Outdoor archery season is just around the corner, and with this in mind, it may be time to switch your arrows to accommodate outdoor shooting. If this is your first time buying a set of outdoor arrows, there are several things you’ll need to consider to build an effective arrow.
Outdoor arrows are meant for long-range accuracy, and so they’re usually much skinnier in diameter than indoor arrows. That small diameter provides better aerodynamics in windy conditions. Premium outdoor arrows are usually made of carbon, or carbon wrapped around aluminum, and they can be as thin as 6 millimeters in diameter, which is thinner than a pencil. An arrow with a bigger diameter is more susceptible to wind drift, and that can greatly decrease your score at longer distances.
The next consideration when choosing outdoor arrows is spine, which is a measure of how much the arrow bends when it is released from the bow. Spine is indicated by a number on the shaft that gives the amount of deflection in thousandths of an inch. The smaller the number, the stiffer the spine, and vice versa. Since outdoor arrows are thinner than indoor arrows, the dynamics of the arrow spine will be different even though the spine numbers match. This is because the thinner outdoor arrows have a different flex pattern than their indoor equivalents. Using an arrow chart, or spine selector, will give you a good approximation of which spine to choose depending on your arrow length and draw weight.
Choosing fletching can be confusing, but one thing is for sure: Feathers will not be as forgiving at 70 meters as they are at 18 meters. They impart drag on the arrow, slowing it down too much. A small-profile plastic fletch works a lot better for shooting long distance, but ultimately, spin vanes are the best for outdoor shooting with a recurve bow. They are light and have a light drag coefficient, and they spin the arrow, which increases its stability in the wind.
Finally, we come to a hotly debated topic in building outdoor arrows: Which point weight should you shoot? Point weight affects the arrow’s front of center, which is how far forward from center the balance point of the arrow lies. This will help guide the arrow to the target through the wind. Unfortunately, there is no concrete way to determine the best point weight for you, but there are certain guidelines you can follow to help you along. You’ll want to pick a heavier point weight with a longer arrow length, a higher spine number, heavier fletching and a higher draw weight. The converse is also true. You will need to experiment with point weight in order to find what works best for you.
Choosing your outdoor arrows will not be a one-time thing, either, especially since bow technology seems to advance almost annually. You may also have different sets of arrows depending on typical weather conditions at different locations. Regardless of which arrows you choose, no equipment upgrade is a substitute for dedicated practice.