These equipment pages are an introduction to some of the common items of equipment used in archery today, mainly aimed at a beginner in the sport/hobby. There are much more detailed articles to be found on the web or in books.
There are several forms of arrow in use in archery today, ranging from the traditional wood arrow up to arrows made up from combinations of materials laminated together to give high strength with minimum weight, as that is the ideal combination for achieving an accurate shot.
Like the importance of getting a bow that very closely matches your own body characteristics, it is also very important to get an arrow that matches the characteristics of the bow. A great bow will still not perform well if placed with a poorly matching arrow. It is also important to get the right type of arrow for the type of archery that you are doing. For example, a strong, light arrow might be best for target archery, whereas a heavier and more sturdy arrow would be preferable for hunting.
Click arrow image for a breakdown of the arrow components.
Like bows, arrows need to be tuned to your particular bow to achieve the best results. This can be achieved by changing the point and/or nock, to ensure the arrow correctly oscillates in flight when shot with your own bow. It also has to be the right length, so that it is not too short to be pulled dangerously past the arrow rest of the bow as you draw, nor be too long, so adding unwanted weight. The club will be happy to advise when the times comes for you to purchase your own equipment.
The first caveman arrows were made from wood, most likely a branch chosen for its roughly consistent size and straightness. And wood is still in use today, particularly for longbow archers. However, the nature of the material means it is prone to slight imperfections and can warp or break more easily than some other types as described below. Fletchings are commonly made of feathers and the arrow will typically have a metal point (target archery) or arrow head (hunting archery).
Arrows made from fibreglass have several advantages over wood. They can be made to greater tolerances so it is easier to produce well match arrows. They are easier to make in different thicknesses to suite all requirements, and so are a quite popular material for arrows today. However, like wood, they do have a tenancy to be brittle and care has to be taken when cutting the spine to the correct draw length.
Probably the most common material for everyday archery these days, aluminium arrows can be manufactured very consistently, in various thickness/stiffness and lengths. They tend to be more durable than than wood or fibreglass, and can even be straightened on a jig if they become slightly bent. Aluminium may also be bonded with other materials, such as carbon, in arrow making. They are typically paired with a metal point, fletchings of feather, nylon or plastic and a plastic nock. these make ideal arrows for the average archer.
Carbon arrows are renowned among the elite archers because of their strength and lightness. However, they are very expensive and so only recommended when you become much more serious about the sport and need that little edge over other types of arrows described here. In fact, carbon arrows often have an aluminium core to create a perfect strength/weight/cost balance. Carbon arrows are able to withstand the higher poundage of the hunting or distance target bows and tend to fly faster and further than arrows made of other materials.
The term Archer's Paradox is often incorrectly given to the side to side twisting of arrows in flight. However the term actually refers to the fact that early archers noticed that at full draw, the arrow does NOT point directly at the target, hence coining the term Archer's Paradox. With a finger release, the string is initially forced sideways as the fingers transfer from holding the string to releasing it, which causes the string to travel towards the bow from a slightly different angle than when it was held at rest. The result is that the arrow actually ends up travelling in a slightly different direction to where it was initially pointing. In turn, the sideways movement of the string initiates that side to side oscillating of the arrow in flight, which is where the confusion over the use of the term often arises.
With good technique and a well tuned bow and arrow combination, this directional offset can be accounted for, resulting in consistent accuracy.
Despite the improper use of the term, several excellent slow motion videos of arrows in flight can be found on YouTube and similar web sites by doing a search on the term: Archer's Paradox. A couple we have found can been linked from our Gallery Page.