Types of Arrows & Arrowheads

Since bows and arrows were used for a wide range of purposes. A lot of different materials were used in making the arrows and arrowheads.

Also, These parts take different shapes according to their purpose. Each one of these arrow points has its set of pros and cons.

In the following article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the types of arrows & arrowheads available on the market.

Types of Arrows Shafts

To put it in the simplest way possible, the shaft is the main length of the arrow, and it’s one of the most essential parts for an arrow to work.

In the past, most arrow shafts were made of one material. However, with the advancement of technology in our modern times, a lot of other materials have been used in making arrow shafts.

These materials improve different aspects of traditional bows. However, nothing is completely perfect, as each one of these types suits different situations depending on their pros and cons.

Let’s have a brief overview of each one of these shaft types, so you can choose the ones that suit you the most!

Solid Carbon Shafts

As the name suggests, the arrow shafts are made entirely from solid carbon. The construction of these arrows is basically a huge number of interwoven fibers of carbon that are pressed together.

One thing you should know about carbon is that they’re of decent stiffness. This eliminates the need of bulking them up to give them a decent level of durability. However, they’re less stiff than aluminum arrow shafts.

For that reason, solid carbon arrows are among the slimmest types of arrows that you can find available on the market.

Another property of carbon is that they aren’t the most flexible material around. In other words, if you bend them beyond a certain degree, they snap vigorously into a huge amount of spines.

That’s why you always need to pay close attention not to break them, as these sharp spines can get very dangerous.

Despite all that, carbon arrows can be used by anyone, as they’re easy to use and perform well with beginners and intermediate level archers. However, these arrows can get very costly easily and they vary in terms of quality greatly.

Pros

  • Performs well for most archers
  • Thinner than most arrows
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Unfixable when they’re broken
  • Produce dangerous spines when they’re broken
  • A bit pricey

Alloy Core & Carbon Cover Shafts

This type is one of the most popular shaft types among serious archers and hunters in particular. You’ll often come across Olympic acres who use them as well.

These arrows are usually designed to have an alloy center, which is usually aluminum to give them stiffness. They’re surrounded on the outside with a carbon cover to keep them lightweight.

This construction helps them to perform well in wind and reach far targets outdoors. They also don’t need huge fletching to work well. But more on that later.

For these reasons, alloy/carbon mix is usually the material of choice when it comes to archers looking for maximum efficiency in terms of speed and durability.

Alloy core and carbon cover arrows are known for their stiffness, which makes them an ideal match for heavier types of bows. This includes the large and heavy compound bows that are usually used in hunting.

Since they’re very stiff, they don’t need to be bulky. That’s why carbon arrows are noticeably thin when compared to some other types like pure aluminum arrows. This helps them in penetrating targets and game easily for hunters.

As you now know, carbon arrows are remarkably sturdy and can take a lot of beating before they’re broken.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb that can tell you a thing or two about carbon’s durability. If something breaks a carbon arrow, be sure that it would’ve broken any other type of arrow.

Yet, that’s something I won’t recommend you to test out. That’s because broken carbon shafts can be fixed.

In that case, you’ll have to buy new ones, and unfortunately, carbon arrows are among the most expensive types of arrows that you can find out there.

It can be used by anyone, but I recommend that you don’t start with such advanced arrows if you’re a beginner.

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Ideal for heavier bows
  • Excellent penetrating power

Cons

  • Premium price tag
  • Once broken or splintered, they’re done for

Wood Shafts

For centuries, wood has been the most commonly used material when it comes to arrow shafts. It’s the most easily disposable and basic form of arrow shafts out there.

Wooden shafts are extremely cost-effective and affordable, which makes them ideal for new archers learning how to shoot arrows.

They won’t last you a long time, though. These arrows are known for their flimsiness, as they break, splinter and warp with time. Since they’re made of organic fibers and materials, you shouldn’t expect them to stand the test of time.

For this reason, they’re rarely used in archery competitions anymore. Another reason for that is their inconsistency.

Since organic materials aren’t uniform, the difference between seemingly similar arrows is great, and each arrow will fly differently.

Today, wooden arrows are mostly popular among traditionalist archers and those who enjoy shooting with a longbow for authenticity.

Among the most powerful wooden arrows are those made of cedarwood. However, they’re still far behind modern ones. Yet, they’re simple and fun to make, so you’ll find many archery enthusiasts rocking homemade ones.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable and cost-effective
  • Easily disposable
  • Simple and fun to make
  • Ideal for traditional archers and beginners

Cons

  • Highly inaccurate and weak power
  • Easy to break, warp, and splinter
  • Aren’t used in competitive archery anymore

Aluminum Shafts

Aluminum arrows act as the middle ground between beginners and experienced archers, as they’re enjoyed by both.

They’re a little stiffer and sturdier than solid carbon arrows, which is why a lot of experienced archers may use them. They’re also usually hollow on the inside, which makes them relatively lightweight, but not by much.

Also, they’re more accurate and consistent than regular wooden and fiberglass arrows, so they’re excellent for ambitious beginners who decided to take archery seriously.

Another great thing about aluminum arrows is that they’re available in a wide variety of sizes, which suit both archery and hunting. The price of aluminum arrows varies according to the size and quality of the arrow.

