Does length of arrow matter in archery?

In Archery, Archery Tips, Compound Bows, Longbows, Recurve Bows, Traditional Archery by Vineet Jain3 Comments

What should be the length of arrow?

Ideally arrows should be 1-2 inches more than your draw length

Simple answer is: whatever your draw length is, add 1-2 inches. That’s how long your arrows should be.

But anyone who has tried different arrow lengths will have a hard time telling the difference in their shooting.

So why have this length? And how does it matter? Does having longer or shorter arrows make me a terrible archer?

Let’s find it out.

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1. Safety

Too short arrows do not clear well and may cause injury

In case your arrows are cut too short, there is a chance that they may not clear as properly when they leave the bow. They can hit your hand, they can hit a protruding part of the bow, and if they are shorter than even the draw length they will not even fit on the bow at your draw length.

So, you can injure yourself or ruin your archery experience altogether with shorter arrows.

You can offset this by changing your form, but that defeats the purpose entirely. You will loose accuracy, form, safety and even be prone to injuries due to awkward stance or posture you will have to adopt to compensate for the shorter arrow.

Read: Learn How To Determine Your Beginner Arrow Length

2. Tune and flex

Arrows oscillate when they fly

Your arrows are thin rods. They are stiff; however, they can flex or bend depending on the force that is applied on them.

In fact, the arrows oscillate or wiggle like a snake very fast when they fly through the air.

Arrows come in different sizes and material that affects their flex.

How?

  • Longer arrows have greater flex: That means longer arrows will oscillate more when they leave the bow. It can be so much so that they come in contact with the bow while clearing the bow and get off their course.
  • Arrows with denser material have less flex: That means that lighter material like wood will oscillate much more then denser material like aluminum or carbon fiber (not always the case though)
  • Weight of the tip affects the flex: If your arrows have heavy tip then it will flex more, and vice-versa.

So, the crux of the matter is that arrows that are too stiff or too flexible will not fly properly. This will affect your accuracy a bit. But this affect is so small that an average archer will not know the difference.

However, if you are using a high draw weight, then arrows with high flex may not clear properly and may come in contact with the bow. That can be a serious issue.

Thus, if you are using high draw weight, having arrows that are longer than required, of lighter material, and of heavy tip can potentially pose a problem for your accuracy.

Similarly, a very stiff arrow will not clear properly from a lower draw weight bow.

Arrow flight in slow motion (1000fps), recurve bow

3. Clicker issues if you are using a high-end bow

Clickers are a small, movable device on your bow close to where your arrow sits on the bow. It comes installed in high-end bows and it helps with the stability and balance of your arrow on the bow.

Modern bow with a clicker being used

Basically, what it does is when you pull back the arrow and the tip reach near the bow, the clicker locks the arrow in place.

So, If you are using a clicker you can’t have longer arrows. The tip of the arrow will not be able to reach the clicker, defeating clicker’s purpose.

It’s not that you can’t shoot arrows without a clicker; but if you have one and want to use it, then you can’t use it on longer arrows. 

Related question:

How do I get arrows cut to my size?

The proper way is to get them cut for you from a store.

Second method is to do it yourself with an arrow saw. These are specially made to cut arrows smoothly and properly.

Third method is to use a hack saw. But for that you have to be really proficient with it, or get someone who is really proficient with it to do the job for you.

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