Can Compound Bows Shoot Wood Arrows?

Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and OutdoorsmanOpens in a new tab..

I’ve heard this question multiple times; can compound bows shoot wood arrows?

In short, yes. But it is highly discouraged. Modern compound bows are not meant to be shot with wooden arrows, and doing so increases the chances of self-injury.

If you’re wondering whether to try it out or not, there’s a couple of pointers you need to be aware of. Compound bows are sturdier than traditional bows; as a result, they also tend to be more rigid in their setup, not leaving much room for flexibility.

The aim is to ensure you are hitting your target. With that in mind, wooden bows are more flexible, which, unfortunately, the compound bow doesn’t have room for.

Therefore, you might break the bow, and even in the event of not breaking it, there’s a chance that you have shot yourself with the arrow.

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the detailed mechanics of why and how it is a bad idea to shoot a wood arrow on compounds.

Can Compound Bows Shoot Wood Arrows

Why Wooden Arrows Are Not Compatible with Compound Bows

Many have gotten away uninjured while shooting wooden arrows with compound bows. But many have not. So, the risk remains. The incompatibility of a compound bow and wood arrow can be traced back to many reasons, but the main one is that the bow’s power is too much for the frail shaft to overcome.

Compound bows are mechanical bows with many technical aspects going with them that you don’t see with a recurve bow or a longbow. The pulley system, levers, and cables make it easier for the archer to pull on a full bow with ease.

However, these are technically adjusted for accuracy; there’s minimal scope for experimenting with wood arrows. So, let’s look at the exact reasons for the incompatibility.

The Arrow May Shatter

Wood arrows have a higher chance of shattering when used on compound bows. Compound bows exert a stronger force between the riser and the string compared to a traditional bow. As a result, an arrow that doesn’t have a sturdy shaft is susceptible to breaking. 

Some argue here that using a weaker compound bow can solve this issue. But that is also not the only issue here. Looking at the following will answer why a weaker compound bow won’t help much either.

Wood Shafts Flex More

Most compound bows exert a significant amount of force, and to do that, the arrow is held tightly within the riser and the string. However, they do not hold the arrow as tightly with a longbow or recurve bow, so there is more room for the wood arrow to flex.

So, when it’s used on a mechanically tight bow, the shaft tries to go up and down instead of its regular motion, and that can lead to misfiring and hitting the archer’s hand.

On the other hand, the chances of such an incidence happening with a longbow or recurve bow are pretty low. But not entirely impossible.

Therefore, you should always be careful with wood arrows. However, the extent of the injury, in this case, will not be as fatal. But please be sure to use high-quality wood arrows to avoid being injured by splinters.

Are Wood Arrows Accurate?

Traditional archers love wood arrows simply because they are more comfortable with them. As for the rest of us who are not on that nostalgia train, wooden arrows might not be enough.

Accuracy depends on so many factors, and arrow type is just one of them. Everything comes into the picture when you’re trying to shoot your target, starting from the heaviness of an arrow to the archer’s stance.

Weight of the Arrow Shafts

The thing with arrow material is you want the weight to be accurate. Heavier arrows have greater accuracy in the sense they can withstand the wind and other factors. But lighter arrows are better for hunting as they go faster and can hit the target before it gets a chance to run away.

Further, the arrow material needs to be strong enough to survive a full draw. And if it’s on a powerful compound bow, then the task becomes next to impossible for wood arrows.

Consistency of the Batch

Nowadays, arrow manufacturers have come a long way, but it is difficult to match every wooden arrow shaft material in terms of specs. Even a tiny variation in shooting arrows can throw off your shots.

As you might not be aware of the difference at a glance, you will opt for your usual style. But changes within the batch will be reflected in how the shot turns out.

However, with compound bows, every arrow can be identical if you wish them to be. And you have the option to get different specs should you need to.

Arrow Spine and Length

The spine and length depend a lot on the bow’s draw weight and draw length. The pulling length is also very significant. Once you know the bow mechanics and your arrow preferenceOpens in a new tab., you can use available charts to choose the best arrow shaft material for greater accuracy.

Once you have factored in all these components and have gotten an arrow that can handle the compound bow and its draw weight, hitting accurately will become more achievable.

Arrows That Are Best for Compound Bows

Two of the best arrows for a compound bow are carbon fiber and aluminum arrows. But even within them, there’s a variety of products to choose from. To help you get started, we have a detailed guide on the best arrows for your compound bow selected by our experts.

Carbon Fiber Arrow

The durability of carbon fibers makes them a favorite choice for Archers and enthusiasts. Unlike wooden arrows that break or easily change shape under pressure, carbon fibers stay strong and sturdy. Some even consider carbon to be the best material for bows.

