aluminum-carbon composite. These are typically the straightest, most uniformly spined arrows. They’re made for long-distance accuracy, with many options for spine, diameter and specific sizes.
Pros: High quality; made for accurate long-distance shooting, but also a championship arrow indoors. Rarely break or splinter.
Cons: Expensive to replace if lost or broken; should only be purchased with help from an experienced coach/retailer who can expertly match the right spine for the specific bow. Recommended for advanced archers only.