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Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
One of the most important parts of being a successful archer is choosing the right equipment. As a result, you need to make sure that you are getting the right arrow. But this can be confusing with many different arrow lengths available.
So, are longer or shorter arrows better?
Generally, a shorter arrow tends to have a stiffer spine, giving you a more accurate shot. They also tend to fly faster. You should make sure that you have the right arrow length for your shooting style. The optimal length will depend on the bow’s size, your draw length, and how you intend to use the arrow.
While shorter arrows might be preferred, there are times when you could be too short, risking injuring yourself. As a result, you need to put in the time to make sure that you’re getting the right arrow length for you.
Why Does Arrow Length Matter?
Getting the right arrow length is essential. If you use the wrong arrow size, you could be placing yourself and other archers at risk. You might also be lowering your accuracy, making it harder to work with tools like clickers.
There are many reasons why getting the right arrow length. It’s linked to everything from having a safe experience on the range to how accurate you will be. Thankfully, you’ll be able to avoid these issues if you are using the right arrow length.
Is it Safe to Use an Incorrectly Sized Arrow?
It’s recommended that you only avoid using any arrows that aren’t the correct size for your bow. Many safety issues can occur if you use an arrow that is too small. However, one of the most serious is the risk of shooting yourself in the hand.
Before you shoot an arrow, check that it’s the correct length for your bow. If the arrow is too long, you might find it harder to get a long enough draw.
This can limit the amount of force that you’ll be able to put onto the arrow. As a result, there’s a higher chance that you won’t make an accurate shot or that the arrow will stop before it reaches the target.
However, the most danger is presented by using arrows that are too short. In this case, there is a significant chance that, as you draw the string back, the arrow will fall off the rest. If this happens, there is a risk that you will shoot yourself in the hand.
At close range, an arrow can do a lot of damage. Even if you get medical attention quickly, your hand might not recover. This could lead to an abrupt end of your archery career.
Even if you don’t shoot yourself in the hand, you could still lose control of the arrow. If you’re on an archery range, this can result in you hurting another archer. Because of these risks, archery clubs might place rules to stop people from using arrows that are too short.
How Does Arrow Length Affect Clickers?
If your arrow is too short, you won’t be able to use a clicker. Depending on your shooting style, this can reduce your accuracy.
For many freestyle archers, a clicker is an important tool. This is an accessory that can be placed over the rest. When you reach full draw, you’ll hear a clicking noise. This signals that it’s time to release the arrow. Experienced archers will be able to get the maximum force behind each shot and improve their accuracy using this tool.
However, the clicker will often rely on you to choose the right arrow length. If it’s too short, the arrow will slip off the end of the bow before you reach full draw. While you might be able to get some clicker extension tools if your arrows are too long, this still isn’t ideal.
How Does Arrow Length Affect Accuracy?
Arrow length plays a significant role in determining how accurate your shots will be. The longer your arrow is, the weaker the spine will be. As a result, the arrow will be more likely to flex during flight. Because of this, you might not be putting enough pressure onto the bow to hit the target.
If you want to be a more accurate archer, you might want to make sure that you’re using the right arrow length. There are a few reasons why this is important. First, you’ll be making sure that you’re getting the right amount of flex.
The longer the arrow is, the weaker the spine will be. As a result, it will bend more during flight. This could make it harder for you to hit the target.
It should also be noted that shorter arrows tend to be lighter than longer arrows. If the arrow travels faster, it will be better able to cut through air resistance, giving you a better chance of hitting the target.
How Does Arrow Length Affect Penetration?
The biggest reason why someone might want to choose a longer arrow is to give them more weight. As a result, they’ll be able to penetrate the target more deeply.
For some hunters, it might be a good idea to have a longer arrow. Because of the additional mass, you’ll be able to hit the target harder, allowing you to improve your penetration rate. This can be especially important if you’re hunting a species that has a thick hide.
However, for target shooters, this is unlikely to be an advantage. In most cases, this will mean that you’ll need to work harder to remove the arrow from the target.
Can Arrows be too Long?
While it’s unlikely that a long arrow will be as detrimental as an arrow that’s too short, there are some issues that you’ll face. First, if the arrow is too long, it will have a more erratic flight. This can make it harder to hit the target and represent a potential danger on the range.
You should try to avoid using any arrows that are too long for your bow. While a few extra inches will usually be fine, anything over that might cause you to start to lose accuracy and represent a potential safety risk.
In most cases, if you’re using an arrow that’s too long, the spine will be too weak. This will cause it to take an erratic flight path. This will severely reduce your accuracy. However, it might also represent a safety risk.
No-one should be standing in front of you when firing an arrow. Despite that, mistakes can sometimes occur, mainly if you’re not practicing on an archery range, where safety rules are strictly enforced.
If your arrow is too long, the more unpredictable path will increase the chance that someone will get hurt if they are accidentally downrange.
How to Find the Right Arrow Length?
As we’ve seen, it’s essential to make sure that you’re getting the right length for your arrows. There are a few ways that you can do this, depending on the resources you have available. When deciding which arrow you select, you’ll need to consider the type of material from which the arrow is made.
