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By Robert Janis

Selecting Arrows for Your Hunt

Hunting for game with a bow and arrow is the most traditional form of hunting known to man. From prehistoric through the traditions of Native Americans and right on up to the skills of today’s bowmen, it is something that will always attract fans no matter how sophisticated we become.

An arrow is not constructed on the concept of “One Size Fits All.” For example, there are arrow shafts made of all carbon, all aluminum or alloy/carbon. Archers using “traditional” equipment (those that prefer longbows and recurves) still use and most prefer, wood arrows usually of Port Orford cedar for their shafting material if available. Moreover, arrows are made with or without a variety of features that are meant to influence their performance. In order to choose the proper arrow for your goals, you need to know about these differences and how to analyze and balance them so that you will select the proper arrow for the job you want it to do.
First, let’s look at the construction of the arrow.

Carbon Express® Terminator™ Lite Hunter FOC Arrows with Blazers
Carbon Express® Terminator™ Lite Hunter FOC Arrows with Blazers

The Shaft
Just as with a firearm, there are many components that make up an arrow. One important feature is the spine. The spine is important when it comes to tuning, shooting, and grouping arrows. You need to select an arrow with the proper spine for your bow, or you will get erratic arrow flight and poor shooting groups. In other words, the proper arrow spine assures the best accuracy.

There are two types of spines--a static spine and a dynamic spine. A static spine helps determine the amount of flex in the arrow. It is measured by the amount of flex in the arrow when an 880-gram (1.94 lb.) weight is suspended from the center of an arrow that is 29-inches in length and supported by two points which are 28-inches apart. The number of inches the arrow deflects or bends because of the weight is the spine size or measurement of an arrow. A dynamic spine is a term that describes how the arrow reacts to the stored energy of a bow as it is shot. Several factors influence how an arrow will act when it is shot. They include the method of release (fingers or mechanical release), amount of energy applied by the bow, the bow’s cam system (single, round wheel, hard or soft), weight of the arrow, spine of the arrow, length of the arrow, point weight, nock weight and *fletching weight. *Nock set material (traditional brass or serving nock), string and serving material can also influence dynamic spine. Since there are so many variables involved with dynamic spine, arrows are usually measured using static spine.

The shaft of arrows, as previously mentioned, can be made of all carbon, all aluminum, or a combination of alloy/carbon. Aluminum arrows have extremely precise manufacturing specifications especially where weight and spine are concerned. Also, it is weight and spine that help determine the arrow’s accuracy. Aluminum arrows generally fly better and tune easier because they are heavier and transfer the bow’s energy more efficiently when shot. Moreover, they are “deadly” quiet.

Carbon arrows are generally lighter than aluminum arrows. This allows the arrows to fly at a higher velocity and flatter trajectory. The added speed helps to compensate for errors in estimating range. However, carbon arrows are not as accurate as aluminum arrows. And, since the carbon arrows are lighter in weight, velocity is reduced more quickly and that means less penetration into the target and less kinetic energy down range.

Alloy/carbon arrows do what one might assume, provide you with the best of both aluminum and carbon. They have the strength and durability of a carbon arrow and the spine consistency, weight tolerances and accuracy of an aluminum arrow. However, because of the sophistication in the manufacturing of alloy/carbon arrows, they are more expensive to buy than the all-carbon or all- aluminum varieties. Hunters who prefer aluminum alloy/carbon arrows like them because they experience less wind drift than all-carbon arrows and better down range speed than the aluminum arrows. Moreover, since the alloy/carbon arrows are made of both aluminum and carbon, they feature the best elements of each component. For example, an alloy/carbon arrow is manufactured by combining a small aluminum core tube covered by a layer of longitudinal carbon fibers. The carbon cannot be straightened but the aluminum can. So the straightness of the arrow is assured by the aluminum. Also, the carbon offers strength, stiffness, and durability.

Hunters who want accuracy commonly select aluminum arrows. Moreover, aluminum arrows are heavier and hunters who prefer aluminum arrows say that a heavier arrow shot from a bow has more energy than a lighter arrow. Moreover, they say that aluminum arrows are easier to fletch than carbon arrows and easier to tune as well.