They also come with screw-in tips, allowing you to switch between different head types and styles. Moreover, they don’t splinter when they break, so they’re much safer than carbon ones.

Pros

  • An excellent choice for serious beginners
  • A medium-priced option for target practice
  • Relatively safer than carbon arrows
  • Eligible for some archery tournaments

Cons

  • Less durable than alloy & carbon shafts
  • Weak flying and penetrating power

Fiberglass Shafts

Fiberglass shafts are more uniform and consistent than wooden arrows. However, they’re less consistent than aluminum ones, so you’ll still need to fine-tune your shot for the most accuracy.

Along with wooden arrows, they’re among the cheapest types to go for. They’re great for hunting, private target practice, and other forms of recreational archery. They are relatively more brittle than other arrows, so you’ll need to change them frequently.

Pros

  • Very affordable when compared to most options
  • Ideal for informal uses

Cons

  • Flimsy and frequently changed
  • Less consistent than aluminum arrows

Types of Arrow Points / Heads

As the name suggests, the arrow points are the front parts of any arrow. Despite being called “points”, they aren’t always pointed.

Let’s have a quick look at each type of arrow points and see what they’re all about!

Bullet/Target Heads

The end of the head is shaped like a bullet, hence the name.

Their diameter is usually smaller than the arrow’s shaft to keep the aerodynamics intact and prevent them from snagging to the target. They’re less destructive than the field heads

Field Heads

Field heads are more tapered than bullet heads, and therefore, they’re more destructive to the targets. That’s why they’re preferred in hunting and target archery.

Blunt Heads

They’re mostly used in hunting, as they’re designed to take down the small game by blunt force. These blunt heads can be flat, covered with rubber, or sharpened with small spikes.

Grabbing Heads (Judo)

One of the most intricate-looking arrowheads that are designed to make hunting easier. The hooks on the arrowhead pin the game to the ground and make it hard for them to escape.

Bowfishing Heads

These arrows come with a built-in barb, similar to the ones in fishing hooks. They’re designed to hunt fish. They’re usually with sharp ends.

Hunting Heads (Broadheads)

These ones resemble the typical shape of arrows you have in mind. They’re only used for hunting purposes, as they fly differently when compared to other arrowheads.

These ones have a much broader surface area. They’re designed to inflict huge damage and cause wounds on targets.

Since these heads come with extremely sharp ends, they can be as dangerous as carrying around a knife or a weapon.

For that reason, various counties might have different regulations and laws regarding using hunting heads.

So, make sure you check them before you opt for these. It goes without saying that they should only be used by professional and experienced archers.

Explosive Heads

The “Rambo-style” explosive arrowheads aren’t as common as you think in the real world. Similar to the previous one, these kinds of arrowheads can be regulated by your state or country.

Additional Factors You Should Consider

While buying arrows, there are some factors that you should consider. Here’s a list of these points.

Arrow Balance

In the archery world, the arrow balance is described as FOC (Front-of-Center). This term describes the percentage of arrow weight that’s located in the front half of the arrow.

The higher the FOC, the more the center of balance is directed forward. Measuring the front-of-center is crucial to balance your arrow.

Fletchings

Generally, arrow fletchings are usually made of either plastic (vanes) or feathers. These parts are responsible for giving the arrow decent air stability, which boosts the accuracy of the arrow.

Fletching helps the arrows to fly straight. Ideally, heavier compound bows need solid plastic fletching while traditional bows prefer feather-style ones.

Arrow Spin

The shape of the vanes controls the spin of the arrow. For example, straight vanes fly without spinning. They penetrate more but are less aerodynamic and accurate.

On the other hand, helical vanes spin the arrow while flying. This increases the accuracy in exchanges for less speed penetrating power.

Arrow Weights

Arrow weights are measured usually in grams. Heavier arrows are better at handling obstacles and have higher penetration.

On the other hand, lighter arrows are faster but much weaker. You should also know that you can adjust the weight of your bow according to your target. Moving the center of weight will also affect the FOC, which was discussed earlier.

The Flex of the Spine

Arrow spine is the term that describes the stiffness of the arrows. When you release an arrow from a bow, it undergoes a certain level of flexing (compression). After that, it bends it to a certain level depending on the type of the shaft.

If you’re using a compound bow, you should consider stiffer arrows like alloy/carbon and aluminum and vice versa. Use the chart provided with the bows to find the proper arrows for it.

Basic Ways to Fix Arrows

Although some arrows aren’t fixable, it’s possible to restore some arrows with some simple fixes. Here are some basic ways to fix your arrows:

Replace the Broken Fletching

At some point, you might lose some fletching on your arrow. However, it’s very easy to fix. All you have to do is strip off the rest of the fletchings, buy a new set, and replace the broken ones.

Fix the Nock

Similar to the fletching, you can also use pliers to remove the broken nock. After that, you can glue the new nock in place.

Visit a Local Repair Shop

If you’re unsure about your arrows, you can always take the easy way and leave it to your local professional repairmen.

Wrap Up

There are different types of arrows and arrowheads that you can try. As you can see, each type of arrow shaft has its own set of pros and cons.

For a beginner, fiberglass and aluminum ones are your best bet. They’re affordable and easy to use. These ones are usually combined with a bullet or field heads depending on your target.

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