Reading Time: 5 minutes 🎯
Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.
Arrows are specially designed and highly engineered pieces of archery equipment. They must be precisely shaped and weighted for proper firing. Every part of the arrow plays a critical role in keeping it in flight and on target.
If you’ve got arrows that are missing the tip, you might be wondering if you can shoot an arrow without a tip.
You should never fire an arrow without a tip. Because every part of the arrow is critical in maintaining safe and accurate flight and because arrows are precisely weighted for proper transfer of energy from the bow to the arrow, you could cause damage to your bow by firing an arrow without a tip. You could also injure yourself or someone else.
Arrows are highly engineered and specially weighted so that the force you create by pulling back on the bowstring is effectively transferred to the arrow. Every part of the arrow, including the tip, is accounted for in the weight of the arrow.
The tip is the piece that pierces the target. There are different types of arrowheads, depending on whether you are hunting or shooting targets.
The average arrow tip weighs 100 grams.
Check out this video if you want to learn more about arrow part basics.
Firing an arrow without a tip means the arrow is underweight.
An underweighted arrow can cause erratic flight.
Firing underweighted arrows can also damage your bow. Because bows are designed to fire arrows of a certain weight, firing one with an underweight arrow means some of the energy from the bow draw will go into the bow, instead of the arrow, which can potentially cause damage to the bow.
Usually, the damage will occur during the shot. However, if you hear any unusual sounds when firing or are otherwise worried about the integrity of your bow, you should take it into a shop for inspection.
The spine rating of an arrow is a measurement of how stiff it is. Without a tip, the shaft will be less rigid (aka underspined).
Underspined arrows behave differently than accurately spined ones and are less accurate. Shooting with an Underspined arrow will result in a decrease of arrow grouping. This means your shots will be more spread out over the area of your target.
Underspined arrows tend to pull to the right, while over spined ones tend to veer to the left.
Arrow Flex & The Archer’s Paradox
Arrow flight is not as straightforward (pun intended) as it seems. The archer’s paradox describes the fact that longbows have a body that is in the way of an arrow’s direct path to the target. Yet, despite this, we know that skilled archers can hit their targets.
If you would like more information on the archer’s paradox, check out SmarterEveryDay’s video.
Understanding how an arrow can hit its intended target despite this paradox is important for understanding why you should never fire an arrow without a tip, or a damaged arrow for that matter.
Arrows use flex to bend around the body of the bow so that an archer can reliably hit their target. The arrow spine determines its flexibility. Spine is the measurement of an arrow’s stiffness that I mentioned earlier.
Check out this video to see a slow-motion clip of an arrow being fired.
The arrow in this video is bending more dramatically than most. The increased flexing is because of a combination of the arrow spine and the power of the bow. The stronger your bow, the stiffer your arrow should be.
An arrow without a tip will flex more because it is underspined. Aside from the aforementioned diminished accuracy, this extra flex can put too much strain on the arrow, causing it to come apart. When it comes apart, shards will fly in all directions and could seriously injure you and any bystanders.
Firing a Damaged Arrow
As you have seen, arrows undergo a great deal of stress when being fired.
If you fire a cracked arrow, the stress can cause it to shatter, sending arrow debris in all directions and potentially hurting you and anyone that may be nearby.
To avoid hurting yourself and others, you should carefully inspect your arrows before you use them, even if they are brand new. Most arrow damage is from use, but there can also be manufacturing defects.
How to check your arrows for damage:
- Do a visual inspection looking for any cracks, nicks, or bends.
- Run your finger up and down the entire surface of the arrow, feeling for damage
- Check the nock (where the arrow and bowstring meet)
- Check the tip; if it is a screw-in head, it may have become loose and fallen off
- Give the arrow a slight bend and check for cracking or splintering
Dry firing is the process of pulling back your bowstring and releasing it suddenly as if you were firing it when there is no arrow on the string.
Dryfiring will cause damage to your bow. It may not cause visible damage on the first pull, but it will cause damage over time. Never dry fire your bow.
If you pull the bowstring back without an arrow, slowly ease the pressure on the string rather than releasing it abruptly.
To understand why this can damage your bow, let’s review the basics of how a bow and arrow work.
Loading an arrow and pulling back on the string of a bow, stores energy in the limbs of the bow. When you release the bowstring, you are transferring energy from the bow into the arrow, which pushes it forward toward its target.
If you draw and release the bow without an arrow, the energy has nowhere to go except through the bow. Dry firing causes strong vibrations to reverberate through the bow causing damage.
The damage can be severe enough for the bow to come apart violently, sending debris in all directions, which can hurt anyone around, including the person firing the bow.
The right arrow depends on your use and bow setup. When buying an arrow, you need to ensure that it has the correct spine and weight for your bow.
Use manufactures charts to help you select an arrow with the correct weight and spine. These charts take several measurements into account to help you choose the right arrow.
These charts can seem intimidating at first. Once you get used to them, they become much easier to use. If you are new to archery, I recommend you take your bow into a shop for help.
You need to take your bow with you because the variables that determine the correct arrow for your setup require precise measurements. Most incorrect arrow purchases are a result of people guessing at these measurements.
For more guidance on buying arrows, check this video.
A Tip for Accuracy and Safety
Because bows are highly engineered pieces of equipment, they should only be used with arrows that are intact and in good condition. As such, you should never fire an arrow without a tip as the arrow will be underspined and underweight.
These factors will affect the accuracy but can also cause the arrow to fail catastrophically, which can injure anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity when the arrow is fired.
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.