Compound bow: Choosing the correct arrows

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New archers know the basics when it comes to using the compound bow. But the most confusing part is choosing arrows for a compound bow. Yes, there many different types available, and we know how you feel.

The first thing you are wondering is, “How do I know what size arrows to get for my bow?” Then the mind starts wondering how I know what size arrows to get for my bow? Lastly, what arrows should I shoot?

Today we are going to cover all of these questions above and more. So stay awhile longer and read on.

The Basic Parts of an Arrow

Before answering the different arrow selections, you first need to know what the arrow comprises. You get the arrow shaft that is the arrow length and made with dissimilar materials from aluminum, wood, carbon, or a mix of aluminum and carbon.

You have the arrowhead (point) at the end of the arrow and can find three different types available. Furthermore, it has fletching that is the three vanes at the back made of plastic or feathers. Lastly, you have the arrow nock, which is the tip at the back end made of plastic and fits the bowstring.

Now that we have the structure out of the way, you can select the best arrow for your compound bow by reading further.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Arrows

Before selecting an arrow for your compound bow, you need a clear understanding of how all the parts come together.

The arrow spine allows the arrow to wiggle like a snake when shot and plays an important part when selecting one. You can find a wide selection of arrow spine with varying amounts. Therefore, you want to find an arrow spine with the correct quantity of range.

The arrow spine should not be too little collapsing on itself when shot and not too much either, as it does not fly accurately. So if the arrow bends a lot, it is weak, and if not flexible, it is stiff. Another crucial thing is the weight of your bow. Check out my post on the best affordable bow.

If you have a high draw weight, you want a stronger arrow, and if the draw weight is low, you need a weaker one. Next is the length of the arrow, and the longer it gets, the stiffer the structure needs to be.

Furthermore, the point’s weight is also essential as it shows you how much the arrow bends. On the other hand, the material and size are just as important as it can affect the spine.

If you are a compound bow user, you need a stiffer arrow as the cam puts a lot of force on the arrow.

Determine Draw Length

This is the first thing to consider, and that is your draw length as the arrow you use needs to be longer than your draw length. When the arrow is too short, it can fall off the rest or shelf, and you end up shooting yourself in your hand.

For this reason, pick an arrow that is about two inches longer than your draw length. Once you feel you advance, you can use arrows of about one inch longer than your regular draw length. So how do you determine your draw length?

You can use a tool known as the draw length indicator; it is a long arrow with measurements on it. You place it in your compound bow, draw the string to the anchor point, and make a note of the dimension at the end.

When selecting your arrow, you take the measurement and add the two inches to it. Another method is to put your arms out side-by-side and ask someone to measure the wingspan. Or you can stand up against a wall, place one hand out, and make a small mark with the other hand.

Please do the same for the opposite side, take the wingspan’s number, and divide it by 2.5. Now you know how to work out your draw length.

Choosing the Arrow Length

Whit older compound bows selecting the arrow length was a complicated story. However, these days’ things have improved to make choosing the arrow length simpler. All you need to do is take your draw length and add 0.5 inches up to a max of 1-inches to determine the arrow length.

So if you have a draw length of 28 inches, the max arrow length should be 29 inches. You get a long enough arrow to clear the front part of the arrow shelf by doing this, and with the correct arrow length, it prevents accidents.

Picking the Right Arrow Spine

Here the weight can vary and depends on the objective. So how do you choose the right arrows for target practice? When selecting the arrow weight, you want a complete total of the field point, insert, nock, shaft, and vane.

In total, it should be around 5 to 6 grains per pound of the draw weight. If you have a bow with a weight of 60lbs, you need an arrow spine with a total point weight of 300 to 360 grain. Now how do you go about choosing the right arrows for bow hunting? The total weight needs to be 6 to 8 grain per pound of your draw weight.

Using the same previous bow weight, the arrow spine needs to be 360 to 480 grain. However, avoid using an arrow spine less than 5 grains per pound of the draw weight as it causes severe damage to the bow.

closeup of arrow in quiver

Arrow Material: Wood, Aluminum, or Carbon

Now that we have covered the arrow features, it is time to talk about the arrow shaft and arrow material in the structure. You will find three to four materials used in the construction of the arrow shaft. Knowing the difference allows you to choose arrows according to your shooting needs.


The wood arrows are your original arrow and one of the cost-effect arrows to buy for beginner archers. However, they do not last long and can easily break, splinter, or warp. In most cases, the arrows are made with organic material and can differ from one arrow to another. You will find traditional archers using them often or people that enjoy shooting with a longbow. When it comes to competitions, wood arrows are rarely used. But they are fun to shoot with, and you can find loads of archers constructing wooden arrows online.


For the beginner, the aluminum arrows are ideal to use but are used by experienced archers. The aluminum arrows cost more than wooden ones but are cheaper than your carbon arrows. You can find the aluminum arrow available in a wide selection of sizes to use for hunting and target practice.