While carbon material is pricier than a regular arrow, it is definitely worth the extra bucks. Carbon arrows give you the toughness that other arrows can’t deliver. It also lasts stronger and is not likely to break or shatter. 

If you’re using the bow for hunting, you need an arrow that produces quick and accurate shots. And the resilient and gritty nature of carbon material is perfect for hunting to compensate amateur archers.

On the other hand, for those who are target practicing, the precision of carbon fiber arrows is unparalleled when paired with a compound bow. Due to the mechanical advantage from the pulleys and cable of this kind of bow, you have a stable stance.

So, when you use a rigid arrow and do a soft draw, target hitting becomes a whole lot accurate.

Aluminum Arrow

For those looking for a more budget-friendly arrow, aluminum is the way to go. Yes, aluminum is beginner and cost-friendly. Although they might not last as long as a carbon fiber arrow, they will surely be more resistant than wood arrows. 

While aluminum arrows can sometimes bend, they can also be straightened. When it comes to hunting, aluminum can be favorites over other types because they are very quiet. So, if you don’t want to spook your prey, aluminum might be perfect for you.

This sort of bow does the job pretty well in terms of target hitting but is not as efficient as the carbon-fiber arrows. However, those who like to go into the details will prefer the precision and customization of aluminum arrows.

You can have them precisely to the weight you want, along with very specific spine specs. This makes aluminum just as good for target hitting. 

However, the demerit of aluminum is that the shaft grows thinner and is not as durable as carbon arrows. But for those looking for proper arrows for their bow, this certainly does the job well.

Which Arrow Should You Choose for Your Compound Bow?

Now that you know about your options, the decision should already be pretty straightforward for you. But for beginners who are still unsure about which to go for, a lot depends on what you’re trying to get out of your bow.

But for those looking for a straight answer, we have got a list of reasons. Check out 8 Reasons Carbon Arrows Are Better Than Aluminum to decide on your arrow.

Is Shooting Wooden Arrows from a Recurve Bow a Good Option?

Longbows are the most recommended bows for wooden arrows. While recurves do the job as well, but longbow and wood arrow have a history that just can’t be beaten.

Also, wooden arrows have been there for the longest time, and they are still the favorite of many archers. But they are not suitable for the more technically advanced bows. Hence, traditional bows are the answer for wood arrows.

However, not all recurve bows are recommended for wooden shafts. Recurve bows themselves are coming in newer varieties. Further, many of these have a lot more power. So, when shooting recurve, one should consider more force now and could shatter the wood arrow shaft.

So, much like the case with a compound bow, the powerful recurve bows also become too significant a burden for wood arrows. So, for safety and not to shatter a wooden arrow, it is recommended to use woodies with longbows only.

You can use high-quality arrows which are made to withstand the force of the recurve bow. But even then, there’s a considerable risk of injuring yourself with a razor-sharp arrow.

The trade-off for your safety is your nostalgia and comfort of shooting wood arrows, and it’s a trade-off you will not have to make with longbows.

What Type of Arrows Should You Use?

A compound bow and wooden arrow don’t go together, but what about a carbon arrow on recurve string or aluminum on traditional bows? In archery, the short answer is, if you’re confused, go for carbon fiber arrows.

If you have settled on the age-old archer’s paradox on the compound or recurveOpens in a new tab., then you need to decide on your arrows now.

Previously we discussed that aluminum and carbon fiber are the best arrows for compound bows. Now, as for recurving bows, it is also best to use a carbon arrow. Since recurve bows are lighter, using carbon arrows with them helps to utilize the draw length capabilities of the bow. The lightweight of the recurve bow accompanied by the carbon arrow’s lightness helps create a proper balance for archers who want accuracy and speed for target hitting or hunting.

Carbon arrows come in various sizes and specs so that you can adjust them properly with your bow.

As for a traditional bow, you can shoot wooden arrows with them, but it is not that carbon ones won’t work. Carbon arrows are just as compatible with longbows because you can shoot them at full draw without worrying about breaking the shaft.


You can use different types of arrows with other bows, but every archer has their preference. While some shoot best with the traditional bows and arrows to be in touch with their long history, others capitalize on the modern bows and arrows for better results. 

Trying out cedar arrows or wood shaft occasionally is alright as long as you are careful with it and understand the nature of your bow and the limits of your shaft. The last thing you want is a field point in your hand.

Steven Lines hunter pic 1

Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since he was a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of outdoor experience. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channelOpens in a new tab. dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.


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Hi, I'm Sam! I used to work as a caregiver, and now I'm in medical school. My blog is about helping people get healthier through fun activities like archery, hunting, and powerlifting. If you like one of my articles, please share it with your friends and family so they can be healthy too!

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