One of the best ways to make sure that you’ll be accurate and safe on the range is by making sure that you get the right arrow length. Thankfully, finding the right length doesn’t need to be a complicated process, and will often only take a few minutes.
There are three methods that you can use to find your ideal arrow length. These techniques are; measuring how long your arms are, finding your draw length, and using a draw arrow. To get a more accurate arrow measurement, you can use all three. Let’s take a closer look at how each of these techniques works.
How to Use Your Arms to Find Arrow Length?
You will be able to use the length of your arms to help you decide how long your arrows should be. To do this, you’ll need to get a friend to help you measure how long your arms are. Then add one inch to this measurement to get the right arrow length.
One of the easiest ways to calculate the right arrow length is by measuring your arms. To do this, you’ll need to stand up and put your arms out straight in front of you, with the palms facing outward.
Then, have a friend measure from the end of your hands to your chest. Once you have this measurement, add one inch. This should be the ideal arrow length for you.
How to Use Your Draw Length to Find the Right Arrow Length?
Draw the bow, and have a friend measure the distance for you. Then, you’ll add a few inches to this measurement to get the right arrow length.
One of the most accurate ways to find out how long your arrow should be is by using your draw length. To do this, pick up your bow and draw the string back like you would when firing. Get a friend to measure how far it is from the end of the string to the arrow rest.
Once done, gently ease the tension on the string. Remember that you should never dry fire your bow, as it causes severe damage. Add around two the three inches to your draw length. This will be the arrow length that you’ll want to fire.
How Can You Use a Draw Arrow to Find the Right Arrow Length?
If you have a draw arrow, place it into the nock and draw the string back. Then, pull back until you’re at full draw. The markings on the arrow should tell you how long your arrow will need to be.
If you’re practicing with a club, they will likely have a draw arrow that you’ll be able to use. This is an arrow that is longer than a traditional arrow and has many measurement markings along the side. This is designed to make it easy for you to find the right arrow length for you.
Simply nock the draw arrow into the bow and pull back on the string. When you’ve reached your draw strength, look at the measurement at the end of the riser.
You might want to get a friend to help you read it correctly. This measurement will tell you the ideal arrow length for you. It should be noted that this might vary from bow to bow, as the draw length changes.
What Material Should the Arrow Shaft Be Made From?
There are three arrow shaft materials for you to choose from. These are carbon fiber, aluminum, and wood. While they each have different pros and cons, carbon fiber is usually the best option.
Once you’ve found the right arrow length, you might want to think about the material you want the arrow to be made. In most cases, you’ll want to try to find a carbon fiber arrow. These have been designed to be both lightweight and robust. As a result, they will be an excellent choice for both hunters and target shooters.
In other cases, you might want to choose an aluminum arrow shaft. While they might not be as durable, they are still reasonably strong. Also, they tend to be cheaper than carbon arrows. Because of this, they make a great choice if you’re on a budget.
Finally, some people might want to choose wood arrows. While these can be a more traditional approach, this shaft material tends to break and warp easily. They might also require more work to maintain, as you’ll need to add oil to them.
Can I Adjust Arrow Length?
You will be able to adjust the arrow length on your arrows. This will ensure you to create arrows that have been designed specifically for you, allowing you to improve your performance.
It’s common for people to purchase arrows that are a few inches too long deliberately. This will give them the option of cutting it down to length later. If you want to do this, you should follow some simple advice to successfully adjust your arrow length.
First, you’ll need to make sure that you adjust your arrow length gradually. You can take off a little more length if you need to. However, if you cut too much, you won’t be able to add it back, which could lead to an arrow that’s too short.
Because of this, it’s recommended that you make multiple cuts, trying the arrow after shaving off a few centimeters each time. This will make it easier for you to hone down your ideal arrow length. Though a bit slower, this process will deliver the best results over the long term.
You should also be careful about the type of equipment you’re using to cut the arrow. While you might be able to use a hacksaw, this isn’t recommended. If you’re planning to cut your arrows, invest in an arrow saw. This will give you the power you need to cut through the thick metal in most modern arrows.
Finally, you want to try to cut as straight as possible. If you’re not making a level cut, this could impact how the arrow flies, stopping it from taking a straight path. As a result, your accuracy will decline.
Why is my arrow fishtailing?
There are a few reasons why this might be happening. For example, your arrow might be too long, causing it to flex more when fired. However, it might also be because of the nocking point that you have chosen to use.
If you are nocking too low, the arrow fletching might be clipping the bow as it’s fired. As a result, it will be oscillating more during flight, causing it to start fishtailing.
What happens if your draw length is too long?
While a longer draw can be tempting, putting more power behind each shot isn’t a good idea. There are a few potential downsides that you might face.
First, it might be encouraging poor form, which increases the risk of injury. It’s also possible that you might be overdrawing the bow. This can damage your equipment.
In most cases, it’s safer to use a longer arrow than a shorter one. This will ensure that it doesn’t come off the rest, making you shoot yourself in the hand. However, using a long arrow also has a few issues. The increased weight and lower spine stiffness might make it harder for you to hit the target.
Because of this, you want to try to find the right arrow size for you. This will often depend on your draw length. By finding your proper arrow length, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance to hit and penetrate the target, while remaining safe.
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. He has been hunting and fishing since a child, and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.