Furthermore, it comes with screw-in tips to switch out with field points, broadheads, or bullet points. You can fletch them with plastic or feather vanes. The aluminum arrow might not be as sturdy as your carbon arrow but is sturdier for target archery.


The carbon arrow has a stiff structure and makes a great option to use with compound bows made for hunting. Carbon arrows are expensive, and from time to time, they can splinter, leaving them useless and needs throwing away.

Combination of Carbon Aluminum

The arrows have an aluminum center made up of carbon with a layer of aluminum around it. The arrow serves the same purpose as using carbon arrows and works well for shooting far-away targets. The arrow has a lightweight construction that is stiff and performs excellently in the wind drift as it needs no fletching.

While these are the main type of arrows available to use with different bows, you can find fiberglass arrows as well. The arrow is ideal for young archers to use and great for bowfishing at a more affordable price.

A Difference in the Measurement

These are the arrow selection for the material used to construct the arrow, but each has its own arrow weight. When you buy arrows, you find them labeled as 1816, 1916, or 2016. So to make it less confusing:

Wooden arrows are sold with a four-digit number and used with bows weighing 45 to 55lbs. The first two and last two digits show you that the arrow is ideal to use with a bow weight in that range.

Aluminum arrows are similar to their wooden counterparts but with a small difference. Here the first two numbers are the diameter and measured in 64ths of an inch. The 2nd two numbers refer to the thickness and are measured in thousands of an inch. For example, if the number is 1916, the 19 is 19/64ths of inch diameters, while the 16 means 16/1000ths of an inch thick.

Carbon arrows are measured differently with a three-digit number. The digits tell you how much the spine bends when it has a two-pound force pulling on the midpoint. So if the arrow has a 400 number, it flexes 0.4000 inches. The lower the number on the arrows, the more ideal it is to use heavier draw weight.

Now you may wonder what size arrows are right for you to use with your bow. The best is to use an arrow size chart. All you need to do is choose the type of bow you use, the draw weight, and arrow length. Then check the recommended arrow spine.

Tips To Consider When Buying Arrows

As a beginner archer, we recommend starting with cheap arrows, as they tend to wear out fast. As you progress, you can always buy expensive arrows to suit your needs. Here are factors you can take into consideration:

The vanes – you will find that some brands do not glue the vanes straight and tapers left/right. It is known as helical configuration, and once it starts to travel, the air pushes on the slanted vane causing the arrow to spin for an accurate shot.

Arrows with only a shaft – here, you need to add the arrowhead or nock and vanes. However, you can find some available with pre-installed points, vanes, and nocks. But if you are a beginner, choose a pre-made arrow that is ready to use.

Feather/Plastic vanes – the feather vane is ideal for indoor target practice and works well with recurve bows, whereas plastic vanes mess up during the flight and touch the bow handle. However, for outdoor hunting and archery, the plastic vane will serve you well.

Advice for Hunters

The hunter has loads of arrows to choose from, and you find some tips on selecting arrows here:

  • Firstly, there is no such thing as a perfect hunting arrow. A lightweight, thinner arrow will move like an accurate bullet but may not penetrate compared to a denser arrow.
  • The carbon arrow provides loads of benefits for hunters, but they can break and cost you a fortune. So it helps to make sure to check the arrows after you pull it out, and if shattered, the lifelines are the shards left behind in your meat.
  • Make sure your arrowhead works with the arrow you plan to use, as it will affect the flight. If you hunt with a high-poundage compound bow, you need a stiffer arrow as your draw weight increases.
  • Always consider the wind as it affects small arrows more than more prominent arrows.
  • Take your time to tune in your arrows for a humane and safe kill.

Different Arrows We Like

Here is a quick rundown of our favorite arrows you can consider to buy:

For Bow Hunting

The carbon express maxima red carbon arrows have a spine range to draw weights from 40lbsss up to 92lbs. You can use it with a wide range of broadheads, and the straightness measures +/- 0.0025 inches and excellent. Click here to check price on Amazon.

Now, if you have a tight budget, another option is the Tiger Archery carbon arrows made with pure carbon 30 inch lengt and outer diameter 0.309 inch. Click here to check price on Amazon.

For Target Shooting

The Easton Genesis V2 arrows are a favorite made for sturdiness and ideal for longer practice sessions. The straightness measurement is +-.005 inches and suitable for younger archers to use.   Click here to check price on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

We hope that the information is not confusing, and yes, it takes a while to figure everything out. A fact is that you can go deep into the discussion of arrows, and it takes a long time to understand how to choose an ideal arrow for your compound bow. Hopefully, you go away and have developed a feeling on how to choose your arrow to work with your bow.


I'm Isaac Murphy and at the moment I am a student. I took up archery as a hobby about 3 years ago and built this blog to share some of the things I have learned and to help those starting out in this sport. Check out my bio here

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