Hunters who prefer carbon arrows like their better down-range speed than aluminum arrows and have found that smaller diameter carbon arrows have better penetration than aluminum arrows. They like the stiffness and believe that this feature is what helps in penetration. Carbon can dampen out vibration during impact which may direct more kinetic energy down the centerline of the shaft. They also find that carbon arrows are stronger and more durable than the aluminum arrows.

knowing the proper spec ranges should also help you in selecting the proper arrows for your bow. Hunters prefer all-carbon arrows like the spine deviation to be at worst and no greater than .015-inches out when comparing each shaft in a bundle of a dozen arrows. They also say that weight should not vary plus or minus 5 grains from another. The straightness tolerance should be plus or minus .005-inch. If using fixed blade hunting heads, you might want to try straightness tolerances of plus or minus .003 inches in deviation.

Since many factors come into the selection of an arrow, it is advised that you seek the advice of the person who is selling them to you.

 Beman ICS Camo Arrow Shafts
 Beman ICS Camo Arrow Shafts

There are many well made arrows coming from a variety of manufacturers no matter if they are all- carbon, all-aluminum or an aluminum alloy/carbon composite. What follows is a list of some arrows that have been given a five-star rating by hunters along with an explanation as to why hunters like the arrow.

Beman® ICS (Internal Component System) Hunter Arrows: According to the manufacturer, the shafts of these arrows are weight matched and very, very straight. They are extremely durable due to their dense construction and they have good energy transfer to the target. This translates into better kinetic energy and that means better penetration. They feature a smooth, polished finish which make them extra quiet and easier to pull out of the target. Vibration is kept to a minimum by internal-fit nocks and a ViBrake dampening inserts.

Rated: 5 stars by hunters. What hunters like about this arrow is its price, its flexibility, stiff spine, consistency (grouping), durability, accuracy, straightness, weight and its smaller diameter.

Easton ST Axis Arrows: According to the manufacturer, these arrows are engineered for deep penetration. It has a unidirectional carbon-fiber core that enhances the strength while the over-all diameter is kept to a minimum. High strength composite fibers makes the shaft durable and the black micro smooth finish reduces wear when the arrow is resting on the bow and also helps to eliminate draw noise and assists in removing the arrow from the target. The arrows come complete with X nocks installed, vanes, HIT inserts, chamfer stone, installation tool and HIT epoxy. Specs: Straightness +/-.003-inch; weight tolerance +/- 2.0 grains.

Rated 5 stars by hunters. Hunters like the arrow’s toughness, accuracy, speed, and ability to fly straight. They also like the fact that the arrows are offered in a variety of spines.

Gold Tip Pro Hunter Arrows: According to the manufacturer, the arrow has been engineered for extreme precision. The graphite shaft has been tested to a straightness tolerance of +/- .001-inch and a weight tolerance of 1 grain per dozen to help assure accuracy and consistency. Comes standard with GT Series nocks and inserts.

Rated 5 stars by hunters. Hunters like its accuracy, strength, and durability.

Carbon Impact Stealth XLT 6500 Arrows: According to the manufacturer, these arrows are the first to feature a unique, built-in arrow stabilizer that assists in eliminating vibration.

Rated 5 stars by hunters. Hunters like the durability, the noise reduction level, and the built-in stabilizer which minimizes flex and helps the arrow reach the target faster. Weight of the stabilizer is forward on the shaft so penetration is good.

 RedHead® Carbon Supreme Arrows - 4'' DuraVanes
RedHead® Carbon Supreme Arrows
4'' DuraVanes

RedHead® Carbon Supreme Arrows: According to the manufacturer, these arrows are made of premium multilayered carbon-composite fibers so it is strong and flies true. Specs: Straightness tolerance +/- .003-inch. Fletched with three offset 4-inch DuraVanes and press-fit tunable nocks and knurled aluminum inserts. Length 32 1/2-inchs. Diameter .285-inch.

Rated 5 stars by hunters. Hunters like its noise reduction capability, built in stabilizer which minimizes the arrow’s flex, and the enhanced speed.

Before actually going out to purchase your arrows, I would suggest that you surf the internet for source material. You can start with a Google search on “ARROWS” or start with the list of sources below.

  • Fletching: The feathers or vanes of an arrow; the arrangement of such features
  •  Nock: The part of the arrow having a notch for the bowstring; the notch itself
  • Tuning: Trimming the arrows so that they will clear the arrow rest on the bow. This helps to assure best flight performance.


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